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The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera - Dhamma Wheel

The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
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SDC
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The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby SDC » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:30 am

"Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha's Teaching." - Ñānavīra Thera


I wouldn’t consider myself a Ñānavīrist by any means, but I am almost done reading Clearing the Path and it has been a terrific experience. This was the second time I've read his “Notes on Dhamma” and it has again enriched my experience and understanding of the Buddha’s teaching. I think his ideas throw a wrench in the gears of the common, accepted view of the dhamma. I have found this shakeup stimulating and thought provoking. Now I can understand how some may see this as bad, or even an unnecessary for their practice, which is fine, and if that is your opinion then perhaps you shouldn’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself to look into what he had to say – just leave it be.

But those that are interested in what he had to say, I think it would be good to have a spot on dhammawheel to toss around his ideas. So let's give it a try.
Last edited by SDC on Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:11 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:55 am


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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby SDC » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:11 am

That statement was misleading. I will definitely be an active part of this.

Every once in a while when the discussion quiets I will post something new is what was meant by that.

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:21 am


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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby Moth » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:05 am

Recently read the introduction to Notes on Dhamma. I enjoyed his pointing out of how the Buddha put aside the existential question rather than answering it. I spent a lot of time alone recently, delving quite deeply into my thoughts, trying to find definitive answers to certain questions--specifically about the nature of my self. Eventually I gave up. I believe the Buddha called this 'the thicket of views' and warned us simply to drop it. He clearly avoided the basic logical stances: true, false, true and false, neither true nor false. Instead he introduced a new position: it depends , and called it the middle way. When the book arives in the mail I will continue it... :reading: > :coffee:
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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:56 pm

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby piotr » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:16 pm

Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby Moth » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:56 pm

The Buddha, so far as I have read, does not answer the questions concerning the existence or non-existence of a self. Rather he disregards the question. When asked, "does the self exist?" he does not reply. When asked, "does the self not exist?" again he does not reply. That is not to be confused with the law of anatta, that is, that all dhammas (which includes Nibbana) are not self. The puthujjana is bound by logic. Thus questions that are beyond the scope of logic, i.e the existence or non-existence of a self, the beginning and end of samsara, the state of a tathagatha after death, etc will only bring more suffering when tackled within the logical constriction. We are trapped within the twofold logic of true and false, black and white, birth and death. Our views are like a mini-samsara, cycling infinitely between these two extremes.
Last edited by Moth on Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:16 pm

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby pulga » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:12 pm

I think the real litmus test of Ñanavira's views are whether they hold up to our own experience. We can argue about their validity textually and historically until we're dead in our graves, but until we are willing to grapple with the ideas he has to offer we'll never be able to really appreciate his insights. And unfortunately he came to his views not only by his reading of the Suttas, but by exploring worlds of thought that few of us are willing to devote any time to.

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby SDC » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:30 pm


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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:12 pm

I agree that Ñāṇavira’s personal matters, such as ariya attainment or his suicide should be left out. But to suggest that a discussion of The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera be only filtered through ones personal understanding and experience of the dhamma, and exclusive of others who have written on these matters, leaves one rather in a vacuum when The Work of Ñāṇavira includes reference to canonical sources, secular philosophy and personal letters with ‘others’. In keeping with what the title of this thread implies, any relevant material connected with his views should be reasonably considered as ‘on topic’, including mentioned above.

Also, with reference to Bodhi’s essay, this thread would be a good place to vet its veracity, something which has been long overdue.
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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby SDC » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:38 pm


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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby daverupa » Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:53 am

I would be interested in engaging with anyone's bhāvana developments, corrections, and/or refinements as a result of contact with this material. Additionally, I wonder if much is known about the specifics of Ñānavīra's bhāvana? I believe he tended to prefer walking meditation.

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby ancientbuddhism » Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:37 pm

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby SDC » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:27 pm


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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:22 am

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:01 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby pulga » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:01 pm

Perhaps the people of the Buddha's day weren't as haunted about nihilism as we in the West are today. In paticcasamuppáda isn't death more or less lumped in with aging and "this entire mass of suffering"? The source of our dukkha is our holding our experience in subjection, appropriating it as mine, be it in dying or simply eating food.

From Letter 37

What, precisely, is upādāna (grasping, or as I prefer, holding) if it is not synonymous with cetanā (intention)? This, and not any other, is the fundamental question raised by the Buddha's Teaching; and it is extremely difficult to see the answer (though it can be stated without difficulty). The answer is, essentially, that all notions of subjectivity, of the existence of a subject (to whom objects are present), all notions of 'I' and 'mine', are upādāna. Can there, then, be intentional conscious action—such as eating food—without the notion 'It is I who am acting, who am eating this food'? The answer is, Yes. The arahat intentionally eats food, but the eating is quite unaccompanied by any thought of a subject who is eating the food. For all non-arahats such thoughts (in varying degrees, of course) do arise. The arahat remains an individual (i.e. distinct from other individuals) but is no longer a person (i.e. a somebody, a self, a subject). This is not—as you might perhaps be tempted to think—a distinction without a difference. It is a genuine distinction, a very difficult distinction, but a distinction that must be made.[1]

Editorial notes:

[37.1] a difficult distinction: As his letters to the Ven. Ñānamoli Thera make clear, this distinction was the Ven. Ñānavīra Thera's last major insight prior to his attainment of sotāpatti. Although certainly this particular perception need not be pivotal for all who achieve the Path, that it was so for him is one reason for the strong emphasis the author lays on this point in the Notes as well as in various letters.

There is of course a profound difference in an Arahant's "passing away" and a puthujjana's "dying", but the same profundity is true for any experience.

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Postby pulga » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:54 pm



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