Literality of The Gradual Training

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danieLion
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Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby danieLion » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:54 pm

Hi,

How literally should lay followers (I think it's clear for monks and nuns) take the gradual training (GT)?

The logic of the GT makes good common sense to me.

But: even the modern Buddhist meditation teachers, including several Theravadin Ajahns, who include the GT in their teachings also teach mindfulness, jhana, etc... to lay people without strictly adhering to the serial or sequential order of the GT.

For instance, if we've cultivated strong mindfulness or had some success with jhana before ever having heard of the GT, are we then to consider our accomplishments to that point as invalid because they don't fit into the GT scheme once we've become aware of the it? Or, does recognizing the GT simply more properly contextualize ones practice? If so, how?

A more general way of putting it might be: what kind of order can we validly infer from the notion of "gradual"?

metta

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retrofuturist
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:05 pm

Greetings DanieLion,

It's an interesting question.

The only thing I've got to add into the mix at the moment is that the teaching of meditation to laypeople often happens in a formal "retreat" environment, and these are invariably group situations. When you have a group, you necessarily have people with different skills, dispositions, knowledge, experience, learning styles and such (which are attributes connected to a gradual teaching)... but on account of having a group, there's some necessity to homogenize the instructions as well, and there's no guarantee that homogenization is going to meet everyone's needs.

It must be a challenging proposition. I suspect some monks may prefer for lay people to follow more of a gradual program, but if someone has decided they want to do meditation, similarly they don't want to discourage that.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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mikenz66
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:17 pm


danieLion
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby danieLion » Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:09 am

Hi Retro and mikenz66,
I really appreciate your posts and get what you're saying about retreat, but as Sujato's pointed out (citation upon request) the practice of retreat itself was taught by the Buddha as part of the GT.
metta

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mikenz66
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:29 am

Hi Daniel,

Perhaps you could elaborate on exactly what you think is being left out by modern teachers.

I would add that I don't see any of these lists (eightfold path, gradual training, satipatthana sutta, or elaborations such as the progress of insight) as "strictly literal" in the sense that they are instructions or steps that are always strictly sequential. Clearly some won't happen without others (jhana without preparatory practice, for example) but those suttas are concise summaries of main points, and I think it would be far-fetched to imagine that there won't be come circularity or backtracking in real practice.

:anjali:
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:14 am

Hi Danial
I don't think the GT is strictly upheld even within the texts as those discourses which are to large groups would include those at different stages and the first three discourses (especially the fire sermon & the notself characteristic sermon) were taught without it, & as its components can be taught individually or within the GT framework.

like many lists in the canon it would be interesting to see how it corresponds to the Agama version, and from memory there is a difference (I remember it being in Venerable Analayos talks and possibly the satipatthana book?) in order - possibly a slightly different order in the middle, and maybe a substitution(?) of a similar item also found in the canon and pointing in the same direction.
the main thing here is, is it 100% necesary to have the order as expressed or if it neccessary to complete the individual parts in a order of which is best at a given time? I believe it is the latter as this allows adaptability to circumstances and individual needs.

Edit - although it could be argued that when one perfects one aspect of the training the next one in the list could be fully perfected and not before the prior one would the next be able to be perfected properly, although I have my doubts that would be the case.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby chownah » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:24 am

What is gradual training?
chownah

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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby Dmytro » Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:43 pm

Hi DanieLion,

It's like building a house. One can put up a temporary roof without any foundation. But to build a high and stable building one needs to start from a strong foundation and support beams first.

Dutiya - agāravasuttaṃ - Second on unruliness

Bhikkhus, that bhikkhu who is unruly, rebellious and not of the sharing nature with co-associates in the holy life should complete the lesser ethics is not a possibility. Without becoming complete in the lesser ethics, that he should complete the training is not a possibility. Without completing the training, that he should complete the mass of virtues is not a possibility. Without completing the mass of virtues, that he should be complete in concentration is not a possibility. Without becoming complete in the mass of concentration, that he should be complete in wisdom is not a possibility.

‘‘So vata, bhikkhave, bhikkhu agāravo appatisso asabhāgavuttiko ‘sabrahmacārīsu ābhisamācārikaṃ dhammaṃ paripūressatī’ti netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjati. ‘Ābhisamācārikaṃ dhammaṃ aparipūretvā sekhaṃ dhammaṃ paripūressatī’ti netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjati. ‘Sekhaṃ dhammaṃ aparipūretvā sīlakkhandhaṃ paripūressatī’ti netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjati. ‘Sīlakkhandhaṃ aparipūretvā samādhikkhandhaṃ paripūressatī’ti netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjati. ‘Samādhikkhandhaṃ aparipūretvā paññākkhandhaṃ paripūressatī’ti netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjati.

http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ggo-e.html

Metta


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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby ground » Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:36 am

constructivist views are widespread due to being conditioned accordingly e.g. through educational systems. But actually "gradually" does not apply. The matter is is too complex and thought tries to deal with complexity by means of simplification and categorisation. This simplification and categorisation however has a negative feed back, i.e. is a hindrance in itself because it undermines balance.

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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby cooran » Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:42 am

Hello all,

Gradual Awakening
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=8789

and:

‘Just as the ocean slopes away gradually, tends down gradually without any abrupt precipice, even so this Dhamma and discipline is a gradual doing, a gradual training, a gradual practice. There is no sudden penetration of knowledge’ (Ud.54).

with metta
Chris
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ground
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby ground » Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:47 am

Yes, from my perspective "sudden" is not applicable either but that does not render "gradual" in the sense of "first you have to do this and then that and then ... " (like an "educational curriculum") still is not applicable even if you can find the term "gradual" in translations.

If "gradual" qua "curriculum" would be valid then what about the awakanings reported in suttas that occurred through merely listening to a teaching?


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mikenz66
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:04 am

Hi Ground,

One suspects that the disciples who were awakened after hearing a few words of Dhamma had very well-developed paramis. Besides, looking at the reported time-line (in the Vinaya, presumably?), even the first five bhikkhus, who would have been skilled in concentration, etc, spent a week working towards full awakening, with the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta delivered at the start the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta at the end. Presumably during that time they did not just sit around, but practised under the Buddha's guidance.

For the rank and file, it seems to have been more of a slog, as described in the suttas such as the one I linked to above: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=12749#p192675

:anjali:
Mike

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ground
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby ground » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:28 am


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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jun 24, 2012 7:23 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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ground
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby ground » Sun Jun 24, 2012 7:30 am


danieLion
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby danieLion » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:35 am

The more I read the suttas the more it seems like calling it THE Gradual Training is a misnomer. It might be more accurate to call it a gradualist style of training because the actual application of "the" method varies wildly.
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Daniel

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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:46 am


danieLion
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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby danieLion » Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:02 am


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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:14 am


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Re: Literality of The Gradual Training

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:42 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.


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