Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Son » Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:41 am

Tom wrote:
Son wrote:At any rate, it is taught that of the four ways to achieve nirvana, three of them require both tranquility and insight in union. Tranquility preceded by insight, insight preceded by tranquility, or the two cultivated in unison. The fourth is a spontaneous realizing of self through calm recognition of dharma.


Since the context of the discussion was Tsongkhapa's views it might be useful to add that Tsongkhapa would not agree with the above statement. For him the initial cultivation of genuine insight must be proceeded by serenity. This is because, as he explains in the LRCM, without having first achieved the pliancy of serenity, analytical meditation is unable to bring about the pliancy required for it to qualify as genuine insight. So, for Tsongkhapa genuine insight requires serenity as a cause.


He directly disagrees with the Buddha? That's interesting.
But I am curious now. Is he saying that one cannot accomplish insight meditation without first accomplishing tranquility meditation...? Or perhaps I'm just vague on the definition of "genuine insight" herein. From what I understand and according to common practice, samatha establishes serenity of mind, and vipassana establishes insight of mind. Is he suggesting that insight cannot be established without first practicing samatha per say? Or am I missing something? Because, for me and some renowned meditation masters I've spoken with, analytical meditation does provide serenity.

So I'm asking for clarification and elaboration.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:28 am

Son wrote:
He directly disagrees with the Buddha? That's interesting.


The Buddha was also known to contradict his own previous statements :-)!

When the Buddha was teaching those people most in urgently need of reducing afflictive emotions, serenity meditation was taught to be the most important meditation. When teaching those most urgently needing to antidote ignorance, insight meditation was taught as the most important meditation…

Son wrote:But I am curious now. Is he saying that one cannot accomplish insight meditation without first accomplishing tranquility meditation...? Or perhaps I'm just vague on the definition of "genuine insight" herein. From what I understand and according to common practice, samatha establishes serenity of mind, and vipassana establishes insight of mind. Is he suggesting that insight cannot be established without first practicing samatha per say? Or am I missing something? Because, for me and some renowned meditation masters I've spoken with, analytical meditation does provide serenity. So I'm asking for clarification and elaboration.


Tsongkhapa acknowledges that you do not need to have achieved serenity to gain an understanding of selflessness, and even that repeated analysis on this established view can bring about mental transformation even without serenity. However, drawing on the Saṃdhirmocana Sūtra as scriptural authority, he states that analytical meditation without pliancy is considered only approximate insight. When the analytical meditation is able to generate pliancy (which is only accomplished through the prior generation of serenity), then it is insight. It is an important distinction for Tsongkhapa because is it insight--not approximate insight--that is required to progress upwards form the path of accumulation.

Note: The genre from within which Tsongkhapa is writing adds the meditative categories of stabilizing meditation འཇོག་སྒོམ and analytical meditation དཔྱད་སྒོམ that is a distinction at a more basic level than serenity ཞི་གནས | शमथ and special insight ལྷག་མཐོང་| विपश्यना
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Son » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:44 am

Tom wrote:
Son wrote:
He directly disagrees with the Buddha? That's interesting.


The Buddha was also known to contradict his own previous statements :-)!

When the Buddha was teaching those people most in urgently need of reducing afflictive emotions, serenity meditation was taught to be the most important meditation. When teaching those most urgently needing to antidote ignorance, insight meditation was taught as the most important meditation…

Son wrote:But I am curious now. Is he saying that one cannot accomplish insight meditation without first accomplishing tranquility meditation...? Or perhaps I'm just vague on the definition of "genuine insight" herein. From what I understand and according to common practice, samatha establishes serenity of mind, and vipassana establishes insight of mind. Is he suggesting that insight cannot be established without first practicing samatha per say? Or am I missing something? Because, for me and some renowned meditation masters I've spoken with, analytical meditation does provide serenity. So I'm asking for clarification and elaboration.


Tsongkhapa acknowledges that you do not need to have achieved serenity to gain an understanding of selflessness, and even that repeated analysis on this established view can bring about mental transformation even without serenity. However, drawing on the Saṃdhirmocana Sūtra as scriptural authority, he states that analytical meditation without pliancy is considered only approximate insight. When the analytical meditation is able to generate pliancy (which is only accomplished through the prior generation of serenity), then it is insight. It is an important distinction for Tsongkhapa because is it insight--not approximate insight--that is required to progress upwards form the path of accumulation.

Note: The genre from within which Tsongkhapa is writing adds the meditative categories of stabilizing meditation འཇོག་སྒོམ and analytical meditation དཔྱད་སྒོམ that is a distinction at a more basic level than serenity ཞི་གནས | शमथ and special insight ལྷག་མཐོང་| विपश्यना


So, what is the difference between approximate insight and the insight he is referring to? To me, it sounds like he is referring to the union of insight and tranquility establishment in one's mind, and referring to that union itself as insightful. Is this more accurate? If not please elaborate further.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby zerwe » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:02 am

To illustrate why meditative serenity is a prereq to insight, Tsongkhapa uses the following example;

Before you achieve meditative serenity, you may use discerning widom to analyze the meaning of selflessness,
but your mind is extremely unsteady, like a lamp in the wind,
so your concept of selflessness is unclear.

Also,

...a lamp's ability to illumine forms derives from the wick and the
preceding moments of flame;it does not derive from such things as the screen that protects
it from the wind. However, the stability of the steady flame of the lamp does derive from the this screen.
LRCM III 20-21

:anjali: Shaun
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Son » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:19 am

zerwe wrote:To illustrate why meditative serenity is a prereq to insight, Tsongkhapa uses the following example;

Before you achieve meditative serenity, you may use discerning widom to analyze the meaning of selflessness,
but your mind is extremely unsteady, like a lamp in the wind,
so your concept of selflessness is unclear.

Also,

...a lamp's ability to illumine forms derives from the wick and the
preceding moments of flame;it does not derive from such things as the screen that protects
it from the wind. However, the stability of the steady flame of the lamp does derive from the this screen.
LRCM III 20-21

:anjali: Shaun


I think I understand. But I also find vipassana to be steadying, being as it is meditation...?
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:47 am

Son wrote:
So, what is the difference between approximate insight and the insight he is referring to? To me, it sounds like he is referring to the union of insight and tranquility establishment in one's mind, and referring to that union itself as insightful. Is this more accurate? If not please elaborate further.


The difference between approximate insight and (genuine) insight, is whether or not the meditative analysis has the power to bring about pliancy. The analysis that produces pliancy (insight) can also produce one-pointed focus. So, the first time you achieve insight you also achieve the union of serenity and insight. It gets complicated from there. However, the point is, for Tsongkhapa first we cultivate serenity and then insight. There is an exception - in Highest Yoga Tantra, we can cultivate the two simultaneously by depending on the subtle consciousness that realizes emptiness. On the basis of this consciousness we can cultivate serenity and insight at the same time. Or through meditating on the divine body, we can cultivate the two at the same time.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Son » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:13 am

Tom wrote:
Son wrote:
So, what is the difference between approximate insight and the insight he is referring to? To me, it sounds like he is referring to the union of insight and tranquility establishment in one's mind, and referring to that union itself as insightful. Is this more accurate? If not please elaborate further.


The difference between approximate insight and (genuine) insight, is whether or not the meditative analysis has the power to bring about pliancy.

Basically, accomplishing vipassana.

The analysis that produces pliancy (insight) can also produce one-pointed focus. So, the first time you achieve insight you also achieve the union of serenity and insight. It gets complicated from there. However, the point is, for Tsongkhapa first we cultivate serenity and then insight...

But why? What is the experiential reasoning behind his view?
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:31 am

Son wrote:
But why? What is the experiential reasoning behind his view?


Tsongkahapa quotes Sūtras and Indian scriptural sources as his means of knowledge. Experiential reasoning is an interesting term, however if prior to achieving serenity, repeated analytical meditation failed to ever lead to pliancy that might suffice.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:37 am

Son wrote:
Basically, accomplishing vipassana.



Yes, that is just the Pali for special insight | ལྷག་མཐོང་| विपश्यना
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Son » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:50 am

Tom wrote:
Son wrote:
The analysis that produces pliancy (insight) can also produce one-pointed focus. So, the first time you achieve insight you also achieve the union of serenity and insight. It gets complicated from there. However, the point is, for Tsongkhapa first we cultivate serenity and then insight...

But why? What is the experiential reasoning behind his view?


Tsongkahapa quotes Sūtras and Indian scriptural sources as his means of knowledge. Experiential reasoning is an interesting term, however if prior to achieving serenity, repeated analytical meditation failed to ever lead to pliancy that might suffice.


What it means is, even when reading a sutra you find it to be true through reasoning, based on your own experience. But please disregard the term. My point is, if someone asks what the reason is one cannot simply respond: "sutras." Not if you're trying to explain it to someone, for instance myself. I don't really grasp the use of "pliancy" in relation to "insight" here. My experience is that vipassana has definitely helped me establish insight. I feel like he is using the term insight in a different way but I don't quite grasp the usage. It seems to be a more integrated form of insight, as clearly at some point the establishment of "serenity" is necessary. But is he insinuating that serenity is needed as foundation for insight? In that sense, wouldn't some use insight as a foundation for serenity? Does not the establishment of insight provide "pliancy" for the cultivation of serenity?
If not, that is why I'm asking for reasoning...

From my own understanding, I have considered that insight and tranquility are both codependent, and that one supports the other.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:05 pm

... sorry messed up my edit ....
Last edited by Tom on Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:23 pm

Son wrote:
What it means is, even when reading a sutra you find it to be true through reasoning, based on your own experience. But please disregard the term. My point is, if someone asks what the reason is one cannot simply respond: "sutras." Not if you're trying to explain it to someone, for instance myself.


I am just explaining Tsongkhapa's position and he draws on Sūtra's to substantiate his claims. I am not saying this is the way it is, or will be for you. There are many divergent presentations on śamatha and vipaśyanā even within the Tibetan tradition and these terms take on different meanings dependent on the presentation.

Son wrote:I don't really grasp the use of "pliancy" in relation to "insight" here. My experience is that vipassana has definitely helped me establish insight. I feel like he is using the term insight in a different way but I don't quite grasp the usage.


Yes, I think the use of different terms is getting in our way here. "Vipassana" is just the Pāli for "insight meditation" - so certainly the role of insight meditation is to lead to insight.

Tsongkhapa just has a really specific idea of what he has in mind when he uses the word and so he makes a s distinction between it and analytical meditation.

Son wrote:It seems to be a more integrated form of insight, as clearly at some point the establishment of "serenity" is necessary. But is he insinuating that serenity is needed as foundation for insight?


Yes Tsongkhapa maintains that serenity is a necessary foundation for insight. Of course, you can engage in analytical meditation without the foundation of serenity but Tsongkhapa would not consider this insight meditation - that's all.

Son wrote:In that sense, wouldn't some use insight as a foundation for serenity? Does not the establishment of insight provide "pliancy" for the cultivation of serenity?.


With some objects that are used to develop serenity, analytical meditation can be used as a foundation; with others it is not necessary.

Hopefully, this gives you a bit of an idea of Tsongkhapa's position and the way he uses certain terms such as vipaśyanā.

For what its worth - I do understand that the Pāli tradition has a very different approach and actually I found Analyo's book on Satipatthana to be brilliant!
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Virgo » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:04 pm

Tom wrote:Yes, I think the use of different terms is getting in our way here. "Vipassana" is just the Pāli for "insight meditation" - so certainly the role of insight meditation is to lead to insight.

Tsongkhapa just has a really specific idea of what he has in mind when he uses the word and so he makes a s distinction between it and analytical meditation.

Just so you know, in Theravada, vipassana refers to actual moments of penetrative insight, not to techniques that may or may not bring vipassana about. Concentration is present with every arisen citta, so vipassana, including all stages of it, is possible at any moment. This is why non-meditators and even some who were not exactly upstanding citizens gained insight (became aryas) while listening to an explanation by Buddha, etc. For some people shamatha might be an aid because if done correctly it is kusala, or wholesome, and all kusala is an aid in wisdom.

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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:26 pm

Virgo wrote:
Tom wrote:Yes, I think the use of different terms is getting in our way here. "Vipassana" is just the Pāli for "insight meditation" - so certainly the role of insight meditation is to lead to insight.

Tsongkhapa just has a really specific idea of what he has in mind when he uses the word and so he makes a s distinction between it and analytical meditation.

Just so you know, in Theravada, vipassana refers to actual moments of penetrative insight, not to techniques that may or may not bring vipassana about. Concentration is present with every arisen citta, so vipassana, including all stages of it, is possible at any moment. This is why non-meditators and even some who were not exactly upstanding citizens gained insight (became aryas) while listening to an explanation by Buddha, etc. For some people shamatha might be an aid because if done correctly it is kusala, or wholesome, and all kusala is an aid in wisdom.

Kevin


I am only slightly familiar with the Pāli tradition, however, I find the relationship between vipassana and Kuśala and the semantic differences between Kuśala and Puñña to be quite a fascinating topic. I think that understanding the difference between Kuśala and Puñña sheds light on the roles of samtha and vipassana but that is a little controversial and takes us down a different rabbit hole … anyways gotta run ...
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Son » Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:14 pm

Virgo wrote:
Tom wrote:Yes, I think the use of different terms is getting in our way here. "Vipassana" is just the Pāli for "insight meditation" - so certainly the role of insight meditation is to lead to insight.

Tsongkhapa just has a really specific idea of what he has in mind when he uses the word and so he makes a s distinction between it and analytical meditation.

Just so you know, in Theravada, vipassana refers to actual moments of penetrative insight, not to techniques that may or may not bring vipassana about. Concentration is present with every arisen citta, so vipassana, including all stages of it, is possible at any moment. This is why non-meditators and even some who were not exactly upstanding citizens gained insight (became aryas) while listening to an explanation by Buddha, etc. For some people shamatha might be an aid because if done correctly it is kusala, or wholesome, and all kusala is an aid in wisdom.

Kevin


Thank you very much, Kevin.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Jnana » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:22 am

Tom wrote:
Virgo wrote:Just so you know, in Theravada, vipassana refers to actual moments of penetrative insight, not to techniques that may or may not bring vipassana about. Concentration is present with every arisen citta, so vipassana, including all stages of it, is possible at any moment. This is why non-meditators and even some who were not exactly upstanding citizens gained insight (became aryas) while listening to an explanation by Buddha, etc. For some people shamatha might be an aid because if done correctly it is kusala, or wholesome, and all kusala is an aid in wisdom.

Kevin


I am only slightly familiar with the Pāli tradition, however, I find the relationship between vipassana and Kuśala and the semantic differences between Kuśala and Puñña to be quite a fascinating topic. I think that understanding the difference between Kuśala and Puñña sheds light on the roles of samtha and vipassana but that is a little controversial and takes us down a different rabbit hole … anyways gotta run ...

According to the Pāli Abhidhamma every skillful mind (kusala citta) includes both samatha & vipassanā.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:01 pm

Jnana wrote:
Tom wrote:
Virgo wrote:Just so you know, in Theravada, vipassana refers to actual moments of penetrative insight, not to techniques that may or may not bring vipassana about. Concentration is present with every arisen citta, so vipassana, including all stages of it, is possible at any moment. This is why non-meditators and even some who were not exactly upstanding citizens gained insight (became aryas) while listening to an explanation by Buddha, etc. For some people shamatha might be an aid because if done correctly it is kusala, or wholesome, and all kusala is an aid in wisdom.

Kevin


I am only slightly familiar with the Pāli tradition, however, I find the relationship between vipassana and Kuśala and the semantic differences between Kuśala and Puñña to be quite a fascinating topic. I think that understanding the difference between Kuśala and Puñña sheds light on the roles of samtha and vipassana but that is a little controversial and takes us down a different rabbit hole … anyways gotta run ...

According to the Pāli Abhidhamma every skillful mind (kusala citta) includes both samatha & vipassanā.


Kusala is better translated as "positive".
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Tom » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:25 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Kusala is better translated as "positive".


Malcom / Jnana,

Interested to know if you make a distinction between kusala and punna?

Interms of kusala as I understand it, the originally meaning was "intelligent" or "wise" and then due to use in Brahmins rituals it developed to have more to do with expertise in ritual. This influenced the Pali so it came to refer to a skill such as art but especially meditation and ethical activity. Later, it developed to just mean peace or happiness or lead to fortunate rebirths and so in this sense positive might work- but from my limited understanding it is better read in the context of a contribution to the achievement of realization and not just in relation to ordinary positive merit.
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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Virgo » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:40 am

Tom wrote:Interms of kusala as I understand it, the originally meaning was "intelligent" or "wise" and then due to use in Brahmins rituals it developed to have more to do with expertise in ritual. This influenced the Pali so it came to refer to a skill such as art but especially meditation and ethical activity. Later, it developed to just mean peace or happiness or lead to fortunate rebirths and so in this sense positive might work- but from my limited understanding it is better read in the context of a contribution to the achievement of realization and not just in relation to ordinary positive merit.

Positive is best. Wholesome is second best.

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Re: Tsong Khapa, form realm shamatha and emptiness

Postby Jnana » Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:45 am

Tom wrote:Interested to know if you make a distinction between kusala and punna?

Interms of kusala as I understand it, the originally meaning was "intelligent" or "wise" and then due to use in Brahmins rituals it developed to have more to do with expertise in ritual. This influenced the Pali so it came to refer to a skill such as art but especially meditation and ethical activity. Later, it developed to just mean peace or happiness or lead to fortunate rebirths and so in this sense positive might work- but from my limited understanding it is better read in the context of a contribution to the achievement of realization and not just in relation to ordinary positive merit.

I'm guessing that you're probably already familiar with the paper Good or Skilful? Kusala in Canon and Commentary by Lance Cousins. His analysis is quite thorough and I generally agree with his assessments. Regarding kusala he concludes:

    Returning to kuśala, the semantic evolution I see is:

    1. An original meaning of "intelligent" or "wise";

    2. Expert in magical and sacrificial ritual (in the Brāhmaṇas); for brahmins, of course, this would precisely constitute wisdom.

    3. A) Skilled in meditational/mystical (/ascetic?) practices (in the early Pali sources and, no doubt, in other contemporary traditions), including skilled in the kind of behaviour which supports meditation, etc. i.e. sīla, etc.

    B) Skilled in performing dāna and yañña, now interpreted in terms of Buddhist ethical concerns; and associated with keeping the precepts and so on.

    4. Kusala in later Buddhist and Jain sources becomes generalized to refer to something like wholesome or good states.

    So there is no reason to doubt that by a later period (i.e. in the commentaries and perhaps later canonical sources) kusala in non-technical contexts meant something which could be translated as "good".

And regarding puñña he states:

    What is clear, if one examines the canonical use of the word puñña, is that it occurs both much less frequently than kusala and, on the whole, in a more restricted context. Especially in the earlier texts, it is found mainly in connection with dāna and other activities of the lay life. Indeed it is quite commonly used in an expression which describes a motive for a monk to backslide: he can enjoy life's pleasures and still perform acts which bring good fortune (puññāni). It also occurs quite often in direct connection with heavenly or other future lives.

    P.D. Premasiri has sought to differentiate the usage of puñña and kusala. Essentially I agree with him that, although there is some overlapping, puñña is most often used in regard to actions intended to bring about results of a pleasant kind in the future. It is almost exclusively kusala which is used in relation to the Buddha's path. Indeed one may go further and suggest that puñña was almost certainly not a technical term in the thought of the Buddha and his early disciples. It was no doubt a part of the background of beliefs current at the time, although there is certainly no reason to suppose that they objected to the notion as such. Of course their understanding as to what constitutes puñña would not necessarily be the same as that of all their contemporaries.
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