The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

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The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby Simon E. » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:27 pm

In your view where do the limits of critique and analysis lie ?
Is there a point where those useful tools need to be laid aside ?

Or do they always go hand in hand with practice on the cushion ?
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby LastLegend » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:42 pm

Simon E. wrote:In your view where do the limits of critique and analysis lie ?
Is there a point where those useful tools need to be laid aside ?

Or do they always go hand in hand with practice on the cushion ?


I think having the correct view is important.
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby Simon E. » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:01 pm

Does correct view happen through critique and analysis, or by the arising of prajna ? Or both ?
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby shel » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:18 pm

Are you suggesting that the teacher/student model be laid aside?
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby Simon E. » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:42 pm

I am asking for views.
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby tobes » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:24 pm

Say what you will about Thurman, I think he puts it perfectly when he says:

“Wise intuition is the fruit of long philosophic cultivation of critical insight, developed in sustained contemplation of the profound nature of things, until reason transforms instinct and habit, and what one knows rationally to be the case is intuitively felt to be the case.”

In other words: critique and analysis are tremendously useful - it is only by moving through them, that we can actually find (and thus, go beyond) those limits.

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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby plwk » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:28 am

If these are helpful...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Monks, there are these seven individuals to be found in the world. Which seven?
One [released] both ways, one released through discernment, a bodily witness, one attained to view, one released through conviction, a Dhamma-follower, and a conviction-follower.

"And what is the individual attained to view?
There is the case where a certain individual does not remain touching with his body those peaceful liberations that transcend form, that are formless, but — having seen with discernment — some of his fermentations are ended, and he has reviewed & examined with discernment the qualities (or: teachings) proclaimed by the Tathagata. This is called an individual who is attained to view. Regarding this monk, I say that he has a task to do with heedfulness.

Why is that? [I think:] 'Perhaps this venerable one, when making use of suitable resting places, associating with admirable friends, balancing his [mental] faculties, will reach & remain in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for himself in the here & now.' Envisioning this fruit of heedfulness for this monk, I say that he has a task to do with heedfulness.

"And what is the individual who is a Dhamma-follower?
There is the case where a certain individual does not remain touching with his body those peaceful liberations that transcend form, that are formless, nor — having seen with discernment — are his fermentations ended. But with a [sufficient] measure of reflection through discernment he has come to an agreement with the teachings proclaimed by the Tathagata.

And he has these qualities: the faculty of conviction, the faculty of persistence, the faculty of mindfulness, the faculty of concentration, & the faculty of discernment. This is called an individual who is a Dhamma-follower. Regarding this monk, I say that he has a task to do with heedfulness.

Why is that? [I think:] 'Perhaps this venerable one, when making use of suitable resting places, associating with admirable friends, balancing his [mental] faculties, will reach & remain in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for himself in the here & now.' Envisioning this fruit of heedfulness for this monk, I say that he has a task to do with heedfulness.

"Monks, I do not say that the attainment of gnosis is all at once. Rather, the attainment of gnosis is after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice.
And how is there the attainment of gnosis after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice?
There is the case where, when conviction has arisen, one visits [a teacher].
Having visited, one grows close. Having grown close, one lends ear. Having lent ear, one hears the Dhamma. Having heard the Dhamma, one remembers it. Remembering, one penetrates the meaning of the teachings. Penetrating the meaning, one comes to an agreement through pondering the teachings.
There being an agreement through pondering the teachings, desire arises. When desire has arisen, one is willing. When one is willing, one contemplates.
Having contemplated, one makes an exertion.
Having made an exertion, one realizes with the body the ultimate truth and, having penetrated it with discernment, sees it.
http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pit ... ggo-e.html
Friends, the bhikkhus, who study the Teaching depreciate the bhikkhus who develop the mind to higher states.
`These say, we raise the mind to a higher state. They concentrate, what do they concentrate and how do they concentrate?'
By that the bhikkhus studying the Teaching are displeased and the bhikkhus raising the mind to a higher state are displeased.
It is not for the good and pleasantness of many, not for the welfare and happiness of gods and men.

Friends, the bhikkhus, who raise the mind to a higher state depreciate the bhikkhus who study the Teaching.
`These say, we study the Teaching, they are unbalanced, haughty, wavering, talkative, with loose talk, without mindful awareness, not concentrating scatter brained and with uncontrolled mental faculties. What Teaching do they study and how do they study?'
By that the bhikkhus raising their minds to higher states are displeased and the bhikkhus studying the Teaching are displeased.
It is not for the good and pleasantness of many, not for the welfare and happiness of gods and men.

Here, bhikkhus, the bhikkhus studying the Teaching praise the bhikkhus studying the Teaching and does not praise the bhikkhus raising the mind to a higher degree
By that the bhikkhus studying the Teaching are displeased and the bhikkhus raising the mind to a higher state are displeased.
It is not for the good and pleasantness of many, not for the welfare and happiness of gods and men.

Here, bhikkhus, the bhikkhus raising the mind to a higher degree praise the bhikkhus raising the mind to a higher degree and does not praise the bhikkhus studying the Teaching. By that the bhikkhus raising the mind to a higher degree are displeased and the bhikkhus studying the Teaching are displeased.
It is not for the good and pleasantness of many, not for the welfare and happiness of gods and men.

Therefore, friends, you should train in this manner:
We who study the Teaching will praise the bhikkhus that raise the mind to a higher degree. What is the reason?
Friends, it is surprising and rare to find persons in the world, who abide experiencing the deathless element with the body.

Therefore you should train thus:
We who raise the mind to a higher degree should praise the bhikkhus studying the Teaching. What is the reason?
It is surprising and rare to find persons who understand the deep meanings in the Teaching and penetratingly see it with wisdom.
http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pitak ... subha.html
“Here, student, I am one who speaks after making an analysis; I do not speak one-sidedly.

The 'limitations'...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el048.html
"There are here, O monks, some foolish men who study the Teaching; having studied it, they do not wisely examine the purpose of those teachings.
To those who do not wisely examine the purpose, these teachings will not yield insight.
They study the Teaching only to use it for criticizing or for refuting others in disputation.
They do not experience the (true) purpose for which they (ought to) study the Teaching.
To them these teachings wrongly grasped, will bring harm and suffering for a long time.
And why? Because of their wrong grasp of the Teachings.

The 'laying aside'...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el048.html
"I shall show you, monks, the Teaching's similitude to a raft: as having the purpose of crossing over, not the purpose of being clung to.
Listen, monks, and heed well what I shall say" — "Yes, Lord," replied the monks. and the Blessed One spoke thus:

"Suppose, monks, there is a man journeying on a road and he sees a vast expanse of water of which this shore is perilous and fearful, while the other shore is safe and free from danger. But there is no boat for crossing nor is there a bridge for going over from this side to the other.

So the man thinks: 'This is a vast expanse of water; and this shore is perilous and fearful, but the other shore is safe and free from danger.
There is, however, no boat here for crossing, nor a bridge for going over from this side to the other.
Suppose I gather reeds, sticks, branches and foliage, and bind them into a raft.'
Now that man collects reeds, sticks, branches and foliage, and binds them into a raft.
Carried by that raft, laboring with hands and feet, he safely crosses over to the other shore. Having crossed and arrived at the other shore, he thinks:
'This raft, indeed, has been very helpful to me. Carried by it, laboring with hands and feet, I got safely across to the other shore.
Should I not lift this raft on my head or put it on my shoulders, and go where I like?'

"What do you think about it, O monks?
Will this man by acting thus, do what should be done with a raft?" — "No, Lord" —
"How then, monks, would he be doing what ought to be done with a raft?
Here, monks, having got across and arrived at the other shore, the man thinks:
'This raft, indeed, has been very helpful to me. Carried by it, and laboring with hands and feet, I got safely across to the other shore.
Should I not pull it up now to the dry land or let it float in the water, and then go as I please?'
By acting thus, monks, would that man do what should be done with a raft.

"In the same way, monks, have I shown to you the Teaching's similitude to a raft: as having the purpose of crossing over, not the purpose of being clung to.
"You, O monks, who understand the Teaching's similitude to a raft, you should let go even (good) teachings, how much more false ones!

Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche in his seminal oral teaching, 'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand', 'Day 3: The Preliminaries: How to study and teach the Dharma'
[Page 87: (see link for the book] quotes the great Kadampa master & chief disciple of Atiśa, Dromtönpa:
When I study, I increase my contemplation and meditation,
When I contemplate, I increase my study and meditation,
When I meditate, I increase my study and contemplation,
I know how to gather them as the one foundation,
And take the Dharma as my Path,
I am a Kadampa and don't do things in parts.
People who wear blinkers are deceived;
Those who well understand the excellent are Kadampas.
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby Simon E. » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:48 am

Excellent, Tobes and plwk, Thank you.
How do these concerns work out in people's individual experience ?
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby muni » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:25 am

:good:

Critics to own mind can be amazing fruitful when we can see glymps of own delusion. Critics about others are always ones own delusion.
To reflect about our own important breath; the basic to critizise others... A breath, completely dependent on the air, which we share all together, in which 'we' come together. Then all critics dissolve.

Therefore our wise masters are helping through understanding, to liberate without any selfconcern at all.

In experience analysis of phenomena, fabrications can go endless. This is very exhausting, like a bird seeking a hole in the sky to escape.

Therefore study must not be used to collect like money on a bank but to let go in understanding.
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby tobes » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:53 am

Simon E. wrote:Excellent, Tobes and plwk, Thank you.
How do these concerns work out in people's individual experience ?


I can't speak for other people, but in my own case, many years ago I used to read the Heart Sutra and Diamond Sutra a lot, alongside a deep skepticism about the utility of language, logic, conceptual analysis, reasoning. In fact, I stayed at a monastery once on the subcontinent and took a vow of silence, because I had forged the view that emptiness and silence were very complementary.

Incidentally, it was during that time when I really began to contemplate the relationship between emptiness and concepts, emptiness and language, emptiness and reasoning.

When I returned home, I was lucky enough to take a course on Chandrakirti, and thus began a deeper engagement with what the Madhyamakins (and others) were actually saying about emptiness. This is really a very difficult task; and it took a long time to even see what was at stake - i.e. what the philosophical-soteriological issues actually are.

And I realised, at some point, that I used to have an entirely hocus-pocus view, which was based on an unwillingness to actually roll my sleeves up and do the hard yards. The hard analytical yards. The hard logical yards. The hard thinking yards.

Over time, and with some good teachers - both academic and robed - that analysis began to bear some fruit.

Now, of course, I ain't on the 1st bhumi!

But there was a certain juncture where philosophy merged into practice and vice-versa. To put it more clunkily than Thurman: you cannot meditate on emptiness, if you don't know what emptiness is; you have to get the view, before you really get the view - if you get my drift.

Otherwise you are just fantasizing, even if that fantasy is "I am free of concepts and discursive intrusions on the way things are."

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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:51 am

Very interesting post, Tobes. I am very impressed with your depth of understanding.

I have been studying philosophy, Buddhist Studies and related topics for many years, so I am obliged to agree that critique and analysis are important. But your heart has to be in the right place, and that is something that can't be achieved through analytical thinking alone. Given that it is in the right place, and that your motivation is good, then critique and analysis are essential although it doesn't suit everyone. More suited to those with critical thinking and language abilities.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby muni » Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:05 am

No any genuine practicioner is going to reject the depth of analysis and critical investigations.
To cling to them, is the suffering limit.
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:11 pm

Simon E. wrote:In your view where do the limits of critique and analysis lie? Is there a point where those useful tools need to be laid aside? Or do they always go hand in hand with practice on the cushion ?

I think you always have to be somewhat analytical, and the more you challenge what you hear or read or are taught, the stronger your conviction will be about the outcome, regardless of what the outcome is, because ultimately you have to be true to yourself.

You need all of your doubts resolved. You have to be certain that some dharma is either true, or bullsh##, or that it doesn't matter, but either way, but you have to be certain.

But, there is a time and a place for everything and so you also have to also stop all that at some point, and just meditate.
All that thinking will wait.

What arises from meditation, I think, is a loosening up. This way, you can actually have very strong convictions but not be so intellectually attached to them that they prevent you from direct experience or even realization.

When you are about to take your last living breath,
what will happen to all those opinions and convictions,
to being right, to have figured out all the answers?
Who will take care of that treasure for you?
Nobody.
That's where the limits you ask about will become obvious.
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby ground » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:56 am

Simon E. wrote:In your view where do the limits of critique and analysis lie ?

They do not reach beyond the sphere of the brain.

Simon E. wrote:Is there a point where those useful tools need to be laid aside ?

The point is where exhaustion is reached.

Simon E. wrote:Or do they always go hand in hand with practice on the cushion ?

Not always but they may be applied to expedite achievement of exhaustion so that meditation can eventually start. :sage:
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby greentara » Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:19 pm

When the Buddha said break the ridgepole, it means getting rid of rituals, concepts, clever analysis. Spiritual seekers often say, “I am not ‘there’ yet,” as if realization is some remote, distant state. But this here is not a “state,” this here can not be critiqued, this here is the seed of Nirvana.
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby Simon E. » Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:49 pm

Thanks all...any more thoughts ?
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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby tobes » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:03 am

Simon E. wrote:Thanks all...any more thoughts ?


I'm interested to know what you think on the matter.

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Re: The Limits Of Critique And Analysis.

Postby tobes » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:05 am

jeeprs wrote:Very interesting post, Tobes. I am very impressed with your depth of understanding.

I have been studying philosophy, Buddhist Studies and related topics for many years, so I am obliged to agree that critique and analysis are important. But your heart has to be in the right place, and that is something that can't be achieved through analytical thinking alone. Given that it is in the right place, and that your motivation is good, then critique and analysis are essential although it doesn't suit everyone. More suited to those with critical thinking and language abilities.


Kind of you say Jeeprs, but don't be fooled. Understanding takes a long time to mature; I'm still young and I know that my understanding is also young (and immature).

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