Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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Im a bit confused here; Thanissaro sais that when you get the first taste of the deatless there is timeless awareness in it! Is he talking about Stream Entry as "first taste"? If so then Im a bit confused about his take on SE and having awareness in the deatless moment which I assume is the Cessation. In my limited experience, as I have only had cessation shmack me once, but I have no rememberance of the cessation itself or anything for that matter, I was utterly out. I only knew afterwards that somethings gone utterly missing and that I was "out". No there, no here, no me , no time, no anything at all. No memory simply put.

If cessation is this deathless then how come Thanissaro states that there is Awareness in it? Or is he talking about something else? Thank you. He does say after the 26:28 "there was awareness there". Im sure you can get the context on this part from 25 minutes of this talk. Thank you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptnSWSvbTdY
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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EDIT; Ive posted a wrong link emoticon Now fixed !
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Ben V., modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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I don't have an answer, but I find it intriguing at 32.00 when he gives five analogies for Nibbana (among them awareness) and the first three are exactly the three charateristics of Brahman (ultimate reality) in Vedanta:

Truth (permanent, unchanging) which in Vedanta would be 'Sat'

Bliss, in Vedanta 'Ananda'

Consciousness, in Vedanta 'Chit'

B. Thanissaro is from a Thai lineage. In Thailand, although it is a Buddhist country, is also influenced by Hinduism (just look at Thailand's history). Even the modern kingships of Thailand have Hindu rituals around it.

Perhaps Buddhism in Thailand has residues of HInduism in it and we can see that even in the teachings of its meditation masters: Ajahn Chah, Mun, Maha Boowa, etc.
Small Steps, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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It's only the Burmese, and in this particular case, the Mahasi Sayadaw lineage (iirc) that talks about Nibbana this way, in the extinguishing of the five aggregates (cessation). In a thread long since past, I referenced this talk by Guy Armstrong, wherein he contrasts this notion with other Buddhist traditions' explanations and expectations.

https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/79/talk/2440/
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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Small Steps:
It's only the Burmese, and in this particular case, the Mahasi Sayadaw lineage (iirc) that talks about Nibbana this way, in the extinguishing of the five aggregates (cessation). In a thread long since past, I referenced this talk by Guy Armstrong, wherein he contrasts this notion with other Buddhist traditions' explanations and expectations.

https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/79/talk/2440/

very interesting talk , thank you! Seems like Guy is also unsure about this Nirvana experience/not-experience emoticon he does say that his intuition feels that the Awareness is still being part of it, like that "beaming sun light coming into the house through the east window and hitting the west wall" anology from the Buddha (Thanissaro used that anology in the link Ive posted above)

I do like one of those questions at the end of his talk where the person asked about the 3 Kayas and if this experience/not-experience of Nirvana has anything to do with which of those 3 kayas one is practicing in. I can live with that explanation as a possibility of having different "experience" of Nirvana.

Ok, nuf talk emoticon back to practicing! Thank you all for chiming in!
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svmonk, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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Hi Papa Che,

This kind of split appears in Tibetan Buddhism too, between the Rangtong and Shentong schools. The Rangtong teach that the experience of emptiness is exactly as the Burmese/Ceylonese tradition teaches it, namely cessation. The Shentong, on the other hand, teach that it is like the Thai Forest Tradition teaches it, namely luminous awareness. Not sure about Chinese Buddhism (Ta'ntai) nor Zen, Zen doesn't talk much about the actual experience of enlightment AFAIR. Note that this is not like the Vendanta, in that neither Shentong nor the Thai Forest Tradition maintain that emptiness is substantially existent, i.e. a thing or a view (fixed position). As Nagarajuna says: "One who adopts emptiness as a view is thereby pronounced incurable".
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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Hi svmonk! Thanks for further explanation. 

I would like to express the reason behind me starting this thread; I honestly thought that Cessation was considered Nirvana in all Buddhism and was shocked when Thanissaro mentioned Awareness in the Deatless (he was clearly talking about SE as he used words "first taste" ) 
Im not well versed in Buddhism's. I need to look up on google what sukha or pity means when someone mentions it here. 

So I had a strong doubt in Thanissaro and wondered if he might be mistaking some post-8th Jhana (Kenneth Folk mentions 13 Jhanas) with Awareness in Deathless state , for actual Cessation. I know it's ridiculous me doubting Thanissaro (I feel stupid for even mentioning it). 

Then I thought "could there be more ways to experience/not-experience nirvana" and it very well could be the case. I mean if everything is simultaneously arising and vanishing then we have this infinite small spot where arising-vanishing happens and ones mind could be a tiny fraction more inclined towards the Empty or towards the Manifest and still be very much "there" in the "zone". Pure assumptions here on my part, as I'm trying to not create divisions on this subject in my mind. 

If both Samsara and Nirvana arise from the true nature of mind (which can't be seen) then it certainly is possible for people to have different experience of the Desthless , no? Im ok with this and will certainly be VERY careful not to disagree with someone who experienced/not-experienced Nirvana differently than me.
Daniel Slaney, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

Culadasa has talked about the two different takes on nirvana and has put forth a possible explanation based on his subminds model. There's a blog post talking about it here: http://openheartopenheart.blogspot.com/2016/07/cessation-by-culadasa-john-yates.html

H
e uses the term Pure Consciousness Exprience PCE in a slightly different way than you might see on this forum though.

The summary seems to be if you're looking for objects when cessation happens it's the blip, if you trying to be metacognitively aware it's the Thanissaro style experience.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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Could that Pure Consciousness, that Culadasa talks about being the same as the Pure Land Jhana 1 and 2 as described by a Kenneth Folk (he mentions 13 Jhanas instead of just 8). 

That was a good read and again puts mind at ease as the last thing I desire is to have doubt in those who might have different experience than me and yet also be "tasting" the same thing. 

Thank you. 
Daniel Slaney, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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Pure Land Jhanas sound like they have more to them which makes them easier to describe.

From a purely descriptive PoV it seems hard to tease out the difference between 8th Jhana and the conscious version of cessation though. The lead up and after effects are different but it is something I would ask someone who claims to have experienced both, out of curiousity.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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I like how this thread is developing emoticon I think it's freeing to assume that not all must have exact same experience. It opens for new possibilities. It's an infinite universe after all emoticon 

Dukkha still remains as the best guide as do Anicca and Anatta. No matter what one experience, these 3 will show the fact.
Chuck Kasmire, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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Papa Che Dusko:
I like how this thread is developing emoticon I think it's freeing to assume that not all must have exact same experience. It opens for new possibilities. It's an infinite universe after all emoticon

"This universe is for you!"
That's from an out of body book I read years ago. The guy finally manages to do his first OBE and is floating down the street near his house that night and passes a playground. There is a little kid there playing and he goes up to him and the kid looks at him and says that.

Yes, there is awareness in the deathless. Arahants by definition experience the deathless 24/7 and obviously they are aware. When the mind through insight and tranquility comes to a stop, then awareness drops all phenomena, it stands free outside all things, all experiences. You cannot make this happen. The very act of trying to see anything creates far too much agitation in the mind for awareness to release. Through calming the body and mind together while maintaining clear awareness the activity of the mind falls away until it releases. Thanisarro describes this as an awareness outside of time and space which is quite accurate.

Here is a description from an insight practitioner being guided by a very well known Insight meditation teacher in Sri Lanka (he was also the teacher of Ayya Kemma and Ven. Nanananda - author of Nibanna: The Mind Stilled):

Now I have had another experience extremely difficult to describe. I meditated for about 1 1/2 hours and had reached a good state of Samadhi. The next thing I realized was that I had got out of Samadhi, but not before I had experienced an extraordinary level of Peace and Rest, never before experienced. I had been transformed into the quality of Peace and completely unconscious of myself -It was a subtle and immaterial experience. All the other experiences I have had so far ( of dissolving and disappearing into a mist etc,) seemed gross and material in comparison. I was not sure if I was asleep when I experienced this, (but I never fall asleep) Time did not seem to come into this experience (In earlier experiences I had always known roughly how long the experience lasted) Now time did not seem to function. The Peace was of the quality of that found in sleep -Perhaps that was why I thought I had been asleep. All other experiences I could describe clearly -but this was of a new order. Completely intangible to both senses and mind -Was I awake or asleep when it occurred and what was it?

The Teachers Response:
The Venerable Nayaka Thero is in receipt of your letter of the 19th. When I had translated it to him, he announced that at last you have reason to be happy that your endeavours are 'Fruite'-ful. That 'extraordinary level of Peace and Rest never before experienced' in which you 'had been transformed into the quality of Peace' ....... etc.is the Fruit of Stream -winning( Sotapattiphala) . It is the taste of Bliss of Nibbana -the true awakening ("was I awake of sleep?" you were more awake than asleep ) The fact that "Time did not seem to come into this experience" shows that it is a supermundane level. ("All other experiences I have had so far .... seemed gross and material in comparison").
-source


Of course, the Thai Forest Tradition doesn't use insight practice but as you are familiar with it I thought it might help to see how this teacher employs it.

Some thoughts: if your mind is capable of holding the thought ‘is this it?’ or ‘how can I see this?’ you haven’t  reached a sufficient level of tranquility. Focus totally on the practice and let it come when it comes. As for how to practice, if you read through the freed freedom document  (above) and also familiarize yourself with his book The Seven Stages of Purification and The Insight Knowledges this should give you something to work with.

Thanissaros take on what is behind the momentary blips of nothingness is that it is caused by a lack of tranquility. When the mind is forced into the present moment, it just blanks out – instead of fully entering into it. I came to a similar conclusion myself. I also think this is why these blips have to keep being brought about over and over again and why Daniel doesn’t make much of the three fetters model of stream entry. When you fully experience the deathless - an unimaginably vast awareness outside of time and space devoid of all fabrications - it has quite an impact on your view of the world and reality in general.



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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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Thank you Chuck for sharing your view and experience on this. As I said I'm certainly ok with those on tranquility paths to have different Nirvana experience than those on Vipassana noting path. 

However I'm not happy with Thanissaro making a laugh out Mahasi tradition on several occasions emoticon 
I know what this "blip" cessation was back in Jun 2019 and so do many other in noting tradition, weather they had repetitive fruition's or not. There are other indicators than that. 

And yes, there is no way one can hold a thought "is this it" during utter cessation. One is totally OUT as in no memory of IT at all. Only after consciousness rebooting back online does one get a clear sense of something gone utterly lost and question "what was that???" did arise for me. However no special feeling tone was there for me. Everything felt very normal, no bliss no fuss. 

Im ok with the idea that other traditions have different experience. Maybe those traditions could be also more open to that possibility emoticon 

Btw, I did not "force" anything into a "blip" emoticon At that time I was off cushion playing with my little son. Mind was already for about 3 weeks in Equanimity so effort and forcing was absolutely not there. 

EDIT; just to add something I find very important. If you cansay that it was a "Blip" then its not Cessation in my expereince. There is no way one can say how long it lasted. No way. Blip is something short. I have beelps in image space happen often, just like on a slide projector when flipping images, goes very fast. This is not it, IME that is emoticon 
When consciousness returned and had to look around to see where I was as clearly I was still walking and I wanted to determine how long I was "out" and it looked like I was in very much in the part of forest where I was before the utter gone fact. I also looked at my son to see if he is maybe telling me to answer him something as he is a very lively fellow and needs often for us to react to his words but he was still just blabbing about something so again I assumed it could not passed that much time. Again, there is no way one can call Cessation a "blip" emoticon in my experience that is. But I am open to the idea that others have oposing experiences. Its an infinite universe afterall and I see no reason to limit all creation to my personal experience emoticon 

p.s. excuse my spell errors my computers spell check refuses to work.
Chuck Kasmire, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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However I'm not happy with Thanissaro making a laugh out Mahasi tradition on several occasions
Who would be? I am not familiar with the specific discussion so can’t really comment.I have seen lengthy debates over whether you can or cannot hearsounds in jhana – its a human thing to argue I guess. Imagine how he (Thanissaro) must feel about some of Daniels rants about monks inhis book – it is pretty insulting stuff. Language is a great tool but it is often the source of much confusion and stress. What attracted me to this thread was the open attitude about different types of experiences.

I use the term ‘blip’ just as a short label to what you call cessation. I think I saw Daniel use the term. By using it I don’t have to distinguish between different meanings of cessation. Not meant in a derogatory or dismissive way. Actually, I now have a good friend who has been experiencing these cessations (mctb) so I have had someone I can talk to in detail about them.
One is totally OUT as in no memory of IT at all. Only after consciousness rebooting back online does one get a clear sense of something gone utterly lostand question "what was that???" did arise for me

Right, this is how my friend describes it as well. Clearly there is something going on. And yet so very different from what I went through where there was a vast awareness.
Im ok with the idea that other traditions have different experience. Maybe those traditions could be also more open to that possibility

Well, you are asking allot of humans! Our individual experiences are much more real and meaningful then those of someone else. And of course language plays a big part in the confusion once we start exploring subjective experience. Any spiritual belief system that teaches a certain set of practices and the result of those practices has a built in bias. If you follow that system and you have the same kind of experience then you succeeded and maybe go on to teach the system to others. If you experience something else, well you just didn’t try hard enough and so on. Any teaching tends to be self-selective in this way and works against keeping an open mind. I got very tired of hearing on DhO that I must have experienced cessations because everyone does on the path and if I didn’t I just wasn’t noticing it.
Btw, I did not"force" anything into a "blip" At that time I was off cushion playing with my little son.

That was Thanissaro’s term. So do they tend to happen for people during noting practice or do they tend to happen during normal activities (generally speaking)? My take is that for the mind to directly experience the deathless it has to first get very close to the deathless state (typically through meditation) and then when everything falls away, the mind can follow the transition into it. Kind of like double-clutching on an old car. If I am in normal waking consciousness then the shift may be too great and so the experience can’t ‘register’ with the mind. Sort of like how we have no memory of deep sleep. If one does allot of the tranquility type practices than a subtle awareness can be noticed in deep sleep. So it is kind of expanding the mind’s range of conscious awareness.

One thought I have with regards to your cessation is do you think the fact that you were playing with your son when it happened might be part of why it happened? That this activity left you in a more calm, open, playful state of mind? It seems like that could be a factor.

Thanks for the response,
-Chuck
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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"One thought I have with regards to your cessation is do you think the fact that you were playing with your son when it happened might be part of why it happened? That this activity left you in a more calm, open, playful state of mind? It seems like that could be a factor."

emoticon Most certainly not emoticon I mean a love my little lad so much and I care for him night and day but he can be over the top with his extrovert childish personality and more often than not Im rather tired of listening to his non-stop chit chat emoticon 

Bottom line, as I see it; I was really deep into the EQ Nana territory at that time (around 3 weeks in it and it started to be very Boring) and it matters little if you are on cushion while in this Nana or off the cushion! It really is all inclusive and it only helps to "get lost" in some activity (mow the lawn, prune the roses, paint the fence, build a shed, chop wood, carry water, drag a wooden cart with your child in it) emoticon 
Even if in this EQ Nana I kept noting aloud while doing my formal daily practice (which I think dropped to only one sit a day before that cessation off cushion). I know folks here say drop noting but in my case I find noting aloud just became part of the all inclusivness and did help to work on that Boredom through the sit with acceptance of it. Im sure Jhana folks have better fun in high EQ than folks following a purification practice emoticon I kept practicing noting aloud on the cushion all the way and let the Choiceless Open Awareness do its stuff off the cushion. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Thanissaro - there is awareness in the deathless

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Mike Smirnoff:
Yeah, it's a great thing if Nibbana can be experienced in various ways!

So much of what the experience is seems to be based on the personality of the person --  as Culadasa says. My guess at this point is that those who talk about God consciousness, there is the possibility that they are experiencing Nibbana -- just that their thinking and processing has always been in terms of God, so when it happens, they say, they have experienced/found God.

Maybe. I really have only my own experience which does not support that "God Consciousness" experience. But could be. Dunno emoticon 

I remember back in 2009 when I first experienced 5th Samatha Jhana and thought of that infinite Safe space being THAT God space holding my tiny sense of self in its vastness emoticon 

Then in 2010 I've experienced Mind (thinking mind) Falling Away far into the background and only body and awareness being in the present. It was a Wow moment for me as it clearly showed that thinking mind was not I, me, mine. I thought "this must be the glimpse into Nirvana!" emoticon several month after this wow experience I've hit the Dark Night emoticon 

I guess not jumping to conclusions too fast and letting it simmer under world conditions for a year and one day indeed is a good way to go about it. Keeping the practice going for reality checking too. 

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