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Enlightment through meditating on sutras?

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Not sure if this has been posted already, but has anyone checked out the recent episode of Michael Taft's Deconstructing Yourself?

https://art19.com/shows/deconstructing-yourself/episodes/52d8d010-20a5-4142-9214-391b8dd2c18e/embed?theme=dark-orange

This guy Michael Owens is apparently claiming that it's possible to fully realize non-duality through a kind of "sutra meditation", where you study certain sutras intensely and can have "experiences of being transported into that situation". I'm not sure if he outright says that sutra meditation can lead to enlightenment, but he seems to be implying it.

Has anyone heard of or done anything like this before? Most Westerner teachers seem to deny the possibility that sutra study can lead to any real insight, downplaying it as "mere intellectual understanding". Michael Owens seems pretty adamant that that's not the case.

Thoughts?

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
1/18/20 3:38 PM as a reply to Handsome Monkey King.
Most of my path has been through sutta readings. Many times I've been contemplating suttas and something has happened. The most recent was the Assu Sutta which dropped me into a huge awakening or A&P event. I've been studying suttas for about three years. I've even written my own suttas but with a comical flare. They are indeed very powerful. In the Buddhas time, just hearing a mere sutta was enough to shift the consciousness of people but here we have a lot of extra baggage to penetrate, which has mainly come from heavy modern day conditioning. If you have good comprehension coupled with an ability to concentrate then there's no reason why these suttas can't produce the same results.

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/12/20 4:54 AM as a reply to Handsome Monkey King.
Handsome Monkey King:
. . . a kind of "sutra meditation", where you study certain sutras intensely and can have "experiences of being transported into that situation". I'm not sure if he outright says that sutra meditation can lead to enlightenment, but he seems to be implying it.

Has anyone heard of or done anything like this before? Most Westerner teachers seem to deny the possibility that sutra study can lead to any real insight, downplaying it as "mere intellectual understanding". Michael Owens seems pretty adamant that that's not the case.

Thoughts?
HMK, i'll start by just quoting something from another thread ( https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/18878489#_19_message_19913904 )

The evolutionary history of Buddhism--- of any religion or practice--- is a fascinating cycle of (often seemingly heretical) renewals of the tradition coming out of a desire for deepened practice at any given moment. So any new twist is always going to be in dialogue with the vocabulary of the older version; in a certain light, it is the new twists that the older version exists to generate. A striking aspect of this is that a lot of the deep renewal movements involve a radical return to scripture, someone or a few people determined to go beyond any settled conventional readings of the current moment to figure out what all those past masters were actually getting to, and getting at, through the blurry lens of an archaic sacred vocabulary. Many of the current forms of "western buddhism", and many of the more prominent practitioners and teachers of this revived and fresh-faced form(s) of Buddhist practice, can be traced back along a line of developments in vipassana to a few all-in, forest-practicing, radical-return-to-scripture maniacs in southeast asia in the late 1800s, all of whom in their way picked a particular scripture and went all the way down to the bottom, looking for the fire through the centuries of smoke. There's an interesting take on this, allowing for this guy's own agendas and rhetorical commitments, here: https://vividness.live/2011/07/07/theravada-reinvents-meditation/  (the vividness thread is David Chapman, who's listed in the DhO links)

If you look at a thing like Judaism, from one angle the whole shebang arises out of meditation on scripture, the Torah first, and then the whole of the Tanakh, the "Old Testament." The Mishnah and Talmud are all essentially exegetical forays rooted in scripture. The Kabbaist took this deep vast use of scripture as the seed of all practice on the path to whole new ranges and permutations, but it really is there all along, and a lot of Jewish mysticism is based on just a few verses from the Bible, like Ezekiel's vision, with all manner of intricate mapping of the path to God spun out from the initial scriptural threads. It gets freaky deep, too: Talmudists and Kabbalists take it down to individual words, and then single letters, and even the punctuation marks, and creation itself arises from God's uttering of the mystical syllables of the true Torah in heaven. In Kashmir Shaivism, another tradition i worked in, there is a similar vein, the all-potent syllable, the sponda that resonates into the universe. Alll mantra work, and prayer, is also relevant here. Meditation on scripture is a very widely practiced Way, not just intellectually, but with deep contemplative commitment, and the highest fruits reported.

But fuck the highest fruits, those carrots on a stick. I find that it is also just really interesting.

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/12/20 5:07 AM as a reply to Handsome Monkey King.
I've heard of Monks getting enlightened in Sri Lanka, just by reading the Abhidhamma. Can't remember where I heard/read this, though.

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/12/20 7:04 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
Mike Smirnoff:
I've heard of Monks getting enlightened in Sri Lanka, just by reading the Abhidhamma. Can't remember where I heard/read this, though.

Yes, exactly. And the potency of the word of God, as manifested in scripture, is crucial to the Judeo-Christian heritage. In my own practice, i think of it as a 1-2-3 algorithm, technique-wise: body, breath, word. Body is pure vipassana attention: the door of the senses, the blip on the radar screen, note what sensation arises, ever more finely. Breath, ditto: the sine curve of every breath, rippling through the body. And word, for me, logos, the word of God, but also mantra, or even wordless technique in some other sense of logos, which refreshes the radar screen, and commences the next iteration. You can see it in pure three characteristics fashion: body is dukha, where we experience the hurt; breath is transience, if it's not disappearing as it happens, we're dead. And "word" is anatta, a given element here that is not ours, not us. To meditate on scripture in that sense is to take scripture whole-heartedly as a given, and to go deeper into the enigma of that.

I tend to treat MCBT2 as scripture, in this sense. Pretty much any scripture you find is a commentary, exegesis, compilation, or otherwise reliant on previous scripture, in an endless chain of transmission disappearing back into the mists of time. You pick your point in the canon, the scripture that calls to you, and start trying to figure out what the fuck it could possibly mean, in a way meaningful to you. Daniel is rooted in theravadan scripture, and also in other old scriptures he cites freely and fluently a lot of the time, and also in the oral transmission of scripture with its spin from various teachers and friends (the rabbis say there are two Torahs, the written and the oral). But he takes his scripture as dead serious, has been life and death serious about WHAT DOES THIS SHIT REALLY MEAN in practice, now, for him first, and then for all sentient beings with ears to hear the same song, and his spin on that song.

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/12/20 7:30 AM as a reply to Handsome Monkey King.
Yes, I attained MCTB 4th path while contemplating on Bahiya Sutta. All sense of agency, subject-object duality, self/Self was completely severed and not a trace of it has ever returned for the past 9+ years.

I wrote this soon after that realisation http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-commentary-on-bahiya-sutta.html

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/12/20 7:29 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
To add on: while contemplating on Bahiya Sutta I wasn't in a jhana state or sitting meditation state. I was actually marching during my basic military training (i.e. boot camp) while serving mandatory military service for the Singapore army. Also, for the past 2 months prior to that realisation I was already in an increasingly stabilizing state of non-duality (aka MCTB third path), but the realization that severed that knot of perception hasn't really sunk in until that moment of realisation.

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/12/20 7:37 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
Yes, I attained MCTB 4th path while contemplating on Bahiya Sutta. All sense of agency, subject-object duality, self/Self is completely severed and not a trace of it has ever returned for the past 9+ years.

I wrote this soon after that realisation http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-commentary-on-bahiya-sutta.html


1234567891011121314151617181920
[font=comic sans ms,cursive]in the seen, there is only the seen,
in the heard, there is only the heard,
in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
in the cognized, there is only the cognized.Thus you should see that
indeed there is no thing here;
this, Bahiya, is how you should train yourself.
Since, Bahiya, there is for you
in the seen, only the seen,
in the heard, only the heard,
in the sensed, only the sensed,
in the cognized, only the cognized,
and you see that there is no thing here,
you will therefore see that
indeed there is no thing there.
As you see that there is no thing there,
you will see that
you are therefore located neither in the world of this,
nor in the world of that,
nor in any place
betwixt the two.This alone is the end of suffering.” (ud. 1.10)[/font]

That's a testimony to scriptural enlightenment, the fruit of the process of meditation on scripture. I would translate something relevant from Jesus here as: "The parable is this: the sower sows the word of scripture, the word of God." And we cultivate that in our hearts until it bears fruit.


RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/12/20 7:38 AM as a reply to Handsome Monkey King.
Also, examples of others having realised non-duality/no-self through contemplating on suttas/sutras include more than one person I heard online, also these:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/theres-no-such-thing-as-awareness.html

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2019/09/robert-dominiks-breakthrough.html

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/12/20 8:11 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
To add on: while contemplating on Bahiya Sutta I wasn't in a jhana state or sitting meditation state. I was actually marching during my basic military training (i.e. boot camp) while serving mandatory military service for the Singapore army. 

I love this story!

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/12/20 8:58 AM as a reply to Handsome Monkey King.
Kenneth Folk stated to me that it is possible to awaken without the 4 Paths Model. He then told me the story of Bahiya and then there was a pause and he looked at me and I looked at him (via Skype) and I kept on looking at him in an empty "what the f..k is he talking about" way. He likely got this and moved on to talk about Noting Aloud emoticon 

Kenneth also sais that this kind of realisation awakening depends on how DENSE on'es personality is. Bahiya likely was very "light, transparent, non-burdened" personality who just got the Cosmic Joke immediatelly and attained to Arahatship.

Kenneth on the other side, just like Buddha was a very dense personality hence practicing for so many decades. Both Buddha and Kenneth could not get the joke until much later into their conteplative practice.

I like the way Kenneth sais that this should not be elitist. We are who we are. Its ok. If we cant get the Joke we keep practicing and the mind will eventually get it through seeing the impermanence, suffering and not-self in all the arising and passing objects.

Kenneth told that Bahiya story 5 months before I hit the SE and only after that did the realisation THIS IS IT hit me and there were tears and huge compassion for all of us who can't see this ONLY that actually can be seen, as it is always there. This-ness. This lasted for a while and now I've lost it again emoticon 

Back to Noting practice ...

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/12/20 10:48 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
Yes, I attained MCTB 4th path while contemplating on Bahiya Sutta. All sense of agency, subject-object duality, self/Self was completely severed and not a trace of it has ever returned for the past 9+ years.

I wrote this soon after that realisation http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-commentary-on-bahiya-sutta.html

Where does mtbc 4th path fit on thusness 7 stages?

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/14/20 2:50 AM as a reply to Jason Massie.
Jason Massie:
An Eternal Now:
Yes, I attained MCTB 4th path while contemplating on Bahiya Sutta. All sense of agency, subject-object duality, self/Self was completely severed and not a trace of it has ever returned for the past 9+ years.

I wrote this soon after that realisation http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-commentary-on-bahiya-sutta.html

Where does mtbc 4th path fit on thusness 7 stages?


Stage 5 with aspects of 6 and 7 in some aspects of the description and post 4th path development

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/14/20 3:36 AM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Yes its certainly possible, though mileage varies

on the topic of sutras i just came across a rather relevant post on reddit, thought of sharing

Sheng Yen on Chan and the SutrasThis is from Sheng Yen's excellent book, "Hoofprint of the Ox"Chan is not something utterly distinct from the sutras, much less antagonistic to them, for it embodies the very insights that the sutras seek to express, allowing for a profound complementarity between the two: what is stated in words in the Buddhist scriptures will be confirmed in fact in the course of Chan practice, while what is experienced in Chan practice will resonate immediately with what is written in the sutras.Today, one hears many Western students say that, as practitioners of Zen or Chan, they do not need to learn or think about the Buddhist sutras and their teachings. Just sitting in zazen is the real practice, reading and studying written words is for soulless pedants and academics. In China, Korea and Japan, where knowledge of the Buddhist teachings was widespread, such a rejection of the written word makes poignant sense. This, however, is a dangerous attitude in a culture that has no native traditions of Buddhist learning of which to speak. For silence, in and of itself, is anything but innocent or neutral, much less free of ignorance. How the more problematic it becomes when it is blissful!Both Chan/Zen and the sutras are the wisdom of the Buddha, and between the two there is no real discrepancy. Without the Buddha's word, how would we ever hear about or think to seek the dharma, much less begin to fulfil our vow to help others on the path to enlightenment? If one has already set out on the path of Chan, what is this "enlightenment" that one is seeking? What are the aims of Chan practice? What does it entail and how does it work?If one did start to ask such questions about Chan, one would probably hear a lot of aphorisms, sayings and stories from previous masters, all of them gleaned from books. If one started to look into this literature, one would discover that it is more extensive than any other school of East Asian Buddhism, even the doctrinal ones! Indeed, to be a good priest or Zen master in Japan, one must be trained in this literature through and through. One would also find that the ancient Chan masters and patriarchs were themselves highly literate individuals, whose teachings were deeply imbued with the language of the Buddhist sutras.Master Sheng Yen was a strong proponent of Chan practice, and most of his books are actually just transcriptions of his talks at meditation retreats. He taught the expedient means of mozhao (silent illumination), koan and huatou. At the same time, many of these meditation retreats were structured around investigating particular sutras and writings of Chan masters.Traditionally in Buddhist practice, even before Chan, the various elements of the path are mutually reinforcing. In the Eightfold Path, broadly grouped into understanding, morality and meditative practice, no particular element comes first. It's not "behave morally, learn lots and then practice well". It's not "practice well, gain insight, then behave morally".The path is a constant interplay of all of the elements. The challenges we face in behaving morally shine a light on aspects of the teaching. Insights from meditative practice make moral behaviour come naturally. Understanding of the teaching helps keep meditative practice from veering off into delusion. The calmer life from moral behaviour are conducive to meditative practice. New levels of meaning in the sutras are discovered through moral behaviour and through meditative practice.The path is a three-legged stool. The full impact of each leg is felt best when supported by the other two.

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
4/28/20 1:58 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
Yes its certainly possible, though mileage varies

on the topic of sutras i just came across a rather relevant post on reddit, thought of sharing

Sheng Yen on Chan and the SutrasThis is from Sheng Yen's excellent book, "Hoofprint of the Ox"Chan is not something utterly distinct from the sutras, much less antagonistic to them, for it embodies the very insights that the sutras seek to express, allowing for a profound complementarity between the two: what is stated in words in the Buddhist scriptures will be confirmed in fact in the course of Chan practice, while what is experienced in Chan practice will resonate immediately with what is written in the sutras.Today, one hears many Western students say that, as practitioners of Zen or Chan, they do not need to learn or think about the Buddhist sutras and their teachings. Just sitting in zazen is the real practice, reading and studying written words is for soulless pedants and academics. In China, Korea and Japan, where knowledge of the Buddhist teachings was widespread, such a rejection of the written word makes poignant sense. This, however, is a dangerous attitude in a culture that has no native traditions of Buddhist learning of which to speak. For silence, in and of itself, is anything but innocent or neutral, much less free of ignorance. How the more problematic it becomes when it is blissful!Both Chan/Zen and the sutras are the wisdom of the Buddha, and between the two there is no real discrepancy. Without the Buddha's word, how would we ever hear about or think to seek the dharma, much less begin to fulfil our vow to help others on the path to enlightenment? If one has already set out on the path of Chan, what is this "enlightenment" that one is seeking? What are the aims of Chan practice? What does it entail and how does it work?If one did start to ask such questions about Chan, one would probably hear a lot of aphorisms, sayings and stories from previous masters, all of them gleaned from books. If one started to look into this literature, one would discover that it is more extensive than any other school of East Asian Buddhism, even the doctrinal ones! Indeed, to be a good priest or Zen master in Japan, one must be trained in this literature through and through. One would also find that the ancient Chan masters and patriarchs were themselves highly literate individuals, whose teachings were deeply imbued with the language of the Buddhist sutras.Master Sheng Yen was a strong proponent of Chan practice, and most of his books are actually just transcriptions of his talks at meditation retreats. He taught the expedient means of mozhao (silent illumination), koan and huatou. At the same time, many of these meditation retreats were structured around investigating particular sutras and writings of Chan masters.Traditionally in Buddhist practice, even before Chan, the various elements of the path are mutually reinforcing. In the Eightfold Path, broadly grouped into understanding, morality and meditative practice, no particular element comes first. It's not "behave morally, learn lots and then practice well". It's not "practice well, gain insight, then behave morally".The path is a constant interplay of all of the elements. The challenges we face in behaving morally shine a light on aspects of the teaching. Insights from meditative practice make moral behaviour come naturally. Understanding of the teaching helps keep meditative practice from veering off into delusion. The calmer life from moral behaviour are conducive to meditative practice. New levels of meaning in the sutras are discovered through moral behaviour and through meditative practice.The path is a three-legged stool. The full impact of each leg is felt best when supported by the other two.

this is awesome.

Traditionally in Buddhist practice, even before Chan, the various elements of the path are mutually reinforcing. In the Eightfold Path, broadly grouped into understanding, morality and meditative practice, no particular element comes first. It's not "behave morally, learn lots and then practice well". It's not "practice well, gain insight, then behave morally".

The path is a constant interplay of all of the elements. The challenges we face in behaving morally shine a light on aspects of the teaching. Insights from meditative practice make moral behaviour come naturally. Understanding of the teaching helps keep meditative practice from veering off into delusion. The calmer life from moral behaviour are conducive to meditative practice. New levels of meaning in the sutras are discovered through moral behaviour and through meditative practice.

The path is a three-legged stool. The full impact of each leg is felt best when supported by the other two.



RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
5/9/20 3:45 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
Mike Smirnoff:
I've heard of Monks getting enlightened in Sri Lanka, just by reading the Abhidhamma. Can't remember where I heard/read this, though.


Vodka Mike, this is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, do you copy, over?

RE: Enlightment through meditating on sutras?
Answer
5/9/20 5:57 AM as a reply to Handsome Monkey King.
Handsome Monkey King:
Most Westerner teachers seem to deny the possibility that sutra study can lead to any real insight, downplaying it as "mere intellectual understanding".
(...)
Thoughts?

Repated exposition to concepts will make you think you understand those concepts and it does not matter if you actually do because those concepts could be nonsensical and as long as you think they are valid and read about it a lot you will end up thinking you understand then. Thiss is your intellectual understanding there.

When you meditate and assciate concepts with experiences you experience , does not even matter what concept or experience, or if this is what author intended or not, you will also end up thinking you understand these concepts.

It all is pretty tricky. Also thinking both that reading suttas can get you enlightened and that it can not.
Perhaps best approach is to try various things, not get too obsesses with any concepts or practices/methods and try to actually understand what is happening, with your own thoughts. Then perhaps you will have "intellectual understanding" and it will be glorious... and nothing to be downplayed.