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Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal

Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

With regard to ideas presented by some here embracing unity experiences as being a marker for or an indication of enlightenment, I'd like to present some material from a reading of the early Buddhist perspective, a perspective from which many aspects of my own experience coincides, which may help others to sort out these important matters on an individual and personal basis. There is no need to engage in any kind of argument about these points; they are just being presented as an alternative to what has already been presented. As these point also coincide with the Pali discourses, they are in alignment with what evidence we have of what the Buddha actually taught.

The following excerpt is taken from Ven. Analayo's book Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization, the fourteenth chapter, section 4, complete with most footnoted entries. This excerpt includes all seven paragraphs of this section. It should provide for some eye-opening and illuminating discoveries.

XIV-4 Nibbana: Neither All-Embracing Unity Nor Annihilation

In order further to clarify the distinctive character of the Buddha's conception of Nibbana, in the remainder of this chapter I will set it off against the realization of all-embracing unity (as envisaged by the "non-dual" religious traditions), and also against annihilationism. While early Buddhism does not deny the distinction between subject and object, it does not treat this distinction as particularly important. Both are insubstantial, the subject being nothing other than a complex of interactions with the world (object), while to speak of a "world" is to speak of what is being perceived by the subject.

RE: Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal
nibbana non-dual unity
10/15/09 6:42 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Sorry for the poor job in transferring this thread over from the other forum. The rest of the post is found below.

The footnotes are included at the bottom of the post in this edition of the thread, and enhance the insight provided in the paragraphs themselves. They're well worth referring to as you read each paragraph.
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Unity, in terms of subjective experience, entails a merging of the subject with the object. Experiences of this kind are often the outcome of deep levels of concentration. Nibbana, on the other hand, entails a complete giving up of both subject and object, not a merger of the two.[58] Such an experience constitutes an "escape" from the entire field of cognition.[59] Although Nibbana partakes of non-duality in so far as it has no counterpart,[60] its implications nevertheless go far beyond experiences of oneness or unity.[61]

Experiences of oneness were actually not unknown to the early Buddhist community, but even their most refined forms, experienced with the immaterial attainments, were not considered to be the final goal.[62] Just as the Buddha himself did not feel satisfied with what he had experiences based on the indications received from his first teachers,[63] so he admonished his disciples to go beyond and transcend such "transcendental" experiences.[64] Some of his disciples had achieved various non-dual experiences, while others had realized full awakening without experiencing any of the immaterial attainments.[65] The latter were the living proof that such attainments, far from being identifiable with Nibbana, are not even necessary for its realization.

In order properly to assess the early Buddhist concept of Nibbana, it needs not only to be distinguished from other views based on experiences of unity, but also has to be differentiated from the theories of annihilation held among the deterministic and materialistic schools of ancient India. On several occasions the Buddha was in fact wrongly accused of being an annihilationist.[66] His humorous reply to such allegations was that he could rightly be called so if this meant the annihilation of unwholesome states of mind.

A consideration of the discourses shows that Nibbana is described in both positive and negative terms. Negative expressions occur frequently in a practical context, indicating the work still to be done. Other passages, however, refer to Nibbana with a variety of positive epithets, calling it a state of peace, of purity, and of freedom, sublime and auspicious, wonderful and marvelous, an island, a shelter, and a refuge.[68] The happiness of freedom contingent upon having realized Nibbana constitutes the highest possible form of happiness.[69] Described as the source of supreme happiness, as a state of freedom, sublime and auspicious, Nibbana seems to have little in common with mere annihilation.

In fact, according to the Buddha's penetrating analysis the attempt to annihilate self still revolves around a sense of selfhood, though being motivated by disgust with this self. In this way annihilationism is still in bondage to a sense of self, comparable to a dog moving in circles around a post to which it is bound.[70] Such craving for non-existence (vibhavatanha) forms indeed an obstacle to the realization of Nibbana.[71] As the Dhatuvibhanga Sutta explains, to think in terms of "I shall not be" is a form of conceiving as much as the thought: "I shall be".[72] Both are to be left behind in order to proceed to awakening.

To maintain that an arahant will be annihilated at death is a misunderstanding, since such a proposition argues the annihilation of something that cannot be found in a substantial sense even while one is still alive.[73] Therefore any statement concerning the existence or annihilation of an arahant after death turns out to be meaningless.[74] What Nibbana does imply is that the ignorant belief in a substantial self is annihilated, an "annihilation" which has already taken place with stream-entry. With full awakening, then, even the subtlest traces of grasping at a sense of self are forever "annihilated", which is but a negative way of expressing the freedom gained through realization. Fully awakened to the reality of selflessness, the arahant is free indeed, like a bird in the sky, leaving no tracks.[75]

58. e.g. SN IV 100 speaks of a cessation of all six sense-spheres, an expression which the commentary explains to refer to Nibbana (Spk II 391). Another relevant reference could be the standard description of stream-entry (e.g. at SN V 423), which speaks of the insight into the fact that whatever arises will also cease, an expression that may well hint at the subjective experience of Nibbana whence all conditionally arisen phenomena cease. Similarly the declarations of realization at MN III 265 and SN IV 58 point to a cessation experience.

59. MN I 38; this "escape" from the whole field of cognition is identified by the commentary with Nibbana (Ps I 176). Similarly Thi 6 refers to Nibbana as the stilling of all cognitions.

60. The question "what is the counterpart of Nibbana?" (at MN I 304) was a question which, according to the arahant nun Dhammadinna, cannot be answered. The commentary Ps II 369 explains that Nibbana has no counterpart.

61. This much can be deduced from a statement made by the Buddha (MN II 229-33) that with the direct experience of Nibbana all views and standpoints related to an experience of unity are left behind and transcended. Cf. also SN II 77, where the Buddha rejected the view "all is one" as one of the extremes to be avoided. Furthermore, according to AN IV 40 and AN IV 401, in different celestial realms either unity or diversified experiences prevail, so that a categorical statement like "all is one" would not accord with the early Buddhist description of cosmic reality.

62. The immaterial attainments are explicitly identified with "unity" at MN III 220. In fact the whole series begins with the injunction not to pay attention to diversified cognitions as a basis for developing the sphere of infinite space (e.g. at AN IV 306), which clearly indicates the unitary character of these experiences. At MN III 106 the four immaterial attainments are again qualified as "unity" (ekatta), each of them forming part of a gradual "descent" into emptiness. The culmination of this gradual descent is reached with the destruction of the influxes (MN III 108), at which point the qualification "unity" is no longer used. This passage clearly demonstrates that full awakening goes beyond even the most refined experiences of oneness. This discourse also indicates that there may be various types of "emptiness" experiences, but that it is the complete destruction of the influxes that determines whether (or not) an experience of emptiness does indeed constitute full awakening.

63. Cf. MN I 165, where the Buddha remarked about Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta that their teaching was not conducive to complete disenchantment and therefore not sufficient to realized Nibbana.

64. e.g. MN I 455-6, where the Buddha commented on each of the meditative absorptions in turn: "this is not enough, abandon it, I say, surmount it."

65. These were the arahant "freed by wisdom", who according to their canonical definition (i.e. at MN I 477) had destroyed the influxes without having experienced the immaterial attainments.

66. Vin III 2; AN IV 174; and AN IV 183. Cf. also Vin I 234; Vin III 3; MN I 140; and AN V 190; where the Buddha is also called a "nihilist."

68. SN IV 368-73 gives a long list of such epithets. A similar but shorter list occurs at AN IV 453.

69. Nibbana as the highest happiness occurs e.g. at MN I 508; Dhp 203; Dhp 204; and Thi 476. These expressions refer to the arahant's experience of the happiness of liberation, cf. e.g. MN II 104; SN I 196; Ud 1; Ud 10; and Ud 32. The superiority of this happiness over all other types of happiness is stated at Ud 11. However, it should be pointed out that Nibbana itself is not a felt type of happiness, since with Nibbana all feelings cease. This is documented at AN IV 414, where Sariputta stated that Nibbana is happiness. When questioned how there could possibly be happiness in the absence of any feeling, he explained that for him it was precisely the absence of feeling that constituted happiness. Similarly at MN I 400 the Buddha explained that he considered even the cessation of feelings and cognitions to constitute happiness, since he did not limit the concept of "happiness" to happy feelings only. Johanssen 1969: p. 25, explains that Nibbana is " 'a source of happiness' and not 'a state of happiness.' "

70. MN II 232.

71. Since it is one of the forms of craving included in the second noble truth (cf. e.g. SN V 421)

72. MN III 246

73. At SN IV 383, the destiny of an arahant after death posed a dilemma for the monk Anuradha, which he attempted to resolve by stating that it could be described in a way other than the four standard propositions used in ancient India in such discussions. After dismissing this (according to Indian logic impossible) fifth alternative, the Buddha led Anuradha to the conclusion that even while still alive an arahant cannot be identified with any of the five aggregates or with anything outside of them. The same reasoning can be found at SN III 112, where Sariputta rebuked the monk Yamaka for presuming that arahants are annihilated at death.

74. Sn 1074 compares the arahant to a flame which, once gone out, can no longer be reckoned in terms of "flame". Sn 1076 explains that there is no measuring of one who has thus gone out, since with all phenomena removed, all pathways of language are also removed. The only acceptable declaration to be made about arahants at death (cf. DN II 109 and DN III 135) is that "they enter the Nibbana element without remainder." This declaration is further explained at It 38 to imply that in the case of an arahant passing away, all that is felt and experienced, because it is no longer delighted in, will simply cool.

75. Dhp 93 and Th 92.

RE: Unity/non-duality experiences not the end goal
9/9/09 11:16 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Hi IanAnd2

Thanks for this interesting post. I just wanted to comment on the unity/non-duality angle as I have a very clear experience of unity from many years ago which I brought about from 20 minutes of straight concentration, which was tangibly different from my current experience of nonduality.

The unitive experience was that all was one with everything, and it felt like God. It was beautiful, and brought tears to my eyes. It did not last for long, and I never managed to reproduce it - probably because I never achieved that same level of concentration again. For the curious, I was walking to university focusing on the notion of being one with everything around me, and I did a type of noting where I would say of everything which came into my vision:

I am one with this tree
I am one with this footpath
I am one with this grass
I am one with this letterbox
I am one with this powerpole

and so it went for 20 minutes. Then BAM I merged with everything in the world. The oneness suddenly seemed obvious! I thought to myself "Of course!"

I think the passages you posted are probably warning against that type of unitive experience, which are very clearly a state rather than a stage. The following sentence perfectly states it for me:

"Unity, in terms of subjective experience, entails a merging of the subject with the object. Experiences of this kind are often the outcome of deep levels of concentration. Nibbana, on the other hand, entails a complete giving up of both subject and object, not a merger of the two."

Without getting into the complex topic of what exactly constitutes Nibbana and Arahatship vs Anagami, I can report an ongoing experience of the latter, here referred to as Nibbana. It is definitely not a unitive experience.

Best regards

RE: Unity/non-duality experiences not the end goal
9/10/09 5:29 PM as a reply to My Fragile Ego.
Craig Nichols:

I think the passages you posted are probably warning against that type of experience, which are very clearly a state rather than a stage. The following sentence perfectly states it for me:

"Unity, in terms of subjective experience, entails a merging of the subject with the object. Experiences of this kind are often the outcome of deep levels of concentration. Nibbana, on the other hand, entails a complete giving up of both subject and object, not a merger of the two."

Without getting into the complex topic of what exactly constitutes Nibbana and Arahatship vs Anagami, I can report an ongoing experience of the latter, here referred to as Nibbana. It is definitely not a experience.

Yes, your insight is spot on. But you left out some of the most informative ideas expressed in that paragraph, which on continuation reads: "Such an experience [that is, Nibbana] constitutes an 'escape' from the entire field of cognition. Although Nibbana partakes of non-duality in so far as it has no counterpart, its implications nevertheless go far beyond experiences of oneness or unity."

The post was meant as an alternative view or take based upon what the Buddha actually taught as opposed to some views that were making the rounds in the "Imagination" thread.

I, too, have gone through a fascination with the non-dual teaching of Advaita Vedanta earlier on in my training, thinking that I had found the end, only to eventually have to disavow myself of that view, coming to see it as a wrong view. "Advaita (literally, non-duality) is a monistic system of thought. 'Advaita' refers to the identity of the Self (Atman) and the Whole (Brahman). 'Brahman is the only truth, the world is illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and individual self.' " The problem with this is obvious: we still have a "self" being posited in Advaita Vedanta.

I didn't want others to make that same mistake, and to give them some reason on which to disavow themselves of it. Of course, it takes insight into the nature of anatta in order to do this. A lack of understanding of anatta is usually the sticking point that keeps people ensconced in the existential realms.

RE: Unity and on-duality experiences not the end goal
10/15/09 6:43 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Another take on this same theme, one that helped me to see and affirm the truth of what is taught in the Pali discourses, is one given by Bhikkhu Bodhi. His presentation is all so self-evident that it surprises me when people cannot see (comprehend) the essence of the points he makes. The following are a few insightful quotations taken from his essay Dhamma and Non-duality.

"For the Vedanta, non-duality (advaita) means the absence of an
ultimate distinction between the Atman, the innermost self, and Brahman,
the divine reality, the underlying ground of the world. From the
standpoint of the highest realization, only one ultimate reality exists
— which is simultaneously Atman and Brahman — and the aim of the
spiritual quest is to know that one's own true self, the Atman, is the
timeless reality which is Being, Awareness, Bliss. Since all schools of
Buddhism reject the idea of the Atman, none can accept the non-dualism
of Vedanta. From the perspective of the Theravada tradition, any quest
for the discovery of selfhood, whether as a permanent individual self or
as an absolute universal self, would have to be dismissed as a delusion,
a metaphysical blunder born from a failure to properly comprehend the
nature of concrete experience.
According to the Pali Suttas, the
individual being is merely a complex unity of the five aggregates, which
are all stamped with the three marks of impermanence, suffering, and
selflessness. Any postulation of selfhood in regard to this compound of
transient, conditioned phenomena is an instance of "personality view"
(sakkayaditthi), the most basic fetter that binds beings to the round
of rebirths
The attainment of liberation, for Buddhism, does not come
to pass by the realization of a true self or absolute "I," but through
the dissolution of even the subtlest sense of selfhood in relation to
the five aggregates, "the abolition of all I-making, mine-making, and
underlying tendencies to conceit."

The Mahayana schools, despite their great differences, concur in
upholding a thesis that, from the Theravada point of view, borders on
the outrageous. This is the claim that there is no ultimate difference
between samsara and Nirvana, defilement and purity, ignorance and
For the Mahayana, the enlightenment which the Buddhist
path is designed to awaken consists precisely in the realization of this
non-dualistic perspective.

The teaching of the Buddha as found in the Pali Canon does not endorse a
philosophy of non-dualism of any variety, nor, I would add, can a
non-dualistic perspective be found lying implicit within the Buddha's
...In contrast to the non-dualistic systems, the Buddha's
approach does not aim at the discovery of a unifying principle behind or
beneath our experience of the world. Instead it takes the concrete fact
of living experience, with all its buzzing confusion of contrasts and
tensions, as its starting point and framework, within which it attempts
to diagnose the central problem at the core of human existence and to
offer a way to its solution. Hence the polestar of the Buddhist path is
not a final unity but the extinction of suffering, which brings the
resolution of the existential dilemma at its most fundamental level.

The Buddha's Dhamma does not point us toward an all-embracing
absolute in which the tensions of daily existence dissolve in
metaphysical oneness or inscrutable emptiness. It points us, rather,
toward actuality as the final sphere of comprehension, toward things as
they really are (yathabhuta). Above all, it points us toward the Four
Noble Truths of suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the way to its
cessation as the liberating proclamation of things as they really are.
These four truths, the Buddha declares, are noble truths, and what
makes them noble truths is precisely that they are actual, undeviating,
invariable (tatha, avitatha, anannatha). It is the failure to face the
actuality of these truths that has caused us to wander for so long
through the long course of samsara
It is by penetrating these truths
exactly as they are that one can reach the true consummation of the
spiritual quest: making an end to suffering.

It is only natural for conditioned beings to want to prolong their existence, fearing its resolution: the escape from existence. But this is the final escape that the Buddha envisioned for himself and those he called "arahants." For some, it may seem to be a too exceedingly harsh reality for them to face and become unattached from. But such was the uncompromising vision of this man who sought simply to end humanity's suffering once and for all. You don't have to follow his example. But it would be nice if it would at least be acknowledged and differentiated from other descriptions of enlightenment and the Buddhist end goal of nibbana (or liberation).

RE: Unity/non-duality experiences not the end goal
9/13/09 6:52 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Dear Ian,

I appreciate this sort of theory in the abstract, as a scholar, and reader of the Pali texts, as well as appreciating the traditions and their little camps and dogmas.

Kenneth asked me to look at what was going on here and to comment, and I thought about going through this long and typical rant with tons of textual quotes about how:

1) non-duality is not unity, as already articulated above
2) you can find a lot about non-duality in the texts, even some of those you use, as it is a paradoxical concept, a not-this-not-that, and also not-(this-and-that), etc, as the Buddhist texts do very well, as do the traditional Pali ones and Mahayana texts such as Nagarjuna's and many others.
3) non-duality wasn't a term found then, so they obviously don't address it as such, etc.

More to the point, this sort of stuff just seems like a staggering waste of time to me these days. Either people practice or they don't, they either get stream entry or they don't, they either get arahatship, however defined or debated, or they don't, and all this talk won't help with the getting it side of all that much at all like investigation does, and so while the "my ultimate terms and teachings are better than your ultimate terms and teachings" debates rage on and on and on and on and on through the centuries, the practitioners all basically end up on the same page, though they don't all talk about in exactly the same way, but that's ok, really, so long as people get it.

Basically, the trick is to finish the thing, whatever you want to call that, and then it all looks like the bickering of small children who have just discovered the dark, selfish joys of "us against them" and "being more correct than thou" and fascinated by their ability to think, rather than people who know for themselves from their own experience saying, "Well, for this practitioner, in this circumstance, with these limitations and conceptual limitations and baggage, at this stage of practice, when imbalanced in this way, it might be of value to present this side or that side of these false paradoxes in this way to counterbalance them back into good practice so they will get it also," which has a very different feel and practicality from, "These are the exact words of some guy that were transmitted for 400 years as an oral tradition in a particular cultural context and reacting to these specific conditions, and they were written down about 2100 years ago, maybe, more are less, and perhaps transmitted accurately, but regardless, that's what he said, and so if you don't say it that way, you are wrong, so there," which is how these things usually seem to me these days, which is obviously problematic at best. I am not saying there isn't good stuff in the old texts, but really, this life, here and now, this practice, and the like should take precedence over scholars telling accomplished practitioners how wrong they are based on their reading of a book.

I never see my finished friends doing this, and it is no surprise. Thus, perhaps how to get it should be first, and how to help others get it second, realizing that this second on is contextual and thus open to various terminological and theoretical approaches as are useful to make people see what it is pointing to.

I'll start a place for theoreticians and traditionalists to get it all out, and when they are done, perhaps they will realize that on other threads are people who are actually getting it and eventually they will listen to what they have to say and do it.

RE: Unity/non-duality experiences not the end goal
9/15/09 7:41 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Apologies to anyone here who may have misinterpreted the intent of this thread. I probably should have made myself more clear at the beginning, so I accept the blame for any grief this misunderstanding may have caused anyone. Written words are not always an accurate reflection of the intent of a written piece, especially when placed in a general and relaxed setting like the present one; and in the rush to express an idea, I can see that should have taken more time and care to express myself more accurately so as not to be misunderstood.

As I endeavored to make plain at the beginning (but apparently failed, since the proprietor of the forum also took umbrage to the post) was that the material being presented was from a specific perspective so that readers who were not of that perspective could stop in their tracks and disregard the post. And that that perspective included my own experience and the experience of my particular choice of practice. It also included the experience of the writer (Ven. Analayo), who quite aside from being a scholar and a Buddhist monk, is also a quite accomplished practitioner who has taken the time to track down not only the meaning but the significance of the meaning expressed in the discourses. It was my thought that this might be of interest to others of this persuasion.

Though the quotation was not a direct quotation of my personal experience, it did express the essence of that experience in a way that I found to be particularly elucidating for anyone who had been through the same or similar experiences. In addition, it included the canonical references to back up the position of the writer. The writer expessed his ideas in a way that I wished I had been able to express them; so, what better way than to just play them back for the benefit of others who might also be interested in an alternative viewpoint.

Being new to this forum, I was unaware that this issue had already been thrashed over in another thread, which I just recently stumbled upon. Those who wish to argue back and forth (of which I am not one), may find that thread to be a happy hunting ground for combat and debate. Nathan M., with whom I am acquainted from other forums, started a thread titled "Is Non-duality Amoral?" wherein he had a go with others who were not practitioners of the kind of practice he follows, which is based upon an acceptance and realization of the truth taught in the Pali canon and followed by classic Theravada schools. While I am not a classicist in terms of the Theravada, I do share Nathan's respect and adherence to the Pali canon. And from that perspective, I tend to agree with the views he presented in that thread. His practice regimen and experience, it would seem, has paralleled and reflected my own.

Not only does Nathan's practice reflect my own, but I have other friends whose practice regimens have been similar to mine who have reported the very same realizations regarding their own practices. So, I don't come to this issue without a great deal of actual hands on and corroborated experience. Just as Nathan has expressed in his thread on this topic, I really could care less what other people "believe" or want to accept as true. That's their prerogative and business. It makes no difference to me. As Nathan stated, "If that is what people are willing to settle for, fine, I have no investment in other peoples choices."

What this seems to basically come down to is a difference of opinion about what sources to accept as authentic Buddhadhamma. I cannot take that decision for anyone else just as no one else can take that decision for me. I happen, for a variety of reasons of which I will limit myself from expanding on, to accept the Pali canon as the original source for information on the instruction for the practice while others do not. There is really nothing I can do about that. It is all a matter of what one is able to discern and to accept from personal experience which assists one in making these determinations.

While I agree that personal experience in the practice should take precedence over "scholars telling accomplished practitioners" how to rightly practice, my point was not to use these quotations as any kind of "authoritative" source to "bully" readers into any kind of mindset or acceptance of ideas, but rather to present them as an alternative to what was being presented elsewhere in the DhO and to encourage independent thought and contemplation on the matters being discussed. To characterize this as anything other than that would be to unfairly submit one's own agenda for approval over the stated intention of the presentation made.

For anyone who really knows me (which includes no one on this forum), I am the last person to accuse of promoting the "dogma" or "theories" of any "religious" tradition over the actual practice of dedicated practioners seeking to understand and complete whatever path they are following. I spent time as a monastic in a religious order where quite a bit of that "closed fist" mentality was done. So I am particularly aware of and sensitive to this issue. More than anyone here might ever suspect, given the general tone of my posts. I am neither a fan of "religion" in general nor an adherent to any dogma that any religion might promote. When I find something that corresponds with my own experience, however, I like to share that with others (regardless of where it originated). If what I shared had the appearance of dogma to some, I have little influence to disengage them of that perception. That perception belongs to them.

Another basic area of disagreement might be in the realm of what constitutes "stream entry." Not being familar with what others here accept as a marker for the path of "stream entry," I do recall the moment when I became inextricably absorbed in the Buddhadhamma as the authentic path to freedom and liberation. It came after several months of study, practice, and contemplation in a moment when I realized in great detail the truth and the efficacy of the Noble Eightfold Path. I could see the sense and rationale for the path (sila, samadhi, and panna) that the Buddha had outlined because I had already walked down that path a ways, and I understood what he was getting at with an immediacy that knocked me over just as much as a Zen master's kensho stick swipe to my back. I'm not saying that anyone should take that as a defining example of "stream entry." I'm only sharing my experience.

It was in that moment that I knew I was hooked. There was an unshakable confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the sangha. All I needed to do was to walk the path because I could see where it was leading. Did I necessarily accept the classic Theravada definition of having put an end to the first three fetters? Since they seemed to be an accurate reflection of my experience, I certainly used the Ten Fetters of Existence map as a guidepost for my practice, and did my best to reflect on them from time to time throughout my training.

So, my apology to anyone who may have misinterpreted this thread. I accept responsibility for the poor choice in wording I may have used which may have led to this misinterpretation.

RE: Unity/non-duality experiences not the end goal
9/19/09 12:20 PM as a reply to Ian And.
As to the definition of stream entry, might check out such works as Practical Insight Meditation, by Mahasi Sayadaw, or Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, by me, available here on the wiki and at, and realize that the A&P (Arising and Passing Away) conveys a lot of the benefits you state, but stream enterers have vastly enhanced capabilities that you would be likely to recognize. I would recommend learning more about the maps, as there is much to say on them that is more interesting than the Ten Fetters. As to those who you claim have eliminated completely from experience some or all of the Ten Fetters, it would be interesting to know who you are referring to specifically and how they actually describe this in detail, as that sort of thing is more interesting than stating you have friends whose experience matches the traditional models without specifics. The first three are no biggie, but by second path, there is some tension between what actually happens and how the traditional models describe it, thought they are getting at something.

RE: Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal
10/15/09 6:45 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Missing, perhaps, from the initial post of this thread is a kind of preface to the section which was quoted. The following quoted section comes just prior to the section titled XIV.4 Nibbana: Neither All-Embracing Unity Nor Annihilation, and in essence it sets up the section (just mentioned) which follows it. In this present section, Ven. Analayo defines for the reader the canonical definition of nibbana as he finds it expressed in the Pali discourses. Those who follow and accept the discourses as being the most authentic record of Gotama's teachings will be interesed to consider this definition in light of what they have experienced on the path. Included here, too, are the footnotes for those who wish to look up the references given in the text.

By way of explanation, the parenthetical references to the various books of the Sutta Pitaka within the footnotes refer to the English translations of these books from the Wisdom Publications editions of the Majjhima Nikaya or MN, the Digha Nikaya or DN, and the Samyutta Nikaya or SN. The Anguttara Nikaya (AN) is referred to here in Analayo's footnotes simply by the letter "A" followed by the book and section number in which the passage is found in the (as yet untranslated by Wisdom Publications) Pali version. By way of further note, the Anguttara Nikaya is currently available in an anthology form published by a different publisher: Numerical Discourses of the Buddha published by AltaMira Press. For anyone who possesses these books, they can go to these abbreviated designations in order to quickly look up the passages being noted. Also, emboldened emphasis is mine.

[quote="Analayo, Satipatthana, pg. 260"] XIV.3 The Early Buddhist Conception of Nibbana

The early Buddhist conception of Nibbana was not easily understood by contemporary ascetics and philosophers [during the Buddha's lifetime]. The Buddha's consistent refusal to go along with any of the four standard propositions about the survival or the annihilation of an arahant after death was rather bewildering to his contemporaries.[47] According to the Buddha, to entertain these different propositions was as futile as to speculate about the direction in which a fire had departed once it had gone out.[48]

The Buddha found the existing ways of describing a state of realization or awakening inadequate to his realization.[49] His understanding of Nibbana constituted a radical departure from the conceptions of the time. He was well aware of this himself, and after his awakening he immediately reflected on the difficulty of conveying what he had realized to others.[50]

Despite these difficulties, the Buddha did try to explain the nature of Nibbana on several occasions. In the Udana, for instance, he spoke of Nibbana as something beyond this world or another world, beyond coming, going, or staying, beyond the four elements representing material reality, and also beyond all immaterial realms. This "sphere" (ayatana), he pointed out, objectless and without any support, constitutes "the end of suffering."[51] This description shows that Nibbana refers to a dimension completely different from ordinary experiences of the world, and also different from experiences of meditative absorption.

Other discourses refer to such a totally different experience as a "non-manifestative" consciousness.[52] A related nuance comes up in a somewhat poetic passage that compares the "unstationed" consciousness of an arahant to a ray of sunlight passing through the window of a room without an opposing wall; the ray does not land anywhere.[53]

Another discourse in the Udana describes Nibbana with the help of a set of past participles as "not-born" (a-jata), "not-become" (a-bhuta), "not-made" (a-kata), and "not-conditioned" (a-sankhata).[54] This passage again emphasizes that Nibbana is completely "other," in that it is not born or made, not produced or conditioned. It is owing to this "otherness" that Nibbana constitutes freedom from birth (jati), becoming (bhava), karma (kamma), and formations (sankhara).[55] Birth (jati) in a way symbolizes existence in time, while Nibbana, not being subject to birth or death, is timeless or beyond time.[56]

These passages show that Nibbana is markedly different from any other experience, sphere, state, or realm. They clearly indicate that as long as there is even a subtle sense of a somewhere, a something, or a someone, it is not yet an experience of Nibbana.

47. e.g. at MN I 486 (MN 72; Aggivacchagotta Sutta)

48. M I 487 (MN 72.17)

49. At M I 329 (MN 49.10) the Nibbanic realization (the "non-manifestative consciousness") forms part of what almost amounts to a contest in which the Buddha proved that his realization was entirely beyond the ken of Brahma, demonstrating metaphorically that it went beyond the hitherto known and valued types of realization.

50. M I 167 (MN 26.19) and S I 136 (SN 6). On the difficulty of describing Nibbana with ordinary language.

51. Ud 80. In this context "sphere" (ayatana) could be taken to refer to a "sphere" of experience, since on other occasions the same set of terms forms part of a description of meditative experience, cf. A V 7 (AN V 7); A V 319 (AN V 319); A V 353 (AN V 353); A V 355 (NA V 355); A V 356 (AN V 356); and A V 358 (AN V 358). Mp V 2 relates these passages to the fruition-attainment of an arahant.

52. The anidassana vinnana at D I 223 (DN 11.85; Kevaddha Sutta). On this passage cf. also Nanananda, Concept and Reality, p. 66.

53. S II 103 (SN 12.64), where due to the complete absence of craving for any of the four nutriments, consciousness is "unstationed" (appatitthita), this in turn resulting in freedom from future becoming.

54. Ud 80 and It 37 (Itivuttaka 37). On this passage cf. (David) Kalupahana, A History of Buddhist Philosophy: Continuities and Discontinuities, pg. 92; and (K. R.) Norman, "Mistaken Ideas about Nibbana", in The Buddhist Forum, University of London, 1991-3, vol III, pg. 220.

55. D III 275 (DN 34 1.3) and It 61 (Itivuttaka 61).

56. Cf. e.g. M I 162 (MN 26.5), where one's wife, children, and material possessions are defined as phenomena subject to birth, followed by classifying Nibbana as not subject to birth.

RE: Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal
10/15/09 7:23 PM as a reply to Ian And.
In the above quoted passage from Ven. Analayo's book Satipatthana, the key to comprehending the Buddha's unique understanding of Nibbana is contained within the last three paragraphs of this passage. Here, we find reference to a "non-manifestative" consciousness (anidassana vinnana) wherein the consciousness of the arahant is compared to a room in which a ray of sunlight passes through a window in a room without an opposing wall. The sunlight (which stands as a metaphor for any activity such as seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting etcetera) has no place to land, and therefore has no effect on the room. The image of the room itself is representative of the mind of the arahant, which remains unmoved by the sunlight. In other words, there is no happiness or unhappiness, gladness or sadness, or any other emotional response at the manifestation of the sunlight through the window. The sunlight, therefore, has nowhere to land in order to elicit a response. This is one aspect of the significance of this passage.

Another aspect of its significance lies in the commentary alluded to by Analayo's reference to Nanananda's book Concept and Reality, wherein the latter explains the significance of the negative references "not-born, not-made, not-become, not-conditioned." Nanananda states (pgs. 66-67) that: "Terms like long and short, subtle and gross, pleasant and unpleasant as well as name-and-form could easily be comprehended by the standard phrase 'whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after and traversed by the mind.' . . . This consciousness of the Arahant is one that manifests nothing of our worldly concepts. It does not 'il-lustrate' (Lat. lustro, 'bright') anything though (or because) it is itself 'all-lustrous,' for darkness can never be illustrated or made manifest by light.[1] With his penetrative insight [2] the Arahant sees through the concepts. Now, an object of perception (arammana) for the worldling is essentially something that is brought into focus — something he is looking at. For the Arahant, however, all concepts have become transparent to such a degree in that all-encompassing vision, that their boundaries together with their umbra and penumbra have yielded to the radiance of wisdom.[3] This, then, is the significance of the word 'anantam' (endless, infinite). Thus the paradoxically detached gaze of the contemplative sage as he looks through concepts is one which has no object (arammana) as the point of focus for the worldling to identify it with. It is a gaze that is neither conscious nor non-conscious,[4] neither attentive nor non-attentive,[5] neither fixed nor not fixed[6] — a gaze that knows no horizon."[7]

And now we have come full circle in our comprehension of the term "non-manifestative" consciousness to see that it refers to a state of mind that is unmoved by the phenomena of the exterior world or of the interior mental world of the human being. Through dispassion, the mind of the arahant remains still, calm, and peaceful. By means of wisdom, it does not manifest itself in any way through self-identification with any phenomenon, either physical or mental. It knows, as a result of its penetrative analysis and realization of the truth of anatta (selflessness), that all phenomena are without self-nature.

This then allows us to understand the negative references of which the Buddha made use. Because of this non-manifestative consciousness of the arahant, we are able to understand more easily the Buddha's description of Nibbana as not-born, not-made, not-become, not-conditioned. The mind, in this dispassionate "state" or "sphere," remains unable to be moved by events, whether they be inner or outer events. Because of the penetrative light of wisdom (clear knowingness), it does not create an unreal phenomenon where an unreal phenomenon is not. In other words, it does not make something out of nothing. Another way of stating this is that it sees selflessness for what it is: selflessness and emptiness. It is in this way that Nibbana is not born, not made, not become, not conditioned — by means of the illusion having been recognized for that which it is: an empty insubstantial vision (or illusion).

We are now able to more completely understand Analayo's insistance that: ". . . Nibbana is completely 'other,' in that it is not born or made, not produced or conditioned. It is owing to this 'otherness' that Nibbana constitutes freedom from birth (jati), becoming (bhava), karma (kamma), and formations (sankhara). Birth (jati) in a way symbolizes existence in time, while Nibbana, not being subject to birth or death, is timeless or beyond time." This explains why the self-realized arahant is freed from the usual Round of Birth (rebirth) that the ordinary worldly is still subject to. His dispassion toward the world and "things worldly" frees him from having to return to the existential worlds at the end of his present lifetime. And that dispassion is in large measure based upon his attainment of wisdom (clear knowingness) regarding the true nature of reality, which the Buddha has already described (and conversely the arahant has realized) as anicca, dukkha, and anatta.


1. AN II 24

2. nibbedhika-panna, panna pativedha, annapativedha (pativyadh, "to pierce")

3. Let this be an allusion to the three realms, kama (sensuous), rupa (fine material) and arupa (formless).

4. na sanni assa, sanni ca pana assa.

5. na manasikareyya, manasi ca pana kareyya.

6. na jhayati, jhayati ca pana.

7. "By what track can you lead that Awakened One who is trackless and whose range is endless and to whom there is not that entangling net of craving to lead anywhere?" — Dhp. 180

"Hard to see is the 'endless' — not easy 'tis to see the truth. Pierced through is craving — and naught for him who knows and sees." — Ud. 80

RE: Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal
10/15/09 9:19 PM as a reply to Ian And.
hi ian,

i like what you've posted. can you write more about (or quote more of) analayo's view of what constitutes arahathood? does he subscribe to the 10-fetters model?


RE: Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal
10/16/09 2:12 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
the prisoner greco:
hi ian,

i like what you've posted. can you write more about (or quote more of) analayo's view of what constitutes arahathood? does he subscribe to the 10-fetters model?


Hello tarin,

Analayo's view of what constitutes an arahant is similar to my own view, which is based upon the record left us in the discourses. This is why I include the references to the suttas (as they are referenced in the text and the footnotes) so that those who have translations can "see for themselves" according to the translation they have and then make their own personal determination of how appropriate (or not) the reference is to their own experience.

I'm rather partial to listening to and following the "horse's mouth" (the man we know from the record of his discourse as Siddhattha Gotama, in this case) when it comes to such subtle practices like the Noble Eightfold Path. I've never been a fan of the commentaries (although on occasion some of the commentaries can be helpful) or those who go strictly by the commentaries (as in the case of some orthodox Theravada and Abhidhammika adherents). But when someone can show me "yes, this is where the Buddha said this or that" then I'm willing to look and verify whether or not it accords with my experience. And whether or not they are reading somewhat more (or less) into the quotation than is necessarily there in the translation I'm using.

With regard to Analayo's view of arahatta and the model of the ten fetters, you will have to infer such yourself, as he does not directly refer to the ten fetters (in their completeness, that is, as a model) in the instances (from the book's index) where he references arahants in the text. Yet, even so, one can obtain a fairly accurate idea of what the suttas prescribe from the references he has used.

With regard to "quot more of analayo's view of what constitutes arahathood" you are asking for the gold mine of one of the reasons why I like his book so much and recommend it to serious practitioners who follow or are interested to confirm their experience using the discourses. It is because I think he has captured, in the concentrated form of this book, the essence of the path as it has been explained in the suttas. For advanced practitioners, this information is indispensable (just my opinion) for self-evaluation and corroboration of one's understanding of the original teaching. I have learned from bitter experience that relying on someone else's interpretation of what the Buddha taught (such as certain of the orthodox Theravada, Tibetan, or Zen/Chan schools) can be fraught with misapprehensions and outright "wrong views."

You'll have to give me some time to post these references here in another post (or posts) as they can tend to be extensive, and I'm a relatively slow typist. There are eleven such references to "arahants" within the text (many of which include clarifying footnotes). I have gone through all eleven of the references, and I think you will be well pleased with the scope of the ground they cover.


RE: Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal
10/17/09 2:03 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
the prisoner greco:
can you write more about (or quote more of) analayo's view of what constitutes arahathood?

In the interest of context and space, I will only quote as much as necessary from the text as will be needed for understanding the references within the context of the text. Many of these references contain valuable hints, underlying clues, and fascinating insights into the process of the practice as well as what may lie beyond having attained the final goal. When appropriate, I will include personal comments for additional clarification.

The first reference occurs on the following page in the first chapter, General Aspects of the Direct Path:

Pg. 21
A flexible and comprehensive development of satipatthana should encompass all aspects of experience, in whatever sequence they occur. All satipatthanas can be of continual relevance throughout one's progress along the path. The practice of contemplating the body, for example, is not something to be left behind and discarded at some more advanced point in one's progress. Much rather, it continues to be a relevant practice even for an arahant.[12] Understood in this way, the meditation exercises listed in the Satipatthana Sutta can be seen as mutually supportive. The sequence in which they are practiced may be altered in order to meet the needs of each individual meditator.

12. Cf. e.g. SN V 326, which reports that the Buddha himself, after his awakening, still continued to practice mindfulness of breathing.

Comment: I find it to be an interesting clue that despite having reached awakening, the Buddha is reported to have continued to practice meditation, and that he never really ever gave it up. Reporting this fact also allows us to see the humanized side of the Buddha, rather than a religious demigod as he is so often portrayed in orthodox Buddhist literature. In my own experience, I cannot foresee ever giving up the practice either as it has become a useful tool for contemplation on all sorts of issues (over and above those mentioned for expertise in the Dhamma) as well as an added booster for the cultivation of sati.

The next reference occurs in the chapter on Sati. There was need to set up the referenced paragraph with a brief passage from the preceding paragraph:

pg. 54
Here sati is compared to the elephant's neck, the natural support for its head, which in the same simile represents wisdom. The choice of the elephant's neck is of additional significance, since it is a characteristic of both elephants and Buddhas to look around by turning the whole body instead of only with the head.[40] The elephant's neck, then, represents the quality of giving full attention to a matter at hand as a feature of sati.

Although the "elephant look" is a specific characteristic of the Buddha, to give continuous and full attention to a matter at hand is a characteristic common to all arahants.[41] This is illustrated in another simile, which compares sati to the single spoke of a chariot.[42] In this simile, the rolling chariot represents the bodily activities of an arahant, all of which take place with the support of a single spoke — sati.

40. M II 137 (MN 91) depicts the Buddha turning his whole body whenever looking back. This "elephant look" of the Buddha is again documented at D II 122 (DN 16); while M I 337 (MN 50) reports the same for the Buddha Kakusandha.

41. According to Mil 266, arahants never lose their sati.

42. S IV 292. The whole simile originally comes up at Ud 76, where it is only the commentary, Ud-a 370, which relates the single spoke to sati. Though the image of a single spoke might appear strange, as long as this spoke is strong enough (viz. the arahant's presence of sati), it is capable of providing the required connection between hub and rim to form a wheel.

Comment: This insight about the importance of the cultivation of sati (not only on the journey of treading the path but also afterwards — after the path has been attained) is something that has also struck my attention and been part of my experience. The reference that "arahants never lose their sati" is something that I can verify from personal experience of having been around such people who retain this characteristic.

The next reference occurs in the chapter on Feelings. I have added the three preceding paragraphs for further clarification of the referenced paragraph at the end:

pg. 159
Unlike his ascetic contemporaries, the Buddha did not categorically reject all pleasant feelings, nor did he categorically recommend unpleasant experiences for their supposedly purifying effect. Instead, he placed emphasis on the mental and ethical consequences of all types of feeling. With the help of the above sixfold classification, this ethical dimension becomes apparent, uncovering in particular the relation of feelings to the activation of a latent mental tendency (anusaya) towards lust, irritation, or ignorance. As the Culavedalla Sutta points out, the arising of these underlying tendencies is mainly related to the three worldly types of feelings, whereas unworldly pleasant or neutral feelings arising during deep concentration, or unworldly unpleasant feelings arising owing to dissatisfaction with one's spiritual imperfection, do not stimulate these underlying tendencies.

The conditional relation between feelings and such mental tendencies is of central importance, since by activating these latent tendencies, feelings can lead to the arising of unwholesome mental reactions. The same principle underlies the corresponding section of the twelve links of dependent co-arising (paticca samuppada), where feelings form the condition that can lead to the arising of craving (tanha).

This crucially important conditional dependence of craving and mental reactions on feeling probably constitutes the central reason why feelings have become one of the four satipatthanas. In addition, the arising of pleasant or unpleasant feelings is fairly easy to notice, which makes feelings convenient objects of meditation.

A prominent characteristic of feelings is their ephemeral nature. Sustained contemplation of this ephemeral and impermanent nature of feelings can then become a powerful tool for developing disenchantment with them.[14] A detached attitude toward feelings, owing to awareness of their impermanent nature, is characteristic of experiences of an arahant.[15]

14. This is exemplified at A IV 88 (AN IV 88), where the Buddha elaborates the injunction "nothing is worth clinging to" by teaching contemplation of the impermanent nature of feelings, a contemplation he then showed to be capable of leading to realization.

15. M III 244 (MN 140) describes the arahant's detached attitude to feelings owing to his or her understanding of their impermanent nature.

Comment: The comments made in the second paragraph here are of immense importance (my opinion) in the process of realization. By becoming aware of "feeling" (vedana) in all its manifestations within one's mental sphere, one can track down in real time the arising of mental tendencies, seeing where and how they arise, and thus with the help of sati, be able to deal with them in their infant stage before they blossom into something more overwhelming.

RE: Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal
10/17/09 2:30 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
These next two references are fairly long, so I'm devoting a separate post to them.

The next reference occurs in the chapter on Mind, in a sub-section entitled Four "Ordinary" States of Mind. I have included the first four paragraphs in order to set up the context for the paragraph in which the reference takes place:

pg. 177-78
Citta, the Pali term used in this satipatthana, usually refers in the discourses to "mind" in the conative and emotional sense, in the sense of one's mood or state of mind.

The firsts three among the states of mind listed in the satipatthana instruction are lust (raga), anger (dosa), and delusion (moha), the three main roots of all unwholesome mental events. The basic principle underlying the contemplation of these unwholesome roots, which also underlies the distinction between worldly and unworldly feelings in the previous satipatthana, is the clear distinction between what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. Systematic development of this ability nurtures an intuitive ethical sensitivity which constitutes an important asset in one's progress on the path and a reliable guide to proper conduct in life.

The Satipatthana Sutta presents each of these "roots" together with its opposite: the absence of lust, anger, or delusion. This way of presentation is common in canonical usage, allowing the negative term to cover not only the opposite notion, but also to imply a wider range of meaning. Thus to be "without anger", for example, could refer simply to a state of mind free from irritation, but also to a mind overflowing with loving kindness.

During meditation, each of these three unwholesome roots can manifest in a distinctive manner: the fever of lust may be compared to being on fire within, the physical tension of anger to being overpowered and controlled by a forceful opponent, and the confusion of delusion to being hopelessly entangled in a net.[16]

Taken in an absolute sense, a mind without lust, anger, and delusion is the mind of an arahant. [17] This way of understanding is in fact the most frequent usage of the qualification "without lust", "without anger", and "without delusion" in the discourses. Thus the contemplation of the mind appears to be not only concerned with momentary states of mind, but also with the overall condition of the mind. Understood in this way, to contemplate mind unaffected by lust, anger, or delusion would also include awareness of the degree to which these three unwholesome roots are no longer "rooted" in one's mental continuum.[18]

16. Dhp 251 poetically points out that there is no fire like lust, no grip like anger, and no net like delusion. Buddhadasa (Mindfulness with Breathing): pg. 67, suggests distinguishing between mental tendencies such as "pulling in", "pushing away", and "running around in circles", in order to recognize the three unwholesome roots.

17. Cf. e.g. M I 5 (MN 1), where arahants are said to be free from these three through their eradication; M I 65 (MN 11), which refers to realized ascetics as free from lust, anger, and delusion; M I 236 (MN 35) and S I 220 (SN 3.24), where the Buddha referred to himself as free from lust, anger, and delusion; and A III 43; A III 336; and A III 347, which associate such freedom to absence of the influxes.

18. Cf. e.g. A IV 404, where awareness of their absence is part of the reviewing knowledge of an arahant.

Comment: Of particular note for me was mention in footnote 17 regarding the freedom from the influence of the "influxes" (or what are otherwise known as the asavas). The asavas, according to Analayo's explanation, are mental influxes [or more familiarly, mental formations] which can "flow into and thereby influence the perceptual process. As with the underlying tendencies, this influence operates without conscious intention. The influxes arise owing to unwise attention (ayoniso manasikara) and to ignorance (avijja). To counteract and prevent the arising of the influxes is the central aim of the monastic training rules laid down by the Buddha, and their successful eradication (asavakkhaya) is a synonym for full awakening."

The next reference occurs in the chapter on Dhammas: The Hindrances. In order to properly present the reference (which is found in the fifth paragraph here), I have included several other paragraphs to provide the context for the reference:

pgs. 193-195
By turning a hindrance into an object of meditation, the mere presence of awareness can often lead to dispelling the hindrance in question. Should bare awareness not suffice, more specific antidotes are required. In this case, sati has the task of supervising the measures undertaken for removing the hindrance, by providing a clear picture of the actual situation, without however getting involved itself and thereby losing its detached observational vantage point.

Clearly recognizing the conditions for the arising of a particular hindrance not only forms the basis for its removal, but also leads to an appreciation of the general pattern of its arising. Such appreciation lays bare the levels of conditioning and misperceptions that cause the arising of a hindrance, and thereby contributes to preventing its recurrence.

Sustained observation will reveal the fact that frequently thinking or dwelling on a particular issue produces a corresponding mental inclination, and thus a tendency to get caught up in ever more thoughts and associations along the same lines.[41] In the case of sensual desire (kamacchanda), for example, it wll become evident that its arising is due not only to outer objects, but also to an inclination towards sensuality embedded within one's own mind.[42] This sensual tendency influences the way one perceives outer objects and thence leads to the full-blown arising of desire, and various attempts to satisfy this desire.[43]

The particular dynamic of sensual desire is such that, every time a sensual desire is gratified, the act of gratification fuels ever stronger subsequent manifestations of the same desire.[44] With detached observation it will become apparent that gratification of sensual desires is based on a misconception, on searching for pleasure in the wrong place.[45] As the Buddha pointed out, the way to inner peace and composure necessarily depends on gaining independence from this vortex of desire and gratification.[46]

A passage in the Anguttara Nikaya offers an intriguing psychological analysis of the underlying causes of sensual desire. According to this discourse, the search for satisfaction through a partner of the other gender is related to one's identification with the characteristics and behavior of one's own gender.[47] That is, to search for union externally implies that one is still caught up in the limitations of one's own gender identity. This shows that the affective investment inherent in identifying with one's gender role and behavior forms an important link in the arising of sensual desire. In contrast arahants, who have eradicated even the subtlest traces of identification, are unable to engage in sexual intercourse.[48]

Just as the arising of sensual desire can be analysed in terms of its psychological underpinnings, so too the absence of sensual desire depends on an intelligent management of the same psychological mechanisms. Once one has at least temporarily escaped from the vicious circle of continuous demands for satisfaction, it becomes possible to develop some form of counterbalance in one's perceptual appraisal.[49] If excessively dwelling on aspects of external beauty has led to frequent states of lust, contemplation directed towards the less appealing aspects of the body can lead to a progressive decrease in such states of mind.

Examples for such counterbalancing can be found among the satipatthana meditation practices, in particular the contemplations of the anatomical constitution of the body and of a decaying corpse. In addition to these, restraint of the senses, moderation with food, wakefulness, and awareness of the impermanent nature of all mental events are helpful measures in order to prevent the arising of sensual desire.[50]

Similar approaches are appropriate for the other hindrances, in each case entailing the establishment of some form of counterbalance to the conditions that tend to stimulate the arising of the hindrance. In the case of aversion (byapada), often the irritating or repulsive feature of phenomena has received undue attention. A direct antidote to such one-sided perception is to ignore the negative qualities of whoever is causing one's irritation, and to pay attention instead to whatever positive qualities can be found in him or her. By no longer paying attention to the matter, or by reflecting on the inevitability of karmic retribution, it becomes possible to develop equanimity.[52]

41. M I 115 (MN 19)
42. S I 22 (SN 1.33)
43. S II 151 (SN 2.11)
44. M I 508 (MN 75)
45. M I 507 (MN 75)
46.M I 508 (MN 75)
47. A IV 57

48. e.g. at D III 133 (DN 29). The eradication of sensual desire has already taken place at the level of non-returning.

49. Th 1224-5 explains that a distorted cognition of sensuality can be counterbalanced by avoiding sensually alluring objects, by directing attention to the unattractive aspects of the body, by mindfulness of the body (in general), and by developing disenchantment.

50. A IV 166. At S IV 110 (SN 35.125) monks are encouraged to look on women as if they are their own mother, sister, or daughter. The same discourse (at S IV 112 [SN 35.127]) documents the particular importance of sense-restraint, since out of the various methods mentioned for countering sensual desire, sense-restraint turned out to be the only acceptable explanation for the ability of even young monks to live in celibacy.

52. These come at A III 185 as part of altogether five antidotes: developing loving kindness, compassion, equanimity, inattention, and reflecting on karma.

Comment: If this were my piece, I would amend the end of the last sentence in the fifth paragraph to read: "In contrast arahants, who have eradicated even the subtlest traces of identification, don't have the inclination to engage in sexual intercourse." It is not that arahants cannot or "are unable to engage in" sexual intercourse; it is that they most often, when presented with the opportunity, will not, as it no longer holds the fascination it once held.

The bordering on obsessive use within certain quarters of the Theravada to always portray arahants as "unable to do" this or that or "thus and such does not occur in an arahant", making a definitive negative assertion on behalf of this level of development just does not always seem to square with rationality or reality. Such assertions smell of the aura of religious dogma, which should have no place in any area of this kind. These assertions make it seem almost impossible that any living being would ever be able to reach such a condition, which in turn can, in some cases, discourage the practice of mental development.

RE: Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal
10/17/09 2:56 AM as a reply to Ian And.
The next reference occurs in the chapter on Dhammas: The Aggregates. While the reference made here in the fourth paragraph does not mention the designation "arahant," it does speak about "awakened monks and nuns" in conjunction with the importance of penetrating the meaning and significance of the "five aggregates of clinging." The following passages are at the very beginning of this chapter:

pgs. 201-203
The present satipatthana exercise examines the five aggregates which constitute the basic components that make up "oneself". The instructions are:

He knows "such is material form, such its arising, such its passing away; such is feeling, such its arising, such its passing away; such is cognition, [Analayo uses the word 'cognition' in place of the more familiar term 'perception'] such its arising, such its passing away; such are volitions, such their arising, such their passing away; such is consciousness, such its arising, such its passing away."[1]

Underlying the above instructions are two stages of contemplation: clear recognition of the nature of each aggregate, followed in each case by awareness of its arising and passing away. I will fist attempt to clarify the range of each aggregate. Then I will examine the Buddha's teaching of anatta within its historical context, in order to investigate the way in which the scheme of the five aggregates can be used as an analysis of subjective experience. After that I will consider the second stage of practice, which is concerned with the impermanent and conditioned nature of the aggregates. [The second stage he is referring to here is the second stage of the contemplation on the five aggregates using the practice of satipatthana. The first stage is the analysis of identifying each of the aggregates in one's experience of them.]

Clearly recognizing and understanding the five aggregates is of considerable importance, since without fully understanding them and developing detachment from them it will not be possible to gain complete freedom from dukkha.[2] Indeed, detachment and dispassion regarding these five aspects of subjective personality leads directly to realization.[3] The discourses, and the verses composed by awakened monks and nuns, record numerous cases where a penetrative understanding of the true nature of the five aggregates culminated in full awakening.[4] These instances highlight the outstanding potential of this particular satipatthana contemplation.

These five aggregates are often referred to in the discourses as the "five aggregates of clinging" (pancupadanakkhanada).[5] In this context "aggregate" (khandha) is an umbrella term for all possible instances of each category, whether past, present, or future, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, near or far. The qualification "clinging" (upadana) refers to desire and attachment in regard to these aggregates. Such desire and attachment in relation to the aggregates is the root cause for the arising of dukkha.

1. M I 60 (MN 10)

2. S III 27 (SN 22.23)

3. A V 52. Cf. also S III 19-25 (SN 22.8 - 22.21), where several discourses relate an understanding of the aggregates to full realization.

4. At M III 20 (MN 109), a detailed exposition on the aggregates led sixty monks to full realization. At S III 68 (SN 22.59) the Buddha's first five disciples became arahants after an exposition of anatta, again by way of the five aggregates. Cf. also Th 87; Th 90; Th 120; Th 161; Th 369; and Th 440; each relating full awakening to insight into the five aggregates.

5. e.g. at D II 305 (DN 22). The expression "five aggregates" seems to have been easily intelligible in ancient India, since it occurs in the Buddha's first discourse, at S V 421 (SN 56.11), apparently without any need for elaboration or explanation. Similarly, at M I 228 (MN 35), the five aggregates form part of a description of the Buddha's teaching to the disputer Saccaka (who was presumably unfamiliar with Buddhism, but appears to have readily understood what was being said). This suggests that the five- aggregate scheme might have already been in existence at the time of Gotama Buddha. Since the discourses also include contemplation of the five aggregates in their description of the awakening of the ancient Buddha Vipassi (at D II 35 [DN 14]), it seems that from their perspective, too, the scheme of the five aggregates was known before the advent of Gotama Buddha.

Comment: In my own training, I was aware early on, once I had had an insight and then was able to penetrate the veil of the five aggregates, that this discovery was the key to understanding anatta and to eventual awakening. That contemplation of the aggregates is a standard recommendation from the Buddha for awakening, then, is not such an unusual concept or idea. Study of and contemplation of these five aggregates, getting to know them inside out, is a practice that every serious practitioner should not pass up, as it directly addresses the problem of personality identity head on in every confrontation of such in life situations.

The next reference also occurs in the chapter on Dhammas: The Aggregates. This reference is made within the context of an explanation of anatta as it relates to the five aggregates. In order to understand the context of the present reference, it is only necessary to quote the preceding two paragraphs before the paragraph in which the reference to arahants is made. This whole section of this chapter, though, would make good study fodder for anyone wanting guidance in penetration of understanding anatta:

pg. 210-211
In this way, contemplation of the five aggregates as a practical application of the anatta strategy can uncover the representational aspects of one's sense of self, those aspects responsible for the formation of a self image. Practically applied in this way, contemplation of anatta can expose the various types of self-image responsible for identifying with and clinging to one's social position, professional occupation, or personal possessions. Moreover, anatta can be employed to reveal erroneous superimpositions on experience, particularly the sense of an autonomous and independent subject reaching out to acquire or reject discrete substantial objects.[46]

According to the Buddha's penetrative analysis, patterns of identification and attachment to a sense of self can take altogether twenty different forms, by taking any of the five aggregates to be self, self to be in possession of the aggregate, the aggregate to be inside self, or self to be inside the aggregate.[47] The teaching on anatta aims to completely remove all these identifications with, and the corresponding attachments to, a sense of self. Such removal proceeds in stages: with the realization of stream-entry any notion of a permanent self (sakkayaditthi) is eradicated, whilst the subtlest traces of attachment to oneself are removed only with full realization.

The teaching of anatta, however, is not directed against what are merely the functional aspects of personal existence, but aims only at the sense of "I am" that commonly arises in relation to it.[48] Otherwise an arahant would simply be unable to function in any way. This, of course, is not the case, as the Buddha and his arahant disciples were still able to function coherently. In fact, they were able to do so with more competence than before their awakening, since they had completely overcome and eradicated all mental defilements and thereby all obstructions to proper mental functioning.

46. Sue Hamilton, "The Dependent Nature of the Phenomenal World", in Recent Researches in Buddhist Studies, 1997, pg. 281.

47. e.g. at M III 17 (MN 109)

48. Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvana in Early Buddhism, 1995, pg 17, illustrates this difference by distinquishing between "Self" (permanent, substantial, etc.) and "self" (empirical and changing). Nanananda, Towards Calm and Insight: Some Practical Hints, 1993, pg 10, aptly sums up: "accept yourself — and reject your self."

Comment: With regard to the last sentence in the final paragraph, I think for many people this is a gradual process — this process of eradicating mental defilements. In other words, it doesn't happen all at once. It happens over time as each individual is able to become conscious of and to deal with each defilement. With a strengthened ability to remain mindful, though, this helps the person to restrain themselves when the spector of a defilement arises, and thus to be able to overcome it.

RE: Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal
10/17/09 6:03 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
The eighth reference occurs in the chapter Dhammas: The Sense Spheres. The reference located here (in the third paragraph) is within the context of the Buddha's famous instruction to Bahiya in the Udana. Analayo briefly recounts the high points of Gotama's instruction to Bahiya, explaining how Bahiya became an arahant after hearing and realizing the significance of this instruction:

pg. 231-232
According to the Bahiya instruction, by maintaining bare sati at all sense doors one will not be "by that", which suggests not being carried away by the conditioned sequence of the perceptual process, thereby not modifying experience through subjective biases and distorted cognitions. Not being carried away, one is not "therein" by way of subjective participation and identification.[60] Such absence of being "therein" draws attention to a key aspect of the instruction to Bahiya, to the realization of anatta as the absence of a perceiving self.

Neither being "by that" nor "therein" also constitutes a comparatively advanced stage of satipatthana practice, when the meditator has become able to continuously maintain bare awareness at all sense doors, thereby not being "by that" by remaining free from "clinging to anything in the world", nor being "therein" by continuing to "abide independently", as stipulated in the satipatthana "refrain".

According to the final part of the Bahiya instruction, by maintaining awareness in the above manner one will not be established "here" or "there" or "in between". A way of understanding "here" and "there" is to take them as representing the subject (senses) and the respective objects, with "in between" standing for the conditioned arising of consciousness. According to a discourse from the Anguttara Nikaya, it is the "seamstress" craving (tanha) which "stitches" consciousness ("the middle") to the senses and their objects (the two opposite ends). Applying this imagery to the Bahiya instruction, in the absence of craving these three conditions for perceptual contact do not get sufficiently "tied" together, so to speak, for further proliferation to occur. Such absence of unnecessary proliferation is characteristic of the cognitions of arahants, who are no longer influenced by subjective biases and who cognize phenomena without self-reference. Free from craving and proliferations, they are not identified with either "here" (senses), or "there" (objects), or "in between" (consciousness), resulting in freedom from any type of becoming, whether it be "here", or "there", or "in between".

60. "Therein", tattha, is a locative adverb which can also be translated "there", "in that place" or "to this place" (T.W. Rhys Davids 1993, pg. 295). Vimalo 1959, pg. 27, renders this passage (tena + tattha) "then you will not be influenced by that, if you are not influenced by it, you are not bound to it." Bodhi 1992b, pg. 13, commenting on the Bahiya instruction, explains: "what is to be eliminated from cognition is precisely the false imputations of subjectivity that distort the incoming data and issue in erroneous judgments and beliefs."

The ninth reference occurs in the chapter on Dhammas: The Four Noble Truths. The paragraph in which the present reference is made is the first paragraph of this section of the chapter, and therefore can stand alone:

pg. 245
That to suffer is due to some form of attachment is in fact the implication of the second noble truth, according to which in order for the unsatisfactory nature of phenomena in the world to lead to actual suffering. It is necessary for craving (tanha) to be present. As the third noble truth indicates, once all traces of attachment and craving have been eradicated by the arahant, such suffering is also eradicated. Thus "suffering", unlike "unsatisfactoriness", is not inherent in the phenomena of the world, only in the way in which the unawakened mind experiences them. This is indeed the underlying theme of the four noble truths as a whole: the suffering caused by attachment and craving can be overcome by awakening. For an arahant the unsatisfactory nature of all conditioned phenomena is no longer capable of causing suffering.

Comment: The assertion made in the last sentence regarding arahants is conditioned on the fact that an arahant is said to have the proficiency of being continuously mindful at all times, and that he has reached a level of profoundness in his realization regarding the unsatisfactory nature of all conditioned phenomena (which basically implies the material, the fine material, and the immaterial existential realms).

The tenth reference occurs in the chapter Realization. This reference arises in a sub-section in this chapter entitled Nibbana and Its Ethical Implications. Included here are four paragraphs which give plenty to think about with regard to the mental and moral sphere of an arahant:

pg. 258
Taking the passage from the Samanamandika Sutta first, a close examination of the discourse reveals that this particular statement does not refer to the abandoning of ethical conduct, but only to the fact that arahants no longer identify with their virtuous behavior.[39] Regarding the other passages, which speak of "going beyond good and evil", one needs to distinguish clearly between the Pali terms translated as "good", which can be either kusala or punna. Although the two terms cannot be completely separated from each other in canonical usage, they often carry quite distinct meanings. While punna mostly denotes deeds of positive merit, kusala includes any type of wholesomeness, including the realization of Nibbana.

What arahants have "gone beyond" is the accumulation of karma. They have transcended the generation of "good" (punna) and of its opposite "evil" (papa). But the same cannot be said of wholesomeness (kusala). In fact, by eradicating all unwholesome (akusala) states of mind, arahants become the highest embodiment of wholesomeness (kusala). So much is this the case that as indicated in the Samanamandika Sutta, they are spontaneously virtuous and do not even identify with their virtue.

Nibbana, at least as understood by the Buddha, has quite definite ethical implications. Arahants are simply unable to commit an immoral act, since with their full realization of Nibbana, all unwholesome states of mind have been extinquished.[42] The presence of any unwholesome thought, speech, or deed would therefore directly contradict the claim to being an arahant.

In the Vimamsaka Sutta, the Buddha applied this principle even to himself, openly inviting prospective disciples to examine his claim to full awakening by thoroughly investigating and observing his behavior and deeds.[43] Only if no trace of unwholesomeness was found, he explained, would it be reasonable for them to place their confidence in him as a teacher. Even a Buddha should exemplify his teachings by his deeds, as indeed he did. That which the Buddha taught was in complete conformity with his behavior.[44] This was so much the case that even after his full awakening the Buddha still engaged in those activities of restraint and careful consideration that had brought about purification in the first place.[45] If the Buddha made himself measurable by common standards of ethical purity, there is little scope for finding moral double-standards in his teaching.

39. Nanamoli, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, pg. 1283 n. 775, comments: "this passage shows the arahant, who maintains virtuous conduct but no longer identifies with his virtue". Cf also M I 319 (MN 47) where the Buddha pointed out that although he was possessed of a high level of virtue he did not identify with it.

42. According to (e.g. ) D III 133 (DN 29); D III 235 (DN 33); M I 523 (MN 76); and A IV 370 the ethical perfection of arahants is such that they are incapable of deliberately depriving a living being of life, of stealing, of engaging in any form of sexual intercourse, of lying, and of enjoying sensual pleasures by storing things up as householders do.

43. M I 318 (MN 47)
44. D II 224 (DN 19); D III 135 (DN 29); A II 24; and It 122 point out that the Buddha acted as he spoke and spoke as he acted. This comes up in a different way at A IV 82, where the Buddha clarified that for him there was no need to conceal any of his actions in order to avoid others coming to know of them. The Buddha's moral perfection is also mentioned at D III 217 (DN 33) and M II 115 (MN 88).

45. M I 464 (MN 68). (On correlating the activities mentioned in this passage with M I 11 (MN 2)or A III 390, the fact that "removing" is also mentioned appears strange and could be due to a textual corruption, as for the Buddha there would be no need to remove unwholesome thoughts, since they will not arise in the first place.)

Comment: In contemporary society, with the many scandals that have surfaced over the years involving spiritual leaders (even Buddhist leaders both domestically and abroad), the standard that the Buddha held himself to (as described in the last sentence of the final paragraph) is refreshing as well as worthy of remark.

In addition, I can attest to the fact that at the higher levels of the path that the practitioner no longer identifies with whatever virtue that others see in him or her. Praise and scorn alike have no affective effect on the mind at these higher levels. This was a rather refreshing revelation to have.

RE: Unity and non-duality experiences not the end goal
10/17/09 6:45 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
The eleventh reference occurs in the final chapter titled Conclusion. This reference is included in the second sub-section of this chapter whose title is The Importance of Satipattana. The reference occurs in the fourth paragraph and following, and so I have included the first six paragraphs in order to set the context.

pgs. 271-273
The Buddha recommended the practice of satipatthana to newcomers and beginners, and also included advanced practitioners and arahants among the cultivators of satipatthana.[3]

For the beginner embarking on satipatthana practice, the discourses stipulate a basis in ethical conduct and the presence of "straight" view as necessary foundations.[4] According to a passage in the Anguttara Nikaya, the practice of satipatthana leads to overcoming weakness with regard to the five precepts.[5] This suggests that the ethical foundation required to begin satipatthana might be weak at the outset, but will be strengthened as practice proceeds. Similarly, the "straight" view mentioned earlier might refer to a preliminary degree of motivation and understanding that will develop further with the progress of satipatthana contemplation.[6] Additional requisites for undertaking satipatthana practice are to limit one's activities, to refrain from gossiping, excessive sleep, and socializing, and to develop sense restraint and moderation with regard to food.[7]

It might already have come as a surprise that a newcomer to the path should be encouraged to cultivate satipatthana right away.[8] That the Buddha and his fully-awakened disciples should still engage in the practice of satipatthana might be even more surprising. Why would one who has realized the goal continue with satipatthana?

The answer is that arahants continue with insight meditation because for them that is simply the most appropriate and pleasant way to spend their time.[9] Proficiency in satipatthana, together with delight in seclusion, are indeed distinguishing qualities of an arahant.[10] Once true detachment has set in, the continuity of insight meditation becomes a source of delight and satisfaction. Thus satipatthana is not only the direct path leading to the goal, but also the perfect expression of having realized the goal. To borrow from the poetic language of the discourses: path and Nibbana merge into one, like one river merging with another.[11]

A similar nuance underlies the final part of the "refrain", according to which contemplation continues for the sake of continued contemplation.[12] This indicates that there is no point at which a practitioner goes beyond the practice of meditation. Thus the relevance of satipatthana extends from the very beginning of the path all the way through to the moment of full realization, and beyond.

The continued relevance of formal meditation practice even for arahants is documented in various discourses. Those discourses show that the Buddha and his disciples were always given to meditation, irrespective of their level of realization.[13] The Buddha was well known in contemporary ascetic circles for being in favor of silence and retreat.[14] An illustrative episode in the Samannaphala Sutta reports the Buddha and a large congregation of monks meditating in such deep silence that an approaching king feared being led into an ambush, because it seemed impossible to him that so many people could be assembled together without making any noise.[15] The Buddha's appreciation of silence went so far that he would readily dismiss noisy monks or lay supporters from his presence.[16] If the hustle and bustle around him reached a level he found excessive, he was capable of just walking off by himself, leaving the congregation of monks, nuns, and lay followers to themselves.[17] Seclusion, he explained, was a distinctive quality of the Dhamma.[18]

3. S V 144 (AN 47.3). That different levels of disciples should practice satipatthana comes up again at S V 299 (SN 52.5). (Woodward 1979: vol. V pg. 265, translates this passage as if the practice of satipatthana "should be abandoned". This rendering is not convincing, since in the present context the Pali term vihatabba is better translated as a future passive form of viharati, not of vijahati.)

4. The need for a basis in ethical conduct before embarking on satipatthana is stated e.g. at S V 143 (SN 47.3); S V 165 (SN 47.14); S V 187 (SN 47.45); and S V 188 (SN 47.46). Cf. also S V 171 (SN 47.21), according to which the very purpose of ethical conduct is to lead up to the practice of satipatthana. S V 143 (SN 47.3) and 165 (SN 47.14) add "straight view" (ditthi ca ujuka) to the necessary conditions for satipatthana.

5. A IV 457.

6. S III 51 (SN 22.50) and S IV 142 (SN 35.156) present the direct experience of the impermanent nature of the aggregates or the sense-sphere as "right view", a form of right view that is clearly an outcome of insight meditation.

7. A III 450.

8. It should be pointed out, however, that there is a clear qualitative difference between satipatthana practiced by a beginner and by an arahant. S V 144 (SN 47.3) describes this qualitative progression, which leads from the initial insight of the beginner, via the penetrative comprehension of the advanced practitioner, to the full freedom from any attachment during the contemplation undertaken by an arahant. Even for the beginner's initial insight, this discourse stipulates that satipatthana is to be undertaken with a calm and concentrated mind for true insight to arise, a requirement not easily met by those who have just started to practice.

9. S III 168 (SN 22.122) explains that although arahants have nothing more to do, they continue to contemplate the five aggregates as impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self, because for them this is a pleasant form of abiding here and now and a source of mindfulness and clear knowledge. At S I 48 (SN 2.5) the Buddha explained again that arahants, although meditating, have nothing more to do since they have "gone beyond". Cf. also Ray 1994: pg. 87.

10. S V 175 (SN 47.26) defines an arahant as one who has perfected the cultivation of satipatthana. According to S V 302 (SN 52.9), arahants often dwell established in satipatthana. The arahant's delight in seclusion is documented at D III 283 (DN 34); A IV 224; and A V 175. The arahant's proficiency in satipatthana comes up again at A IV 224 and at A V 175. Katz 1989: pg. 67, concludes: "satipatthana . . . arahants enjoy this practice, which would mean . . . that it is a natural expression of their attainment".

11. According to D II 223 (DN 19), Nibbana and the path coalesce, just as the Ganga and the Yamuna rivers coalesce. Malalasekera 1995: vol. I pg. 734, explains that "the junction of the Ganga and the Yamuna . . . is used as a simile for the perfect union".

12. M I 56 (MN 10): "mindfulness . . . is established in him to the extent necessary for . . . continuous mindfulness".

13. e.g. S V 326 (SN 54.11) reports the Buddha and some arahants engaged in the practice of mindfulness of breathing. From among the arahant disciples, Anuruddha was known for his frequent practice of satipatthana (cf. S V 294-306) (SN 52.1-24). Sn 157 stresses again that the Buddha did not neglect meditation. Cf. also M III 13 (MN 108), where the Buddha is characterized as one who practiced meditation and followed the conduct of a meditator.

14. e.g. at D I 179 (DN 9); D III 37 (DN 25); M I 514 (MN 76); M II 2 (MN 77); M II 23 (MN 78); M II 30 (DN 79); A V 185; and A V 190; the Buddha and his followers are characterized as being "in favor of silence, practising silence, praising silence". Cf. also S III 15 (SN 22.5) and S IV 80 (SN 35.98), where the Buddha emphatically exhorted his disciples to make an effort at living in seclusion. According to A III 422, seclusion is in fact a necessary requirement for gaining real control over the mind. Cf. also It 39 and Sn 822, where the Buddha spoke again in praise of seclusion. At Vin I 92 the Buddha even exempted junior monks from the need to live in dependence on a teacher if they were meditating in seclusion. Living in community almost appears to be a second-rate alternative, since at S I 154 ( SN 6.12)such community life is recommended to those monks who are unable to find delight in seclusion (cf. also Ray 1994: pg. 96). The importance of seclusion in the historically early stages of the Buddhist monastic community is also noted by Panabokke 1993: pg. 14. To live in seclusion, however, requires some degree of meditative proficiency, as the Buddha pointed out at M I 17 (MN 4) and A V 202. If such meditative proficiency was lacking, the Buddha would advise monks against going off into seclusion (cf. the cases of Upali at A V 202 and Meghiya at Ud 34).

15. D I 50 (DN 2).

16. At M I 457 a newly-ordained group of monks was dismissed by the Buddha for being too noisy. The same happened again at Ud 25. At A III 31 (= A III 342 and A IV 341), the Buddha was disinclined to accept food brought by a group of householders because they were creating a lot of noise. ON the other hand, however, merely to observe silence for its own sake was criticized by the Buddha. At Vin I 157 he rebuked a group of monks who had spent a rainy season together in complete silence, apparently in order to avoid communal discord. This case needs to be considered in the light of M I 207 (MN 31), where the silent cohabitation of a group of monks is described in the same terms, but met with the Buddha's approval. Here the decisive difference was that every fifth day this group of monks would interrupt their silence and discuss the Dhamma, i.e. in this case silence was not observed to avoid dissension, but was employed as a means to create a suitable meditative atmosphere and at the same time wisely balanced with regular discussion about the Dhamma. In fact these two activities, either discussing the Dhamma or observing silence, were often recommended by the Buddha as the two appropriate ways of spending time with others (e.g. at M I 161 [MN 26]).

17. Ud 41. A similar action was undertaken at A V 133 by a group of senior monks who departed without even taking their leave of the Buddha in order to avoid the noise created by some visitors, an action which the Buddha, on being told later, approved.

18. Vin II 259 and A IV 280.

Comment: I can certainly attest to the truth behind the statement that "seclusion is in fact a necessary requirement for gaining real control over the mind." At least in my case it was. It almost seems as though a person needs the time and space alone to be able to watch and observe the movements of the mind outside of a daily situation that includes socializing. Without that valuable time and space, interruptions and distractions can take their toll on a person's practice and his ability to arrive at a fully mature realization.