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Meditation, conditionality, and anatta - Page 12 - Dhamma Wheel

Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Alex123
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby Alex123 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:41 am

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:41 am


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Alex123
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby Alex123 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:45 am

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:47 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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby alan » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:53 am

Don't mean to be snide, but I am getting the feeling that some people are just not worth the bother.
The basic rule is to be rational. Violate that, then you are no longer worthy of a reply.

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Alex123
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby Alex123 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:54 am

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:55 am


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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:59 am


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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 17, 2010 4:07 am


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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 17, 2010 4:11 am


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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby robertk » Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:41 am

a letter a friend wrote to me:

Robert: Virtually all Buddhist say that there is no self, but then talk about choice, and think they are having sati by concentrating, and the importance of intention (as if intention was something controllable).
_________

Mike

This is such a fine and crucial point. I think that it's relatively easy to embrace anatta on a conceptual level, because, with a little understanding, it's easy to see how much unhappiness springs from the illusion of self (among other reasons). So we can reject atta out of plain old dosa...

The idea of 'freedom'--meaning 'freedom of choice'--is MUCH harder to relinquish--especially (ironically) among those of us for whom 'liberation' is the central issue. I think this line of thinking usually goes something like this: "If 'I' can't choose patipada over pariyatti, or pariyatti over panyatti, If 'I' can't choose vipassana- over samatha-bhavana, If 'I' can't choose to investigate dhammas rather than to ignore them, to hear buddhadhamma rather than not to hear it, If 'I' can't choose to think, speak and act* in a wholesome way, then 'I' can never cultivate the eightfold path and attain liberation."

So, 'I' don't mind giving up the idea of self, just so long as 'I'm' allowed to choose to do so (and receive the credit)...!

Whether pariyatti or patipada or panyatti arises, whether samatha or vipassana bhavana is cultivated, whether dhammas are investigated or not, or buddhadhamma listened to or ignored, even whether kusala or akusala kamma is committed, NO ONE IS THERE in the arising, or the cultivation, or the investigation, listening, ignoring, thinking, speaking or acting. If there is no chooser, how can there be, or have been, a choice? Just wisdom or ignorance, in any possible situation, tipping the scale one way or the other depending on how much of each has accumulated.

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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby robertk » Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:46 am

A friend who was worried about future rebirth and what he should to to ensure a good state at the death moment wrote to me.

Robert: During my first few years of learning about Buddhism I was worried about dying suddenly and not being calm and aware. Thus anything that disturbed my calm had to be avoided. Life can get pretty uptight with that kind of misunderstanding..

These ideas come about because of the belief in control – the idea that dhammas can be willed into existence or non –existence, the idea that the mind is an entity. However, right understanding , be it ever so little, is a huge help in cutting through wrong view and can have an immediate benefit in our
daily life.

The more we understand the clearer it becomes. Upon first learning about Dhamma I found it easy to accept that the mind was changing and that it depended on conditions. But this wasn’t really understanding, becaused I still though that somehow the processes could be controlled.

It was after learning about the elements (dhatus), the khandhas, and the ayatanas that the truth of anatta, no control, began to make sense. Consider the eyesense. It arises because of a complex set of conditions lasts an infinitesimally short time and is then replaced by another eyesense. The conditions that arose to bring the bodysense into its brief existence are themselves conditioned by other equally brief conditions. Seeing consciousness depends on the eyesense as well as other ephemeral conditions. I could, and perhaps should, list many more conditions but I think this illustrates the point. How could any of this be controlled? Who could control it?

It seems almost paradoxical but the more we see into the truth of no-control the more relaxed we tend to become. Thus not much worry about when we die, whether we have a “good” death, where we will be reborn. Conditions will take care of all that by themselves. Our job is to understand; to literally get “ourselves” out of the picture.
Last edited by robertk on Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby robertk » Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:00 am

I think one main objection to the idea of no control is that it seems as one friend asked me "it is all on automatic, and there is nothing to do to influence it for better or worse?"



This needs the whole of the Patthana to explain it so I just give some hints. Your comment about determinism/freewill earlier is the question that haunts all aspects of philosophy and always will. Even the Christians used to argue it; cf. the debates betwen Erasmus and Luther .

To some extent I think trying to go onto automatic or something because one knows that theoretically there is no-self is like talking about letting go: only words.

As you know the crucial factor in the eight fold path is samma-ditthi, right view; and as you also know this is understanding that comprehends the real nature of dhammas that arise at the 6doors. This type of insight depends most crucially on hearing correct Dhamma from the Buddha or his disciples and reflecting in a correct and profound way on it. There are other factors listed such as discussion on subtle points which are said to assist insight.

Now these factors all depend to some degree on conditions that arise now, however they are also conditioned partly by conditions from the past. Even hearing deep Dhamma is to some extent a matter of vipaka conditioned by kamma a past factor. How fast and how deep one understands what one hears is largely conditioned by pubbekata punnata (merit done in the past).

If one has studied Dhamma for some time there should be growing appreciation that hearing and considering it leads to more understanding and detachment: This then conditions effort to hear more, consider more and 'let go' more and these are new conditions arising in the present, but built on past ones. Nevertheless, it doesn't always work that way; why does one person go so fast, so far and another doesn't. Venerable Sunnakhata was the Buddha's attendant before Ananda. He listened to Dhamma and attained Jhana, even to the degree of having special powers of hearing. But he eventually left the Buddha, spoke badly of the Dhamma, and followed ascetics who used to live a life of severe ascetism, copying dogs (dog-duty ascetics). Why, when he had all this going for him? The commentary says that this man had lived 500 consecutive past lives as a ascetic and had these tendencies. Even the Buddha's teaching couldn't overcome them. And so we see how dependent past factors are in conditioning behaviour. Of course Sunnakhata made choices, he had volitional control over what he did but what he couldn't see was that ditthi (wrong view)and lobha were underlying all his choices; such a hard delusion to see through.

In fact no one can stop volition because it is a conditioned dhamma. But when volition, along with other dhammas, is properly understood (a long process) there is detachment from taking volition for self. Sometimes because the results from this profound path are not quickly apparent one might lose confidence and look for something faster. However, I think other ways are dependent on conditions too. And if those conditions should be interrupted one might find that while they thought they were getting to the disease they were really only applying a palliative to the symptoms.

I do believe this rather radical way of seeing into the anattaness of all dhammas gradually gives a type of detachment that isn't shaken by anything. One doesn't expect any dhamma to give satisfaction because they are inherently unstable and every change, whether for better or worse, simply confirms this - at the micro and macro level. There has to be study directly of dhammas for any real insight - but this type of study is only real if it is done without desire. It goes against our natural instincts but the type of effort needed is something more profound than mere trying or watching.

While you are reading Dhamma there may be effort arising along with samadhi- concentration - that help any understanding that is arising.. These factors are conditioned by past paccaya (conditions), some of them very recent, and some I am sure from long ago when there was the development of wisdom in other lives. However , those past conditions aren't enough by themselves to invoke more insight and so other factors , especially hearing Dhamma, from the present are needed.

Also it is not that being in quiet places isn't helpful. In fact it can be very useful to be secluded and alone where there is time to devote oneself to contemplation. But this is a minor factor and not comparable to the main one of hearing Dhamma because without that ones 'contemplation' will be distorted by view. There are other factors helpful to wisdom also. Here is something from the Satipatthana sutta commentary: "Six things lead to the arising of this enlightenment factor(wisdom): Inquiring about the aggregates and so forth; the purification of the basis (namely, the cleaning of the body, clothes and so forth); imparting evenness to the (five spiritual) controlling faculties; avoiding the ignorant; associating with the wise; reflecting on the profound difference of the hard-to-perceive processes of the aggregates, modes (or elements), sense-bases and so forth; and the inclining (sloping, bending) towards the development of the enlightenment factor of the investigation of mental objects.

Inquiring about the aggregates and so forth means: seeking the meaning of the aggregates, the modes (or elements), sense-bases, controlling faculties, powers, enlightenment factors, way factors, absorption factors, the meditation for quietude, and the meditation for insight by asking for explanation of knotty points regarding these things in the Five Nikayas with the commentaries from teachers of the Dhamma.

Purification of the basis is the cleaning of the personal basis: the body, and of the impersonal basis: clothes and dwelling place. The flame of a lamp is unclear when its wick, oil and container are dirty; the wick splutters, flickers; but the flame of a lamp that has a clean wick, oil and container is clear and the wick does not spit; it burns smoothly. So it is with knowledge. Knowing that arises out of the mind and mental qualities which are in dirty external and internal surroundings is apt to be impure, too, but the knowledge that arises under clean conditions is apt to be pure. In this way cleanliness leads to the growth of this enlightenment factor which comprises knowledge.

Personal cleanliness is impaired by the excessive length of hair of the head, nails, hair of the body, by the excess of humours, and by the dirt of perspiration; cleanliness of impersonal or external things is impaired when robes are worn out, dirty and smelly, and when the house where one lives is dirty, soiled and untidy. So personal cleanliness should be secured by shaving, hair-cutting, nail-paring, the use of pectoral emetics and of purgatives which make the body light, and by shampooing, bathing and doing other necessary things, at the proper time. In similar way external cleanliness should be brought about by darning, washing and dyeing one's robes, and by smearing the floor of one's house with clay and the like to smoothen and clean it, and by doing other necessary things to keep the house clean and tidy. "endquote

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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:46 am


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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Wed Nov 17, 2010 10:52 am


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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:26 am


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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby kirk5a » Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:53 pm

"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:03 pm


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Alex123
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby Alex123 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:07 pm

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:19 pm

Hi Retro

If there were to be choice in an 'absolute' sense, there would have to be a self. But if there were to be 'choice' in a relative way/limited way then we can do without a self.

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