RE: Nibbana / NS

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Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 12:32 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/13/12 11:50 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Again, and forgive me for offering this first part about Nibbana as a definitive answer:

Nibbana is used in two basic ways in the literature:

1) to refer to arahatship

2) to refer to fruition

One understands the usage through context.

For example: when in the Abhidhamma it says that after 3 impulsions the mind takes Nibbana as object and then impulsions follow that, this is talking about Fruition.

When in a Pali Sutta it says that the mind turned to the destruction of the taints and through seeing with wisdom Nibbana was attained and the Holy Life had been lived, in the broad sense they mean that arahatship had been attained, albeit there would have been a Fruition that occurred at the transition point, but the Suttas don't use that word that I know of, it being commentarial and Abhidhammic.

********************

This point I consider likely accurate speculation:

As to things that blow people's doors completely off and then lead to longing for things like death and the description that things were just awful: I am again going to argue for A&P to Dark Night, as what else does that?

As we say in the medical differential diagnosis world (meaning the conditions a patient could possibly have given their symptoms and presentation): "Common things are common," and, "When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras..."

So, given that I know hundreds of people who got their mind completely blown by the height of bliss during the A&P only to crash later. What else does that? Nothing I have ever heard of.

As to this stuff being worth it: everything I have attained to personally so far has been completely worth it, except when I had just Dark Night without Stream Entry, which was worse in general but better in that it eventually lead to Stream Entry.

***********************

As an aside, but a really important one:

Personal pet peeve: using the term Nirodha Samapatti to refer to anything except the real, full-on deal. I see this one thrown around all the time these days, like formless realm terminology, when people are talking about nothing like it at all. This is some mix of:

1) arrogant: few people can attain to this, very few, and it takes all sorts of skills and accomplishments to really pull it off, and when it happens, for the lucky enough, it is truly spectacular in its afterglow and profundity and there is no sensate anything during it at all, and how you could attain to it with eyes open, or notice the passage of time, or anything like that, is an absurdity to me. It is arrogant to think that one has easily done this unless one is declaring oneself to be truly one of the rarest superstars in meditation terms. Minimum criteria: anagami with full-on formless realm mastery, end of story.

2) naive: people may just not know how rare and profound and hard to do this particular attainment is.

3) ignorant: people may simply not know what NS really is, what the criteria are, how it stands out, and how special its unique place in the catalogue of various accomplishments really is.

4) apathetic: people may not really care at all, and may just be throwing the term around loosely because it means nothing particular to them.

5) culturally induced error: as one of the mixed blessings of the DhO is a staggering lack of anyone going around certifying anything or declaring anyone else as having definitely done anything, that lack of rigorous quality control, which was lambasted by the likes of Hokai (and contributed to his leaving in disgust, if memory serves), allows people to create a culture where they just throw really high terms around quite loosely and don't realize that there is actually something to them, something lost when they are abused, and something damaged when it creates the same slack foolishness in those exposed to those who do this. I still think that the whole certification process, quality control by an authoritative body, etc. trip is not one I want, but I am at a loss as to how to prevent people from really trashing out concepts like NS en masse without something to counterbalance the prevailing trend of seriously watered down dharma, which I generally loathe.

As mentioned above, other concepts I see the same problems with:

"MCTB arahat"
"formless realms"
"MCTB anagami"
"MCTB jhana"

Anyone got any ideas about how to keep reasonably high standards in a wetsite dedicated to high standards without going around saying, "You are fooling yourself and full of it, stop using those terms now by the Authority Vested in Me!" which obviously would be really ugly and not helpful, but what alternatives are there that will help reclaim the weight and rigor that those things should have when the prevailing trend is so far in the other direction?

As Tarin once pointed out, and I am paraphrasing, there is a difference between giving people empowerment and giving them license, and I think that a lot of license is being taken to no good benefit and this could really cause people to miss trying for something way beyond what they currently are doing, meaning that license to really loosely use profound terms could actually detract from personal empowerment, something I very much wish to avoid.

I am not saying that everyone is necessarily using NS inaccurately, but I simply don't see any descriptions that really make me think, "Yeah! That's it! Nicely done! Go (insert meditator's name here)!" Things that I routinely see missing:

Set up description.
Entrance and Exit Description.
Truly everything being utterly gone: this "eyes open NS" and "NS with sensations" stuff is simply junk IM-NotAtAll-HO.
The truly profound and very long-lasting heavy duty afterglow.
The very profound shift in perspectives that can come from having attained this particular attainment.
The unusual reverence that it should cause in people who attain it: I just don't see that being described at all.

It stands out in a way that nothing else at that end of the spectrum does.

I didn't attain it for a few years as I simply couldn't spare the time to deal with the hyper-heavy long-tailed afterglow, as my life was too busy to risk having to navigate in a complex life in that headspace, which is so ultra-chill and so heavy-stimulation averse for so many hours afterwards. I see nothing like this being described at all by anyone here, a silence I find telling.

Please, I ask those posting here and practicing here to try to fight this particular trend and use terms as they were intended and with the respect they deserve so as to avoid short changing yourselves in your own practice and encouraging the same in everyone around you.
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 1:05 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 12:49 AM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel,

Since a few of us are experiencing perceptual and affective changes due to influence of AF practice, what do you wish the new terms should be to describe these possibly different 'stages' (or something that should not be consider a stage) that some of us may come across?

If according to your description in An Essay About Arhats, that it is false that "arahats cannot feel the following emotions: lust, hatred, irritation, restlessness, worry, fear, pride, conceit, desire for the formless realms, desire for the formed realms, or any other "bad" emotion", what are we going to start terming the possible 'stages' some of us may be coming across that don't match Richard's AF (as it seems more political these days to term stages as AF) nor do they seem to match some of the things that may be in your essay on Arhats (such as none or some of the above 'emotions' not arising in any form, residual, broken up, transient, sticky-free, proto or whatever). Perhaps we should just avoid terming them anything and stop speculating, speak amongst ourselves out of public view? It probably would help our practices to do so.

The 'conscious NS' was introduced to me by someone you know and explained as another version of NS. I ran with it as did others. But if we could get your terminology website (or even a section here at the DhO just for terminology) up and running we could start to gather terminology for these differing experiences. You can have your (*commentarial) version of NS as the official NS for this site. Any other 'versions' floating around will gain a new name.

I tried to sign into your new website to discuss new terms but couldn't. Is it closed to signing in?

Nick

* only anagamis having access to NS is not in the suttas as a far as I know.

Edit: agreed on the formless jhanas comment. I have already adjusted the way I describe using arupa jhana 'aspects' for certain practices, rather than calling them straight up formless jhanas. The 'aspects' are used, and can be experienced eyes open, walking around.
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 1:09 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 1:09 AM

RE: Nibbana / NS

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Your points are all reasonable.

I have just created a Terminology category.

I suggest we start each section or thread with the experience described in straightforward, simple, phenomenological terms, then add the possible corollaries from the standard world of terms that it brings to mind, create a list of the distinguishing characteristics of that specific attainment, phase, stage, state, or whatever it is, discuss how how to create a term for that that we can all agree on, and then go from there discussing the pros and cons of calling something whatever, such as to eventually arrive at a list of terms that are as nuanced, unambiguous, well-defined and helpful as we can. I suspect that for much of this we will actually have to use somewhat elaborate phrases, as hinted at in my Advanced Jhana Classification thread, but that is way better than trying to throw all sorts of things into one catchall category that really shouldn't be, as often happens now.

I think that we need to do some of that work here before mindtrainingterms gets off the ground, which I envision as a collaboration outside of this little community of practitioners, and if we have our stuff together before we try for something more mainstream like that, then those involved who aren't practitioners but are scholars, researchers, academics, will hopefully be less thrown by our own internal debates.
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 1:53 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 1:44 AM

RE: Nibbana / NS

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While I am on the subject...

In the beginning, there where apparently the 8 jhanas, as the Buddha supposedly was trained in those by his teachers.

Then he attained the 4 paths and Arahatship, and now we had 13 terms with which to describe nearly everything except the powers.

Then there were the Suttas, and in them we find suttas such as "The Fruits of the Homeless Life" (DN 2) and "One by One as They Occurred" (MN 111), between which we have the powers, and two very different apparent approaches to meditation, as well as some other tests that outline such things as the 40 objects of concentration and some of those practices, such as the Brahmaviharas, the Kasina meditations, Reflections on Death, etc., as well as MN 44, which talks about Nirodha Samapatti.

So that is a little better, but try to describe all the stuff that people do and experience here with just those, and you constantly find yourself having to cram a ton of disparate stuff into very narrow and limited boxes, like an artist who can only use the terms "red, green, and blue" to describe the colors they use, rather than having the whole spectrum of Pantone and beyond, like a programmer who could only use machine language to program: you can get there, but your fingers will bleed and you will have grey hair long before you could ever code a web browser.

Then come the commentaries, such as the Visuddhimagga and the Vimuttimagga, the most significant ones for this discussion, and in them we find a whole lot more about technique and the stages of insight, as well as more about the powers and more about NS and more about all sorts of things that are really useful. This was a significant expansion and elaboration on the original, but, in all honesty, still woefully inadequate to describe the wide range of the thing, not even close, in fact.

Imagine trying to limit yourself just to terms and concepts found even in the commentaries, it would be like trying to practice medicine using only terms and concepts that existed 100 years ago: was better than trying to do it using terms before they knew about things like microbes, say 600 years ago, but nowhere close to what you can do today.

(I am going to skip over what happened in Tibet, with a massive explosion of techniques and literature into a whole host of wild and wonderful and very complicated and often really out there stuff, as well as what happened in Zen, where they basically went back to the Stone Age in terms of meditation terminology and still refuse to budge from that point of view.)

Then fast forward some 1500 years to about 60 years ago and Mahasi Sayadaw, as well as U Pandita, and then add Bill Hamilton...

These guys, through diligent practice, realized the connections between the stages of insight and the concentration territory, and they added a huge and important step, and then Bill added the concept of subjhanas, as well as subñanas, and the like, and this really made good description a lot easier.

However, what is described here is still far more complicated than even those things, and yet we still use a very limited set of terms, and basically no one here even uses subjhana or subñana terminology, which is so useful, and beyond that, adds technique, focus, emphasis, set up, duration, depth, etc. to really flush out what they are getting into, and then add on the Actualism stuff, and energetic stuff, and powers-related stuff, and candle flame, and mantras, and visualization, and deep emotional investigation, and all of that, and we have a real need for a true technical language that can handle all of this, and we don't have it, and we constantly stumble because that need is not recognized and realized here.

There are those who look at all of that and try to go backwards, back to the days of an exceedingly poorly developed and extremely limited lexicon of meditation terms from thousands of years ago, but the answer simply doesn't lie there, not that there aren't good foundations to build on there, but we are already way beyond that and still it isn't enough to avoid constant ambiguity, miscommunication, and failed attempts to really convey the fine points of what we are getting into here, and those fine points can be really, practically important.

Thus, again I call for a discussion of a much more nuanced, rich, complex, precise set of terms and phrases to help describe this amazing work we are engaged in. I realized that, as with any specialty or profession, once you get to the level of having a very complex set of terms to describe what you do and how to do it, many people won't be able to go there, as the language barrier gets too high, but there are ways around that, and for the deep work, I still think that we need to take things to a much more detailed and sophisticated level, and, given how generally smart this crowd is here, I think we are the people to do it, as no one else seems to be.
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Yadid dee, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 9:49 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 9:49 AM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 258 Join Date: 9/11/09 Recent Posts
Daniel,

I think you didn't address Nikolai's specific point, which is talking about how you framed the term 'arahat' in your website which became established after a while,
but according to this new data, a way of being which more closely matches the arahat descriptions of the pali canon exist, and so what do you think about that?
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 2:28 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 2:28 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

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Yadid dee:
Daniel,

I think you didn't address Nikolai's specific point, which is talking about how you framed the term 'arahat' in your website which became established after a while,
but according to this new data, a way of being which more closely matches the arahat descriptions of the pali canon exist, and so what do you think about that?


I don't think it is vitally important nor going to get anywhere to argue about definitions of such terms and 'stages'. We now know it is possible to take our practices to certain 'places' and regardless of what one calls them, they are open and possible for all to choose to go for. The bar has been raised quite high now round these parts for what is possible and it shouldn't really matter what we call these possible 'routes' one can take unless one is stuck on trying to 'reconcile' things. End of suffering in all shapes and sizes and manifestations I believe is possible, and perhaps we could talk about it like so; levels of suffering: (although 'suffering' may have to be defined in a certain way first).

Perhaps that could be discussed in this thread?

Nick
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 2:48 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 2:48 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
the arahat thing, yes, I agree, it is complicated.

As to the history of the use of that term, it is also complicated.

I utterly disagree that the term matches the one better than the other, and the same phenomena of trying to cram things into old terms applies to that debate.

AF is clearly very different from what is described in the Pali Canon, as is what I describe different from some parts of what I describe, but at least both are clearly defined, and one can distinguish them from each other, as well as from what is described in the Pali Canon, which is very complicated in all of its mythology and criteria, and so even trying to shoehorn all three into one word is again really problematic.

Thus, something much more sophisticated, nuanced and better needs to occur, as I keep saying here.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 3:27 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 3:27 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
As an alternative for Arahat, I suggest Optimus Prime.

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End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 5:29 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 5:28 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Again, and forgive me for offering this first part about Nibbana as a definitive answer: (...)


Your understanding of this issue, of course, comes from your background in modern Burmese Theravada, as well as your own particular experiences. But it is quite reasonable for those who lack such a background or have expanded their background or come from a completely different background, and who may have had some experiences that are different from yours, to think that a different understanding of this issue may be helpful here. I am sure you recognize that your positions on Pali Buddhism and enlightenment are extremely un-orthodox, which is to say, lots of people would disagree with them, and provide reasonable grounds for that disagreement (whether they or you or neither turn out to be correct). And it seems fair enough to note disagreement and leave it at that.

As for the rest, I agree that proper standards supported by very precise experiential description / investigation are good.
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 6:55 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 6:55 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

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My background is a whole lot wider than that.

What experiences are you having that contradict those two standard interpretations?

What possible other ways of looking at the usage in the abhidhamma versus, say, the MN, can you come up with?

There is simply no easy way to resolve the linguistic tensions between the two very different uses without resorting to the obvious conclusion: two straightforward meanings depending on context, as is true with so many other words, such as your favorite, jhana.

Propose an alternate interpretation that works in the various contexts equally well.

Game on. ;)
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 6:56 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 6:56 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

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As an aside: one more great argument for more precise, less ambiguous technical language revision.
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 9:01 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 8:57 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

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Daniel M. Ingram:
My background is a whole lot wider than that.


From reading MCTB, I am aware of that...and yet, It appears to me that your interpretation of other traditions that you're familiar with is rooted in your take on Burmese Theravada, as you think (many? all?) traditions are about the very same thing, and that thing is most clearly expressed in the idiom of Burmese Theravada. (For example, consider your take on "rigpa" and Dzogchen in MCTB, vs. Kenneth's take.)

Would you consider that a fair assessment?

What experiences are you having that contradict those two standard interpretations?


A non-contentious place to start may be this: fruition (as described in MCTB ) does not live up to the hype about nibbana, as far as I can see. Is it the goal of spiritual life? Is it pleasant? Is it good? Is it unequivocally better than every conditioned experience? (Is it different in any way from pure unconsciousness, which is a strange thing to call "unconditioned"?)

Kenneth wrote:

http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/page/The+Controversy:
Question: I just finished reading Sam Harris's book, The End of Faith, in which he claims to describe the universal essence of contemplative and mystical experience. It's strange, because what he calls the universal contemplative experience sounds like what people on this forum are calling primordial awareness or seeing emptiness, but he doesn't mention nirvana (cessation) at all in anything I've read by him. I'm wondering why he does that, if he really experiences emptiness but not cessation, or if he declines to write about nirvana in his mainstream writing career for other reasons (although, gee, writing about empty awareness is pretty weird on the scale of things).

Answer: This is an interesting question, and one that only someone well-versed in Theravada theory would ask. It would be difficult to find a reference to cessation/nibbana in the literature of any other tradition. Other traditions tend to emphasize the awake no-self experience over the erased-self experience of cessation. Assuming that people go through the same organic process of development whether they are targeting it or not, then everyone will experience the developmental landmark of cessation as defined by the Mahasi school. On the other hand, if you aren't looking for cessation and/or haven't been told that it is significant, it's just another of the thousands of things that can happen during a meditator's day.


This may be true about fruition (as defined in MCTB )...and yet the Deathless, the unconditioned, the goal of spiritual life, is just one more thing that can be glossed over by a serious spiritual seeker as if it were irrelevant?

Further, fruition (as defined in MCTB ) does not reliably lead to the cessation of fetters in the way that the suttas say that attaining paths would, according to an orthodox take on the fetters (i.e. stream entry severs three fetters), as many do not appreciate the possibility of ending craving, desire, suffering, etc. via insight despite attaining fruition, and yet that possibility is pretty straightforwardly what the doctrine is about...so not having skeptical doubt would be due to seeing that possibility, while having skeptical doubt would cause one to doubt it. And yet, nibbana is supposed to lead to stream entry and to no further skeptical doubt concerning the doctrine, at minimum.

(EDIT: For clarity, on the chance that your position is that fruition is one thing, and arahantship is another, and they are not related except causally, i.e. fruition is not the Deathless, not the goal of spiritual life, not unconditioned, etc., but just some random thing connected with meditative development, that seems reasonable to me...but, I don't think this is what you mean.)

What possible other ways of looking at the usage in the abhidhamma versus, say, the MN, can you come up with?


I have little familiarity with the Abhidhamma, but it's worth noting that we are talking merely about the Theravadin Abhidhamma, while many (no longer extant) schools of Buddhism also based on the Pali suttas had their own distinct Abhidhamma.

Further, even with little familiarity with the (Theravadin) Abhidhamma, what I have read often seems to bear little relationship both with the suttas and with my own contemplative experience, and so I am inclined to simply pass it over.

As far as the suttas in general, there is stuff like this:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.068.than.html:
"My friend, although I have seen properly with right discernment, as it actually is present, that 'The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,' still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended. It's as if there were a well along a road in a desert, with neither rope nor water bucket. A man would come along overcome by heat, oppressed by the heat, exhausted, dehydrated, & thirsty. He would look into the well and would have knowledge of 'water,' but he would not dwell touching it with his body. In the same way, although I have seen properly with right discernment, as it actually is present, that 'The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,' still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended."


Does an arahant "dwell touching fruition with his body", literally or metaphorically (as the non-arahant has seen nibbana [fruition, according to you] but only dwells touching it at arahantship)? If not, that seems like good reason to consider a theory on which nibbana is not fruition (as described in MCTB ).

As a general point, I agree that arahantship means nibbana, though it could well be that nibbana (as experienced before arahantship) is the very same thing, or a glimpse of the very same thing. (I suspect, if this is true, that it would only be understood fully by an arahant.)

Game on. ;)


FYI, I wrote this response in the spirit of sharing my perspective on why someone might reasonably disagree with your perspective, not because I am interested in debating who is right (which I am not).
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Yadid dee, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 10:47 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 10:47 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

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Nikolai .:
Yadid dee:
End of suffering in all shapes and sizes and manifestations I believe is possible, and perhaps we could talk about it like so; levels of suffering: (although 'suffering' may have to be defined in a certain way first).


I see your point. Reconciling things is not vitally important, indeed.

Could you elaborate on that point you made about having to define suffering a certain way?
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 11:30 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 11:26 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

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End in Sight:
Daniel M. Ingram:
My background is a whole lot wider than that.


From reading MCTB, I am aware of that...and yet, It appears to me that your interpretation of other traditions that you're familiar with is rooted in your take on Burmese Theravada, as you think (many? all?) traditions are about the very same thing, and that thing is most clearly expressed in the idiom of Burmese Theravada. (For example, consider your take on "rigpa" and Dzogchen in MCTB, vs. Kenneth's take.)

Would you consider that a fair assessment?


I have gotten out of the business of debating my vs Kenneth's take on things: it leads to little that is good and much that is bad.

I certainly do not think that everyone is on the same page and every tradition is talking about the exact same thing, just some of the same things.

(EDIT: For clarity, on the chance that your position is that fruition is one thing, and arahantship is another, and they are not related except causally, i.e. fruition is not the Deathless, not the goal of spiritual life, not unconditioned, etc., but just some random thing connected with meditative development, that seems reasonable to me...but, I don't think this is what you mean.)


Actually, that is exactly what I mean, meaning that Fruition is just Fruition, Nibbana as goal of the spiritual life is way beyond that.

What possible other ways of looking at the usage in the abhidhamma versus, say, the MN, can you come up with?


I have little familiarity with the Abhidhamma, but it's worth noting that we are talking merely about the Theravadin Abhidhamma, while many (no longer extant) schools of Buddhism also based on the Pali suttas had their own distinct Abhidhamma.


Alright, if you want to get into extinct Abhidhammae this is going to get a bit too obscure for my general tastes, but hey, if you have good references for those, what did they say about this topic?

Further, even with little familiarity with the (Theravadin) Abhidhamma, what I have read often seems to bear little relationship both with the suttas and with my own contemplative experience, and so I am inclined to simply pass it over.


Well then, I would consider more practice, as their analysis of mind moments and the impulsions and the like is so advanced that Western science is just beginning to grasp some of what they were talking about, but a skilled vipassana practitioner can see it for themselves. Some of the things about nutritive elements and the like are a bit primitive, reflecting archaic views of biology, but when it comes to consciousness and how the mind operates, it is still far ahead of anything else out there.

Does an arahant "dwell touching fruition with his body", literally or metaphorically (as the non-arahant has seen nibbana [fruition, according to you] but only dwells touching it at arahantship)? If not, that seems like good reason to consider a theory on which nibbana is not fruition (as described in MCTB ).


As I keep saying, and for some reason you keep not understanding: two very different meanings of the word Nibbana, as above, in the section where you think I couldn't possibly think I mean something that I very much do.

To even say that Nibbana is a glimpse causes a lot of confusion, which is why I generally use the word Fruition to talk about Fruition, and other terms to talk about whatever, and, as I said in a post that got lost in off topic discussion and I am surprised didn't help clear up a lot and change things, we need to more beyond these sorts of shoehorning debates where we try to cram a zillion things into one term and get back to something workable and reality-based, such as discussed here:

Better Descriptions of Awakening
Change A, modified 10 Years ago at 2/15/12 2:14 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/14/12 11:43 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 791 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
I don't think it is vitally important nor going to get anywhere to argue about definitions of such terms and 'stages'. We now know it is possible to take our practices to certain 'places' and regardless of what one calls them, they are open and possible for all to choose to go for. The bar has been raised quite high now round these parts for what is possible and it shouldn't really matter what we call these possible 'routes' one can take unless one is stuck on trying to 'reconcile' things. End of suffering in all shapes and sizes and manifestations I believe is possible, and perhaps we could talk about it like so; levels of suffering: (although 'suffering' may have to be defined in a certain way first).

Perhaps that could be discussed in this thread?

Nick


I agree completely that it is not vitally important to argue about definitions.

Now in trying to define suffering, I will say that no knots, no tension (which can be produced by mind) in the body is equivalent to no suffering. Also, there should not be exotic states of consciousness which are helping to produce completely relaxed body. As an example, which many here would have experience of, would be the experience of flow during Goenka vipassana course. So suffering would be having any kind of knot or tension which is created due to mind.
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 2/15/12 12:11 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/15/12 12:11 AM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
HI Daniel -

Daniel:
[indent][indent]As an aside, but a really important one:

Personal pet peeve: using the term Nirodha Samapatti to refer to anything except the real, full-on deal. I see this one thrown around all the time these days, like formless realm terminology, when people are talking about nothing like it at all. This is some mix of:

1) arrogant: few people can attain to this, very few, and it takes all sorts of skills and accomplishments to really pull it off, and when it happens, for the lucky enough, it is truly spectacular in its afterglow and profundity and there is no sensate anything during it at all, and how you could attain to it with eyes open, or notice the passage of time, or anything like that, is an absurdity to me. It is arrogant to think that one has easily done this unless one is declaring oneself to be truly one of the rarest superstars in meditation terms. Minimum criteria: anagami with full-on formless realm mastery, end of story.
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In Bhikku Bodhi's Abidhamma translation (BPE, 2000) I read tonight (page 364, guide to Section 43), that "Further [cessation (nirodhosamāpanno)] can only be obtained within the sensuous plane or the fine-material plane of existence. It cannot be obtained within the immaterial plane of existence."

AccesstoInsight provides a definition of the sensuous world (a plane among 31 planes) - the Sensuous World (kama-loka) - "consists of eleven realms in which experience — both pleasurable and not — is dominated by the five senses."

Do you think that could explain how cessation could occur with eyes open?

If the sensuous realm is a possible requisite, I wonder if open sensate awareness especially triggers cessation?
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 2/15/12 5:51 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/15/12 5:37 AM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
I certainly do not think that everyone is on the same page and every tradition is talking about the exact same thing, just some of the same things.


OK.

(EDIT: For clarity, on the chance that your position is that fruition is one thing, and arahantship is another, and they are not related except causally, i.e. fruition is not the Deathless, not the goal of spiritual life, not unconditioned, etc., but just some random thing connected with meditative development, that seems reasonable to me...but, I don't think this is what you mean.)


Actually, that is exactly what I mean, meaning that Fruition is just Fruition, Nibbana as goal of the spiritual life is way beyond that.


In that case, what is being talked about here as Sariputta attains stream entry...fruition (some random meditative thing, not the unconditioned), or the goal of the spiritual life? I am unclear on how you would analyze this.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/vin/mv/mv.01.23.01-10.than.html:
Then to Sariputta the wanderer, as he heard this Dhamma exposition, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."

Even if just this is the Dhamma,
you have penetrated
to the Sorrowless (asoka) State
unseen, overlooked (by us)
for many myriads of aeons.

Then Sariputta the wanderer went to Moggallana the wanderer. Moggallana the wanderer saw him coming from afar and, on seeing him, said, "Bright are your faculties, my friend; pure your complexion, and clear. Could it be that you have attained the Deathless?"

"Yes, my friend, I have attained the Deathless. "


(EDIT: To me it seems like Sariputta is not talking about attaining fruition at all, but glimpsing nibbana-as-arahantship, albeit obviously not arahantship, which is a fairly tricky thing for me to think about.)

What possible other ways of looking at the usage in the abhidhamma versus, say, the MN, can you come up with?


I have little familiarity with the Abhidhamma, but it's worth noting that we are talking merely about the Theravadin Abhidhamma, while many (no longer extant) schools of Buddhism also based on the Pali suttas had their own distinct Abhidhamma.


Alright, if you want to get into extinct Abhidhammae this is going to get a bit too obscure for my general tastes, but hey, if you have good references for those, what did they say about this topic?


My point was just that the Theravadin Abhidhamma is merely one way to think about (or over-complicate) the suttas; other schools did it differently.

Further, even with little familiarity with the (Theravadin) Abhidhamma, what I have read often seems to bear little relationship both with the suttas and with my own contemplative experience, and so I am inclined to simply pass it over.


Well then, I would consider more practice, as their analysis of mind moments and the impulsions and the like is so advanced that Western science is just beginning to grasp some of what they were talking about, but a skilled vipassana practitioner can see it for themselves. Some of the things about nutritive elements and the like are a bit primitive, reflecting archaic views of biology, but when it comes to consciousness and how the mind operates, it is still far ahead of anything else out there.


As an example, how much of Pa Auk Sayadaw's views about things in the section "how you discern materiality" (which appear to be based in the Abhidhamma) can you confirm in your own experience? http://www.paaukforestmonastery.org/books/knowing_and_seeing_rev_ed.pdf

(Reading that whole section makes clear how..."different", shall we say, Pa Auk's views on materiality vis-a-vis vipassana are than anything people talk about here.)

Another question which is of interest to me is...do you understand "mind-moments" as referring to attention wave flickers, or as something else?

Does an arahant "dwell touching fruition with his body", literally or metaphorically (as the non-arahant has seen nibbana [fruition, according to you] but only dwells touching it at arahantship)? If not, that seems like good reason to consider a theory on which nibbana is not fruition (as described in MCTB ).


As I keep saying, and for some reason you keep not understanding: two very different meanings of the word Nibbana, as above, in the section where you think I couldn't possibly think I mean something that I very much do.


If you can explain the quote about Sariputta that I offered in a way that does not contradict the suttas, then I will stand corrected about all of this.

(The same goes for the quote from Kosambi sutta; what does the non-arahant see that is the goal of the spiritual life, only to be "touched with the body" upon arahantship? Fruition as something other than the unconditioned? Or the unconditioned?)
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 2/15/12 2:28 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/15/12 2:28 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
NS only arises after a very specific setup, at the end of which one emerges back into the ordinary sense domain from 8th and resolves and then NS may or may not occur, depending on skill level, quality of the setup, etc

Sariputta attained to stream entry when hearing from the arahat Assaji that the Buddha taught what had a cause, and later attained arahatship when talking with the Buddha.

Anyone interested in bringing this back to personal practice?
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 2/15/12 7:06 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/15/12 7:03 PM

RE: Nibbana / NS

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Sariputta attained to stream entry when hearing from the arahat Assaji that the Buddha taught what had a cause, and later attained arahatship when talking with the Buddha.


As you insisted that your view on nibbana is definitive, I hope you won't mind if I press you on what you think Sariputta was talking about when he said "I have attained the Deathless" in the sutta I quoted (bearing in mind what we appeared to have agreed upon earlier about fruition seeming not to be unconditioned, but rather, some random meditation-caused thing).

Anyone interested in bringing this back to personal practice?


Theoreticians and Traditionalists (T&T):
For those discussions focused on technical points of tradition, dogma and doctrine, and sectarian debates over which tradition, term and theory is better rather than actual practice and realization.


However, if you can discern particular Abhidhammic phenomena (especially the stuff Pa Auk Sayadaw talks about; I believe it is from the Abhidhamma) and want to talk about how it's done, I would be interested in hearing about it and trying to reproduce it.

EIS:
As an example, how much of Pa Auk Sayadaw's views about things in the section "how you discern materiality" (which appear to be based in the Abhidhamma) can you confirm in your own experience? http://www.paaukforestmonastery.org/books/knowing_and_seeing_rev_ed.pdf