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Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta

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There's a quote in stanzas 28 and 29.

"28. "Seeing thus, bhikkhus, a well-taught noble disciple becomes disenchanted with material form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with formations, disenchanted with consciousness." 29. "Being disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion [his mind] is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: 'It is liberated.' He understands: 'Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.' "

How does this disenchantment not create suffering for your parents, family, and other loved ones around you? The disenchanted individual cannot respond with passion or love as most people understand it when his parents/loved ones show him affection. In this way, I can only interpret/assume that this vision of freedom from suffering is equally likely to cause suffering in those who do not understand it and who are not free from suffering. No?

I think I may also need to have explained to me if there's an explicit difference between disenchantment and detachment. Detachment I find troubling because of what it implies in my mind/interpretation, that you live detached from your fellow humanity, preferring Nibbana to sharing their suffering and trying to be generate compassion for it. (There is a feeling that arises in me of aversion to that idea, instantly. This is craving for formations, and this craving's defense is a great deal of doubt over the matter. How could I strive for my own enlightenment as the Buddha describes it in these stanzas at the price of others' dismay about me? How is that moral?) I can only assume that must not be true and that I'm mistaken in my interpretation, but I would like someone to please explain clearly how I am mistaken, so that I can understand and alleviate my doubt.

P.S.: I'm not able to make the long-marks and such for Pali on my computer emoticon

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/1/11 10:58 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Hi mike -


How does this disenchantment not create suffering for your parents, family, and other loved ones around you? The disenchanted individual cannot respond with passion or love as most people understand it when his parents/loved ones show him affection. In this way, I can only interpret/assume that this vision of freedom from suffering is equally likely to cause suffering in those who do not understand it and who are not free from suffering. No?

I think I may also need to have explained to me if there's an explicit difference between disenchantment and detachment. Detachment I find troubling because of what it implies in my mind/interpretation, that you live detached from your fellow humanity, preferring Nibbana to sharing their suffering and trying to be generate compassion for it. (There is a feeling that arises in me of aversion to that idea, instantly. This is craving for formations, and this craving's defense is a great deal of doubt over the matter. How could I strive for my own enlightenment as the Buddha describes it in these stanzas at the price of others' dismay about me? How is that moral?) I can only assume that must not be true and that I'm mistaken in my interpretation, but I would like someone to please explain clearly how I am mistaken, so that I can understand and alleviate my doubt.


If enchantment is defined as a charmed, bewitched or an entranced state, I am not sure how that condition would make me useful to anyone. My dad has parkinson's and he doesn't need me to be enchanted. If i am useful to him, it is because I look at and listen to and send him useful supplies (i.e., walking sticks, rocker shoes...). I look into his drugs and diet a little.

I am not detached from him, but I also am not mourning him. His health condition is not enviable, yet he is a realist and knows his care and life is relatively very fortunate. His life is declining, but we're both always aware there is no "tomorrow", regardless of health.

enchanted with consciousness: what would this be and how would this help me respond usefully to my dad?
enchanted with perception: what would this be and how would this help me respond usefully?
enchanted with formations: will enchantment with his conditions help me be more useful to him?
enchanted with feeling: how will this help me to help him?

My dad knows I care about him when I attend to him as allowed, and when I have a placid life causing him no concerns. When I have the opportunity to attend to him, I am certainly not detached.

Since his progressive illness, he has also tended to me - which is much more exhausting for him. Thus, if I am under no spells or occlusive charms, then I am less effort for him, more resource for him now that he may need it.

Does this respond to your question practically?

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/1/11 11:06 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
mike
How could I strive for my own enlightenment as the Buddha describes it in these stanzas at the price of others' dismay about me?


MN 22 stanzas 28 and 29
Through dispassion [his mind] is liberated.
When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: 'It is liberated.'
He understands:
'Birth is destroyed,
the holy life has been lived,
what had to be done has been done,
there is no more coming to any state of being.

I would like someone to please explain clearly how I am mistaken, so that I can understand and alleviate my doubt.
Perhaps you have doubt in your ability to "how to".

Thanissaro bhikku:
Thus it is important to focus on how the Dhamma is taught: Even in his most thoroughgoing teachings about not-self, the Buddha never recommends replacing the assumption that there is a self with the assumption that there is no self. Instead, he only goes so far as to point out the drawbacks of various ways of conceiving the self and then to recommend dropping them. ...

Now, because the sense of self is a product of "I-making," this question seeks to do nothing more than to induce disenchantment and dispassion for that process of I-making, so as to put a stop to it. Once that is accomplished, the teaching has fulfilled its purpose in putting an end to suffering and stress. That's the safety of the further shore.

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/1/11 11:52 AM as a reply to . ..
I liked your answer in your first response, though I cannot entirely imagine how it would be to function without enchantment or attachment, since I am yet bound by enchantment and attachment. I suppose I will practice and see.

I also liked your second response and that you were considerate in your response as well, but I must add that I still do not understand a few aspects of your second reply. What I do not understand is as follows:

1) Stanzas 28 and 29 are addressing the liberation of the individual practicing, but my question instead is where and how the other individuals in your life fit in after that liberation. Yes, the liberated being is liberated, and so he has lived the holy life and in doing so he understands by its completion that there is nothing more to be done, and that there is no more coming to any state of being. This individual has complete understanding of his existence. That does not mean that there is an equality of understanding between this individual and the other individuals in said individual's life. Those who are not yet liberated may easily misperceive his freedom as strange or threatening, because they do not understand the quality of his being.

P.S.: it occurs to me that my usage of the possessive pronoun "his" might be offensive. I mean no offense, I am instead simply used to writing that way and it seems more efficient.

2) I am affected by doubt, but I don't understand what you mean by "how to". If you mean that I perhaps have doubt in the quality or efficacy of my practice at this point in time, then you are correct. I have doubts which I observe arising about both of those things, I have doubts that I am not as far along on the path as I would like to be, and I have doubts that I will manage to make progress along the path of insight, and I have doubts that I will manage to realize liberation in this very life.

These two things are actually all that I do not understand.

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/1/11 11:57 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
Thus it is important to focus on how the Dhamma is taught: Even in his most thoroughgoing teachings about not-self, the Buddha never recommends replacing the assumption that there is a self with the assumption that there is no self. Instead, he only goes so far as to point out the drawbacks of various ways of conceiving the self and then to recommend dropping them. ...

Now, because the sense of self is a product of "I-making," this question seeks to do nothing more than to induce disenchantment and dispassion for that process of I-making, so as to put a stop to it. Once that is accomplished, the teaching has fulfilled its purpose in putting an end to suffering and stress. That's the safety of the further shore.

This quotation cuts to the heart of the matter regarding disenchantment and dispassion and how it should rightly be viewed within the teachings passed on by Gotama.

Mike Kich:
How does this disenchantment not create suffering for your parents, family, and other loved ones around you?

By asking this question (and others like it) you are reading WAY too much into the teaching. The teaching on disenchantment and dispassion is meant only to address the mental elements that CAUSE suffering and dissatisfaction within an individual. It's not meant to be applied to every little situation you can think of.

"Seeing thus, bhikkhus, a well-taught noble disciple becomes disenchanted with material form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with formations, disenchanted with consciousness."

What Gotama is talking about here is the five aggregates of clinging. Further on, he's telling you to watch (observe) feeling (vedana) and how it arises and subsides within the mind, to watch perception (sanna), to watch mental formations (sankhara), to watch consciousness (vinnana) and how each of these arises and subsides within your mind and to see them for what they are: conditioned states in the process of "I-making."

He's showing you how you create a "sense of selfhood" within the mental processes that you've become conditioned to believing in and reifying. When you stop this process from occurring, "that's the safety on the farther shore."

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/1/11 12:24 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:

1) Stanzas 28 and 29 are addressing the liberation of the individual practicing, but my question instead is where and how the other individuals in your life fit in after that liberation. Yes, the liberated being is liberated, and so he has lived the holy life and in doing so he understands by its completion that there is nothing more to be done, and that there is no more coming to any state of being. This individual has complete understanding of his existence.

That does not mean that there is an equality of understanding between this individual and the other individuals in said individual's life. Those who are not yet liberated may easily misperceive his freedom as strange or threatening, because they do not understand the quality of his being.

Where is there mentioned anywhere that you are responsible for how other people misperceive reality, or how they respond to your level of understanding? That is their problem, not yours. Don't make other people's problems your own. This is the way it has always been in the world.

Gotama never proposed any kind of "earth-wide amends project" with his teaching. Only that each individual was responsible for his (or her) own mind and perception of reality, which in turn may affect the way they respond to phenomena (either with, for example, anxiety or contentment).

If someone asks why you are not affected by such and such, and you feel good about responding to explain to them why, then that's your decision to take.

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/1/11 6:28 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:
How does this disenchantment not create suffering for your parents, family, and other loved ones around you? The disenchanted individual cannot respond with passion or love as most people understand it when his parents/loved ones show him affection. In this way, I can only interpret/assume that this vision of freedom from suffering is equally likely to cause suffering in those who do not understand it and who are not free from suffering. No?

from an AF perspective: any emotion is supernumerary. in order to feel caring, there is already the understanding that caring should be felt by the intellect, else how could the caring arise? by eliminating the 'feeling' of caring, you don't hinder said intellect. it still automatically appraises the situation and comes to the same realization, but without triggering the feeling. so you will know that caring is what you would normally feel. and you can then decide whether to follow up on it. but you won't 'feel' the caring.. there will be actual caring, though.

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/2/11 1:01 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
In those stanzas the Buddha is talking about very particular stages of insight, so it's not exactly meant to be read as how to view things at all times it's just realizations that naturally arise during insight practices. But just reading it as a quote for viewing the world wisely it has value as well, the word disenchanted doesn't really mean detached and totally not affected by anything good or bad, it more means that you don't expect any one thing to be the be all end all source of eternal happiness, for example if your parents gave you a gift, like a new jacket it's great to appreciate the gift and value it, not so great to be completely obsessed and "enchanted" by that gift and wear only that particular jacket and even wear it in 100 degree weather! That may seem like an oversimplified interpretation but that's how I see it.
Some of the words used in those old texts can be tricky especially given the fact that they are translated from a dead language, just look at how long it takes to really understand the word Dukkha! "Birth is suffering old age is suffering life is suffering taking a piss is suffering" some of that stuff used to be hard for me to swallow too, even the "rebirth is ended" stuff can be tough, (don't we desire to live?) but you just need to see exactly what the Buddha meant by this stuff.( I hope my "parable of the summer jacket" was helpful). As far as the disenchantment goes I think the Buddha wanted us to feel emotions just not get totally caught up by them, that's one of the definitions of what equanimity is, just feeling without being enchanted.

Peace!
Robert

P.S. I've read another version of this sutta that uses the word "disgusted" instead of "disenchanted"

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/2/11 11:54 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:

How does this disenchantment not create suffering for your parents, family, and other loved ones around you? The disenchanted individual cannot respond with passion or love as most people understand it when his parents/loved ones show him affection. In this way, I can only interpret/assume that this vision of freedom from suffering is equally likely to cause suffering in those who do not understand it and who are not free from suffering. No?


My father thinks of me as "his" son, part of "his" life, "his" world, part of "himself." He thinks I should run after money and fame and ignore the pressing suspicion that we may all die one day (and I should participate in some Catholic rituals for appearances' sake and "just in case money turns out not to be the true god after all.") If I live the Dhamma, he will experience suffering. One of the causes for his suffering will be my choice to do things he does not understand.

The huge alligator in our backyard thinks of my body as "his" lunch, part of "his" life, "his" world, part of "himself." He thinks I should walk up to him and present my tasty body for his pleasure. If I stay away from the alligator, he will experience suffering. One of the causes for his suffering will be my choice to not give him my body.

Ten years from now, I might be very wise and help dozens of people end their suffering. One of the causes for this would be my decision not to try to gratify one of my father's desires, and another one of the causes would be my decision not to try to gratify one of the alligator's desires.

If you find these examples too childish, maybe just think about your own life: Who has done the most for you? Someone who tried to appease you, to maximize your comfort and minimize your frustration; or someone who lived the truth for you to see?

Mike Kich:
P.S.: I'm not able to make the long-marks and such for Pali on my computer emoticon


Linux is now at a point where it is not just cheaper, more stable, more reliable, more secure, more customizable than anything Microsoft has ever created or tried to "borrow" from open source software, but it is now also a lot more user friendly and very well supported. If you invest a weekend or two into making the switch, you won't regret it.

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/2/11 4:22 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike - I appreciate your clarity and hope to emulate it. Your comments are re-copied in quote boxes below.


... I must add that I still do not understand a few aspects of your second reply. What I do not understand is as follows:

1) Stanzas 28 and 29 are addressing the liberation of the individual practicing, but my question instead is where and how the other individuals in your life fit in after that liberation.

I cannot answer accurately, because I am not liberated of my self.

If i become liberated, however, it will be because of "others": i will have otherized, and i will have ended otherization by ending that which can otherize - self (which is not to say all things are "one").

I would think a disenchanted person is not swept up in their own narrative, can better observe the narratives of others (such as another individual's being threatened by your liberation), and take reasonable actions not to deliberately provoke such person, or even just take leave of them. (A friend in an orthodox tradition wrote me this yesterday: Even Jesus said to not only leave the homes of those who do not embrace you, but to wipe the dust of their home off your feet. )

Analogy:
If you are a wild animal obliged to be in captivity, which tamer do you want to come to you?

The tamer that has no enchanted beliefs about you or themselves and will let you exhaust yourself, attending your condition with a clear mind (i.e., one free of its own manipulative interest in you)?
Or,
do you want a tamer who has quite a lot going on in their head, provoking lots of narratives/spell-bound stories (relating perhaps to you, perhaps their ideas of you/themselves) and ultimately seeking to train you for what they want/need at any given moment?

*

Those who are not yet liberated may easily misperceive his freedom as strange or threatening, because they do not understand the quality of his being.

And?

*

I cannot entirely imagine how it would be to function without enchantment or attachment, since I am yet bound by enchantment and attachment.

What is the difference between their misperception and your enchantment?

*

Yes, the liberated being is liberated, and so he has lived the holy life and in doing so he understands by its completion that there is nothing more to be done, and that there is no more coming to any state of being.
(i bolded your words to call attention to how you may be reading this excerpt of MN22).

I read this MN22 excerpt as saying that the efforts of a holy life and any other enchantments finally have been lived. After these are done (exhausted), then there is no more coming into being.

Through dispassion [his mind] is liberated.
When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: 'It is liberated.'
He understands:
'Birth is destroyed,
the holy life has been lived,
what had to be done has been done,
there is no more coming to any state of being.


This reading would also respond to your doubts: that those doubts are occurring, thus these doubts must occur until they are done, and then there is no more coming to any state of being:

2) I am affected by doubt, but I don't understand what you mean by "how to". If you mean that I perhaps have doubt in the quality or efficacy of my practice at this point in time, then you are correct. I have doubts which I observe arising about both of those things, I have doubts that I am not as far along on the path as I would like to be, and I have doubts that I will manage to make progress along the path of insight, and I have doubts that I will manage to realize liberation in this very life.



*

It seems to me that our uncovered state is inherent (which someone usefully emailed me, calling it a "birthright").

But if we're doing "it" (questing/meditating/loving/co-suffering/self-suffering/fearing/enchanting/attaching,etc), then "it" must be so until we stop doing "it", and there is no more coming into being.


What are your thoughts?


[edits: complete revision]

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/2/11 4:35 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
I actually am and have been using Fedora all this time, but how do you enable the long-marks and such?

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/3/11 8:54 AM as a reply to . ..
I dunno what my thoughts are (other than not me), it's a tricky question. Right now though, it's not relevant to what I'm doing really other than as a philosophical/intellectual question. I've spent the last few days noting, most of each day, and I feel I've already made some sort of progress with that, though I can't say what. Something in me felt a kind of sadness last night as I was laying down to go to sleep that I'm seemingly out to destroy the self, like as if I'm carrying the family dog to be put down. I noted that too, but also couldn't help but agree with the sentiment (yes I noted that too at the time, as well as the attendant thoughts). Yes it's all been life under a dream, but what's so wrong with a dream as beautiful as this my life is? I think something important to realize or integrate for my own journey is that this isn't a violent war against my own being, this isn't about destruction of something. I recall hearing a similar conclusion in the PBS documentary on the Buddha, that he came to a similar realization.

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/3/11 10:47 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Something in me felt a kind of sadness last night as I was laying down to go to sleep that I'm seemingly out to destroy the self, like as if I'm carrying the family dog to be put down. I noted that too, but also couldn't help but agree with the sentiment (yes I noted that too at the time, as well as the attendant thoughts).

What if it is grooming the anxious stray of whom you just became aware: acceptance and attention to its current conditions while understanding that the stray's complete ease - its relaxed, uncovered nature - will come through eventually?

Yes it's all been life under a dream, but what's so wrong with a dream as beautiful as this my life is?

If the dream is so beautiful, why are you searching for something else? (Though I may misunderstand your point here.)

I think something important to realize or integrate for my own journey is that this isn't a violent war against my own being, this isn't about destruction of something.

I agree with your point. Perhaps the use of the word "destroy" was employed to address a fiercely stoic personality/monk-quality for whom "destroy" would be apt.

I prefer the verbs "to evaporate" and "to exhaust" for myself, and take a local view on the efforts now: what is this sentiment right here? Am i caught/bound up by my own sentiment (maybe think fish suffering in a net)?

If I look at "the world in pictures" - as available anywhere online - and see images of suffering and conflict for which I am seemingly powerless, or if I look at hostilities of certain close relations with whom I have chosen to intervene (and accept relations' consequent distance), I see that my apparent inability "to help them" is as it always was - apparently unable. I can very occasionally intervene for someone who is too young to know how/be able, and in knowing that I do not change the adult person (and even less so when I intervene), only they may want a change for themselves.

Yet, if I carefully address just my being - a completely local task - then whatever comes out of that is available to anyone to ask for its use (i.e., a vegetable from the garden) or simply of which to make use. I will use my partner as an example, in case another story/angle on the same thing is useful:

People see him all over town/in parking decks freestyle biking. Years ago, or now with a new officer, sometimes a patrol car would pull over so the officer could question this "kid" on his bike bounding on monument and sidewalk walls - then, they see this happy, focused 47-yr old local businessman, sweat pouring down his face, and they're talking bikes/music/whatnot in a heartbeat. Now, see a fleet of 9-12-year olds trying to be wheelie/endo king and take pride in their beat-up bikes (in part) because some happy "old" fart is actually always persisting at new tricks in front of their very eyes and every chance he gets. He is a happy tinkerer as much as possible (and he keeps a hawk eye on his own sentiments); I think people with these attributes do a lot to provoke us to open our own doors to ease and non-suffering. He also knows to stay completely away from persons who are just in their own deep, dark malevolent perceptions: nothing can be done directly.

Liberation is entirely local to one's self, but it seems, secondarily, to avail benefice to other individuals when others may decide they want/need to see and cultivate such a condition for themselves.

That you brought up this MN22 has been useful to me. Thanks.

[edits: clarity]

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/3/11 11:37 AM as a reply to . ..
I'll number to attend to each of your comments, ok?

1) Yes you're correct. I was just adding that first part in because it occurred to me, not because I was especially searching for an answer to a problem - I don't see it as a problem really, just sort of an interesting thing that happened to me. That was a moment where I could see evidenced what Daniel meant in MCTB about noting practice being sometimes not so gentle...on one hand I saw it wasn't me and that I was watching the feeling-amalgam happening, and on the other hand I was still affected by it, still feeling it. I had a really strange feeling of wanting to be compassionate toward that feeling, even though I knew at the moment that it didn't exist separately.

2) My point here wasn't that life is perfect and I don't need to search for anything, because just by being on here I'm demonstrating that I am searching and that life's not entirely satisfactory. Instead, I was trying to relate a still-changing perspective of mine - that Buddhism isn't about a war to change reality but instead to see it as it really is for me and find complete integration with that. Mmmm, dark chocolate tastes good.

3) I'm glad it was of use. emoticon

RE: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 22: Alagaddupama Sutta
Answer
4/4/11 3:03 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:
I actually am and have been using Fedora all this time, but how do you enable the long-marks and such?


All you need in the so-called "Compose Key," also known as "Multi_key" in the X Window System. Because I'm using a very basic setup, I created a file named .Xmodmap which contains just one line:

keycode 135 = Multi_key

and I simply run (in an xterm) the command

xmodmap .Xmodmap

This makes the right "Schwindows Key" (the key between the right Alt and Ctrl keys) the Compose key. Then, whenever I am writing something, I can just hit Compose _ a to get ā or Compose ! t to get ṭ or Compose . n to get ṅ etc etc. Just hit the keys one after another, not all at the same time.

If you're using Gnome or KDE, there should be an even "easier" way to enable the Compose key. This post contains instructions for Gnome:

http://fedoraforum.org/forum/showpost.php?p=1099029&postcount=2

I'm sure you can find instructions pertinent to your particular setup if you just do a search for something like "compose key."