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What is phenomenology (as used here)

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What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 8/17/14 5:07 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) x x 8/17/14 9:52 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Jason Snyder 8/17/14 1:28 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Daniel M. Ingram 8/18/14 12:22 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/18/14 2:46 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Daniel M. Ingram 8/19/14 2:55 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/20/14 5:43 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 8/22/14 7:08 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/22/14 3:48 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 8/23/14 5:54 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/23/14 11:04 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 8/23/14 6:58 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/23/14 12:03 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 8/24/14 3:24 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Daniel M. Ingram 8/24/14 4:03 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 8/24/14 4:31 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/24/14 9:13 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/24/14 9:35 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 8/24/14 2:01 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/24/14 4:27 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 8/25/14 3:18 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/25/14 6:56 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 8/25/14 10:08 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/25/14 11:13 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 8/25/14 1:50 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/25/14 4:06 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Daniel M. Ingram 8/26/14 4:11 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 8/26/14 5:21 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 8/26/14 5:58 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 9/1/14 6:27 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Daniel M. Ingram 9/3/14 3:15 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Dada Kind 9/3/14 3:19 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 9/7/14 5:02 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Dada Kind 9/7/14 9:04 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 9/8/14 1:45 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Dada Kind 9/8/14 2:25 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) J J 9/8/14 3:25 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 9/10/14 1:30 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Dada Kind 9/10/14 1:55 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) J J 9/10/14 3:27 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Dada Kind 9/10/14 5:56 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 9/13/14 1:32 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/7/14 10:22 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Daniel M. Ingram 9/7/14 6:52 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/8/14 5:41 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 9/8/14 2:10 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) . Jake . 9/8/14 2:27 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 9/8/14 2:51 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Daniel M. Ingram 9/11/14 11:12 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 9/12/14 1:45 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) John Wilde 9/14/14 8:10 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/14/14 11:06 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 9/15/14 10:03 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) . Jake . 9/16/14 10:41 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 9/25/14 2:51 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/17/14 7:27 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 9/12/14 11:06 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 9/10/14 3:05 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 8/26/14 6:17 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/12/14 5:12 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/12/14 5:16 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/12/14 8:03 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) sawfoot _ 9/13/14 1:44 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Mark 9/13/14 4:29 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/13/14 12:02 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/13/14 9:08 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/13/14 10:15 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/13/14 11:05 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/13/14 11:20 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/18/14 3:56 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/17/14 11:55 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/18/14 4:34 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/18/14 1:08 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/18/14 12:52 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/20/14 1:32 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/21/14 8:33 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/22/14 5:12 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/23/14 7:02 AM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 10/4/14 4:11 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 10/4/14 4:56 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) Nicky 9/13/14 10:54 PM
RE: What is phenomenology (as used here) CJMacie 9/15/14 2:30 AM
What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/17/14 5:07 AM
The term 'phenomenology' is used a lot, especially by psychologists, with seemingly informal meaning.

Is there any discussion here of what it might mean, e.g. how it's used here? Different takes on it and/or formal definitions, traditions?

Having studied a couple of related forms (GFW Hegel's 'Die Phaenomenologie des Geistes', and a couple of key works by Edmund Husserl), I often don't get a firm idea of what others mean when they use the term -- it seems really fuzzy.

The only place in dhamma-studies I've found a note-worthy application of what I recognize as phenomenology is in Alexander Piatigorsky's 'The Philosophy of Buddhist Thought'. -- anyone else delved into that work (it's not easy).

Chris Macie

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/17/14 9:52 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
In terms of the practical use of the term to assist with actual meditation practice, phenominology is used to describe the four aspects of mind: sensations, feelings, emotions, and thoughts. This is specific to understanding and performing good noting practice.

Sensations are body sensations (warmth, tingling, aches, pressure, etc.), feeling is the nature of the "pull" of something (attraction, aversion, neutral), emotions have more meaning than feeling (happiness, anticipation, joy, bliss, terror, fear, openness, clarity), and thoughts are the bundles of different kinds of thinking (relationship thoughts, business thoughts, practicing thoughts, judging thoughts, analyzing thoughts, etc.). The point here is to get familiar with all of these aspects of experience in a very direct way. 

If people want to get the most out of mediation advice, practice journals, diagnosis of where they are on the maps, then the only reliable way to get that kind of feedback is to describe their practice in phenominological terms. Most of the time people will present their own analyses, rationales, etc. but to get clear feedback, the person needs to describe what happens to them as they sit (over time if relevant) in terms of what arises as sensations, feeling, emotions, and thoughts.

Hope that helps in a practical way. 

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/17/14 1:28 PM as a reply to x x.
I don't have a sophisticated definition - basically just first "person" experience of phenomenon. 

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/18/14 12:22 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
I tend to use it to mean the sensations themselves, the colors, the textures, the sounds, as well as things like the energetic aspects, the vibrations, the frequencies of sensations, as well as things like the patterns of those sensations, such as a pulse followed by a mental impression, that sort of thing, as well as things related to the stages of insight and the standard criteria for those and jhanas, as well as things like the set up to things, the entrance and exit experiences that relate to events that are hard to comprehend, and the like. That helpful? It is the raw data that we use to create maps and interpretations of our experiences.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/18/14 2:46 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
I tend to use it to mean the sensations themselves, the colors, the textures, the sounds, as well as things like the energetic aspects, the vibrations, the frequencies of sensations, as well as things like the patterns of those sensations, such as a pulse followed by a mental impression, that sort of thing, as well as things related to the stages of insight and the standard criteria for those and jhanas, as well as things like the set up to things, the entrance and exit experiences that relate to events that are hard to comprehend, and the like. That helpful? It is the raw data that we use to create maps and interpretations of our experiences.
Hi Daniel, how do qualia fit in with that ?

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/19/14 2:55 AM as a reply to Mark.
Qualia, as in individual blips of sensation: that's the stuff.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/20/14 5:43 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Qualia, as in individual blips of sensation: that's the stuff.
When reading your descriptions of the individual blips (in your book) it was qualia that came to mind for me. The "hard" problem of consciousness from the scientific perspective largely comes down to explaining how qualia arise. Potentially leading to "artificial qualia" e.g. qualia experienced by a man made machine (which may not be possible, may not be realized etc).

I'm not expecting to solve that problem in this thread emoticon I'm not expecting to solve it at all. But the "blip" aspect of qualia seems insightful. It indicates that the continuous nature of qualia is an illusion.

I've been thinking of qualia as a type of "abstraction" something that allows the brain to compress the raw sense data into a form that is much less energy hungry. 

In your BATGAP interview you mention how the perception of an object has changed for you. So the qualia seem to be associated with the object rather than as "in here" or your subjective experience. That was the first time I'd heard that presentation.

Intellectually do you think the blips are actually part of the object or do you think the blips are created by your brain ? Do you think reality is made up of these blips or are the blips just subjective experience and the non-dual perception another way of perceiving a dual world (by dual I mean the reality and the blips being two different things) ? 

I'm struggling to put this in writing, sorry. Still fun to think about - it is a distraction so please don't worry about replying if it is not a distraction you enjoy too!  

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/22/14 7:08 AM as a reply to Mark.
1) Verbal description (e.g. 'noting') at the level of phenomena -- as distinct from proliferating with associations, memories, abstractions, etc. -- is less phenomenology, per se, and rather a, perhaps more honest, form of documentation; phenomenalist data gathering, if you will.

2) Phenomenology implies a degree of analysis of structure / meaning (logos). For instance: of the interaction, interdependence, and distinction between the words used to document phenomenal experience (vacca-sankara / verbal fabrications), and the sensation-level experience in vivo. Words have a slippery dual role of a) naming ('nama' and subtype 'sanna') or symbolizing ('nimitta'), and b) fabricating and conceptualizing (subtypes 'sankara', 'vinnana').

3) The Abhidhamma (and it's roots in certain Sutta passages, especially those attributed to Sariputta) can be considered more in the direction of a genuine phenomenological approach. Abhidhamma is given short-shrift in Western Buddhism, even dismissed or disparged, if not totally ignored. It is true, trying to read the primary texts can be immensely boring, even soporific. Check out Nyanaponika's "Abhidhamma Studies: Buddhist Explorations of Consciousness and Time" for a much livelier introduction and some fascinating insights. Don't forget, too, that the root motivation of the Abhidhamma authors, for all their excesses, was to deepen practice of the Dhamma!

4) Consider also the masterful and very readable "Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Mind", by Antonio Damasio. He's a scientific 'arahat', so to speak, in the field of neuro-science, combining the perspectives of introspection (e.g. phenomenology), behavioral experimentation, neurological decoding, and evolutionary history (kamma?) to shape and explore sophisticated 'testable hypotheses' for possible mechanisms of the 'implementation' of consciousness, self, etc. Back in the 1970's, he proposed that feeling (at the 'vedana' level) was in some important way a basis of consciousness, and was ridiculed in scientific circles – until his hypothesis was experimentally and theoretically validated in the 1990s. Reading this book (twice), after reading the Visudhimagga (and other various texts of the PaliCanon), I was floored by the correspondences with Abhidhamma (and parts of the Suttanta), which has been characterized as 'Deconstructing the Conscious Mind'. AND Damasio has no significant knowledge of Buddhism, per se; just a high attainment of (mundane, if you will) insight. (He's in a different class than that crowd of popular writers self-styled as both neuroscientists and dharma-teachers.)

5) Towards the end of his book, Damasio surveys the scientific debate concerning 'qualia', and comes down on the side of considering it a valid model. (I had some hesitation in introducing his book here, until noting the introduction of this concept in this discussion.)

[6) And then there's Alexander Piatigorsky's "The Buddhist Philosophy of Thought," which is the 'real McCoy.' He applies industrial-strength phenomenology to key aspects of the Abhidhamma (e.g. what-the-hell is a 'dhamma,' after-all?), the Bodhisattva ideal, and parts of the Sutta Nipata (real "early Buddhism"). But the book is rare, expensive, and a rather intense read. BTW, Piatigorsky, not unlike Daniel Ingram, along the way manages to effectively 'deconstruct' the authority of virtually the whole range of Western scholarly expertise (up to his writing, ca. 1980) with respect to understanding Buddhist thought and the Abhidhamma, by demonstrating how their theories crucially failed to see through the conceptual frameworks of their own Western translated notions to the fact that the Abhidhamma (etc) is expressly about seeing through any and all such mental fabrication to ultimate realities (rupa, citta, cestasika, Nibbana). ]

Hope this all is halfway intelligble.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/22/14 3:48 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Hi Chris,

That is quite a download emoticon Thanks. I'll comment but I'm not familiar with those works.

Hopefully others will explain more about noting. You are probably right that initially it is like phenomenalist data gathering but it should lead to insights and some of those may be much closer to phenomenology.

Noting as I understand it is more than just naming, there is the idea of being with the object rather than only observing it. But there are probably many approaches and I'm as far from an expert as you can get while still knowing the label.

I just had a couple of people on another forum encouraging me to read the Abhidhamma. It does seem quite an intellectual exercise and I suspect the benefits may be somewhat lost on someone who does not have a very advanced practice. It might be that the Therevada community are more interested, depending on where you are in the west you may not get much exposure to Therevada ?

Antonio Damasio - really amazing bio. I wonder if he has anything to say about the biology of enlightenment ? 

There seem to be some big strides being made in connecting conscious experience to biology (impressed by an interview of the author of Consciousness and the Social Brain).

Would be great to hear your thoughts on qualia. While consciousness itself seems to have slipped into the realm of scientific hypothesis qualia seem to be a solid wall !

I have another question for you too. Maybe it deserves another thread, but I'll try my luck emoticon I don't want to hi-jack your thread but I see a connection with the "unconscious" and that was at the heart of the thoughts that follow. 

http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... .-piya.pdf "When we understand our latent tendencies, we begin to work at radically healing ourselves: we get to the roots of our personality." That seems a fairly strong link of the latent tendencies to personality but I suspect character would be a better choice than personality. The connection from the latent tendencies to nonvirtuous behaviour (or character) seems more direct than personality (which seems to include more superficial behaviours). That document links the reduction of those latent tendencies to insight practises.

I wonder if the idea of character and virtues are too connected to the self to get a lot of air time in Buddhism. But if the character is seen to be the latent tendencies then it could be seen as not self.

The idea of developing the virtues through acting/speaking in the world does not seem to be a major theme in buddhism. I can see that for a monk a lot of these issues are simplified and maybe that is why they don't get so much attention. 

Positive psychology seems to have jumped on the virtue ethics bandwagon. From 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_ ... nd_Virtues The Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) handbook of human strengths and virtues, by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, represents the first attempt on the part of the research community to identify and classify the positive psychological traits of human beings

It leads to 24 traits Creativity, Curiosity, Open-mindedness, Love of learning, Perspective and wisdom, Bravery, Persistence, Integrity, Vitality, Love, Kindness, Social intelligence, Active citizenship, Fairness, Leadership, Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, Self control, Appreciation of beauty, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, Spirituality.

Those traits can be grouped into categories Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, Transcendence.

I wonder whether this is more useful for the layperson. Mind you I've not had a lot of luck finding practises that are aimed at helping adults improve these virtues (which I assume is like reducing the latent tendencies). There is a lot of material on imparting these virtues in children. Social service stands out as an action that can help strengthen a bunch of those traits but that does not seem to be a major axe of development in buddhism (not to say it is something that is ignored by buddhists either).

There seems to be plenty of overlap but a few of the traits that don't seem to be emphasised in the dhamma might be: Creativity, Social intelligence, Active citizenship, Leadership, Appreciation of beauty, Humor. I'm not implying these virtues are not held by buddhists or ignored in the dhamma, just that these don't seem to be valued so highly in the dhamma (maybe for good reason).

I think it could be valuable to use right action, right speech and right livelihood to address the latent tendencies, while of course still meditating and improving insight. I'm somewhat surprised it does not seem to be a big part of the few buddhist communities I've seen (mainly online and western).

With your familiarity in the Abhidhamma I'd be fascinated to hear if this connection between latent tendencies and virtues is making any sense!

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/23/14 5:54 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

-- "Hopefully others will explain more about noting. You are probably right that initially it is like phenomenalist data gathering but it should lead to insights and some of those may be much closer to phenomenology."

As it strikes me, a rough cut, "(a) vision and (b) knowledge" (a phrase heavily used in the Visudhimagga) may correspond to a) the unfiltered observation and b) a solid comprehension of how it (process, not content) works.


-- "Noting as I understand it is more than just naming, there is the idea of being with the object rather than only observing it. But there are probably many approaches and I'm as far from an expert as you can get while still knowing the label."

Somewhere – maybe in MCTB, or maybe a dhamma-talk by the Mahasi-lineage monks at the Tathagate Meditation Center (San Jose) – I came across the notion that noting can reach a stage where a kind of mental feeling or impulse is recognized that precedes nailing it with words, and this may be sufficient -- one can drop the extra effort of shaping a verbalization around it. That might have the advantage of avoiding the danger of words as substitute for, having a life of their own, the experience itself. But, similar to your stance, I've not thoroughly explored it. Perhaps someone at the level of Daniel could ellucidate (or debunk) this.


-- Abdhidhamma...:

Nyanaponika helpfully points out that Abhidhamma know-how ("Mastery of the Matrices", as Pa Auk Sayadow puts it) is of great value for teachers, giving them a depth and precision of understanding to be able to explain Dhamma (not Abhidhamma itself) to others, especially lay students / practitioners, and by being able to perceive and shape to the listeners' level of understanding (like G. Buddha was famous for). He states that 20-years or so of Abhidhamma study is prerequisite to authorization as a teacher (Sayadaw) in (some) Burmese tradition(s).

A teacher I've contact with (Ven. U. Jagara, Canadian born, inspired by Kornfield, ordained by Mahasi, long study with Goenke and then Pa Auk) confides that the degree of rigor Nyanaponika indicates is not really applied most of the time. Maybe that's what differentiates a 'Thera' ('elder'), or 'Mahathera' ('great elder') from just a 'Sayadow'.

The lineage – Nyanatiloka --> Nyanaponika (--> Bhikku Bodhi ) – has been called 'Abhidhamma reciters,' i.e. a sort
of speciality. The continuation (Bhikku Bodhi --> Ven. Analalyo) appears to slacken-off that emphasis.


-- "Antonio Damasio - really amazing bio. I wonder if he has anything to say about the biology of enlightenment ?"

Not directly, as I recall. But he does carefully point out that, in his neurological model, the potential capabilities of mental cultivation – into more and more refined levels of reflective analysis and realization – do not appear to have any inherent limitations.


-- "Would be great to hear your thoughts on qualia…."

Damasio's usage was my first contact with this idea. I looked it up (Wikipedia), but not to any depth. Daniel's cryptic comment (above) suggests that it might be worthwhile to try and tease more out of him on this topic.

Here are my notes on the passages dealing with qualia in Damasio's book. The sections are my gloss, usually in
reference to Dhamma/Abhidhamma parallels, though the language my notes use to summarize Damasio's statements might also be tinged in that direction:

"p.253  {he distinguishes two areas of meaning for qualia}
Qualia I: feelings in anysubjective experience – pleasure, pain, or none ;
Qualia II: why shouldconstruction of perceptual maps feel like something?
p.254
all conscious images have emotions and consequent feelings; arise, persist with object in sight, or as long as “my reflections keep them in some sort of reverberation”.
As if music accompanying mental process, which are also within the process; also with music, itself and the music-like feeling track; = qualia I for musical performance; [= the inspiration for polyphonic music?].
p.255
reduced by drugs, or depression; how? Brain has structures that respond to signals from maps, as emotions [for Damasio primitive reactions, 'moving-out' as in the Latin root word parts], out of which come feelings; image-making regions can trigger emotion-triggering regions (amygdala, prefontal ventromedialsector, nuclei in basal forebrain and stem); if fits a pattern ("emotionally competent stimulus") triggers events elsewhere in brain and body = emotion; perceptual readout = feeling; brain responds to same content at different sites in parallel;
p.256
conscious states usually have multiple objects, treated integratedly, but not democratically; different values of objects--> uneven object enhancement --> ordering of images, spontaneous editing; this process relies on the emotions provoked, feelings in background; i.e. qualia are of mind, not consciousness; not a mystery (to Damasio).
Qualia II: feelings describe state of organisms interior; accompany all perceptual maps [= sense + stim + activation , i.e. the 18 'ayatana', not perception/naming'sanna']
Feeling states from brain-stem nuclei, highly interconnected, receive signals from organism’s interior; in life-regulation, nuclei transform signals, looping-back; functional fusion of body states and perceptual states;
neurons are about and extensions of flesh, become one with it, i.e. “feel” of body states; neurons are special forms of other living cells; cells have “feeling” function,  as in 1-cell organisms “sensitive” to intrusions; called “attitudes”, as no consciousness there;
p.258
response to changed internal state; so in neurons response/change in larger circuits yield “protofeeling”, like proto-cognition at some level. Neuron “sensitivity”,“irritability”; summing up of cellular contributions, like muscle cells, also excitable; permeability, opening of membrane violation of protection of interior life of cell, maybe creation of moment of protofeeling; worth pursuing.
p.259
evolution – states ought to feel, to lead towards or away from stimuli; adding nervous system with means of portraying such states in neural-body bond;
smooth life-managing states vs problematic states – each releases different chemical molecules --> body and brain – should feel differently; chemical molecules from body (blood) touch brain parts outside the blood-brain barrier: stem area postrema, and “circumventicular organs”; tranmitters/modulators, hormones,…; neural projections --> NTS, other stem nuclei, hypothalamus, thalamus and cortex.
Sensory portal changes build perspective and perceptual quality; hearing is not just cochlea, also skin, ear bones, even head & neck movements; simile eyeball & muscles in sight;
p.261
and feedback from brain influencessensory portals;
p.262
3 kinds of maps brought together: (1) of particular sense device (2) of sensory portal around the device; (3) of emotional-feeling reaction to (1) + (2) i.e. qualia [aka the 18 ayatana?] brought together in stem or cortex. Qualia are also part of contents in the self-process; provides brain with felt perceptions, pure experience; adding a protagonist, experience claimed by newly minted owner – self. [Damasio distinguishes, decodes neurologically 3 levels of self-process: proto-self, core self, and autobiographical self, the latter being the one used in common parlance]
p.263
underestimations: (1) wealth of detail, organization of body, processes, some yet unknown, may influence conscious experience at many levels; (2) yet so little known about the brain. Mysterious, hard problems likely amenable to biological account, eventually.

<end of quoted notes>

-- "I have another question for you too…"

That area is a big one, relatively new to me – the latent tendencies ('anuseti') and where that fits into practice.
Work in progress, both study and practice…

Actually, one of the most impressive clues I've found to date is Daniel's characterization (in the BATGAP interview: Reader's Digest summary of the 4 paths, at 1hr:55min to about 2:12) of the various 'axes' of experiential development – the one that gets finalized at Stream-Entry, and the rest that go on as long as there is breath to observe. Working with latent tendencies seems to have something to do with the latter group.

Another perspective that holds promise is the traditional notion (albeit perhaps one of those idealized ones) that arahantship brings an end to the forming of new kamma (karma), at least in terms of 'intention', but the on-going lifetime of an arahant is still subject to the workings-out of previous threads of kamma that bear on it.

Another recent clue is an elluciation of the mysterious 'bhavanga' notion -- the rebirthed kammic background of a lifetime that the mind rests in between moments of active engagement with sensations --, as in Rupert Gethin's analysis ("Bhavanga and Rebirth According to the Abhidhamma", 1994).-- "

-- "The idea of developing the virtues through acting/speaking in the world does not seem to be a major theme in buddhism."

Than-Geof (Thanissaro Bhikku) thinks it is, spends a lot of time teaching it. Often uses the instructions to Rahula (G. Buddha's son): evalute kusala (skillfulness) before acting, during, and in the results; and it plays a role in the classic definition of 'right effort': uproot and prevent reoccurence of the akusala (unskillful), hold to and practice (condition) towards recurrence of the kusala.

Notes:

1) Lots of good stuff can be found free on the internet, e.g. the Gethin article just cited, and the Nyanponika book mentioned above. One can 'buy' the books on-line, but often find sites where they can be freely downloaded. Not hard to find, but I can supply these links if needed.

2) Obviously my mind likes to swim in an ocean of traditional maps and a scholarly engagement with them. But is does happen that, having investigated and internalized models from tradition, e.g. elaborate matrices of Abhidhamma analysis, there are moments when direct experience
suddenly lines-up with one of those structures and it 'comes to life,' like turning on the Christmass-tree lights after all the set-up work. Then one can see an orientation, a confirmation, that helps transform the experience into useful and reusable 'knowledge,' and can suggest additional relationships to explore in the immediate experience. Could be a trap, delusion substituting abstraction for observation, but those traditional structures were developmentally abstracted out of experiential investigation. May involve faith, too.

3) Other than a pretty good grasp of the 'rupa' jhanas, I haven't noted much else in terms of substantial attainments, other than a sense of growing
momentum, and the occasional subtle sense of proximity…

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/23/14 6:58 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
I tend to use it to mean the sensations themselves, the colors, the textures, the sounds, as well as things like the energetic aspects, the vibrations, the frequencies of sensations, as well as things like the patterns of those sensations, such as a pulse followed by a mental impression, that sort of thing, as well as things related to the stages of insight and the standard criteria for those and jhanas, as well as things like the set up to things, the entrance and exit experiences that relate to events that are hard to comprehend, and the like. That helpful? It is the raw data that we use to create maps and interpretations of our experiences.
I am not sure if that is a deliberately idiosyncratic explanation of your take on "phenomenology", but it seems like you might want to say:

"the study of the sensations themselves, the colors, the textures etc..."

Given the conventional meaning of phenomenology [wikipedia: from Greek: phainómenon "that which appears" and lógos "study")]

Mark, I personally don't see qualia as being noteworthy or special (or outside them realm of science) - you could just see them as the "stuff" of consciousness - "the sensations themselves, the colors etc..."
Daniel:
Qualia, as in individual blips of sensation: that's the stuff.

Mark:
I'm not expecting to solve that problem in this thread emoticon I'm not expecting to solve it at all. But the "blip" aspect of qualia seems insightful. It indicates that the continuous nature of qualia is an illusion.

It may indicate that the continuous nature of qualia is an illusion for Daniel if you accept the conclusions of his phenomenological investigation (though the term "illusion" seems quite problematic). But I am not sure what it indicates for anyone else. 

So Daniel's belief that experience of sensation is made of blips is a theoretical description and interpretation of his experience given the way he conducts his phenomenology and what he brings to bear to it. But the inherent assumption in the quote from Daniel is that we can use phenomenology to get access to the "raw data" and we use to create interpretations, that somehow the "raw data" stands apart from our investigation of it.

There is a nice discussion of the issues with that view in this interview I posted about on this thread (if you are interested in buddhism and phenomonology you should check it out) 

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5571449

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/23/14 11:04 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Hi Chris,

Thanks for sharing your notes!

Qualia not being consciousness is something I'm buying into. I suspect consciousness will be deconstructed by science in a similar way the self was deconstructed by buddhism. Whether there is a path to "experiencing" consciousness as an illusion in the same way there is a path to experiencing self as an illusion is another story. That may run into the limmitations of the human brain - similar to how we can't experience what it would be to be like a bat, we may not experience what it would be to "know" consciousness is an illusion.

The idea that qualia are of mind is where things seem to get very tricky. One "trap" (I've fallen into) when discussing qualia and scientific undestanding is to confuse the "what" with the "how". Science does not explain "what" things are it explains how they arise. For example we can explain how waves arise with formulas, simulations etc but none of that captures what a wave is. In a similar way it seems a reasonable hope that neuroscience can make serious progress on how qualia arise. Asking science to explain "what" something is leads to something like a huge russian doll - it just keeps explaining in ever more detail how various aspects of the object arise.

A litmus test for science's understanding of qualia would be creating artificial qualia. At the moment qualia seem to be solidly in the realm of mystery.

I will research on Thanissaro Bhikku. I don't deny there is plenty of "sila" in the teachings but it does not seem to be developed anywhere near to the extent meditation and insight are. A comparison might be Confucius who seems to have a lot more to say on the topic. From the little you wrote I suspect Thanissaro Bhikku is leveraging off the Sabbāsava Sutta or similar. A lot of the strategies seem to be dealing with unskillful states e.g. seeing, guarding, bearing, avoiding, abandoning. The idea of performing some action to strengthen a virtue seems like another way of addressing the latent tendencies before they become states.

I just came across Ken Wilber's Fourth Turning in Buddhism mentioned at http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/5572455 where I've added a brutal summary. He identifies the "structures" as a concept that is largely missing from the buddhist works.
So the first point about a possible Fourth (or Fifth) Turning is that, unknown to humans generally, everybody has up to a dozen types of intelligence that appear to have evolved over the centuries to deal with different fundamental issues and problems
I try not to be a Wilber fan boy emoticon But he often has an interesting angle on things.

There seems to be some interesting work in the revival of virtue ethics: Practical Intelligence and the Virtues by Daniel C. Russell which might help make the connection from anuseti to virtues.

Like yourself I'm scratching the surface of these topics. But there seems to be something there whereby developing the virtues and pulling mindfulness into everyday life can integrate the insights from the cushion more effectively and at the same time the daily activity brings grist to the mill on the cushion. It seems to make serious progress as a layperson it would be wise to leverage the time off the cushion. I suspect the buddhist teachings don't have so much to offer there because the focus was a monastic setting.

An experienced teacher told me that if he could guide someone early in their practise it would be to establish solid concentration and metta before jumping into mindfulness. My practise is largely focused on the concentrative at the moment.

There is a huge focus on personal liberation in buddhism. There are plenty of powerful techniques too. I do get a feeling there is something "wrong" with the bigger picture. The self is certainly there for some good reasons and I can also see lots of good reasons for stepping out of it after it has largely done it's job. I do suspect that the latent tendencies are still a motor for enlightened people (some discussions between enlightened people on the web are really instructive in this regard). I like the idea of "build the character you want because that is the one you will wake up to".

There is a risk that some enlightened laypeople spent enormous amounts of energy pursuing enlightenment to the detriment of building a virtuous character. After enlightenment a lot of the mechanisms society provides for developing virtues are no longer applicable so they could be perceived to be handicapped in some ways. Obviously enlightenment may bring a raft of benefits that largely outweigh that.

One very big alarm bell is the lack of cooperation between enlightened people. They seem to avoid much collaboration and focus more on their differences in opinion/experience than the similarities. Often proposing to transmit a particular path. For example it would be great to see enlightened people going off and pursuing another path and reaching enlightenment in another tradition. 

In enlightened circles there is also a lot of talk about absolute and universal things and truths. To someone familiar with evolution and a little bit of history that all sounds like anthropocentric projections. I don't doubt that more sophisticated brains are possible and the experiences of those brains could encompass our own while discovering many things we can't (I think of a comparisons between monkeys and men today). I'm also not implying that the experience is just the brain (there are the 4 quadrants of wilber's model)

There seems to be a human tendency to want to explain everything. It seems almost comical, as soon as someone gets their hands on a new piece of knowledge we try to stretch it to fit as much as possible (sometimes everything). A good example is how quantum physics is used to explain many things when quantum physicists don't seem to understand it too well yet. I've listened to an enlightened person explaining their ease with quantum mechanics due to their enlightened perspective, I wonder how they will integrate into their universal truth the next scientific theory that invalidates aspects of quantum physics. I'd be more reassured by an enlightened person who told me they don't understand anything and are at peace with that emoticon

Anyway enough ranting. I'm still very interested in getting rid of the self, I'd just like to do it for a reason that does not feel too selfish emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/23/14 12:03 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Hi Sawfoot,
I can understand you would accept the notion of qualia. Science is having a hard time with it, I've not seen any hypothesis as to how qualia are caused. For example can artificial qualia exist or not is still an unknown. It might be comparable to a lot of earlier concepts, it makes intuitive sense and then science (or buddhism in the case of the self) goes and rips the rug out from under our feet.
Daniel gives some instructive guidelines for experiencing the discontinuous nature of phenomenon. If I remember, you can try to perceive two phenomenon at the same time and you may see that while being aware of one the other one "disappears". 
That might not mean the qualia actually disappear, it could be a function of conscious awareness. But I guess phenomenology is concerned about the perception.
I don't think Daniel was inventing any of these techniques as far as I understand it is an expected result in Mahasi style noting.
I agree with you that there seems to be some overly ambitious claims in regards to whether a non-dual perspective has a priveledge on the "truth". We can see with the diverse experiences of enlightenment and the diverse behaviors of enlightened people that there is a huge amount of conditioning (and maybe genetics)  influencing the experience and resulting conclusions. 
By illusion I mean that our experience deceives us - we experience something as true/correct/real because of the way we perceive it. Change perspective and it is no longer true (like an optical illusion). 
I just read over your other thread, it is very relavent. When first being introduced to Vipassana I could not help but have similar concerns. The advice of "trust your own experience" to validate the techniques, while the techniques are specifically intended to influence your perception of experience, raised alarm bells! In the end I decided that the best measure is behavior - if the techniques make me behave more virtuosly then they are "good".
A lot of people turn to religions when they are having existential crises or are suffering immensely - how many of todays leading western buddhist instructors were running away from society when they discovered buddhism in the east... Someone with a well rounded charcater is probably less likely to get into a situation where those sorts of radical desires emerge. One could even argue that a virtuous character may never reach enlightenment and mainly because they don't need or want to escape from their reality.
Another (possibly) interesting point is the way the notion of freewill impacts those with a non-dual perspective. I, like lots of people with a dual perspective, don't believe in a notion of objective freewill but it does not make me believe my subjective experience does not impact the world.  It seems some enlightened people are amazed to discover they have no freewill but instead of getting on with influencing things they "let things unfold". As if the latent tendencies (like short term reward vs long term reward i.e. laziness) don't need to be kept in check. Taking on a guru position and surrounding oneself with approval seems to be the antithesis of what someone who can withstand virtually any hardship could achieve in impacting the system they are a part of. Why not a reaction of - now I can go and learn rather than teach. One enlightened person who could make a major positive impact in the world and have people realize that was due to their enlightenment would do more for the spiritual development of humanity than most teachers combined.
I'm really in a mood to rant it seems, sorry about that!





RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/24/14 3:24 AM as a reply to Mark.
Hi Mark, 

If you can't have a rant on the DhO, where can you! 

"Science is having a hard time with it, I've not seen any hypothesis as to how qualia are caused. "

You talked earlier about the scientific answer to the hard problem of consciousness - I would say the hard problem is a philosophical problem not a scientific problem. And current work in consciosuness studies is making a lot of headway into understand how qualia work - by my taking an identity theory approach - such that any state of qualia is a brain state, and if you can understand those brain states you understand how qualia operate. 

"I can also see lots of good reasons for stepping out of it after it has largely done it's job."
"I'm still very interested in getting rid of the self"

This might be an overly ambitious goal! I think at best you can get a better insight into some of its "modes of operation". Some spiritual perspectives take the position that you can get rid of the self (and perhaps access some "higher self"?) but it seems like a mistake to me. 

"Daniel gives some instructive guidelines for experiencing the discontinuous nature of phenomenon. If I remember, you can try to perceive two phenomenon at the same time and you may see that while being aware of one the other one "disappears". 

That might not mean the qualia actually disappear, it could be a function of conscious awareness. But I guessphenomenology is concerned about the perception.
I don't think Daniel was inventing any of these techniques as far as I understand it is an expected result in Mahasi style noting."

Sure - just the point I am highlighted is exactly that - expected results of a particular technique, i.e. the tools you use to introspect influence the contents of introspection, which is why you probably can't see into the nature of "Ultimate Reality" - thinking you can is more than approach of the mystic than the
phenomenologist.

"In the end I decided that the best measure is behavior - if the techniques make me behave more virtuosly then they are "good"."

This seems pretty wise to me - techiques to bring about goals - and I am sure that particular one is a goal "The Buddha" would approve of. 


RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/24/14 4:03 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Technique: plenty of people see things pulsing, vibrating, shifting, oscillating back and forth, etc. without any technique at all, as did I the first time I saw them, so it is not technique dependent.

Remember, we take qualia and from them and by pattern recognition create all the rest: the notion of brains, the notion of some permanent reality, all extrapolated, none of it verifiable except by inference and speculation. The qualia are the foundation of it all, the first basis of it all.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/24/14 4:31 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Technique: plenty of people see things pulsing, vibrating, shifting, oscillating back and forth, etc. without any technique at all, as did I the first time I saw them, so it is not technique dependent.

Remember, we take qualia and from them and by pattern recognition create all the rest: the notion of brains, the notion of some permanent reality, all extrapolated, none of it verifiable except by inference and speculation. The qualia are the foundation of it all, the first basis of it all.
Technique: yep, I had quite a bit of that when I dropped acid! And Jen has written about her migraine auras which made her visual experience pulse and vibrate. So you could see these kinds of phenomena are somehow underlying our ordinary states of consciousness as the "raw data", or you could see them as just one of the many possible states of consciousness we can experience. 

Ultimate Reality: I understand the rationale you have that gives you licence to use phrases like "ultimate reality", and I think its an interesting perspective to take.  

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/24/14 9:13 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Technique: plenty of people see things pulsing, vibrating, shifting, oscillating back and forth, etc. without any technique at all, as did I the first time I saw them, so it is not technique dependent.

Remember, we take qualia and from them and by pattern recognition create all the rest: the notion of brains, the notion of some permanent reality, all extrapolated, none of it verifiable except by inference and speculation. The qualia are the foundation of it all, the first basis of it all.
Considering vision, I think it is fair to say that we know the qualia are arising after significant processing of raw input to the brain. It does not make sense to me that one could access the raw data of, for example, a single photoreceptor. We also know that qualia can include "side-effects" of that processing, a number of optical illusions rely on this.

If qualia are an abstraction of the raw sense data then we could verifiably prove they are not the foundataion of it all. But they could be seen as the foundation of our consciousness (I like this idea of the "experience" of consciousness being another type of qualia, this allows for the idea of changes in qualia/consciousness along the path in relation to changes in the brain's makeup)

Technology also seems to give us techniques to verify some things from a third person persective, for example we can test that things can be observed using sensors (senses) that we don't have. That is somewhat a proof that we experience a "map" but the map is of a terrain that exists independently of the map.

I suspect I'm over analyzing what you wrote and, my interpretation of what you wrote is a general idea that our experience is of a map and all notions are built on top of that map with inherent distortions. Intellectually we can only offer metaphors.

In regards to Sawfoot's remark, I don't think you claim some universal truth but present your experience, or am I making an assumption ?

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/24/14 9:35 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Hi Mark, 

If you can't have a rant on the DhO, where can you! 



I need some sort of "relieved" emoticon !



"Science is having a hard time with it, I've not seen any hypothesis as to how qualia are caused. "

You talked earlier about the scientific answer to the hard problem of consciousness - I would say the hard problem is a philosophical problem not a scientific problem.



Largely I agree but science is starting to take on aspects of the debate, at least some good progress on the notion of awareness, there is also the start of work in artificial qualia. If we are lucky we are/will witness the hand-over from philosophy to science.



And current work in consciosuness studies is making a lot of headway into understand how qualia work - by my taking an identity theory approach - such that any state of qualia is a brain state, and if you can understand those brain states you understand how qualia operate. 



The association of state to qualia is tempting but I think it misses the point that the brain is "processing" information, I suspect there needs to be a notion of temporality in there. Something more akin to the description of a process.

From a process perspective it is perhaps more likely to be a "system" i.e. multiple processes interacting. But the state based analysis should give an answer or enough clues to some of the processes involved.




"I can also see lots of good reasons for stepping out of it after it has largely done it's job."
"I'm still very interested in getting rid of the self"

This might be an overly ambitious goal! I think at best you can get a better insight into some of its "modes of operation". Some spiritual perspectives take the position that you can get rid of the self (and perhaps access some "higher self"?) but it seems like a mistake to me. 



I think "getting rid of self" is a bit over-dramatic, I mean the idea of non-dual experience. In some ways it means the self is gone but there will be plenty left over in terms of behaviours.



"Daniel gives some instructive guidelines for experiencing the discontinuous nature of phenomenon. If I remember, you can try to perceive two phenomenon at the same time and you may see that while being aware of one the other one "disappears". 
That might not mean the qualia actually disappear, it could be a function of conscious awareness. But I guessphenomenology is concerned about the perception.
I don't think Daniel was inventing any of these techniques as far as I understand it is an expected result in Mahasi style noting."

Sure - just the point I am highlighted is exactly that - expected results of a particular technique, i.e. the tools you use to introspect influence the contents of introspection, which is why you probably can't see into the nature of "Ultimate Reality" - thinking you can is more than approach of the mystic than the
phenomenologist.



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!



"In the end I decided that the best measure is behavior - if the techniques make me behave more virtuosly then they are "good"."

This seems pretty wise to me - techiques to bring about goals - and I am sure that particular one is a goal "The Buddha" would approve of. 



It unfortunately opens up a can of worms about what the big goal is, the goal I mentioned was more like a sanity check for the initial Vipassana "investigation". There is the notion of bodhisattva. But I wonder why we don't for example find bodhisattva solving problems like environmentally friendly energy generation (or maybe they are doing this quietly...)

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/24/14 2:01 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
sawfoot _:
Hi Mark, 

If you can't have a rant on the DhO, where can you! 

I need some sort of "relieved" emoticon !

Well, you have my permission, but I have a low hardcore-o-meter rating. 



"Science is having a hard time with it, I've not seen any hypothesis as to how qualia are caused. "

You talked earlier about the scientific answer to the hard problem of consciousness - I would say the hard problem is a philosophical problem not a scientific problem.


Largely I agree but science is starting to take on aspects of the debate, at least some good progress on the notion of awareness, there is also the start of work in artificial qualia. If we are lucky we are/will witness the hand-over from philosophy to science.

You mention the artificial qualia thing a few times -  I don't know much about it myself - my assumption is that its philosophically interesting to think about it, but engineering wise, we are long long way from it





And current work in consciosuness studies is making a lot of headway into understand how qualia work - by my taking an identity theory approach - such that any state of qualia is a brain state, and if you can understand those brain states you understand how qualia operate. 



The association of state to qualia is tempting but I think it misses the point that the brain is "processing" information, I suspect there needs to be a notion of temporality in there. Something more akin to the description of a process.

From a process perspective it is perhaps more likely to be a "system" i.e. multiple processes interacting. But the state based analysis should give an answer or enough clues to some of the processes involved.

Right - I sometimes like to think about it as a traversal through a multi-dimensional state space




"I can also see lots of good reasons for stepping out of it after it has largely done it's job."
"I'm still very interested in getting rid of the self"

This might be an overly ambitious goal! I think at best you can get a better insight into some of its "modes of operation". Some spiritual perspectives take the position that you can get rid of the self (and perhaps access some "higher self"?) but it seems like a mistake to me. 


I think "getting rid of self" is a bit over-dramatic, I mean the idea of non-dual experience. In some ways it means the self is gone but there will be plenty left over in terms of behaviours.

But, of course, there is no self to get rid of in the first place! Taking a process perspective, as you mention above, you can talk about "selving" or "egoing". When I think about non-dual experience, then selving is potentially absent, but that is at a particular point in time, and it can come back again!



"Daniel gives some instructive guidelines for experiencing the discontinuous nature of phenomenon. If I remember, you can try to perceive two phenomenon at the same time and you may see that while being aware of one the other one "disappears". 
That might not mean the qualia actually disappear, it could be a function of conscious awareness. But I guessphenomenology is concerned about the perception.
I don't think Daniel was inventing any of these techniques as far as I understand it is an expected result in Mahasi style noting."

Sure - just the point I am highlighted is exactly that - expected results of a particular technique, i.e. the tools you use to introspect influence the contents of introspection, which is why you probably can't see into the nature of "Ultimate Reality" - thinking you can is more than approach of the mystic than the
phenomenologist.



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.




"In the end I decided that the best measure is behavior - if the techniques make me behave more virtuosly then they are "good"."

This seems pretty wise to me - techiques to bring about goals - and I am sure that particular one is a goal "The Buddha" would approve of. 



It unfortunately opens up a can of worms about what the big goal is, the goal I mentioned was more like a sanity check for the initial Vipassana "investigation". There is the notion of bodhisattva. But I wonder why we don't for example find bodhisattva solving problems like environmentally friendly energy generation (or maybe they are doing this quietly...)

I don't know if there any "truly realised" beings out there, but I imagine if they did exist, they wouldn't want to go around proclaiming how enlightened or compassionate they were - they would just get on with solving problems quietly.



RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/24/14 4:27 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Mark:


Largely I agree but science is starting to take on aspects of the debate, at least some good progress on the notion of awareness, there is also the start of work in artificial qualia. If we are lucky we are/will witness the hand-over from philosophy to science


You mention the artificial qualia thing a few times -  I don't know much about it myself - my assumption is that its philosophically interesting to think about it, but engineering wise, we are long long way from it



Mainly because I think it shows engineers are exploring these topics. Some are perhaps overly ambitious but for example there is an annual AGI conference since 2008 http://agi-conference.org


I think "getting rid of self" is a bit over-dramatic, I mean the idea of non-dual experience. In some ways it means the self is gone but there will be plenty left over in terms of behaviours.

But, of course, there is no self to get rid of in the first place! Taking a process perspective, as you mention above, you can talk about "selving" or "egoing". When I think about non-dual experience, then selving is potentially absent, but that is at a particular point in time, and it can come back again!



Something unique enlightened people often claim is a non-reversible non-dual perspective. I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience. The intellectual acceptance of no self does not seem to change the experience of reality as dual (I just know I'm being tricked!). Your also right that I'm more concerned about ditching the ego than the self - I mean I don't mind being associated with this mind/body I'd just like be at peace and the ego seems intent on crashing the party.

If the dual view comes back again then in Daniel's maps the it means the person has not reached "4th path".



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.




Agreed and I hope he answers.


I don't know if there any "truly realised" beings out there, but I imagine if they did exist, they wouldn't want to go around proclaiming how enlightened or compassionate they were - they would just get on with solving problems quietly.



If "truly realised" means perfect then I don't think they do exist. Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see. Obviously there is a lot more to it e.g. many insights into the path of how to get there.

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering. I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Without believing everything Freud proposed, if the ego is minimised the id does not have much influence so if people were working or contributing for reasons that were related to the ego or id then they will probably move toward teaching or basking upon "enlightenment". If the drive to impact society positively was well established and relevant expertise already developed then those people may just accelerate their efforts. For example Daniel still seems to be very committed to the ER, if he had been a researcher I imagine he would have kept that up too. Would be interesting to know if he considers himself a much better doctor for having followed the path.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/25/14 3:18 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

Something unique enlightened people often claim is a non-reversible non-dual perspective.

Don't you mean "something unique that people that claim to be enlightened often claim..." !
People claiming to be enlightened doesn't make them enlightened!


I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience.

If you accept what they claim is true! People are notoriously erroneous in reporting their subjective experience.

The intellectual acceptance of no self does not seem to change the experience of reality as dual (I just know I'm being tricked!). Your also right that I'm more concerned about ditching the ego than the self - I mean I don't mind being associated with this mind/body I'd just like be at peace and the ego seems intent on crashing the party.

You want to be at peace? Be careful what you wish for! In a genie heard you say that, you might be in trouble...

If the dual view comes back again then in Daniel's maps the it means the person has not reached "4th path".

For me, it is less important what people say about about their experience of the dual view, but how the dual view impacts behaviour. That you can assess a bit better than these introspective reports. And as far as I can observe, those that claim to be operating from a non-dual view often seem to operate with a markedly non-dual view in their interactions with the world.




I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.



Agreed and I hope he answers.

What do you want to find out from his answer? I think his position is pretty clear, though he might have different take on why he has that position.


I don't know if there any "truly realised" beings out there, but I imagine if they did exist, they wouldn't want to go around proclaiming how enlightened or compassionate they were - they would just get on with solving problems quietly.



If "truly realised" means perfect then I don't think they do exist. 

Well,of course! But it is nice to have ideals, and different ideals of enlightenment in different traditions.

Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see.

The characters we see or what the characters we see say about their experience?

Obviously there is a lot more to it e.g. many insights into the path of how to get there.

"the path" or "paths"?

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering. I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Impacting society - for the better? Or to strengthen the means of production, inequality and societal control structures?

Without believing everything Freud proposed, if the ego is minimised the id does not have much influence so if people were working or contributing for reasons that were related to the ego or id then they will probably move toward teaching or basking upon "enlightenment". If the drive to impact society positively was well established and relevant expertise already developed then those people may just accelerate their efforts. For example Daniel still seems to be very committed to the ER, if he had been a researcher I imagine he would have kept that up too. Would be interesting to know if he considers himself a much better doctor for having followed the path.

"Enlightenment" or "Enlightenments"?


RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/25/14 6:56 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Mark:

Something unique enlightened people often claim is a non-reversible non-dual perspective.

Don't you mean "something unique that people that claim to be enlightened often claim..." !
People claiming to be enlightened doesn't make them enlightened!

Yes, you are right.

I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience.

If you accept what they claim is true! People are notoriously erroneous in reporting their subjective experience.

I think they are reporting genuine experiences  - maybe you mean the interpretations of those expereinces are often erroneous ?

The intellectual acceptance of no self does not seem to change the experience of reality as dual (I just know I'm being tricked!). Your also right that I'm more concerned about ditching the ego than the self - I mean I don't mind being associated with this mind/body I'd just like be at peace and the ego seems intent on crashing the party.

You want to be at peace? Be careful what you wish for! In a genie heard you say that, you might be in trouble...

Well peace by my definition, not your's or the genie's emoticon It largely comes down to not throwing the second arrow.

If the dual view comes back again then in Daniel's maps the it means the person has not reached "4th path".

For me, it is less important what people say about about their experience of the dual view, but how the dual view impacts behaviour. That you can assess a bit better than these introspective reports. And as far as I can observe, those that claim to be operating from a non-dual view often seem to operate with a markedly non-dual view in their interactions with the world.

Can you expand on this, which interactions did you have in mind ?




I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.



Agreed and I hope he answers.

What do you want to find out from his answer? I think his position is pretty clear, though he might have different take on why he has that position.

I think there is a risk we are running on an assumption. Daniel seems to have a skeptical view on a lot of things (including his own enlightenment) so I'd be suprised if he really means ultimate reality in some absolute way. But maybe I need to be surprised!


I don't know if there any "truly realised" beings out there, but I imagine if they did exist, they wouldn't want to go around proclaiming how enlightened or compassionate they were - they would just get on with solving problems quietly.



If "truly realised" means perfect then I don't think they do exist. 

Well,of course! But it is nice to have ideals, and different ideals of enlightenment in different traditions.

What is a "truly realised" being for you ?
  
Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see.

The characters we see or what the characters we see say about their experience?

The characters we see - their morality.

Obviously there is a lot more to it e.g. many insights into the path of how to get there.

"the path" or "paths"?

"their path"

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering. I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Impacting society - for the better? Or to strengthen the means of production, inequality and societal control structures?

I hope for the better, which means political changes I guess.

I think I understand your concern and it is very real. For example many professionals own their own "stress management" rather than questioning the environment which led to that level of stress. Hopefully that is not the end point.

Without believing everything Freud proposed, if the ego is minimised the id does not have much influence so if people were working or contributing for reasons that were related to the ego or id then they will probably move toward teaching or basking upon "enlightenment". If the drive to impact society positively was well established and relevant expertise already developed then those people may just accelerate their efforts. For example Daniel still seems to be very committed to the ER, if he had been a researcher I imagine he would have kept that up too. Would be interesting to know if he considers himself a much better doctor for having followed the path.

"Enlightenment" or "Enlightenments"?

I don't think there is one path or one enlightenment but there are probably similariites and the experience will be subjective so I imagine it will always be unique. 

I suspect we agree on more than we disagree on but in the interest of differences, would you mind to share your own medium/long term goals/desires (or lack there of). Maybe I'll swap "peace" for one of yours! Cheers.



RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/25/14 10:08 AM as a reply to Mark.
I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience.

If you accept what they claim is true! People are notoriously erroneous in reporting their subjective experience.

I think they are reporting genuine experiences  - maybe you mean the interpretations of those expereinces are often erroneous ?

Not quite, perhaps my phrasing was clumsy, but its more than just erroneous interpretation that I am getting at - it is that intrinsically reporting experiences is erroneous. This could be at a more micro level - but there is a more macro level - for example, people who have kids say they are happier after having kids, but then if you try to quantify this, it turns out those that have kids appear to be less happy than those that don't  

You want to be at peace? Be careful what you wish for! In a genie heard you say that, you might be in trouble...

Well peace by my definition, not your's or the genie's emoticon It largely comes down to not throwing the second arrow.

Not throwing it all might be a Theravadan way to look at it - but in other methods, such as tantra, you can work with the throwing rather than suppressing or eliminating it. 

For me, it is less important what people say about about their experience of the dual view, but how the dual view impacts behaviour. That you can assess a bit better than these introspective reports. And as far as I can observe, those that claim to be operating from a non-dual view often seem to operate with a markedly non-dual view in their interactions with the world.

Can you expand on this, which interactions did you have in mind ?

Any interactions, really, such as posts on a forum. So you could make the assumption (and I would) that a non-dual view implies a compassionate view, and compassionate, non-self serving behaviour. A further demonstration might be seeing non-duality in conceptual frameworks, and not becomng attached to polarised extremes. 



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.



Agreed and I hope he answers.

What do you want to find out from his answer? I think his position is pretty clear, though he might have different take on why he has that position.

I think there is a risk we are running on an assumption. Daniel seems to have a skeptical view on a lot of things (including his own enlightenment) so I'd be suprised if he really means ultimate reality in some absolute way. But maybe I need to be surprised!

Well, have a read through MCTB - the word "absolute" comes up a lot also!!

You know that word that comes up on the cover of MCTB beginning with A? The one that doesn't have a question mark after it?

It's much easier to be skeptical of things that conflict with threaten your attachments to self identity, and harder to be skeptical of things which are important to your self identity. 

What is a "truly realised" being for you ?


I don't have a great answer to that. I have this romantic notion that such a being would be recognisable, have an aura. Apparently Joshu Sasaki Roshi had that feel, But then he was a sex-pest. A greatly realised sex-pest. 
  
I suppose something like the bodhisattva ideal, but I can't point to anyone. 



Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see.

The characters we see or what the characters we see say about their experience?

The characters we see - their morality.

And how do we see their morality? Through their interactions with the world, how they treat others. 

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering. I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Impacting society - for the better? Or to strengthen the means of production, inequality and societal control structures?

I hope for the better, which means political changes I guess.

I think I understand your concern and it is very real. For example many professionals own their own "stress management" rather than questioning the environment which led to that level of stress. Hopefully that is not the end point.

So based on the idea of conditioned arising, one perspective is to see suffering as a consequence of the conditions we live in. If we want to help alleviate the sufferings of others, we need to change those conditions- questioning the environment, and the working towards changes to the social formation to reduce suffering. But this depends on your goals, of course. Some people just want to relieve their stress.


"Enlightenment" or "Enlightenments"?

I don't think there is one path or one enlightenment but there are probably similariites and the experience will be subjective so I imagine it will always be unique. 

Similarities, yes, but different methods and different goals - and different methods lead to different results. But we all share the same rough kind of human brain and environment, and a lot of the methods do have a lot in common. 

I suspect we agree on more than we disagree on but in the interest of differences, would you mind to share your own medium/long term goals/desires (or lack there of). Maybe I'll swap "peace" for one of yours! Cheers.

"Peace" seems like a more Therevadan style goal - the goal here is withdrawal from the world with its blooming and buzzing confusion, and to be peace - such as retreating to a monastry...In Vajarayana (or at least, my interpretation), the goal is more about living in the world, doing shit, and that is where I am currently working towards - using a spirtual practice to develop a non-dual view and acting in the world in accordance with that. I don't see any final goal, just getting better at it. 

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/25/14 11:13 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience.

If you accept what they claim is true! People are notoriously erroneous in reporting their subjective experience.

I think they are reporting genuine experiences  - maybe you mean the interpretations of those expereinces are often erroneous ?

Not quite, perhaps my phrasing was clumsy, but its more than just erroneous interpretation that I am getting at - it is that intrinsically reporting experiences is erroneous. This could be at a more micro level - but there is a more macro level - for example, people who have kids say they are happier after having kids, but then if you try to quantify this, it turns out those that have kids appear to be less happy than those that don't  

I'm not sure I'm getting it yet, sorry. If the person experiences "overall happiness" as greater then I think that is still a truthful/valid expereince even when the sum parts of that happiness (as experienced) don't actually add up to more. I mean if someone believes they are happy then they are - obviously it does not mean they will believe that forever. The experience can be irrational but I don't think the expereince has to correlate to objective facts. The experience is like a map and maps are all wrong at some level - some are way off but that does not mean they are not maps.

Maybe you are assuming that experience can access reality ? So when it does not line up with reality the experience is misinterpreted ? 

You want to be at peace? Be careful what you wish for! In a genie heard you say that, you might be in trouble...

Well peace by my definition, not your's or the genie's emoticon It largely comes down to not throwing the second arrow.

Not throwing it all might be a Theravadan way to look at it - but in other methods, such as tantra, you can work with the throwing rather than suppressing or eliminating it. 

Interesting I've had more exposure to Therevada than the other traditions (initial interest was vipassana). It seems they all can work - but  it would be nice to pick one that is easiest emoticon Right effort certainly seems to include suppression, but I assume that is not the final solution. Techniques like metta might be a better way to stop throwing.

For me, it is less important what people say about about their experience of the dual view, but how the dual view impacts behaviour. That you can assess a bit better than these introspective reports. And as far as I can observe, those that claim to be operating from a non-dual view often seem to operate with a markedly non-dual view in their interactions with the world.

Can you expand on this, which interactions did you have in mind ?

Any interactions, really, such as posts on a forum. So you could make the assumption (and I would) that a non-dual view implies a compassionate view, and compassionate, non-self serving behaviour. A further demonstration might be seeing non-duality in conceptual frameworks, and not becomng attached to polarised extremes. 

We are nearly on the same page here. But I think the "non-self serving" is perhaps questionable. Certainly there are situations where that is not good (at the expense of others) and is a problem. But valuing one self as less then others is also a problem, so some mature level of looking after one's self-interests makes sense to me.



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.



Agreed and I hope he answers.

What do you want to find out from his answer? I think his position is pretty clear, though he might have different take on why he has that position.

I think there is a risk we are running on an assumption. Daniel seems to have a skeptical view on a lot of things (including his own enlightenment) so I'd be suprised if he really means ultimate reality in some absolute way. But maybe I need to be surprised!

Well, have a read through MCTB - the word "absolute" comes up a lot also!!

Yeah I have read most of it. But it is largely from a first person perspective. He presents a huge range of types of enlightenment toward the end of the book and I guess a bunch of those have contradictory absolutes. It would suprise me if he doesn't see the contradiction.

You know that word that comes up on the cover of MCTB beginning with A? The one that doesn't have a question mark after it?

Right, but I don't think he is making arahat out to be something near your "truly realised being". Maybe you are reading your definiton into that word rather than his - it is his book emoticon

It's much easier to be skeptical of things that conflict with threaten your attachments to self identity, and harder to be skeptical of things which are important to your self identity. 

True, still I don't think he takes himself too seriously - his BATGAP interview is worth a watch if you haven't seen it.

What is a "truly realised" being for you ?


I don't have a great answer to that. I have this romantic notion that such a being would be recognisable, have an aura. Apparently Joshu Sasaki Roshi had that feel, But then he was a sex-pest. A greatly realised sex-pest. 
  
I suppose something like the bodhisattva ideal, but I can't point to anyone. 


I can understand the desire for that. But I think we may be better served by something that is attainable. A model that allows for human failure/imperfection. Given the complexity of the brain it seems a tall order to get the whole thing reformatted. I'm not saying that excuses bad behavior - there should be repercussions. It does seem that certain practices create an environment that is more propice to people going off the rails. For example I suspect there is are less sexual assaults by Therevada "gurus" than Zen "gurus". Part of the reason people go off the rails may be due to these unrealistic models - the models open doors that would otherwise not exist.

I remember seeing some quote about an old wise man answering the question of a child and others suggesting he should not waste his time but he replies that perhaps he has something to learn himself. That sort of humbleness would seem to be an essential virtue of a healthy enlightenment.

Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see.

The characters we see or what the characters we see say about their experience?

The characters we see - their morality.

And how do we see their morality? Through their interactions with the world, how they treat others. 

Yes, as you mentioned - how they interact online and write (I have not met one in person) also there are facts like that of Sasaki Roshi. 

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering. I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Impacting society - for the better? Or to strengthen the means of production, inequality and societal control structures?

I hope for the better, which means political changes I guess.

I think I understand your concern and it is very real. For example many professionals own their own "stress management" rather than questioning the environment which led to that level of stress. Hopefully that is not the end point.

So based on the idea of conditioned arising, one perspective is to see suffering as a consequence of the conditions we live in. If we want to help alleviate the sufferings of others, we need to change those conditions- questioning the environment, and the working towards changes to the social formation to reduce suffering. But this depends on your goals, of course. Some people just want to relieve their stress.

That is an insightful analogy, thanks. There is some risk of perceiving difficult conditions as predetermining "failure", that can be disempowering but there is some truth to it too. How to handle that ?

"Enlightenment" or "Enlightenments"?

I don't think there is one path or one enlightenment but there are probably similariites and the experience will be subjective so I imagine it will always be unique. 

Similarities, yes, but different methods and different goals - and different methods lead to different results. But we all share the same rough kind of human brain and environment, and a lot of the methods do have a lot in common.

Agree 

I suspect we agree on more than we disagree on but in the interest of differences, would you mind to share your own medium/long term goals/desires (or lack there of). Maybe I'll swap "peace" for one of yours! Cheers.

"Peace" seems like a more Therevadan style goal - the goal here is withdrawal from the world with its blooming and buzzing confusion, and to be peace - such as retreating to a monastry...

I can understand that interpretation but I see it as being at peace in the midst of the blooming and buzzing confusion. I remember once thinking I wanted to find the "truth" or the "meaning" or the "goal", after a little bit of reading I decided I wanted to find "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal", after some meditating I realized I wanted to be at peace with myself (not the outside world) and those other things were attachments that I thought could bring that peace. Fortunately it does not require abandoning "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal" but those are no longer seen as solutions to my problems - they might be the solution to some other peoples problems if I'm lucky.

In Vajarayana (or at least, my interpretation), the goal is more about living in the world, doing shit, and that is where I am currently working towards - using a spirtual practice to develop a non-dual view and acting in the world in accordance with that. I don't see any final goal, just getting better at it. 

That seems very reasonable. I do see some benefits to thinking about goals (not so sure about a final goal) - our ability to be effective often requires some short term trade-offs and it is hard to see those without some longer term goals. I suspect there are some "enlightened" folk who woke up to realise pretty much all they can contribute is teaching and they need paying students. I'm not saying they are doing something bad just that they missed some points prior to the awakening.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/25/14 1:50 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
[quote=sawfoot _ New responses in blue
]I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience.

If you accept what they claim is true! People are notoriously erroneous in reporting their subjective experience.

I think they are reporting genuine experiences  - maybe you mean the interpretations of those expereinces are often erroneous ?

Not quite, perhaps my phrasing was clumsy, but its more than just erroneous interpretation that I am getting at - it is that intrinsically reporting experiences is erroneous. This could be at a more micro level - but there is a more macro level - for example, people who have kids say they are happier after having kids, but then if you try to quantify this, it turns out those that have kids appear to be less happy than those that don't  

I'm not sure I'm getting it yet, sorry. If the person experiences "overall happiness" as greater then I think that is still a truthful/valid expereince even when the sum parts of that happiness (as experienced) don't actually add up to more. I mean if someone believes they are happy then they are - obviously it does not mean they will believe that forever. The experience can be irrational but I don't think the expereince has to correlate to objective facts. The experience is like a map and maps are all wrong at some level - some are way off but that does not mean they are not maps.

Fair enough - I suppose I have a bias to look at it more from the perspective of objective facts

Maybe you are assuming that experience can access reality ? So when it does not line up with reality the experience is misinterpreted ? 

Not sure what you mean here, or at least it might take a long time to grok and explain, sorry!

You want to be at peace? Be careful what you wish for! In a genie heard you say that, you might be in trouble...

Well peace by my definition, not your's or the genie's emoticon It largely comes down to not throwing the second arrow.

Not throwing it all might be a Theravadan way to look at it - but in other methods, such as tantra, you can work with the throwing rather than suppressing or eliminating it. 

Interesting I've had more exposure to Therevada than the other traditions (initial interest was vipassana). It seems they all can work - but  it would be nice to pick one that is easiest emoticon Right effort certainly seems to include suppression, but I assume that is not the final solution. Techniques like metta might be a better way to stop throwing.

Yep - if you only think nice thoughts, it doesn't leave much space for non-nice thoughts. 


For me, it is less important what people say about about their experience of the dual view, but how the dual view impacts behaviour. That you can assess a bit better than these introspective reports. And as far as I can observe, those that claim to be operating from a non-dual view often seem to operate with a markedly non-dual view in their interactions with the world.

Can you expand on this, which interactions did you have in mind ?

Any interactions, really, such as posts on a forum. So you could make the assumption (and I would) that a non-dual view implies a compassionate view, and compassionate, non-self serving behaviour. A further demonstration might be seeing non-duality in conceptual frameworks, and not becomng attached to polarised extremes. 

We are nearly on the same page here. But I think the "non-self serving" is perhaps questionable. Certainly there are situations where that is not good (at the expense of others) and is a problem. But valuing one self as less then others is also a problem, so some mature level of looking after one's self-interests makes sense to me.

The theory might go that it isn't a problem for the "truly realised" being - for the bodhisattva.



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.



Agreed and I hope he answers.

What do you want to find out from his answer? I think his position is pretty clear, though he might have different take on why he has that position.

I think there is a risk we are running on an assumption. Daniel seems to have a skeptical view on a lot of things (including his own enlightenment) so I'd be suprised if he really means ultimate reality in some absolute way. But maybe I need to be surprised!

Well, have a read through MCTB - the word "absolute" comes up a lot also!!

Yeah I have read most of it. But it is largely from a first person perspective. He presents a huge range of types of enlightenment toward the end of the book and I guess a bunch of those have contradictory absolutes. It would suprise me if he doesn't see the contradiction.

If you see his comment above, he is appearing to come from "idealist" perspective - in which experience is primary - and in MCTB he assumes that certain techniques allow you to see or experience "Utlimate Reality", via the "three doors". It is all very Absolute with a capital A. Discussion of different religio-cultural models of enlightenment is a different thing altogether. 

You know that word that comes up on the cover of MCTB beginning with A? The one that doesn't have a question mark after it?

Right, but I don't think he is making arahat out to be something near your "truly realised being". Maybe you are reading your definiton into that word rather than his - it is his book emoticon

Everyone who claims enlightenment has a different meaning of the word enlightenment, but I am not (as far as I am aware!) conflating "arahat" or "pragmatic dharma 4th pather" with "truly enlightened being" - see below.  

It's much easier to be skeptical of things that conflict with threaten your attachments to self identity, and harder to be skeptical of things which are important to your self identity. 

True, still I don't think he takes himself too seriously - his BATGAP interview is worth a watch if you haven't seen it.

What is a "truly realised" being for you ?


I don't have a great answer to that. I have this romantic notion that such a being would be recognisable, have an aura. Apparently Joshu Sasaki Roshi had that feel, But then he was a sex-pest. A greatly realised sex-pest. 
  
I suppose something like the bodhisattva ideal, but I can't point to anyone. 


I can understand the desire for that. But I think we may be better served by something that is attainable. A model that allows for human failure/imperfection. Given the complexity of the brain it seems a tall order to get the whole thing reformatted.

When I was talking about "realised beings" I think I said I think they are impossible - but ideals can serve useful functions, just as more realstic or obtainable goals can - so in many religions these ideals serve important symbolic functions, such as saints and bodhisattvas. Striving towards the absolute, however impossible, is a pretty core spiritual impulse for many. 

I'm not saying that excuses bad behavior - there should be repercussions. It does seem that certain practices create an environment that is more propice to people going off the rails. For example I suspect there is are less sexual assaults by Therevada "gurus" than Zen "gurus". Part of the reason people go off the rails may be due to these unrealistic models - the models open doors that would otherwise not exist.

If that is true (though, for example see this) I suspect many reasons - but mainly there are inherent tendencies of humans (well, men) in positions of power to abuse that power in the service of their egos, 

I remember seeing some quote about an old wise man answering the question of a child and others suggesting he should not waste his time but he replies that perhaps he has something to learn himself. That sort of humbleness would seem to be an essential virtue of a healthy enlightenment.

I agree that humility is (hugely) important to a "healthy enlightenment", and arrogance seems in strong conlict with that notion. 

Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see.

The characters we see or what the characters we see say about their experience?

The characters we see - their morality.

And how do we see their morality? Through their interactions with the world, how they treat others. 

Yes, as you mentioned - how they interact online and write (I have not met one in person) also there are facts like that of Sasaki Roshi. 

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering.

Because we live in such a narcissistic age!

I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Yes, it should be interesting to see how it pans out. 

Impacting society - for the better? Or to strengthen the means of production, inequality and societal control structures?

I hope for the better, which means political changes I guess.

I think I understand your concern and it is very real. For example many professionals own their own "stress management" rather than questioning the environment which led to that level of stress. Hopefully that is not the end point.

So based on the idea of conditioned arising, one perspective is to see suffering as a consequence of the conditions we live in. If we want to help alleviate the sufferings of others, we need to change those conditions- questioning the environment, and the working towards changes to the social formation to reduce suffering. But this depends on your goals, of course. Some people just want to relieve their stress.

That is an insightful analogy, thanks. There is some risk of perceiving difficult conditions as predetermining "failure", that can be disempowering but there is some truth to it too. How to handle that ?

Not sure really - it seems like the question of why vote in an election when you strongly suspect the party you support are going to lose. 

"Enlightenment" or "Enlightenments"?

I don't think there is one path or one enlightenment but there are probably similariites and the experience will be subjective so I imagine it will always be unique. 

Similarities, yes, but different methods and different goals - and different methods lead to different results. But we all share the same rough kind of human brain and environment, and a lot of the methods do have a lot in common.

Agree 

I suspect we agree on more than we disagree on but in the interest of differences, would you mind to share your own medium/long term goals/desires (or lack there of). Maybe I'll swap "peace" for one of yours! Cheers.

"Peace" seems like a more Therevadan style goal - the goal here is withdrawal from the world with its blooming and buzzing confusion, and to be peace - such as retreating to a monastry...

I can understand that interpretation but I see it as being at peace in the midst of the blooming and buzzing confusion. I remember once thinking I wanted to find the "truth" or the "meaning" or the "goal", after a little bit of reading I decided I wanted to find "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal", after some meditating I realized I wanted to be at peace with myself (not the outside world) and those other things were attachments that I thought could bring that peace. Fortunately it does not require abandoning "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal" but those are no longer seen as solutions to my problems - they might be the solution to some other peoples problems if I'm lucky.

So it sounds like you were looking for absolutes, but even to talk about "my meaning" is somewhat absolute - suggesting that "my meaning" is somehow real, or "out there" - the buddhist perspective would be that these too are "empty". And so, isn't wanting to be at peace "your goal"? Perhaps that too is an attachment (ie. letting go of the attachment to need peace is paradoxically what is needed to achieve peace). 

In Vajarayana (or at least, my interpretation), the goal is more about living in the world, doing shit, and that is where I am currently working towards - using a spirtual practice to develop a non-dual view and acting in the world in accordance with that. I don't see any final goal, just getting better at it. 

That seems very reasonable. I do see some benefits to thinking about goals (not so sure about a final goal) - our ability to be effective often requires some short term trade-offs and it is hard to see those without some longer term goals.

You have come to the right place then! People love goals around here. 

I suspect there are some "enlightened" folk who woke up to realise pretty much all they can contribute is teaching and they need paying students. I'm not saying they are doing something bad just that they missed some points prior to the awakening.
Right, I have to call it quits there as otherwise I feel we could go forever! And we have somewhat derailed the thread (though we did talk about phenomenology a bit!). But nice chatting with you Mark. 

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/25/14 4:06 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _ New responses in blue

...

Interesting I've had more exposure to Therevada than the other traditions (initial interest was vipassana). It seems they all can work - but  it would be nice to pick one that is easiest emoticon Right effort certainly seems to include suppression, but I assume that is not the final solution. Techniques like metta might be a better way to stop throwing.

Yep - if you only think nice thoughts, it doesn't leave much space for non-nice thoughts. 

I like the idea that metta practise is rewiring (neurons that fire together wire together) so habits get created (and/or virtues reinforced)

...

If you see his comment above, he is appearing to come from "idealist" perspective - in which experience is primary - and in MCTB he assumes that certain techniques allow you to see or experience "Utlimate Reality", via the "three doors". It is all very Absolute with a capital A. Discussion of different religio-cultural models of enlightenment is a different thing altogether. 

I'm largely buying your argument on this.

...

That is an insightful analogy, thanks. There is some risk of perceiving difficult conditions as predetermining "failure", that can be disempowering but there is some truth to it too. How to handle that ?

Not sure really - it seems like the question of why vote in an election when you strongly suspect the party you support are going to lose. 

Makes me think of the left/right political debate. On the left a welfare state that takes responsibility for the conditions and offers a compassionate solution but can disempower people. On the right a message of personal empowerment that lacks the compassion for those who are in unfavorable conditions. One solution might be providing massive educational advantages to those in unfavorable conditions and a requirement to somehow earn welfare e.g. through voluntary work. Certainly another thread emoticon

...

I can understand that interpretation but I see it as being at peace in the midst of the blooming and buzzing confusion. I remember once thinking I wanted to find the "truth" or the "meaning" or the "goal", after a little bit of reading I decided I wanted to find "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal", after some meditating I realized I wanted to be at peace with myself (not the outside world) and those other things were attachments that I thought could bring that peace. Fortunately it does not require abandoning "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal" but those are no longer seen as solutions to my problems - they might be the solution to some other peoples problems if I'm lucky.

So it sounds like you were looking for absolutes, but even to talk about "my meaning" is somewhat absolute - suggesting that "my meaning" is somehow real, or "out there" - the buddhist perspective would be that these too are "empty".

I don't think the buddhist view is nihilist. We all have a unique character and a fairly unique skillset, it is relative to the environment and the individual so not absolute. We can hold a view or perform actions without being attached to them too (well maybe one day...) 

Certainly I was looking for absolutes early on. No doubt still a temptation. 

And so, isn't wanting to be at peace "your goal"? Perhaps that too is an attachment (ie. letting go of the attachment to need peace is paradoxically what is needed to achieve peace). 

It is a goal but not "the goal", it would also be in service of other relative goals. I think you are right that at some point that is an attachment that needs to be dropped but I think it might be a good raft for a while.

...

That seems very reasonable. I do see some benefits to thinking about goals (not so sure about a final goal) - our ability to be effective often requires some short term trade-offs and it is hard to see those without some longer term goals.

You have come to the right place then! People love goals around here. 

True emoticon A great testing ground for Right Speech!

Right, I have to call it quits there as otherwise I feel we could go forever! And we have somewhat derailed the thread (though we did talk about phenomenology a bit!). But nice chatting with you Mark. 

Thanks - enyoyable to meet you. I feel like we are both preaching to the choir emoticon Take care.


RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/26/14 4:11 AM as a reply to Mark.
I truly do mean that sensations, sensate reality, is the thing we can be most certain of from a pragmatic meditative point of view, and it is truly the first basis of all models, all science, all extrapolation, all inference about something else, and we forget that at our peril.

If you care about things like peace and happiness in the good sense, not the evil-genie sense, engaging with the sensate world as the sensate world is a really good idea, regardless of whether or not words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" have any appeal or repugnance to you.

Those words are an attempt to point out the truly delusional, truly illusory, truly problematic nature of reality perceive through the dualistic mode. They are an attempt to point out the difference, to highlight the reassuringly complete, right, helpful, obviously better and more true way of perceiving things that comes with the sensate clarity that flips the thing over to the non-dual mode. I assert that it would be nearly impossible for someone to systematically train to perceive sensations clearly enough to debunk the dualistic way of misperceiving sensations and not then come to some strong appreciation for why words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" might have some descriptive value. I also realize that certain people, having been explosed to those words, will find them off-putting for various reasons, so, if they have that effect on you, ignore them. That said, seeking the deeper meaning they were trying to convey is still of true value.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/26/14 5:21 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
I truly do mean that sensations, sensate reality, is the thing we can be most certain of from a pragmatic meditative point of view, and it is truly the first basis of all models, all science, all extrapolation, all inference about something else, and we forget that at our peril.

If you care about things like peace and happiness in the good sense, not the evil-genie sense, engaging with the sensate world as the sensate world is a really good idea, regardless of whether or not words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" have any appeal or repugnance to you.

Those words are an attempt to point out the truly delusional, truly illusory, truly problematic nature of reality perceive through the dualistic mode. They are an attempt to point out the difference, to highlight the reassuringly complete, right, helpful, obviously better and more true way of perceiving things that comes with the sensate clarity that flips the thing over to the non-dual mode. I assert that it would be nearly impossible for someone to systematically train to perceive sensations clearly enough to debunk the dualistic way of misperceiving sensations and not then come to some strong appreciation for why words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" might have some descriptive value. I also realize that certain people, having been explosed to those words, will find them off-putting for various reasons, so, if they have that effect on you, ignore them. That said, seeking the deeper meaning they were trying to convey is still of true value.
Thanks Daniel - that is a remarkable patience to get to the end of that thread emoticon 

I think I had a similar understanding when you used terms like Ultimate and Absolute - it is from a first person perspective. That being the only perspective consciousness gives us, it is an important one emoticon I think there can be confusion when people associate those types of words to something independent of subjective experience. 

What I hear is  "Ultimate Map" but I can see how that could mislead people to thinking - "oh just a map but I don't need a map"

There is perhaps one level below sensate reality you can be sure of - that being the idea it is only a map. Changing the brain can change the qualia/perception and there is always that filtering, it seems we never leave the realms of what the brain can and can't do. The idea that awareness is a type of qualia seems to fit nicely. Or maybe I'm missing your point ?

I think your point also highlights that things/beings with different sensations/phenomena could arrive at a different Ultimate or Absolute.

I buy the point that the non-dual is a preferable mode of experience. It also seems the experience evolves - I was just reading http://integrateddaniel.info/my-experiments-in-actualism so the Ultimate can become more Absolute ?

Where I'm a little concerned is that the non-dual does not seem to be any gaurantee of avoiding truly delusional, truly illusory, truly problematic behavior. I suspect is can even be a justification for that type of behavior in some cases. Which seems to indicate the dual perspective is useful in developing aspects of one's character. It gave me a renewed interest in sila so not a bad thing I guess!

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/26/14 5:58 AM as a reply to Mark.
(This stuff goes back a bit in this thread.)
Mark:
"The idea of performing some action to strengthen a virtue seems like another way of addressing the latent tendencies before they become states."

A tangential thought here from Visudhimagga (Nanamoli) Chaper IV Contentration (Jhana), sections 79-82 and footnote 23:
overcoming the hindrances (which I extend to include the latent tendencies), specifically as "secluded from sense desires", there are 'five seclusions', according to the commentaries, namely by 1) suppression or suspension (by concentration / Jhana), 2) 'substitution of opposites (by insight)' – perhaps indicating that more active sort of mindfulness / vipassana training favored by Than-Geof, where early detection of arising unskillful (akusala) process (state) is countered by activating (substituting) something skillful (kusala). The other 3 seculsions are, curiously: 3) cutting off (by the path); 4) tranquillization (by fruition); and 5) escape (as nibbana).

"It seems to make serious progress as a layperson it would be wise to leverage the time off the cushion. I suspect the buddhist teachingsdon't have so much to offer there because the focus was a monastic setting."

As least until the 20th-century-- reinterpreting vipassana specifically for lay pracitioners, as inthe Mahasi teaching system, and the lineage Sayadaw Ledi – U BaKhin – S. N. Goenke (in this progression only Ledi was ordained).

Mark: Hi Sawfoot

"The advice of "trust your own experience" to validate the techniques, while the techniques are specifically intended to influence your perception of experience, raised alarm bells! In the end I decided that the best measure is behavior - if the techniques make me behave more virtuosly then they are "good"."

A problem, as outlined in Than-Geof's piece on Judgment in Tricycle a while back: When G. Buddha mentions (paraphrasing) 'don't believe me, or anyone else, but test it foryourself…' (This may be recognized as a key argument to StephenBatchelor's 'secular Buddhism.') But (Than-Geof now) how to do that when one is beginning in a state of delusion? That sutta continues with a passage (ignored by SB to the effect one needs the counsel of one wiser on the path. But how to judge that? Long story, but one aspect is (also quoted from G. Buddha somewhere) you have to know, observe someone (specifically their behavior) for a long time to really determine their virtue.

Sawfoot -> Mark
"But, of course, there is no self to get rid of in the first place! Taking a process perspective, as you mention above, you can talk about "selving" or "egoing". When I think about non-dual experience, then selving is potentially absent, but that is at a particular point in time, and it can come back again!"

and Mark->Sawfoot
"Without believing everything Freud proposed, if the ego is minimised the id does not have much influence so if people were working or contributing for reasons that were related to the ego or id then they will probably move toward teaching or basking upon "enlightenment"."

Complex. Than-Geof also has a piece about expedient, skillful uses of 'self', of the need of a healthy level of Freudian 'super-ego' to be functional, for morality. (That was also in Tricycle, or maybe Inquiring Mind)

I find very helpful here Damasio's sifting out of three stages of emergence of 'self' ("Self Comes to Mind" – hypothesizing from evolution and what's known of neural structures & function):

Level 1 "proto-self" as primitive neurological adaptation to the fact that the organism has boundaries, recognizes the organism 'itself' as functionally distinct from stimuli, e.g. food to bring in, threats to ward away, etc. i.e. activities rooted in life-regulation;

Level 2 "core-self" where a recognition of agency, or 'ownership' emerges, but still at a level of expedient functionality;

Level 3 "autobiographical-self" the organism's (here definitely the human kind) building sense of 'I' have such and such a history (even perhaps into 'past lives'), and 'my' elaborate, even neurotic, world of likes, dislikes, ambitions, projected future, etc., all of which I strongly identify with, which appears durable, worth striving to perpetuate, even, for example, to live forever in heaven or some such.

This last level makes sense, to my mind, as where 'anatta' comes into play, where the self's "reality" has become heavily invested in delusions of permanence and happiness. Notably, Levels 1 and 2, Damasio demonstrates, are located in the brain stem and other lower structures, i.e. basic to life-regulation, expedient funcitonality (and basic consciousness), whereas it's Level 3 that heavily engages the higher brain, the cortex, with detailed processing, memory, imagination, etc. – stuff that goes way beyond bare survival, and often neurotically so.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
8/26/14 6:17 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
In an effort to wind up thephenomenology issue:

Having reviewed the Wikipedia article –Phenomenology (Science) and the (Psychology) one. (Thanks to sawfoot for the wake-up call on this convenient source.) The issues are complex, perhaps beyond relevance to this forum. I would, however, recommend the exposition in the 'Stanford Encyclopedia ofPhilosophy': (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/phenomenology/) as a better rendition than theWikipedia article, which appears to be the work of many authors, and contains many dubious, possibly biased and/or over-simplified characterizations.

A couple of points (A) I feel compelled to clarify in all that, and then a brief outline (B) of how I think phenomenology pertains to understanding theAbhidhamma, in the hope of finishing off this topic.

A. Hegel and Husserl


Two statements relating to Hegel'swork in the Wikipedia article:

"For G.W.F. Hegel, phenomenology is an approach to philosophy that begins with an exploration of phenomena (what presents itself to us in
conscious experience) as a means to finally grasp the absolute, logical, ontological and metaphysical Spirit that is behind phenomena. This has been called a "dialectical phenomenology"."

"G.W.F. Hegel (1770–1831) challenged Kant's doctrine of the unknowable thing-in-itself, and declared that by knowing phenomena more fully we can gradually arrive at a consciousness of the absolute and spiritual truth of Divinity, most notably in his Phenomenology of Spirit, published
in 1807."

Note: The kind of repetition in these two passages exmplifies the confused state of the Wikipedia article.

(Background: roughly 50 years ago, I participated in a small group at Stanford that studied Hegels 'Phaenomenologie des Geistes, all 600+ pages, in German, taking a about a year at 10-15 pages per week. This was an off-campus endeavor, but included a professor from the German Dept. In those days, mention of phenomenolgy (or any 'continental' brand of philosophy) was anathema in Stanford's Philosophy Dept. Times have changed: the document cited above (plato.stanford.edu), as better treatment of the topic, is by a more recent Stanford professor.)

The passages quoted above, referring to"an exploration" or "knowing" phenomena, fairly accurately depict Hegel's method, AND might be clearly seen as relating it to the usage here in DhO. The part about 'absolute /ontological / metaphysical / spiritual / truth of Divinity' doesn't capture the thrust of the book; put less politely, it's bulls**t.

Hegel basically traced the progression of the evolution of human consciousness ('Geist' is better translated as 'mind' in a Theavadan sense, than 'spirit,' which is largely debased by New Age usage), at first thru rather idealized pre-historic stages, and then mapping further evolving mental sophistication to the stages of cultural history (at least up to ca.1800). The 'dialectic' thing was used to posit (the THESIS) that in any given era, humans formulated, even if at times only implicitly, a working notion of what both 'reality' and 'human-ness' meant, interpreted by Hegel from social-political and literary-artistic artifacts. Over time, experience (anicca) created enough dissonance (dukkha) such that the prevailing world view (reality and humanness) was seriously challenged (perhaps a sort of anatta 'that's not what we are,' as ANTI-THESIS). Alternatives were explored and eventually some new world view snapped (e.g.sometimes via revolution) into existence (SYSTHESIS), launching a new era, as the cycle begins all over again.

BTW, Hegel's own life's work (and the whole German-Romantic movement, formed ca. 1795-1810) represented one such major realignment in cultural history. (C.f. a day-long teaching by Thanissaro Bhikku, given April 26, 2014 at IMC, Redwood City –audio available on AudioDharma.org – in which Than-Geof illustrates how the persisting effects of that world view (the German-Romantic) in fact heavily influence modernist Buddhism in the West, resulting in filtering and transforming G. Buddha's teachings via New Age imaginings.)

BOTTOM LINE: Hegel ends the book with asection titled "Das Absolutes Wissen" – 'Absolute Knowledge' – where he argues, given the obvious world-view bound relativity of in vivo mundane human consciousness, as demonstrated in the rest of the book, that THE ONLY FOR-SURE ('absolute') KNOWLEDGE is no specific world-view or belief system, but rather is to be found in the phenomenology of KNOWING WHAT THE MIND IS DOING WHEN IT PERCEIVES AND 'KNOWS' – i.e. process rather than content. (Compare the notion of 'gnothi sauton' (know thyself) of Socrates, and the roughly equivalent corner-stone dictums attributed to other notables, such as LaoTse and Gotama Buddha – all of which were roughly contemporary.)

Hence I suggest this as a tie-in of classical phenomenology with the many passages in the course of this forum-thread dealing with usages of the term 'absolute'. But some may disagree…

Edmund Huesserl

Again, from Wikipedia:

"Phenomenology takes the intuitive experience of phenomena (what presents itself to us in phenomenological reflexion) as its starting point and tries to extract from it the essential features of experiences and the essence of what we experience. When generalized to the essential features of any possible experience, this has been called "Transcendental Phenomenology"."

That's fairly accurate, given that many of the terms – like 'intuitive' or 'essential' – have rather specific technical meanings. Also 'transcendental' is not to be confused with some airy-fairy metaphysical dimension, the way the term is thrown around and disparaged in the secular Buddhism  arena. Except that such sceptics would likely brand what I write next in that ball-park: Huesserl's 'transcendental' can be compared with Theravadan 'lokuttara,' defined in the BPS (Nyanatiloka's) Dictionary as:
" 'supermundane', is a term for the 4 paths and 4 fruitions of sotāpatti, etc. (s. ariya-puggala), with Nibbāna as ninth. Hence one speaks of  '9 supermundane things' (nava-lokuttara-dhamma) …"

That's another suggested tie-in with the context of DhO and this thread in particular.

One last point. The terms 'Noesis and Noema' are routinely mentioned in reviewing Huesserl's ideas. They are related to 'nous' – Greek for 'mind' – from the verb'noeein' meaning 'to know': 'Noesis' is the"subjective-aspect" noun derived from the verb, i.e. denotes the act of knowing. 'Noema' is the "objective-aspect" noun, i.e. denotes what is known. (One can readily recognize these derived word forms in medical terminology: '-osis' denotes pathological activity, '-oma' describes physiological artifacts thereof; as in, for instance, 'osteoporosis' – the process of bone-thining -- and 'lymphoma' – lymphatic masses)

When I was studying phenomenology (50 years ago), these word-forms were s/w better illustrated using the Greek verb 'kriein' – to judge, to discriminate. The subjective-aspect noun here is 'krisis' (English 'crisis), and the objective-aspect noun is 'krima' (English 'crime'). I think the phenomenological mind-set can be intuited fairly clearly here: the investigation focuses on the phenomena of mental activity (cognizing) and its interaction, interdependence with the object as cognized, i.e. a to-and-fro conditionality. And then – here's where it gets tricky -- as transcendent, the phenomena of the investigation itself is phenomenologically investigated.

B. how I think phenomenology pertains to understanding the Abhidhamma… forthcoming

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/1/14 6:27 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. IngramI truly do mean that sensations, sensate reality, is the thing we can be most certain of from a pragmatic meditative point of view, and it is truly the first basis of all models, all science, all extrapolation, all inference about something else, and we forget that at our peril.

Above you used the phrase "remember that..." and here you similar phrasing "forget that...". Either we have forgotten "that", or perhaps we didn't realise "that", and have to be reminded? The "that" that you imply, is truly truly true, right? But the key phrasing that helps make sense of what you are saying is "from a pragmatic meditative point of view" - but I think it makes even more sense to be explicit in "from MY pragmatic meditative point of view", the point of view outlined in Mastering the Core Teachings of the Darahat, Daniel Ingram. A kind of Buddhist influenced Romantic Idealist Mysticism, a point of view that "we" don't all share, because it is unique to your models, your extrapolation, and your inferences. 
Daniel M. Ingram
If you care about things like peace and happiness in the good sense, not the evil-genie sense, engaging with the sensate world as the sensate world is a really good idea, regardless of whether or not words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" have any appeal or repugnance to you.

So by "peace and happiness in the good sense" I take that to mean your interpretations of these words. This is the whole point of the evil genie - "peace" and "happiness" are not universally agreed upon concepts that stand alone, though the wording you use implies that your (Daniel M. Ingram, Darahat) interpretations are somehow tapping onto the real meanings of these words, those that we obviously take to be true, And so a "good idea" is in relation of specific means to certain ends. For example to, I might find the modern world stressful, and want to find some peace, and a "good idea" might be to go to a doctor and get prescription of valium as means to becoming "peaceful".  Or hook yourself up to an experience machine .
Daniel M. Ingram 
Those words are an attempt to point out the truly delusional, truly illusory, truly problematic nature of reality perceive through the dualistic mode. They are an attempt to point out the difference, to highlight the reassuringly complete, right, helpful, obviously better and more true way of perceiving things that comes with the sensate clarity that flips the thing over to the non-dual mode. I assert that it would be nearly impossible for someone to systematically train to perceive sensations clearly enough to debunk the dualistic way of misperceiving sensations and not then come to some strong appreciation for why words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" might have some descriptive value. I also realize that certain people, having been explosed to those words, will find them off-putting for various reasons, so, if they have that effect on you, ignore them. That said, seeking the deeper meaning they were trying to convey is still of true value.
I could imagine that if we were on a Christian forum, that you might find a Christian saying something like "once you have allowed God truly into your heart, and you will have a strong appreciation of why words like Ultimate and Absolute are descriptive of the majesty of the Lord...", and that seeing the world with touched by the light of God would feel so "reassuringly complete, right, helpful, obviously better and more true way of perceiving things". 

Since we on a forum that has some inspiration from Buddhism, I can see why make such an interpretation of the subjective experiences that make you feel that such words capture important aspects of your experiences. But it is probably good to be reminded ("remember".."forget that at your peril" etc...) these are just your interpretations, frameworks you are using for particular ends given certain assumptions and particular methods.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/3/14 3:15 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
From an existential, intellectual point of view, which I have spent plenty of time appreciating, I can see why you would believe that the sensations that make up your life, even if really clearly perceived, are not your actual life, are not really what is going on, are not some Absolute or Ultimate truth, not actually the first basis of all further models and extrapolations.

However, this is the intellect gone haywire.

Sensations are the basis upon which the intellect builds all further models of some imagined reality beyond the sensate world. I truly await your attempt to prove otherwise.

Sensations are the thing that you can be sure are the sum total of your experience by definition, including the experience of all models that say otherwise. I truly await your attempt to prove otherwise.

Had you basic sensate clarity such that all thoughts were clearly known as being part of the sensate field as they clearly are to anyone paying attention, you would know directly that even all your models are themselves just part of this sensate world. I truly await your attempt to prove otherwise.

These points stand as obvious truths. Please, have at them beyond just name-calling and posting general principles on themes such as the arbitrary narture of the sign, which, in this context, misses the friggin' obvious meta point that those signs are experiences, and, being experiences, are Ultimate.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/3/14 3:19 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
To be ultra ironic, here's a 'psychological' quote by Alexander Lowen that describes the delusion you're pointing to, Daniel.
The schizoid disturbance creates a dissociation of the image from reality. The term "image" refers to symbols and mental creations as opposed to the reality of physical experience. This is not to say that images are unreal, but they have a different order of reality than bodily phenomena. An image derives its reality from its association with feeling or sensation. When this association is disrupted, the image becomes abstract. The discrepancy between image and reality is most clearly seen in delusional schizophrenics. The classic example is the demented person who imagines he is Jesus Christ or Napoleon. On the other hand, "mental health" refers to the condition where image and reality coincide. A healthy person has an image of himself that agrees with the way his body looks and feels.
I often see you post exasperatedly about how difficult it is to get people to investigate their simple, bare, direct experience. Though, I haven't see you attempt an explanation for the difficulty, aside from some cynical rants. Do you have any theories about it? If so, I'm intensely curious to hear them. As I see it, here are some of the most interesting questions "What are the best techniques for attaining insight?", "How do you get people to practice insight techniques?", "Why is it so difficult to get people to investigate direct, bare experience precisely?" If we can answer the last one we can answer the second and then the maximum amount of people can benefit from the answer to the first.

Though I'm far from confident until I reach arhatship and do some more studying, I think I have a good intuition about the third question. The reification fallacy is wrapped up in the structure of our language. The 'is of identity' predisposes us to confuse orders of abstraction. And, 'trances' and 'hypnosis' are everyday phenomena. Most people are under various trances almost all day, and so breaking through their haze of 'meaning' is difficult if not usually impossible. Try looking through the lens of linguistic relativity and commonplace hypnotism and you may find that most delusion is readily explainable. Maybe.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/7/14 5:02 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
My obvious non-meta point is that of "confusing your evaluations for truth, fact or objectivity" = as Droll would put it.

Having a trip back to the Christian forum, my Christian friend says "once you have had the clarity of knowing God in your heart and spirit in all things, you would know the truth of God is an obvious truth".

There are a few rhetorical strategies used here - one is that you have fully explored my/a counter perspective so are in a position to fully realise its flaws. There is the "intellect gone haywire". Implicit is your argument from authority, as one who has realised these truths directly themselves in a way only an Arahat can, and there is the dismissal of the opponent of lacking the authority you have - "had you basic sensate clarity" you would realise the error of your ways.

The point of the "name calling" is to situate your perspective in the history of ideas. So you want to turn this into an argument to that you think you can win to demonstrate your opinion is right, which is another way of illustrating my point - that you (apparently) see your perspective as truth rather than a perspective, i.e. dogmatism. I think we all can be guilty of it one way or another, but I think it's worth pointing it out.

Droll, to be ultra-ultra ironic, did you read that interview that I posted from Evan Thompson? I think he would make a good argument that the idea that you can examine your simple, bare, direct experience is a delusion.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/7/14 10:22 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
(Daniel M. Ingram 8/26/14 4:11 AM as a reply to Mark.)
''…true way of perceiving things that comes with the sensate clarity that flips the thing over to the non-dual mode…"

(Daniel M. Ingram 9/3/14 3:15 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.)
"Sensations are the basis upon which the intellect builds all further models of some imagined reality beyond the sensate world...
"Sensations are the thing that you can be sure are the sum total of your experience by definition, including the experience of all models that say otherwise…
"Had you basic sensate clarity such that all thoughts were clearly known as being part of the sensate field as they clearly are to anyone paying attention, you would know directly that even all your models are themselves just part of this sensate world…

Daniel, allow me to interpret these statements (your verbal modeling) using a Theravadan Abhidhamma model,
1) to check whether my understanding is, to some extent, on track with them (the meaning of your words as you intend them); and
2) to find out if some of the analytical fundamentals found in Abhidhamma are in some sense implicit for you, or allowable as elaboration of the basic points you put forward.

First, "sensations" seem roughly equivalent to the 18 'ayatana', or the arising of sensate consciousness when one of the six sensing faculties (eye gate, ear gate,… mind gate) is contacted by a sensate stimulus in one of the six modes (18 being the six gates, six types of stimuli, and six types of awareness that arise when the mind adverts to a gate-stimulus contact – i.e. a phenomenan happens.).

Incidentally, much of what you point to – experiential phenomena beyond simple physical sense intercepts, namely thoughts, the experience of models, etc. – are in fact of the sixth type: mind-gate phenomena?

In Abhidhamma terms, the 'ultimate realities' are categorized as of three conditioned types: rupa, citta, and cestasika, and a single unconditioned type: nibbana. Decoded, that would be
1) rupa (aka 'materiality') –phenomenal quanta related to the 5 sense gates, categorized into 28 types;
2) citta – mind 'states', or perhaps better mental processes experienced as discernable individual momentary units – those that arise, persists a bit (perhaps withsome evolving change), and pass -- categorized into 80-some types; and
3) cetasika – the discernable component qualities, some 52 of them, which, in various combinations and intensities, make up the cittas, giving them Gestalts such that they can be discerned into their 80-some types.
(Both citta and cetasikas are part of 'mentality'. btw MCTB's 'Mind and Body' are similar to 'nama-rupa' mentality/materiality?)

Note: the numbers in these groupings are used for mnemetic and pedogogical purposes, and often consideredas dogma; but it is widely interpreted that these numbers are actually intended as exemplary – one could as well find (phenomenologically label) fewer or more shades of variation in each of the 3 main (conditioned) categories. (The 4th – the Unconditioned – is a different animal.)

So, these citta could correspond to 'sensations' as per MCTB?

In the texts the Abhidamma, the first book (the Dhammasangani) lays out, analyzes the structure of the citta types, as composed of particular cetasikas, if you will, in a vertical spatial dimension.

(It should perhaps be mentioned that sub-groupings of the cittas have important practical implications. For instance, a major slicing of cittas into 'skilful' (kusala, aka 'wholesome', or 'profitable') and 'unskilful' (akusala, 'unwholesome', etc.); and another slicing according to 'resultant' (conditionally tied back and forth in time, e.g. via kamma/karma) vs 'functional' ('kirya' -- phenomena being no more than what they are, this experienced only by arhants). Other pertinant category groups include jhana cittas, and path&fruition cittas.)

The last book (the Patthana) applies some 24 types (again, an exemplary number) of conditionality in a nearly exhaustive synthetic exegesis of how cittas arise and pass, from one to the next, across the temporal dimension; showing how any given citta can result from another, immediately sequentially, or across from a disjunct previous time; and in turn a citta can analogously conditionally relate to later cittas. (One might recognize that the workings of kamma (karma) are involved here.) In particular, and especially in sequentially contiguous cittas, the progression of experienced phenomena can be analyzed in terms of the component (cetasika) structure of one citta being altered in subparts (retaining an overall similarity) to (conditionally) give rise to the next citta (as a "train of thought," for instance, or other kinds of experience having the appearance of, or interpreted as contiguity).

(This analysis – analytic structure of a phenomenon vs temporal conditioned progression of phenomena –is taken from Thera Nyanaponika's "Abhidhamma Studies: Buddist Exporation of Consciousness and Time," 1949.)

So, this matrix of mental spatial structures and temporal conditioning might correspond to the "sensate field"?

So, yes, the 'ultimate' is just non-dualistic arising of 'sensations,' but in some way, the evolution of practice (path) has to do with the gradual uncovering, discernment of, awakening to the reality of how the mind works, it's structured and structuring phenomena, and conditional factors at play as phenomena forms living experience. And that practice-process can arrive at certain game-changing quantum shifts. As tradition puts it, development (bhavana) is 'a gradual training' (gaining vision and honing knowledge), but also runs into sudden and decisive transformations (paths & fruitions).

One further note, to characterization of the nature of Abhidhamma investigation: G. Buddha said to have considered his knowledge to be as vast as all the bejillions of leaves in the forest, but his mission focused on teaching only a strategic 'handful of leaves' that could be used to attain awakening, liberation. Abhidhamma, on the other hand, was developed as a sort of reverse-engineering from that handful of leaves (Abhidhamma texts are rooted in, constantly refer to the Suttas), to form an anlytical toolset adding illumination of more of the leaves in the forest, for the purpose of more detailed enhancement of practice.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/7/14 6:52 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Aright, so we have two totally different directions here.

The first, those who don't seem to think that one's experience is a reasonable or particularly relevant basis for reality, and, on the other hand, the beginnings of a possibly very indepth discussion of highly technical dharma.

To those who don't think that their experience of their life has some primacy, some first relevance to their life, I truly hardly know what to say. I myself consider what I experience to be the most relevant thing about my experience of my life. To each their own.

As to the Abhidhamma: I think that, while it is sometimes interesting to take it to that level, and I have really appreciated my time studying the Abhidhamma, it gets hard past a certain point to really make good use of that for most people.

Should we perhaps split this thread into the discussion of the relevance of experience to people's lives and another that goes ultra technical?

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/7/14 9:04 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Denying experience is classic schizoid behavior.

Evan Thompson seems to conflate objectification and conceptualization.
For example, we said that Buddhist meditation lets you see that your experience is really discontinuous and momentary, rather than a continuous flow.
Here are Buddhist meditation instructions that don't require saying experience 'is' anything

Noting
1) Notice any object
2) Indicate objectification with mental 'beep' sound
3) Repeat from step 1

One isn't supposed to prefer any object over another so there is no need for a conceptual overlay. In terms of the Structural Differential of Korzybski, one attempts to eventually continuously reside in the 'Object Level'.

The concept of impermanence is practically tautological. You're reading this sentence. Now you're reading this sentence.

Noticing impermanence
1) 'Time' elapses between events
2) Notice the smallest gap of 'time' between any events that you possibly can
3) Repeat from step 2

Noticing Noself
1) Move 'your' hand
2) Notice that if there were a central unit of control within 'your' experience then that central unit of control would have needed to decide at some instant to move 'your' hand
3) Notice that if the central unit of control decided at some instant to move 'your' hand, then that central unit of control would have also needed to decide to decide to move 'your' hand
4) Notice that if the central unit of control decided to decide at some instant to move 'your' hand, then that central unit of control would have also needed to decide to decide to decide to move 'your' hand
...

There you go, sawfoot. The above technique definitions are completely operational. Consider their use similar to the use of an ansatz, and conduct the experiment.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/8/14 5:41 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram – 9/7/14 6:52 PM a sa reply to Chris J Macie.
"…the beginnings of a possibly very indepth discussion of highly technical dharma." …
"As to the Abhidhamma: I think that, while it is sometimes interesting to take it to that level, and I have really appreciated my time studying the Abhidhamma, it gets hard past a certain point to really make good use of that for most people."
"Should we perhaps split this thread into …and another that goes ultra technical?"

Probably not (an ultra technical thread).

My overall point was simply to examine the usage of the term 'phenomenology', and point to an opportunity that deeper forms of phenomenological enquiry might present in trying to get a handle on phenomena, particularly those that key-off mind-gate stimulus.

Abhidhamma was brought up because it is has been considered (albeit in historical retrospect) bascially a phenomenological undertaking (NOT a psychological one, which is also historical retrospect, as interpreted by the late 19th-Century British translaters and commentators, whose terminology still persists in the West). One could speculate that G. Buddha, and Sariputta could have had rather interesting discussions, over coffee, with GWF Hegel and Edmund Huesserl.

Most recently here, I outlined some Abdhidhamma terminology to help test my understanding of key terms that Daniel uses, which I intuit to be amenable to phenomenological correlation, e.g. 'sensation,' 'sensate clarity,' 'sensate field'…

Probably first I should do a second, closer read of MCTB (and maybe MCTB2 when available); likewise with Alexander Piatigorsky's "The Buddhist Philosophy of Thought" (he's the only real phenomenologist that's had anything to say aboutAbhidhamma, as well as other aspects of dhamma); and get back to study and practice around the Abhidhamma source texts and commentaries (especially the modern ones).

Even then, Abdhidhamma is an unlikely topic for this forum. In Burma (Myanmar), the present day homeland of Abhidhamma cultivation, it's considered essential background for more advanced 'Sayadaws' (teachers), but not for the sake of teaching Abhidhamma, but rather to have the precision and depth of understanding to be able to teach dhamma competently to any level of audience.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/8/14 1:45 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
Denying experience is classic schizoid behavior.

Evan Thompson seems to conflate objectification and conceptualization.
For example, we said that Buddhist meditation lets you see that your experience is really discontinuous and momentary, rather than a continuous flow.
Here are Buddhist meditation instructions that don't require saying experience 'is' anything

Noting
1) Notice any object
2) Indicate objectification with mental 'beep' sound
3) Repeat from step 1

One isn't supposed to prefer any object over another so there is no need for a conceptual overlay. In terms of the Structural Differential of Korzybski, one attempts to eventually continuously reside in the 'Object Level'.

The concept of impermanence is practically tautological. You're reading this sentence. Now you're reading this sentence.

Noticing impermanence
1) 'Time' elapses between events
2) Notice the smallest gap of 'time' between any events that you possibly can
3) Repeat from step 2

Noticing Noself
1) Move 'your' hand
2) Notice that if there were a central unit of control within 'your' experience then that central unit of control would have needed to decide at some instant to move 'your' hand
3) Notice that if the central unit of control decided at some instant to move 'your' hand, then that central unit of control would have also needed to decide to decide to move 'your' hand
4) Notice that if the central unit of control decided to decide at some instant to move 'your' hand, then that central unit of control would have also needed to decide to decide to decide to move 'your' hand
...

There you go, sawfoot. The above technique definitions are completely operational. Consider their use similar to the use of an ansatz, and conduct the experiment.
hi Droll - As for getting tarred with schizoid brush, do you remember one of my points on the clarity thread? When you talk about "other people..." as if their errors are separate from you?  I would hazard that yourself, and Daniel for that matter, are classic schizoid type. Which is likely one the main reasons we are interested in meditation - as a form of self therapy. 

I am not sure I fully understand your comments though, partly because it seems at a tangent to my point. And you are assuming a level of understanding of the general semantics that likely your audience doesn't have. And I had to google ansatz. A nice word, though, thanks. 

So the examples you use seem to be just illustrating his point. And t
he quote you used was about a position that Evan and his colleagues took in the past which he later realised was an error. He isn't (now) saying experience is one way or another, but that the tools you use and your conceptual frameworks determine your experience - that is, phenomenology,though not without its uses, can't really do what people like Daniel (and perhaps yourself) want it to do.

Oh, just a minor thing when you say "doesn't need a conceptual overlay" a point being made by Thompson in the interview is that you cannot help but bring a conceptual overlay - all those experiences of "bare sensate experience" are still infected by conceptual overlays. It is just unavoidable. You can't escape it - and becoming "enlightened" just brings you altered conceptual overlays.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/8/14 2:10 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Aright, so we have two totally different directions here.

The first, those who don't seem to think that one's experience is a reasonable or particularly relevant basis for reality, and, on the other hand, the beginnings of a possibly very indepth discussion of highly technical dharma.

To those who don't think that their experience of their life has some primacy, some first relevance to their life, I truly hardly know what to say. I myself consider what I experience to be the most relevant thing about my experience of my life. To each their own.

As to the Abhidhamma: I think that, while it is sometimes interesting to take it to that level, and I have really appreciated my time studying the Abhidhamma, it gets hard past a certain point to really make good use of that for most people.

Should we perhaps split this thread into the discussion of the relevance of experience to people's lives and another that goes ultra technical?

Always playing to the gallery...I am sure there are plenty of people reading their heads, nodding, thinking "Oh wow, Daniel just wants to talk really cool technical meditation stuff, and this other guy, well, he wants to argue that grass isn't green, bears don't shit in the woods, and that peace and happiness are over rated...what an absolute nut job loser". Well, Daniel, you are welcome to them! I don't have a cure for suffering and that is what people seem to think they want. 

Can we create another split-off thread, based around the theme of the more dogmatic one is, the harder it is for them to understand that they are dogmatic and admit to it?

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/8/14 2:25 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
In another thread I already said I fit the schizoid structure closest. I'd argue that there are probably many people into pragmatic dharma that fit the schizoid character structure. I wouldn't, however, argue that anyone 'is' a schizoid

The point of my post was to demonstrate that meditation instructions can be put into a procedural form. Theory isn't necessary.
Experience and concepts are interdependent. Whether there are nonconceptual modes of experience is a complicated matter that both Buddhist and Western philosophers have argued about a lot.
The first sentence is vague. We conceptualize our experience, and our concepts certainly determine how we interpret our experience. That's as much interdependence as I see. He contributes no argument with respect to the second sentence.
Similarly, if you go on a Vipassana retreat, you may spend the first day or so watching your breath, but then you’re given a system of concepts for practicing mindfulness—concepts like “moment-to-moment arising,” “pleasant versus unpleasant,” “sensation,” “intention,” “attention,” and maybe some categories from the list of elements, or dhammas, in Theravada Buddhist philosophy. It’s a silent retreat, so this is theonly thing you hear, and everyone else around you is doing the same thing, so this shapes how and what you experience. You get a powerful and socially reinforced conceptual system for making sense of what you experience. That system in that context may help to bring about certain nonconceptual experiences, but the minute you start thinking about them—which there’s no way to avoid doing—you’re back in the land of concepts.
As I demonstrated previously, none of these categories are necessary. In any case, I consider them axiomatic. And, anyone that has made serious meditation progress (sorry, sawfoot) will tell you that most of their breakthroughs come when they're not conceptualizing their experience in any noticeable way.

Finally, even if 'enlightenment' were just elaborate self-hypnosis then I consider this forum an argument in favor of elaborate self-hypnosis. If that's the case, I think I'll hypnotize myself into a loving embrace with ""God"" after arhatship

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/8/14 2:27 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:


Can we create another split-off thread, based around the theme of the more dogmatic one is, the harder it is for them to understand that they are dogmatic and admit to it?

But we'd have to do that for every thread you post on! Won't that get tiresome?

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/8/14 2:51 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
sawfoot _:


Can we create another split-off thread, based around the theme of the more dogmatic one is, the harder it is for them to understand that they are dogmatic and admit to it?

But we'd have to do that for every thread you post on! Won't that get tiresome?


RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/8/14 3:25 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Funny story, close friend of mine said I was probably schizotypal. Looking back on my life, it sort of makes sense.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/10/14 1:30 PM as a reply to J J.
James Yen:
Funny story, close friend of mine said I was probably schizotypal. Looking back on my life, it sort of makes sense.

Note that the  "schizoid character" used by Droll shouldn't be associated with schizophrenia or schizotypy - the title is a bad one - this author calls it "creator" instead - which has some advantages, particulary the reduced negative connotations, and gives a nice overview of this type:

http://www.reichandlowentherapy.org/Content/Character/Schizoid/schizoid_dreamer.html

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/10/14 1:55 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
The DSM-IV places both the schizoids and schizotypals in the Cluster A. And, Lowen considered schizophrenics extreme schizoids.

And, James, no one 'is' a schizoid or schizotypal

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/10/14 3:05 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Aright, so we have two totally different directions here.

The first, those who don't seem to think that one's experience is a reasonable or particularly relevant basis for reality, and, on the other hand, the beginnings of a possibly very indepth discussion of highly technical dharma.

To those who don't think that their experience of their life has some primacy, some first relevance to their life, I truly hardly know what to say. I myself consider what I experience to be the most relevant thing about my experience of my life. To each their own.

As to the Abhidhamma: I think that, while it is sometimes interesting to take it to that level, and I have really appreciated my time studying the Abhidhamma, it gets hard past a certain point to really make good use of that for most people.

Should we perhaps split this thread into the discussion of the relevance of experience to people's lives and another that goes ultra technical?
Daniel, that your experience has primacy for you (and mine for me) seems a solid sarting point. When people start making cliams about universal truths, absolutes, ultimate intelligences etc then I think that introduces real dangers. If "I" have the "absolute truth" then I've closed the door on being wrong - and I think being wrong is the one thing we can count on emoticon

So I see the deeper technical discussion as having great value if it helps people avoid falling into some type of "enlightened" absolutism.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/10/14 3:27 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
If I understand you correctly, you're saying that no one 'is' schizoid or schizotypal, but rather one may approach those ideal forms. Which I would agree with.

Edit: Unless you're saying something else, subleties are often lost on me around here.

*salute*

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/10/14 5:56 PM as a reply to J J.
Yes that's pretty much it, if by 'ideal form' you mean 'human-created model'

The more frequently you think or say "I am schizotypal" or "I have schizotypal personality disorder" the more solidified becomes the pernicious formula James = Schizotypal. For one thing, the formula confuses orders of abstraction; James 'is' a unique person and schizotypal personality disorder 'is' an abstraction. Also don't forget that there is not one Infallible Official Definition for 'schizoid' or 'schizotypal'. Whose definition of schizotypal do you fit? When do you fit the definition? Did you fit it five years ago? Did you fit it ten years ago? Did you fit it when you were an infant? Will you fit it in thirty years?

Consider the similarity between the above and the following situations:
Wife: "I AM NOT A BITCH"
Husband: "I didn't say you are, I said you are acting like one!"

Sibling 1: "Johnny you are a sissy"
Sibling 2: "AM NOT!! MOMMM, TELL JAKE I AM NOT A SISSY!!"

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/11/14 11:12 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
@Sawfoot, who stated I was being dogmatic: It is not dogma to state that all other models of reality are based off of and extrapoloated from sensations, and that those models, being thoughts, are themselves sensations, with sensations thus being the first basis of those models as well as the apparent material those models are made of. Those points are simply true.

Further that it is hard to imagine people honestly judging the most relevant things in their life being something other than the physical experience of their life as well as their thoughts about it except as some very strange exercise in hypothetical philosophies, which themselves are still sensate, obviously.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/12/14 1:45 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
@Sawfoot, who stated I was being dogmatic: It is not dogma to state that all other models of reality are based off of and extrapoloated from sensations, and that those models, being thoughts, are themselves sensations, with sensations thus being the first basis of those models as well as the apparent material those models are made of. Those points are simply true.

Further that it is hard to imagine people honestly judging the most relevant things in their life being something other than the physical experience of their life as well as their thoughts about it except as some very strange exercise in hypothetical philosophies, which themselves are still sensate, obviously.
Maybe you are confusing form and content ?  A thought can present information e.g. 1+1=2 so the thought is the form of some information and thought would not be considered the basis. Of course discussing the topic is requiring models but we could accept models as metaphors or maps.

One might argue that the notion of 1, addition etc are themselves thoughts that require a model. But there are animals that use addition and probably don't have models of addition. It might be safer to assume the universe is not some flat evenly distributed network where everything is interconnected on an equal basis but instead has a tendency to clump things together and while those clumps may be related by past events they may no longer be interacting (i.e. not connected). If that were true counting would be useful.

I think the dogma comes in if someone hears "ultimate reality", "absolute" etc. It implies that the person is mistaking their model for reality. That might seem to be nit picking but if other people adopt that person's model as a belief then it starts to have consequences beyond the first individual. 

Another angle, it seems if someone believes in karma then in their experience one of the most relevant things in their life is something other than the physical experience of their life as well as their thoughts about it ?

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/12/14 5:12 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
To sum-up "What is phenomenology (as used here)" – here's a model distinguishing 3 levels or kinds of usage of the term:

Level-1:
Most of the usage here is to indicate description of 'bare' observing or noting of sensations (phenomena – appearances, in terms of the experiencing)

e.g. the 1st response, fromX_X, describes the use of phenomenology "in a practical way,"describing experience of "sensations, feelings, emotions, and thoughts, " e.g. as in "good noting practice." And developing the habit of tracking those descriptions over time, as practice develops. This resembles the Mahasi teaching system, both in terms of its basis in the 'Satipatthana' methodology (the 4 aspects listed above roughly corresponding to the comtemplative objects of the 4 Satipatthana), and in terms of the 'reporting' method (last sentence of X_X's 3rd paragraph), which resembles what's recommended for yogi's to use to communicate with teachers in interviews during Mahasi-style retreats.

e.g. Daniel Ingram (in the 3rd response) recommends practice attending to sensations across the whole range of experience, from (1) bare sensory thru (2) experiencing of patterns, (3) stages of mental development, and (4) "the set up to things" (conditionality?). He doesn't specify, but it might seem to imply phenomenology as a descriptive approach to all these levels of phenomena. Again, not specified, but one could venture that the progression of observed experience through those levels of phenomena (1-4) might also imply phenomenology as analytical methodology (more at level-3, below), i.e. as the result of careful observation, the mind will naturally begin to discern relationships, structure, etc., which in turn become further sensations, and thereby the mind itself changes, develops, evolves. But maybe I'm reading into Daniel's method that characteristic emphasized in G. Buddha (and Sariputta) teachings – emphasis on 'knowing' as well as 'seeing' insights. Insights gained from level-1 phenomena become themselves a sort of "raw data," are immediate experience -- development (bhavana) as an interplay of "vision and knowledge."

(From there, the discussion mostly explores tangential topics, beginning with 'qualia',…)

Level-2:
Level-1, as phenomenal description, derives from modern (late 20th-century…) usage as formal methodology in psychology and sociology. (Although in those disciplines the usage is still bascially descriptive.) This kind of usage forms level-2 phenomenology; which has been occasionally brought up here:

e.g. The ideas of Evan Thompson, which,however, are more academic than practice-related. (Daniel's comment as to ”intellect gone haywire" seems to apply here.)

e.g. Also Stephen Batchelor's teachings that mention phenomenology relate to this level; although the content of what he actually says goes little beyond level-1 usage. He claims to have studied (and met) Martin Heidegger, a direct student of Edmund Huesserl, and instrumental in transforming Huesserl's level-3 phenomenology in the direction that resulted in the late 20th-century level-2 usage of the term. Batchelor's writings and talks, however, give little indication that he has much appreciation of the level-3 meaning.

Level-3
: All the above derives historically from the work of Edmund Huesserl, whose focus was investigating (observing and conceptualizing) pure formalisms of consciousness (i.e. without regard to specific content) – that's level-3. He himself did elaborate these findings in the direction of psychology; and his followers (Martin Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, et al) went further in that direction, into sociology etc., forming the basis for the historically subsequent level-2 usage.

Back somewhere in this thread it was mentioned that 'phemenology' consists of the Greek words: phainómenon "that which appears" and lógos "study" (from wikipedia). 'Study' is a plausible but weak translation for the range and depth of meaning of 'logos'. Other implications of 'logos' are hinted by the deritive term 'logic', ie systematic process, and 'logos' as 'word', ie the nature of language.

Illustration (from a philological, not a religious perspective): The Gospel of St. John (the only one writtenin Greek) begins: "en archee een ho logos" (spelling perhaps not accurate), which we commonly hear translated as "In the beginning was the Word". A more informed philological interpretation would note that 'archee' means more than a just a sense of beginning in time, but also denotes a sense of ground, foundation, source, primal origin. A more interesting translation would run something like 'at the foundation [of experience, of mind] lies language.' So level-3 'phenomenology' entails 'study' that includes investigation of the logical, systematic nature of experienced phenomena, with attention to the use of language that may embed in (mental) phenomena, as well as the language used to represent and communicate the investigation.

Level-3, it can be argued (e.g. byAlexander Piatigorsky), is properly neither psychological norphilosophical per se, but rather more properly used asmeta-psychological, meta-philosophical; that is so say, it'brackets,' or radically examines as phenomena, the foundations andpractice of both psychology and philosophy.

By historical accident, this level-3 forms my background understanding of phenomenology (from college studies 50 years ago), and renewed (in the last 6 years) through Buddhist practice and study of the source texts – specifically in discovering Abdhidhamma and commentaries (notably the Visudhimagga), and sensing them as essentially phenomenological (level-3); plus subsequently finding confirmation of this in Alexander Piatigorsky's work, and finding substantive correlation with the schemata of both Abdhidhamma and phenemenology (level-3) in Antionio Damasio's interpretation of neuroscience of mind, consciousness, self.

Then, reading MCTB, and recognizing the Thervadan commentarial framework Daniel uses (with variation) from the Visudhimagga (that is, the 16 stages model), I posed this discussion topic to see if there was any level-3 understanding of phenomenology here in this forum. I would say it's implicit in MCTB, but not readily explicit (at least that I have noticed), so I was trying to test that out. The impression from MCTB (1st read) was that Daniel knows what he's talking about, and his ability to teach it is still a work-in-progress. (This isn't to say that Daniel doesn't also go into level-2 stuff (i.e. "one's stuff"), nor that he doesn't use/teach level-1 didactic as practice.)

BTW, the wikipedia article on"Phenomenological Sociology" is an excellent, accurate (and relatively compact) presentation of the nature of level-2 and level-3, and the relationships between them. Considerably better than the "Philosophy" or "Psychology" articles.

To sketch some terminology paralleing levels-2 and -3:
Level-2:
'mundane' (common translation of 'lokiya' in the Pali Canon; also used in phenomenological sociology);
'lived world' (Huesserl, EvanThompson);
'enacted'/'embodied' (Thompson et al);
'pragmatic' (Daniel, Stephen Batcheler, etc.).
Level-3:
'supramundane' (translation of'lokuttara' in the Pali Canon);
'transcendental' (as a basic form of phenomenology, used by Huesserl)

This last term could use some explanation here, as 'transcendental' is, more often than not, used disparagingly in modern Buddhism (in modernism in general, for that matter). 'Transcendental' for Huesserl, as also, I find, 'supramundane' in the Pali Canon, denotes that a stark comprehension of the BARE NATURE OF SENSATION, including consciousness (mind-door/gate) sensation, can lead to realization of an 'ultimate' experienced 'reality,' which TRANSCENDS unawakened, naïve preoccupation with CONDITIONED MENTAL PROLIFERATIONS AND CONSTRUCTS that make up normal, everyday, mundane ('delusional') 'reality'. This latter is, in PaAuk Sayadaw's translation, the world of "the uneducated. ordinary person"; Thanissaro Bhikkhu's: "the run-of-the-mill person"; Bhikku Bodhi's "the uninstructed worldling". From the standpoint of G. Buddha's teaching, this latter is the realm of samsara, the beginningless and endless perpetuation of dukkha; attainment of the former 'transcends' (liberates from) the bondage to dukkha. This 'transcendence' is understanding the concrete nature of experiencing, able to live with what is (appears, becomes) as it really is (appears, becomes), and NOT living just in terms of conditioned social-cultural constructs, and especially beliefs in an airy-fairy, imaginary, 'metaphysical' other or higher realms, personal after-life. etc.

This may be difficult to comprehend, or not well expressed, and isn't of much practical use in the face of overwheming common usage of other meanings of 'transcendence,' but I believe that it's accurate, and worth considering.

Likewise, I don't expect to influence the popular usage (level-1) of 'phenomenology' here in this forum or elsewhere. Having said that, in further discussions here I might well employ Abhidhamma and/or level-3 phenomenological models when they possibly offer practical insights.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/12/14 11:06 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
@Sawfoot, who stated I was being dogmatic: It is not dogma to state that all other models of reality are based off of and extrapoloated from sensations, and that those models, being thoughts, are themselves sensations, with sensations thus being the first basis of those models as well as the apparent material those models are made of. Those points are simply true.

Further that it is hard to imagine people honestly judging the most relevant things in their life being something other than the physical experience of their life as well as their thoughts about it except as some very strange exercise in hypothetical philosophies, which themselves are still sensate, obviously.


"Simply true" eh?

You should check out these websites:

http://www.simplythetruth.org/
http://www.simplytruelife.net/

You would fit right in.

I don't understand how the point you are bringing up repeatedly about whether experience is relevant to one's life has much relation to the points I was making.  It seems a bit like a bit of a big fat red herring to me. The point was just the use of certain language implies a certain perspective, which leads to some problems - which was basically the same point Mark is bringing up - talking about the Absolute, Truth, Ultimate Reality, "seeing reality as it truly is" "seeing the true nature of things" "perceiving sensations truly" etc... is a bit iffy (and this is relevant to the prospects of phenomenology and its uses here).

Just for the record, while I appreciate the effort, my "touche" response to Jake had an element of sarcasm, depending on what means by being dogmatic. The point was about admitting to being dogmatic (and understanding your reasons for it) as much as about being dogmatic - and I would admit to being dogmatic about some things, such as the world existing separately from my experience of it, but that is dogmatic in the sense of "expressing personal opinions or belief as if they are certainly correct and cannot be doubted". 

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/12/14 5:16 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:
The term 'phenomenology' is used a lot, especially by psychologists, with seemingly informal meaning.

Is there any discussion here of what it might mean, e.g. how it's used here? Different takes on it and/or formal definitions, traditions?

Having studied a couple of related forms (GFW Hegel's 'Die Phaenomenologie des Geistes', and a couple of key works by Edmund Husserl), I often don't get a firm idea of what others mean when they use the term -- it seems really fuzzy.

The only place in dhamma-studies I've found a note-worthy application of what I recognize as phenomenology is in Alexander Piatigorsky's 'The Philosophy of Buddhist Thought'. -- anyone else delved into that work (it's not easy).

Chris Macie
hi there. an errant email from Otto brings me here.

i would say the term should be avoided since it is not ultimately related to the buddhist goal

the dictionary states phenomenology is an approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience

that sounds all well & good but that can also become something extremely subjective. for example, is the study of the objects of consciousness while stoned on LSD the buddhist goal? or is the belief "I am studying the objects of my consciousness" the Buddhist goal, where there is no comprehension of not-self (anatta)?

ultimately, the buddhist goal is to study the universal characteristics of all phenomena, which is something objective

for example, to study dog shit & its conditioned, impermanent, unsatisfactory & non-self nature is more closer to the goal of buddhism than to spend hours in psychotherapy

this is why a monk once said: "the buddha can be seen in dog shit"

the ultimate goal of buddhism is related the charateristics of phenomena that inherently exist in phenomena regardless of whether a Buddha has arisen or not to reveal what those characteristics are (namely, conditionality, impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, not-self, etc)

there are certain buddhists defining their entire view of buddhism based on this term from western philosophy

imo, such an approach could prove fatal because, ultimately, buddhism is more akin to 'ontology' (without the 'being') since ultimately Buddhism is about 'the nature' of things (rather than about subjective conscious experience)

whilst Buddhism states to acheive enlightenment the nature of things must be 'phenomenologcially' experienced & verified by each aspirant, ultimately, Buddhism is closer to ontology than phenomenology, in that what must be seen for awakening inherently exists independent of consciousness

for example, the impermanence of dog shit is not due to consciousness  

however, imo, both of these western terms are redundant, irrelevent & should not be applied to Buddhism emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/12/14 8:03 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Hi Nicky,

You wrote: "...an errant email from Otto brings me here..."

I too got an email notice from Dharmaoverground ("You received a new message from otto"), but nothing appears under messages on the website.

I you got text with that email, and it's possibly relevant, could you forward it here or to me?

Thankx, Chris M

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/13/14 1:32 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Sorry I missed this post earlier
Droll Dedekind:
In another thread I already said I fit the schizoid structure closest. I'd argue that there are probably many people into pragmatic dharma that fit the schizoid character structure. I wouldn't, however, argue that anyone 'is' a schizoid

Ok, good, yes I agree. My point though was about your rheteorical strategy - it felt like you were trying to use it defame my argument, but it wasn't relevant - it seems like you bought into Daniel's distraction strategy. 


The point of my post was to demonstrate that meditation instructions can be put into a procedural form. Theory isn't necessary.

Ok, one point, again, is that you are always bringing "theory" to bear - some kind of expectation - but more importantly, what I was pointing to (And I am repeating myself here) is that particular methods bring about particular results - if you gave me a different set of meditation instructions I might get different insights, theory or not. 
Experience and concepts are interdependent. Whether there are nonconceptual modes of experience is a complicated matter that both Buddhist and Western philosophers have argued about a lot.
The first sentence is vague. We conceptualize our experience, and our concepts certainly determine how we interpret our experience. That's as much interdependence as I see. He contributes no argument with respect to the second sentence.

Yeah, ok, but it is just a short informal interview - my point was to just draw attention to the fact that people (like yourself, Daniel, some Buddhists) believe in this idea that you can have non-conceptual experiences whereas some could make arguments against it. 

Similarly, if you go on a Vipassana retreat, you may spend the first day or so watching your breath, but then you’re given a system of concepts for practicing mindfulness—concepts like “moment-to-moment arising,” “pleasant versus unpleasant,” “sensation,” “intention,” “attention,” and maybe some categories from the list of elements, or dhammas, in Theravada Buddhist philosophy. It’s a silent retreat, so this is theonly thing you hear, and everyone else around you is doing the same thing, so this shapes how and what you experience. You get a powerful and socially reinforced conceptual system for making sense of what you experience. That system in that context may help to bring about certain nonconceptual experiences, but the minute you start thinking about them—which there’s no way to avoid doing—you’re back in the land of concepts.
As I demonstrated previously, none of these categories are necessary. In any case, I consider them axiomatic. And, anyone that has made serious meditation progress (sorry, sawfoot) will tell you that most of their breakthroughs come when they're not conceptualizing their experience in any noticeable way.

But the techniques that you use influence your attention to various aspects of your experience, and those technqiues mold those experiences. This seems a pretty basic point that I am making, but you aren't showing much signs of agreeing. You consider certain aspects of your experience axiomatic, but then, a Christian doing contemplatic prayer might have a very different way of thinking about your experience.

I don't think you are sorry, because framing it that way seems like an "argument from authority", and I think it diminishes your point. But yes, certain meditation techniques aim for non-conceptuality, and I think they can "work" - in that you can reduce your conceptualisation and left-brain stuff significantly (whether you can eliminate it entirely is another matter, see above). But see the last sentence in that quote.


Finally, even if 'enlightenment' were just elaborate self-hypnosis then I consider this forum an argument in favor of elaborate self-hypnosis. If that's the case, I think I'll hypnotize myself into a loving embrace with ""God"" after arhatship

Not sure where this is coming from - I have never talked about enlightenment as an elaborate self-hypnosis and not sure why you would frame it that way given what I have said.  But I suppose I could frame it as a systematic form of mental training, in which belief plays an important role, e.g. through training your mind/perception in certain ways you can "see reality clearly and how it really is" and that if you don't see it your way are "perceiving sensations incorrectly"- and those kinds of beliefs have benefits. So partly technique based and partly belief based, and hence you could probably train yourself into a loving embrace with God.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/13/14 1:44 AM as a reply to Nicky.
[quote=
]i would say the term should be avoided since it is not ultimately related to the buddhist goal

the dictionary states phenomenology is an approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience

that sounds all well & good but that can also become something extremely subjective. for example, is the study of the objects of consciousness while stoned on LSD the buddhist goal? or is the belief "I am studying the objects of my consciousness" the Buddhist goal, where there is no comprehension of not-self (anatta)?

ultimately, the buddhist goal is to study the universal characteristics of all phenomena, which is something objective

the ultimate goal of buddhism is related the charateristics of phenomena that inherently exist in phenomena regardless of whether a Buddha has arisen or not to reveal what those characteristics are (namely, conditionality, impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, not-self, etc)

there are certain buddhists defining their entire view of buddhism based on this term from western philosophy

imo, such an approach could prove fatal because, ultimately, buddhism is more akin to 'ontology' (without the 'being') since ultimately Buddhism is about 'the nature' of things (rather than about subjective conscious experience)

whilst Buddhism states to acheive enlightenment the nature of things must be 'phenomenologcially' experienced & verified by each aspirant, ultimately, Buddhism is closer to ontology than phenomenology, in that what must be seen for awakening inherently exists independent of consciousness
Yep, this seems like it could be the goal, but it seems nuts to me? How can you experience objective aspects of phenomena? It only begins to make sense when you take an idealist type perspective like Daniel does, where you say phenomena is "reality", and so you can experience "Ultimate Reality" by conceptualising your experience in a certain way. 

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/13/14 4:29 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
"How can you experience objective aspects of phenomena?" - would love to hear someone answer this too!

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/13/14 12:02 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.


Yep, this seems like it could be the goal, but it seems nuts to me? How can you experience objective aspects of phenomena? It only begins to make sense when you take an idealist type perspective like Daniel does, where you say phenomena is "reality", and so you can experience "Ultimate Reality" by conceptualising your experience in a certain way. 

My view was ultimate reality is not something conceptualised but merely observed (but existing independent of observation). That a leaf falls from a tree, due to the natural forces of impermanence & cause-&-effect, is independent of mind. This is why the scriptures state: "Whether or not there is the arising of Buddhas, all conditioned things are impermanent, cannot bring lasting happiness & are not-self" (Dhamma-niyama Sutta).

emoticon~~"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality. emoticon

Where as what is conceptualised are 'ideas', such as 'dog', 'cat', 'me', 'you', 'bad', 'ugly', 'good', 'African', 'American', 'thief', 'doctor', 'friend', 'enemy', etc.

Ultimately reality is not something related to conceptualisation, imo. Thus, ultimate reality is not phenomenology, imo (athough its verification is). emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/13/14 9:08 PM as a reply to Nicky.
1) Nicky Dee -- 9/12/14 5:16 PM as a reply to Chris J Macie
"whilst Buddhism states to acheive enlightenment the nature of things must be 'phenomenologcially' experienced & verified by each aspirant, ultimately, Buddhism is closer to ontology than phenomenology, in that what must be seen for awakening inherently exists independent of consciousness"

2)
sawfoot_ -- 9/13/14 1:44AM as a reply to Nicky Dee.
"Yep, this seems like it could be the goal, but it seems nuts to me? How can you experience objective aspects of phenomena? It only begins to make sense when you take an idealist type perspective like Daniel does, where you say phenomenais "reality",  and so you can experience "Ultimate Reality" by conceptualising your experience in a certain way."

3) Mark -- 9/13/14 4:29 AM as a reply to sawfoot _
"How can you experience objective aspects of phenomena?" - would love to hear someone answer this too!"

4)
Nicky Dee -- 9/13/14 12:02 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
4a)
"My view was ultimate reality is not something conceptualised but merely observed (but existing independent of observation)."
4b) "…what is conceptualised are 'ideas', such as 'dog', 'cat', 'me', 'you', 'bad', 'ugly', 'good', 'African', 'American', 'thief', 'doctor', 'friend', 'enemy', etc."
4c) "Ultimately reality is not something related to conceptualisation, imo. Thus, ultimate reality is not phenomenology, imo (athough its verification is)"

The thread seems to converge a bit in these citations.

I. An excellent point (well-focused incitation 4c) -- to paraphrase: phenomenology is not Buddhism, is not the ultimate goal, or ultimate reality, or…, but it can be a useful tool in coming to see and understand such matters.

"…can be…" in the sense that phenomenology is a modern Western introspective methodology that clearly bears some resemblance to methodological aspects taught by G. Buddha, such as sati (mindfulness),vipassanā (insight), pañña/̄ñāna (discernment, knowledge), etc. Those methods are, in the Buddha's teaching, absolutely necessary; phenomenology can be applied in ways that resemble those techniques, but phenomenology per se (i.e. to call it that) is not necessary.

Also, in 4a ("ultimate reality is not something conceptualised but merely observed") and 4c ("reality is not something related to conceptualisation") – the experience or realization or whatever of 'ultimate reality' or whatever may not be conceptual, BUT when one reflects on such experience, writes about it, talks about it, in any way using language – these activities are undisputably CONCEPTUAL, as mentioned in 4b.

II. There remains, however, a serious conceptual (linguistic, semantic) problem in citation 1 ("Buddhism is closer to ontology than phenomenology, in that what must be seen for awakening inherently exists independent of consciousness") and in citation 4a ("not something conceptualised but merely observed (but existing independent of observation)".

First, the topic is widely discussed, traditionally and today, and there is virtual agreement that the Buddha's teachings are decidedly NOT ontological*; he speaks in terms of processes and becoming rather than things and existence, though often employing metaphors involving the latter. Ontology is a Western construct, going back to at least Aristotle, and firmly entrenched in Western mind and language (aka the 'ontological bias'). Western language, particularly Anglo-Saxon varieties (English, American) focuses on 'things,' 'existence,' 'hard facts' (and, in the ironic words of the person who taught me phenomenology, 'indigestible knowledge stones' or 'factoids'). The Pali term 'bhava'  (and its derivatives, such as 'bhavana') has to do with processes of becoming, though it's routinely translated as 'being'. One would be hard-put to find serious scholars or reputable practice-teachers/commentators who contest this.

Secondly, "exists independent of consciousness" and "existing independent of observation"– a seeming mixture of the ontological bias and a misunderstanding (or perhaps accidental linguistic mis-representation) of phenomena. Perhaps what is referred-to is along the lines of Nibbana being inexpressible in language, 'unconditioned,' the 'deathless', whereas consciousness itself is always conditioned, hence Nibbana might be considered 'independent' of consciousness of it. Or perhaps it's just flat-out ontological bias – a social-cultural belief system that rests on the notion of 'objective things-in-themselves'. Western science is the pre-eminent example: for whatever leverage it's findings (pragmatic evidence) provide in terms of manipulating the world (e.g. atomic bombs), it's practice and history is also full of contradiction, anicca (they're constantly changing their minds), and often outright foolishness. But it is, fundamentally just a belief system, and those that share it often behave exactly like those that share religious belief systems. (Witness the perennial debate over evolution vs creationism, and how the proponents on both sides strongly identify with their views, and repeatedly search each other out to do battle over the issue.)

III. "How can you experience objective aspects of phenomena?" in citations 2 and 3…

One perspective may be that 'objective' here is referring to the ontological bias – some kind of 'thing-in-itself' that lies behind a phenomenon, i.e. some independent entity out there that 'appears' by 'showing' itself ('showing' is another way of expressing the meaning of the Greek word root in 'phenomenon'). Again, a belief system, but so widely and strongly (and most often naively – aka moha / 'delusion') held that it can be treacherous to go up against it (one might get cruxified, for example, as one can readily observe in this forum thread).

Another perspective would be that in phenomenal 'showing-itself', the 'itself' can only be known (ultimately or absolutely) as the appearance 'itself'...

Not expecting either of these perspectives to satisfy questioners here.

In terms of cultural history, the first reflects the Anglo-Saxon 'common-sense' dogma; the second is associated with continental 'Idealism' (aka 'German-Romanticism'). In fact, the original, formative authors of phenomenology (level-3) were German and French (continental), and their level-3 phenomenology was historically largely rejected by Anglo-Saxon philosophers, for which levels-1 and –2 are far more palatable.

And the modern Western Theravadan authorities on Abdhidhamma (that's comparable to phenomenology level-3) are mainly European (i.e. not British), and mostly of German background (e.g. Mahathera Nyanatiloka and Thera Nyanaponika** The monastic elders, scholars, and other authorities in the English-speaking world tend more often in the direction represented by 'Secular Buddhism' – based in cultural provincialism (ours vs Indian/Hindhu), "common sense," and "science".

AND while many Western buddhists hold the Mahasi teaching system for lay practitioners in high regard, it's less well-known that Sayadaw Mahasi and those in his current lineage, as with most Burmese masters, were/are pre-eminent authorities on, and deeply rooted in, Abhidhamma and the Visudhimagga in addition to the Suttas.

fini

* There is some discussion that late Abhidhamma thought leaned towards an ontological way of thinking about 'dhammas', but that can in no way be seen as characteristic of Buddhist thought as a whole. See Noa Ronkin's "Early Buddhist Metaphysics – The Making of a Philosophical Tradition" (2005) for authoritative discussion of this topic (but her writing is thickly academic, can be tough going).

** That lineage proceeds Mahathera Nyanatiloka -> Thera Nyanaponika -> Bkikkhu Bodhi (American) -> Ven. Analayo (German). 'Thera' -- as in 'Therevada' -- means 'elder,' often also implying lineage-holder; 'maha-', as we recognize from many Sutta titles, means 'great' or 'greater', as opposed to 'cula-' or 'lesser'.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/13/14 10:15 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:

First, the topic is widely discussed, traditionally and today, and there is virtual agreement that the Buddha's teachings are decidedly NOT ontological*; he speaks in terms of processes and becoming rather than things and existence, though often employing metaphors involving the latter. Ontology is a Western construct, going back to at least Aristotle, and firmly entrenched in Western mind and language (aka the 'ontological bias'). Western language, particularly Anglo-Saxon varieties (English, American) focuses on 'things,' 'existence,' 'hard facts' (and, in the ironic words of the person who taught me phenomenology, 'indigestible knowledge stones' or 'factoids'). The Pali term 'bhava'  (and its derivatives, such as 'bhavana') has to do with processes of becoming, though it's routinely translated as 'being'. One would be hard-put to find serious scholars or reputable practice-teachers/commentators who contest this.


My friend. The Buddha said it was a rare thing that his dhamma is understood. Just because there is agreement between the Buddhist masses it does not mean this agreement is correct. For example, the majority of Buddhists believe Dependent Origination occurs over three lifetimes, including a relinking consciousness which the Buddha did not ever mention.

As I posted, it did not say Buddhism is pure ontology since it does not postulate concrete 'being' in the sense of 'self being'. But Buddhism does assert there are hard facts & things. The Four Noble Truths, the Three Characteristics, Emptiness, Nirvana, etc, are hard facts & irrefutable 'things' &/or 'laws'. These laws are permanent. They are not impermanent. That conditioned things are subject to impermanence is a permanent occurance.

I already posted the sutta by the Buddha about the hard facts existing whether or not a Buddha arises in the world to explain them. But you choose to ignore what the Buddha explained. As I said, doing such can be fatal, since ignoring the hard facts will be a hindrance to enlightenment. emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/13/14 11:05 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:

Secondly, "exists independent of consciousness" and "existing independent of observation"– a seeming mixture of the ontological bias and a misunderstanding (or perhaps accidental linguistic mis-representation) of phenomena. Perhaps what is referred-to is along the lines of Nibbana being inexpressible in language, 'unconditioned,' the 'deathless', whereas consciousness itself is always conditioned, hence Nibbana might be considered 'independent' of consciousness of it. Or perhaps it's just flat-out ontological bias – a social-cultural belief system that rests on the notion of 'objective things-in-themselves'. Western science is the pre-eminent example: for whatever leverage it's findings (pragmatic evidence) provide in terms of manipulating the world (e.g. atomic bombs), it's practice and history is also full of contradiction, anicca (they're constantly changing their minds), and often outright foolishness. But it is, fundamentally just a belief system, and those that share it often behave exactly like those that share religious belief systems. (Witness the perennial debate over evolution vs creationism, and how the proponents on both sides strongly identify with their views, and repeatedly search each other out to do battle over the issue.)


Friend. There is no misunderstanding. I do not misunderstand.

When a human life form dies, the corpse is often buried in the ground, outside of the sphere of consciousness. The corpse in the ground cannot be seen, because it is buried beneath the earth. Yet the inevitable decay of the corpse will occur. This process of decay, i.e., impermanence, occurs independent of consciousness. This impermanence is a hard fact of life. It is ontological rather than phenomological. emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/13/14 11:20 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:

One perspective may be that 'objective' here is referring to the ontological bias – some kind of 'thing-in-itself' that lies behind a phenomenon, i.e. some independent entity out there that 'appears' by 'showing' itself ('showing' is another way of expressing the meaning of the Greek word root in 'phenomenon'). Again, a belief system, but so widely and strongly (and most often naively – aka moha / 'delusion') held that it can be treacherous to go up against it (one might get cruxified, for example, as one can readily observe in this forum thread).

Another perspective would be that in phenomenal 'showing-itself', the 'itself' can only be known (ultimately or absolutely) as the appearance 'itself'...

Not expecting either of these perspectives to satisfy questioners here.



Correct. Ultimately, the goal of Buddhism is to realise the 'thing in itself', how these 'things' are merely 'things' & are not a/void of self. The goal  of Buddhism is to see form as merely form, feelings as merely feelings, perceptions as merely perceptions, mental activity as merely mental activity, consciousness as merely consciousness and dhammas (such as the Three Characteristics & Nibbana) as merely dhammas.

The realisation is 'phenomological', since seeing  the Three Characteristics has a certain effect on the mind. Yet the Three Characteristics themselves are 'ontological'.

This is why the Buddha taught extensively about the dhatu (elements). This is why some later Buddhists were very comfortable using the term 'sabhava'.

Take something quite simple as a basic enlightenment experience of seeing the breath as merely the breath (rather than seeing the breath as "my breathing"). There is no need to intellectually indulge in some kind of intellectual Nargajunian exercise of intellectually breaking down the breath into nitrogen, oxygen & smaller & smaller atomic particles.

If the mind can see 'breath is merely breath, merely wind' & not a self, this enough. This is seeing the thing in itself.

This is roughly 'ontology'. When the dhammas reveal themselves to the meditator (with a mind void of self), it will be understood Dhamma is closer to objective ontology than subjective phenomonolgy. Or better said, Buddha-Dhamma is emoticon 'phenomological ontology'. emoticon

Subjective phenomonology is a directionless path. emoticon

~~When things become manifest
To the ardent meditating brahman,
All his doubts then vanish since he understands
Each thing along with its cause.

Ud 1.1

~~"And what is the wind property? The wind property may be either internal or external. What is the internal wind property? Anything internal, belonging to oneself, that's wind, windy, & sustained: up-going winds, down-going winds, winds in the stomach, winds in the intestines, winds that course through the body, in-and-out breathing, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's wind, windy, & sustained: This is called the internal wind property. Now both the internal wind property & the external wind property are simply wind property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the wind property and makes the mind dispassionate towards the wind property.

MN 62

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/13/14 10:54 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
In terms of cultural history, the first reflects the Anglo-Saxon 'common-sense' dogma; the second is associated with continental 'Idealism' (aka 'German-Romanticism'). In fact, the original, formative authors of phenomenology (level-3) were German and French (continental), and their level-3 phenomenology was historically largely rejected b Anglo-Saxon philosophers, for which levels-1 and –2 are far more palatable.

And the modern Western Theravadan authorities on Abdhidhamma (that's comparable to phenomenology level-3) are mainly European (i.e. not British), and mostly of German background (e.g. Mahathera Nyanatiloka and Thera Nyanaponika** The monastic elders, scholars, and other authorities in the English-speaking world tend more often in the direction represented by 'Secular Buddhism' – based in cultural provincialism (ours vs Indian/Hindhu), "common sense," and "science".

AND while many Western buddhists hold the Mahasi teaching system for lay practitioners in high regard, it's less well-known that Sayadaw Mahasi and those in his current lineage, as with most Burmese masters, were/are pre-eminent authorities on, and deeply rooted in, Abhidhamma and the Visudhimagga in addition to the Suttas.

fini

* There is some discussion that late Abhidhamma thought leaned towards an ontological way of thinking about 'dhammas', but that can in no way be seen as characteristic of Buddhist thought as a whole. See Noa Ronkin's "Early Buddhist Metaphysics – The Making of a Philosophical Tradition" (2005) for authoritative discussion of this topic (but her writing is thickly academic, can be tough going).

** That lineage proceeds Mahathera Nyanatiloka -> Thera Nyanaponika -> Bkikkhu Bodhi (American) -> Ven. Analayo (German). 'Thera' -- as in 'Therevada' -- means 'elder,' often also implying lineage-holder; 'maha-', as we recognize from many Sutta titles, means 'great' or 'greater', as opposed to 'cula-' or 'lesser'.

The above view is both fatal & contradictory, since it has fallen back onto commentaries, dogma, authority & a lineage of Western monks with a scolarly bent that have seriously misunderstood much of the Buddha-Dhamma (despite their invaluable translation work). This appeal to personal authority is 'bhava'. To rely on the wrong teachers is fatal. The Buddha said:

~~when association with unworthy (unenlightened) people prevails, it will make prevail the listening to wrong teachings. When listening to wrong teaching prevails, it will make prevail lack of faith. When lack of faith prevails, it will make prevail unwise attention. When unwise attention prevails, it will make prevail lack of mindfulness and clear comprehension. When lack of mindfulness and clear comprehension prevails, it will make prevail lack of sense-control. When lack of sense-control prevails, it will make prevail the threefold wrong conduct. When the threefold wrong conduct prevails, it will make prevail the five hindrances. When the five hindrances prevail, they will make ignorance prevail. When ignorance prevails, it will make prevail the craving for existence. Such is the nutriment of that ignorance and so it prevails.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel238.html#book-10

Take care. emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/14/14 8:10 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

Maybe you are confusing form and content ?  A thought can present information e.g. 1+1=2 so the thought is the form of some information and thought would not be considered the basis. Of course discussing the topic is requiring models but we could accept models as metaphors or maps.

I find it hard to grasp the notion that meaning is reducible to sensation. The apprehension of meaning happens in the form of thought, and there are sensations associated with thought, but does that mean that thought is a sensation? To me, it makes every bit as much sense to regard apprehension of meaning (rather than sensation) as the essence of thought.

The value of treating thoughts as sensations is clear; but to say they fundamentally are that would be unjustifiably reductionist, in my view. Or at least, any system that reduces meaning to sensation seems incomplete and artificially flattened out somehow.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/14/14 11:06 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:
Mark:

Maybe you are confusing form and content ?  A thought can present information e.g. 1+1=2 so the thought is the form of some information and thought would not be considered the basis. Of course discussing the topic is requiring models but we could accept models as metaphors or maps.

I find it hard to grasp the notion that meaning is reducible to sensation. The apprehension of meaning happens in the form of thought, and there are sensations associated with thought, but does that mean that thought is a sensation? To me, it makes every bit as much sense to regard apprehension of meaning (rather than sensation) as the essence of thought.

The value of treating thoughts as sensations is clear; but to say they fundamentally are that would be unjustifiably reductionist, in my view. Or at least, any system that reduces meaning to sensation seems incomplete and artificially flattened out somehow.
Ignorant thoughts may arise from sensation & some karmic wisdom may develop based in sensation but not all thought has sensation is a causal condition.

Thoughts rooted in wisdom of reality (of impermanence, universal emptiness, etc) do not have sensation as their causal condition, which is why thoughts based on enlightened perception (abhinnya/full comprehension) are unrelated to sensation.

This distinction I am making here again distinguishes between phenomology & reality ('ontology'). The study of how subejctive thought arises in the human mind is phenomology. Where as the reality (such as the nature of life comprosed of the five aggregates, the nature of the aggregates, the nature of impermanance, emptiness, etc) that serves as the object of full comprehension is unrelated to phenomology. emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/15/14 2:30 AM as a reply to Nicky.
re Nicky Dee -- 9/13/14 10:54 PM as a reply to Chris J Macie.

A couple of questions to help clarify puzzling passages in that message (10:54):

"This appeal to personal authority is 'bhava'. To rely on the wrong teachers is fatal."

"Appeal to personal authority" -- what does this refer to? Who appealed to what personal authority in the posts you were responding to?

And the meaning of the word 'bhava' isn't clear here. What definition do you intend? (Below are a couple of definitions from reputable sources.)

Who, in your view, are the right teachers? And how do you determine right and wrong teachers?

[BPS Dictionary]
bhava -- 'becoming', 'process of existence', consists of 3 planes: sensuous existence (kāma-bhava), fine-material existence (rūpa-bhava), immaterial existence (arūpa-bhava). Cf. loka.

[PTS Dictionary]
Bhava [cp Sk. bhava,…; bhuu,see bhavati] "becoming," (form of) rebirth, (stateof) existence, a "life."There are 3… kaama, ruupa, aruupa…
Bhavati
[bhuu to become,…] to become, to be, exist, behave, etc….

Also Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote a wholebook "The Paradox of Becoming," surveying in great detail the use and signifcance of 'bhava' on the basis of numerous passages in the Suttas.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/18/14 3:56 AM as a reply to Nicky.
re Nicky Dee -- 9/13/14 11:20 PM as a reply to Chris J Macie.

Ud 1.1:
Yadā have pātubhavanti dhammā,
Ātāpino jhāyato brāhmaṇassa;
Athassa kaṅkhā vapayanti sabbā,
Yato pajānāti sahetudhamma

~~When things become manifest
To the ardent meditating brahman,
All his doubts then vanish since he understands
Each thing along with its cause.
-- translation by?

As phenomena grow clear
to the brahman — ardent, in jhana —
his doubts all vanish when he discerns
a phenomenon with its cause.
-- translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

'Dhamma' is a fascinating term. Some perspective from Bhikkhu Nanamoli (footnote 1 to Chapter VII of his translation of the Visudhimagga, 1956):

    "The word dhamma—perhaps the most important and frequently used of Pali words—has no single equivalent in English because no English word has both a generalization so wide and loose as the word dhamma in its widest sense (which includes “everything” that can be known or thought of in any way) and at the same time an ability to be, as it were, focused in a set of well-defined specific uses. Roughly dhamma = what-can-be-remembered or what-can-be-borne-in-mind (dháretabba) as kamma = what-can-be-done (kátabba).

    "The following two principal (and overlapping) senses are involved here: (i) the Law as taught, and (ii) objects of consciousness. (i) In the first case the word has either been left untranslated as “Dhamma” or “dhamma” or it has been tendered as “Law” or “law.” This ranges from the loose sense of the “Good Law,” “cosmic law,” and “teaching” to such specific technical senses as the “discrimination of law,” “causality,” “being subject to or having the nature of.” (ii) In the second case the word in its looser sense of “something known or thought of” has either been left untranslated as “dhamma” or rendered by “state” (more rarely by “thing” or “phenomenon”), while in its technical sense as one of the twelve bases or eighteen elements “mental object” and “mental datum” have been used. The sometimes indiscriminate use of “dhamma,” “state” and “law” in both the looser senses is deliberate. The English words have been reserved as far as possible for rendering dhamma (except that “state” has sometimes been used to render bháva, etc., in the sense of “-ness”). Other subsidiary meanings of a non-technical nature have occasionally been otherwise rendered according to context."

    "In order to avoid muddle it is necessary to distinguish renderings of the word dhamma and renderings of the words used to define it. The word itself is a gerundive of the verb dharati (caus. dháreti—“to bear”) and so is the literal equivalent of “ that is to be borne.” But since the grammatical meanings of the two words dharati (“to bear”) and dahati (“to put or sort out,” whence dhátu—“element”) sometimes coalesce, it often comes very close to dhátu (but see VIII n. 68 and XI.104). If it is asked, what bears the qualities to be borne? A correct answer here would probably be that it is the event (samaya), as stated in the Dhammasanganì (§1, etc.), in which the various dhammas listed there arise and are present, variously related to each other. The word dhammin (thing qualified or “bearer of what is to be borne”) is a late introduction as a logical term (perhaps first used in Pali by Vism-mht, see p. 534).

    "As to the definitions of the word, there are several. At D-a I 99 four meanings are given: moral (meritorious) special quality (guóa), preaching of the Law (desaná), scripture (pariyatti), and “no-living-being-ness” (nissattatá). Four meanings are also given at Dhs-a 38: scripture  (pariyatti), cause (of effect) as law (hetu), moral (meritorious) special quality (guóa), and “no-living-being-ness and soullessness” (nissatta-nijjìvatá). A wider definition is given at M-a I 17, where the following meanings are distinguished: scriptural mastery, (pariyatti—A III 86) truth, (sacca—Vin I 12) concentration, (samádhi—D II 54) understanding, (paññá—J-a I 280) nature, (pakati—M I 162) individual essence, (sabháva—Dhs 1) voidness, (suññatá—Dhs 25) merit, (puñña—S I 82) offence, (ápatti—Vin III 187) what is knowable, (ñeyya—Paþis II 194) “and so on” (see also VIII n. 68)."


Nanamoli doesn't mention dhammaas thing in an ontological sense, and the term 'sabháva' (essence) that's implicated in late Abhidhamma thought as having have ontological leanings refers to dhamma as mind state/process-moment having some sort of primacy of existence ('ontos').  Noa Ronkin ("Early BuddhistMetaphysics – The Making of a Philosophical Tradition", 2005) sums up that development as follows:

"The canonical Abhidhamma claims that the dhammas, and only they, are primary individuals in the sense of particular-distinction, namely, that they are the absolutely primary objects of reference, analysis and distinction. The post-canonical Abhidhamma takes this claim to imply that the dhammas are also ontologically prior to all other types of encountered phenomena. But things are not intrinsically primary: primacy is an epistemic characteristic, not ontological."

Finally, Ven. Analayo has some fun, stringing together a handful of the many meanings of the term 'dhamma' (in "Satipatthana – The Direct Path To Realization," (2003) in the Chapter on the 4th Satipatthana, p. 186):

"Thus contemplation of dhammas [4th Satipatthana] skilfully applies dhammas (classificatory categories) as taught in the Dhamma (the teaching of the Buddha) during contemplation in order to bring about an understanding of the dhamma (principle) of conditionality and lead to the realization of the highest of all dhammas (phenomena): Nibbana."
(The first qualification, in […]brackets are added here, the rest, in (…), are original.)

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/15/14 10:03 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:
Mark:

Maybe you are confusing form and content ?  A thought can present information e.g. 1+1=2 so the thought is the form of some information and thought would not be considered the basis. Of course discussing the topic is requiring models but we could accept models as metaphors or maps.

I find it hard to grasp the notion that meaning is reducible to sensation. The apprehension of meaning happens in the form of thought, and there are sensations associated with thought, but does that mean that thought is a sensation? To me, it makes every bit as much sense to regard apprehension of meaning (rather than sensation) as the essence of thought.

The value of treating thoughts as sensations is clear; but to say they fundamentally are that would be unjustifiably reductionist, in my view. Or at least, any system that reduces meaning to sensation seems incomplete and artificially flattened out somehow.

Hi John,

I think part of the explanation is that meaning implies an observer (who gives information meaning). The meaning is relative to the observer. The observer constructs an understanding of the world based on their perception. In this way we could argue that meaning is founded on the perceptions of the observer. 

Maybe I'm splitting hairs but I referred to information not meaning. Because I'm assuming information exists without meaning. For example the meaning of lightning for someone born 10,000 years ago was probably very different thatn the meaning we ascribe it today.

There is a qualia(experince) associated with thought and color. Color represents wavelenghts of light (which we could consider to be information), thoughts represent other types of information.

Another way of viewing this - meaning needs to be grounded. Our experiences of the world provide that grounding and those experiences are tightly coupled to our senses.

I think we are on the same page that someone trying to reduce meaning to sensation is being reductionist and it does not offer much value. But understanding that meaning is built upon perceptions can be useful - because it creates an obstacle to those who would like to tell us that the know everything (or know the most important things).

We can push the concepts a step further too I think - consciousness itself can be considered a qualia - like the color red or thought. It is how we model attention in the same way red is how we model certain wavelengths of light. This is an oversimplification but it does threaten the common view (on this forum) that the human mind is somehow capable of being in touch with the fundamental nature of the universe. 

Their certainly seems to be a far more beautiful view after peeling many layers back, but I suspect few would peel the last layer back if it showed there is nothing there. The moral consequences would be bleak so maybe they just keep it to themselves emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/16/14 10:41 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
We can push the concepts a step further too I think - consciousness itself can be considered a qualia - like the color red or thought. It is how we model attention in the same way red is how we model certain wavelengths of light. This is an oversimplification but it does threaten the common view &#40;on this forum&#41; that the human mind is somehow capable of being in touch with the fundamental nature of the universe

Jake:
So how do you get to the representation of reality that says "human experience is fundamentally different from the rest of Universe"? What evidence do we have for this? Isn't it simpler to assume that human experience is just another natural system? And hence shares with other natural systems a very basic level of operating principles?

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/17/14 7:27 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
taking-off from John Wilde (9/14/148:10 PM as a reply to Mark):

"I find it hard to grasp the notion that meaning is reducible to sensation.The apprehension of meaning happens in the form of thought, and there are sensations associated with thought, but does that mean thatthought is a sensation? To me, it makes every bit as much sense to regardapprehension of meaning (rather than sensation) as the essence of thought."

A view that may help clarify this situation:

Phenomenon as sensation (Theravadan model)

Assuming that what Daniel intends by 'sensation' is analogous to the following Theravadan Abhidhamma scheme (as also supported in many Suttas): all mental events (cittas) arise from the contact of a stimulus and a human sensing faculty, which faculties include the 5 sense-doors -- the eye for sight, the ear for hearing, the nose for smell, the tongue for taste, and the body for touch -- AND a 6th, the 'mind-door'. The mind can be triggered into a conscious event (citta - consciousness of an object) by an impinging physical sensation (light, sound, etc.), OR by something coming out of the mind itself (perhaps associated with some kind of neural event not triggered by sensory input that attracts the focal attention of the mind).

So, in this model, the arising of a thought happens as result of 'sensation' as contact (at an immediate, 'bare' level, aka the 'raw data') between a stimulus and consciousness, where the stimulus comes not from an external physical source, but pops up from the mind itself. A complication: any event from one of the 5 sense-doors also becomes a mind-door contact as well when it becomes consciously known. Namely as distinct from some light, sound, etc. that the mind 'doesn't notice.'

(For a hypothesis of 'meaning' in an Abhidhamma model, see below.)

Substitute the word 'phenomenon' for' sensation' here. A phenomenon arises from contact with one of the 5 sense-doors (also going thru the mind-door), OR something from within the mind itself arouses the mind-door directly (arises in consciousness) without any external stimulus.

To the original question -- Phenomenology -- how it's used here? – Daniel answered (8/18/1412:22 AM as a reply to Chris J Macie.):
"I tend to use it to mean the sensations themselves, the colors, the textures, the sounds, as well as things like the energetic aspects, the vibrations, the frequencies of sensations, as well as things like the patterns of those sensations, such as a pulse followed by a mental impression,…" 

He refers to 'colors,' 'sounds' (and possibly 'vibrations' as touch) -- all sense-door stuff – and further phenomena that may qualify as mind-door alone sensations, though it's not as clear. One could interpretitvely analyze that 'textures,' 'frequencies,' 'patterns' are mind-door events that arise from mental processing of multiple sense-door events. For instance, the mind detects a pattern (texture and frequency can also be seen as pattern) from a series of sense-door events (simply 'raw data') where the mind itself construes 'pattern', i.e. dredges this concept out of its own memory, associations, etc. as somehow fitting the series of 'raw data', and then the mental event 'pattern' arises in the mind, a mind-door event where the mind experiences the 'sensation' (phenomenon) of being stimulated, from within, to consciousness of the concept, the thought of 'pattern'.

Later Daniel stated (8/26/14 4:11 AM as a reply to Mark):
"I truly do mean that sensations, sensate reality, is the thing we can be most certain of from a pragmatic meditative point of view, and it is truly the first basis of all models, all science, all extrapolation, all inference about something else.."

Pragmatic certainty – the bare, 'rawdata' phenomena – as basis of all conceptual knowledge, as the mind, through a lifetime of experience, education, socialization, inculturation, etc. devises a repertory of concepts that 'make sense' of recurring patterns of bare sensations. Subsequently, raw sensory data triggers the arising of consciousness of mental concepts (as 'sensations', as the 'making sense of' experience), and the processing of them into further levels of concept.

1) This is interpretation – Daniel's intent may not be accurately represented by this.

2) On the other hand, these acquired concepts that can then arise at the mind-door as conscious events, may be related to the 'meaning' that Mark questions. For instance, it is sometimes said of science, that raw data are merely quantitifaction of observations – merely numbers or whatever other kind of measurement -- and any statement as to their 'meaning' is in fact interpretation. Scientists frequently argued diverse intrepretations from the same raw data, each according to their own model.

Meaning -- Descriptive phenomenology becoming analytical phenomenology

Put another way, and relating it to my hypothesis of multiple levels of using phenomenology: noting colors, sounds, smells, etc. is descriptive phenomenology of raw sensate data. Noting 'attraction,' 'aversion,' 'anger,' 'joy,' … whatever but at another level than barest physical sensation – these are mind-door mental sensations, phenomena, (though they also may be 'sankaras' – formations or fabrications) and the method is still descriptive phenomenology.

But when / if one also notes 'aha', 'insight' moments of experience, and observe how these mind-door sensations / phenomena arise in the mind, the conditioned linkages that lead to them, notably how there may be an initial physical sense-door event (and it's mind-door consciousness), but then a series of mind-door events set in from there, somehow reactively associated but not necessarily determined or 'caused' by the initial stimulus; there may be discernable some sense of meaning and/or intention that sneaks in and takes over – this is analytical phenomenlogy in action, understanding as well as describing what's happening. This is not just 'seeing' of the arising, this is 'knowing' more about the working, the how of the arising, and seeing the effects. Here a possible sensation, phenomenon can be a realization of how conscious intention is inherent, and can be changed, can change how it all works. And that can lead to experimentation, to trial and error with the plasticity of intention and observed results… and we're off-and-running on the path.

Meaning in the Abhidhamma Model

The Abhidhamma analysis came up with a scheme of discerning each discreetly recognized mental event (state, or similarly identified process) as a series of smaller events, or 'moments', sometimes called a 'cognitive series'. 5-sense-door events consist of 15 or so of these smaller units; pure mind-door events take about 11 units – the difference is explained below.

To get a sense of this in term of time, I've seen mention that minimum neural awareness events happen in something like 10 milleseconds ('ms' – thousandths of a second), or about 100/second. If this is mapped to these smaller events in the 'cognitive series', than a full mental event could be in the neighborhood of 100-150ms, or 8 to 10/second. (This info may be outdated, but gives a referential ballpark here.) (This also may, or not, relate also to those 'vibrations' mentioned in MCTB as appearing at a frequency of 10Hz, more or less.)

A) The cognitive series for 5-sense-door events:

0) background mental activity is rolling along in neutral – no stimulus is engaging it into being consciousness of an object. This is traditionally call a 'bhavanga';
1) something disturbs, 'shakes' the bhavanga;
2) it's disturbed, shaken a bit more, and bhavanga turns off;
3) the mind 'adverts' ("5-door adverting") to the fact that something is out there;
4) the mind takes in the stimulus – the moment of bare seeing, hearing, etc.;
5) the mind 'receives' it, (maps to a neural image, possibly, (c.f. Damasio));
6) the mind 'investigates' it; possibly searches memory for aspects by which to classify;
7) the mind 'determines' it; possibly comes up with a mental correlate, a sign / nimitta, a 'name';
8-14) for up to 7 cycles, the mind processes with that determined object – this is where intention,kamma (action), kusala (wholesome) or akusala (unwholesome) happens; these are called 'javanas';
15) the mind 'registers' some kind of result; maybe a formed and nuanced memory; something that can arise again later as a mind-door event;
(16…) the mind falls back into bhavanga cycles, or starts an other series, e.g. if the sight, sound lures it again.

The critical part is moments 8-14.These are each called 'javana,' often translated as 'impulsion'; here's an explanation from the BPS-Dictionary:
"(fr. javati, to impel): 'impulsion', is the phase of full cognition in the cognitive series, or perceptual process (citta-vīthi; s. viññāna-kicca) occurring at its climax, if the respective object is large or distinct. It is at this phase that karma is produced, i.e. wholesome or unwholesome volition concerning the perception that was the object of the previous stages of the respective process of consciousness."

B
) The cognitive series for mind-door events:

0-2) same as above
3) the mind adverts to the mental stimulus (mind-door adverting), equivalent to cycle 7 above; the mental object that has arises presumably already includes the results of cycles 4-7 above; the whole package from previous 'registrations' gets activated and presented to consciousness here;
4-10) the mind goes through impulsions, as above.
11) the mind 'registers', as above;
(12…) the mind falls back into bhavanga, etc.

Making sense of all of this

To tie this all back into the start of this posting (John Wilde's passage), I venture that 'sensation' is the arising, the presentation of mental objects – sensory or mental – to consciousness, and what happens in the 'impulsions' constructs the 'meaning', which then gets embedded with the object in its 'registration'. This is a way of explaining that meaning is not reduced to sensation, that this processing (impulsions) is constructing meaning, "the essence" of thought. Later, re-presentation at mind-door events brings along previous meaning, and newer series of impulsions elaborate, alter or enrich the meaning.

A footnote to add, that also relates this Abhidhamma scheme to other prominent themes in this discussion forum: The Abhidhammikers (the guys who carried-out and formulated this detailed analysis from their meditative experience) posited that a unique event can take place at the 5th impulsion / javana, called a 'change-of-lineage', which occurs only in the case of the mental events of either entering jhana or attaining a supramundane path/fruition (one of the Theravadan 4 stages of Path).

I can't speak, from experience, to the latter (paths&fruitions), but it does make sense, in my experience, with regard to the former. Namely, the analysis says that at the moment of absorption in jhana, at the change-of-lineage moment, the whole show freezes -- the mind remains in that javana for as long as the absorption lasts -- up to hours or days. Change-of-lineage in this case is said to be a change from the sense-sphere lineage (the original object of concentration) to the fine-material-sphere (rupa-bhumi) lineage; the mind absorbs into the nimitta, or pure mental sign/image that is 'counterpart' of the original object (see Visudhimagga, Chapter IV, 74). In the path/fruition cases, change-of-lineage has to do with the mind taking Nibbana as object, in some sense (I can't really comment; see Visudhimagga concluding Chapters XXII and XXIII, in case you have experience in this area to compare with).

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/17/14 11:55 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:
re Nicky Dee -- 9/13/14 11:20 PM as a reply to Chris J Macie.

Ud 1.1:
Yadā have pātubhavanti dhammā,
Ātāpino jhāyato brāhmaṇassa;
Athassa kaṅkhā vapayanti sabbā,
Yato pajānāti sahetudhamma

~~When things become manifest
To the ardent meditating brahman,
All his doubts then vanish since he understands
Each thing along with its cause.
-- translation by?

As phenomena grow clear
to the brahman — ardent, in jhana —
his doubts all vanish when he discerns
a phenomenon with its cause.
-- translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

'Dhamma' is a fascinating term.Some perspective from Bhikkhu Nanamoli (footnote 1 to Chapter VII ofhis translation of the Visudhimagga, 1956):

Nanamoli doesn't mention dhammaas thing in an ontological sense, and the term 'sabháva' (essence) that's implicated in late Abhidhamma thought as having have ontological leanings refers to dhamma as mind state/process-moment having some sort of primacy of existence ('ontos').  Noa Ronkin ("Early BuddhistMetaphysics – The Making of a Philosophical Tradition", 2005) sums up that development as follows:

Finally, Ven. Analayo has some fun, stringing together a handful of the many meanings of the term 'dhamma' (in "Satipatthana – The Direct Path To Realization," (2003) in the Chapter on the 4th Satipatthana, p. 186):

"Thus contemplation of dhammas [4th Satipatthana] skilfully applies dhammas (classificatory categories) as taught in the Dhamma (the teaching of the Buddha) during contemplation in order to bring about an understanding of the dhamma (principle) of conditionality and lead to the realization of the highest of all dhammas (phenomena): Nibbana."
(The first qualification, in […]brackets are added here, the rest, in (…), are original.)

The word 'dhamma' is fascinating for minds that have not comprehended 'dhamma'. The word 'dhamma' certainly has many meanings, one of which is 'things' or 'phenomena'. To sort out the different meanings is for beginners because if they don't they cannot understand properly the teachings that explain the path of practise.  Something I know for sure is Bhikkhu Bodhi & his group have often mistranslated the word 'dhamma' in certain contexts.

As for what Analayo wrote, it is certainly confusing & wrong, particularly since many well practised meditator/monks have rejected the Satipatthana Suttas (MN 10 & DN 22) as words of the Buddha because they are merely lists of certain disconnected practises rather than an exposition describing the natural progression & unfolding of the Path.

For example, the description of the 4th satipatthana in MN 10 makes little sense at all, such as including the five hindrances. What Analayo wrote logically makes little sense because if it was true then the 4th satipatthana would have to be mastered before the 1st satipatthana or, otherwise, the practise of the 1st, 2nd & 3rd satipatthanas are not really true dhamma until the 4th has been mastered. This makes no sense at all.

The Buddha taught his Dhamma (teaching) was plain & straightforward. Analayo is not plain & straightforward.

The Satipatthana are properly & correctly described in the Anapanasati Sutta, where contemplation of dhamma plainly refers to contemplation of 'truth', 'law' or 'reality', i.e., the 13th stage of vipassana where impermanence (unsatisfactoriness & not-self) is observed as the object of meditation, which results in the experience of Nibbana (15th stage). The Anapanasati Sutta, despite Bhikkhu Bodhi's erroneous tanslation of it, does actually describe a natural progression & unfolding of practise. It is bona fide, based on actual meditation experience.

What you quoted from Analayo is thus plainly wrong, according to the fruition of actual practise.

The unfolding of actual practise is like the cleansing of a drug addict in cold turkey. The actual 'cleansing' is not phenomology but a natural force similar to the natural decay of a corpse, as i previously described. Just like white blood cells cleanse infection out of the sphere of consciousness, the unfolding of meditation occurs due to forces unrelated to the sphere of consciousness. For example, the dissolution of sankharas (mental fabrications, vibrations, etc) is inherently not related to consciousness (despite being, at times, observed by consciousness).

This is why Nibbana or the Nirodha Dhatu are not rupa-dhammas or nama-dhammas but, instead, asankhata dhammas. Since the supreme thing in Buddhism (Nibbana) is not a nama-dhamma (mental phenomena), Buddhism cannot be inherently phenomology because if there was no Nibbana there would be no Buddhism. emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/18/14 4:34 AM as a reply to Nicky.
re from Nicky Dee (9/17/14 11:55 PM as a reply to Chris J Macie)

"As for what Analayo wrote, it is certainly confusing & wrong, particularly since many well practised meditator/monks have rejected the Satipatthana Suttas (MN 10 & DN 22) as words of the Buddha..."

Which "well practised meditators /monks"? And where can one find their writings / teachings to help one understand these views?

"For example, the description of the 4th satipatthana in MN 10 makes little sense at all…"

Analayo's two books (2003, 2013) on the Satipatthana-Suttas include surveying hundreds of sources from throughout the Pali Canon – Suttas to commentaries – and modern commentators, across the spectrum from traditional Theravadan lineages to diverse authors in Western modernist Buddhism; as well as comparative study of the Pali and two Chinese 'agama' Canons, together with some Tibetan sources. If anything, his style of research and presentation is remarkable for its fairness and equanimity in carefully considering viewpoints on all sides of the issues.

You (Nicky Dee) apparently have been exposed to other, alternative views on the Satipatthana Suttas, as well as the Anapanasati Sutta. (I, for one, find the Anapanasati Sutta format more approachable, though Analayo's exposition of the Satipatthana adds a wealth of practical practice possibilities.)

In the spirit of Analayo's model of non-judgemental breadth of investigation (a metaphor for sati itself), I look forward to exploring authors and source works you may provide supporting these alternative viewpoints.

P.S. I also find Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations occasionally questionable, or inconsistent. So I typically search out as many English translations possible (and perhaps ones in German too), and compare them all with the Pali text to try to figure out the passages.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/18/14 1:08 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie

Which "well practised meditators /monks"? And where can one find their writings / teachings to help one understand these views?

In the spirit of Analayo's model of non-judgemental breadth of investigation (a metaphor for sati itself), I look forward to exploring authors and source works you may provide supporting these alternative viewpoints.

You could probably start with Buddhadasa & Sujato however such a reference to authority not preferred. What is preferred is the Buddha taught dhamma perfectly, in proper sequence. This is an attribute of Dhamma properly taught (per the AN, somewhere). All of the Dhamma teachings, such as 8 fold path, 4 iddiphada, 5 powers, 7 factors of enlightenement, etc, are in proper sequence. Satipatthana itself, in terms of the natural progression from body to feelings to citta & to truth, is in proper sequence. But the Satipatthana Suttas are not in proper sequence that represents the natural progression & unfolding of meditation as the mind naturally becomes purified & progresses from predominant samatha to predominant vipassana. This is evidence that it is highly unlikely the Buddha himself spoke the Satipatthana Suttas (although they were probably mostly compiled from various utterances of the Buddha).


These philosophical suppositions, inherited from the tradition and largely unexamined, underlie and inform the major schools of contemporary Theravāda meditation. Meditators practice precisely in order to see the elements of ‘ultimate reality’. The prime source text for this approach is the ‘Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta’, which we suggest would be better called the ‘Piltdown Sutta’. Is it too much to hope that the revelation that this is one of the latest and least authentic of all the texts in the Nikāyas will cause such meditation schools to question their own assumptions and methods?

Sujato


The Anapanasati Sutta, on the other hand, shows how to practice the four foundations in a systematic progression that ends with emancipation from all dukkha. The sixteen steps work through the four foundations, each one developing upon the previous, and supporting the next. Practice all sixteen steps fully and the heart of the satipatthana arises perfectly. In short, the Satipatthana Suttas are only lists of names. The Anapanasati Sutta clearly shows how to practice the four foundations without anything extra or surplus. It does not mention unrelated matters.

Buddhadasa

As for non-judgmental investigation, this is not sati, but merely one mere aspect of the use of sati. The Pali word 'sati' means' to remember' or 'keep in mind', as properly described in MN 117, a sutta which Analayo has made great & lengthy unskilful & dangerous efforts to debunk.
One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. MN 117
For example, the Dhamma explains 'craving associated with liking & disliking leading to new becoming' is the cause of suffering. Sati operates here to keep the mind free from judgments so to mitigate suffering. However, the aspect of mind that investigates is not sati. Sati does not mean to investigate, contemplate or observe. In Pali, investigation is called 'vicaya'. It is a factor of wisdom. That which observes & investigates is related to consciousness & wisdom rather than sati (which is a factor of concentration).
Discernment (wisdom/panna) & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It's not possible, having separated them one from the other, to delineate the difference between them. For what one discerns, that one cognizes. What one cognizes, that one discerns. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference between them.

MN 43

Sati acts to keep in the mind a state where investigation can function optimally. It is not sampajanna but works together with sampajanna. I point these things out merely to show how sloppy Analayo can be with language. emoticon



The entire Buddhadasa opinion is below (since i could not paste it in, above, for some reason of the site).

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/18/14 12:52 PM as a reply to Nicky.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/20/14 1:32 PM as a reply to Nicky.
My last post on this matter. If we refer to the Yamaka Sutta, it gives an analogy showing why Buddha-Dhamma is closer to 'ontology' than 'phenomology':


I will give you an analogy for the sake of taking your understanding of this point even further. Suppose there were a householder or householder's son — rich, wealthy, with many possessions — who was thoroughly well-guarded. Then suppose there came along a certain man, desiring what was not his benefit, desiring what was not his welfare, desiring his loss of security, desiring to kill him. The thought would occur to this man: 'It would not be easy to kill this person by force. What if I were to sneak in and then kill him?'

So he would go to the householder or householder's son and say, 'May you take me on as a servant, lord.' With that, the householder or householder's son would take the man on as a servant.

Having been taken on as a servant, the man would rise in the morning before his master, go to bed in the evening only after his master, doing whatever his master ordered, always acting to please him, speaking politely to him. Then the householder or householder's son would come to regard him as a friend & companion, and would fall into his trust. When the man realizes, 'This householder or householder's son trusts me,' then encountering him in a solitary place, he would kill him with a sharp knife.

Now what do you think, my friend Yamaka? When that man went to the householder or householder's son and said, 'May you take me on as a servant, lord': wasn't he even then a murderer? And yet although he was a murderer, the householder or householder's son did not know him as 'my murderer.' And when, taken on as a servant, he would rise in the morning before his master, go to bed in the evening only after his master, doing whatever his master ordered, always acting to please him, speaking politely to him: wasn't he even then a murderer? And yet although he was a murderer, the householder or householder's son did not know him as 'my murderer.' And when he encountered him in a solitary place and killed him with a sharp knife: wasn't he even then a murderer? And yet although he was a murderer, the householder or householder's son did not know him as 'my murderer.'

"Yes, my friend."

In the same way, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — assumes form (the body) to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form.

He assumes feeling to be the self...

He assumes perception to be the self...

He assumes (mental) fabrications to be the self...

He assumes consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness.

He does not discern inconstant form, as it actually is present, as 'inconstant form.' He does not discern inconstant feeling, as it actually is present, as 'inconstant feeling.' He does not discern inconstant perception... He does not discern inconstant fabrications... He does not discern inconstant consciousness, as it actually is present, as 'inconstant consciousness.'

He does not discern stressful form, as it actually is present, as 'stressful form.' He does not discern stressful feeling... He does not discern stressful perception... He does not discern stressful fabrications... He does not discern stressful consciousness, as it actually is present, as 'stressful consciousness.'

He does not discern not-self form, as it actually is present, as 'not-self form.' He does not discern not-self feeling... He does not discern not-self perception... He does not discern not-self fabrications... He does not discern not-self consciousness, as it actually is present, as 'not-self consciousness.'

He does not discern fabricated form, as it actually is present, as 'fabricated form.' He does not discern fabricated feeling... He does not discern fabricated perception... He does not discern fabricated fabrications... He does not discern fabricated consciousness, as it actually is present, as 'fabricated consciousness.'

He does not discern murderous form, as it actually is present, as 'murderous form.' He does not discern murderous feeling... He does not discern murderous perception... He does not discern murderous fabrications... He does not discern murderous consciousness, as it actually is present, as 'murderous consciousness.'

He gets attached to form, clings to form, & determines it to be 'my self.' He gets attached to feeling... He gets attached to perception... He gets attached to fabrications... He gets attached to consciousness, clings to consciousness, & determines it to be 'my self.' These five clinging-aggregates — attached to, clung to — lead to his long-term loss & suffering.

Although the true nature of things inherently exist & are present, just like the murderer always existed & was present, the phenomology (mental experience) of the puthujjana is a blindness to what inherently exists & is present. Since what inherently exists & is actually present is not within the phenomology (mental range) of the puthujjana, how can Buddha-Dhamma be phenomology for the puthujjana when the actual Buddha-Dhamma does not even exist for the puthujjana, apart from words in books at times inaccurately translated & more often wrongly explained by the likes of Nyanatiloka, Nyanaponika, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Analayo & their Maha Vihara Sri Lankan Visuddhimagga based cohorts?

With metta. emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/21/14 8:33 AM as a reply to Nicky.
re Nicky Dee – (9/20/14 1:32 PM as areply to Nicky Dee.

The quotation from the Yamaka-Sutta --it's not clear why the initial bold-faced passages are emphasized:
"… I will give you an analogy for the sake of taking your understanding of thispoint even further.…wasn't he even then a murderer? And yet although he was a murderer, the householder or householder's son did not know him as 'my murderer.'"

At to the further highlighted passages-- "He does not discern inconstant form,  as it actually is present, as 'inconstant form.'" etc. -- perhaps the emphasis here is meant to refer to "actually is present" as demonstration of ontological meaning?

Examining the conclusion of the post:
"Although the true nature of things inherently exist & are present, just like the murderer always existed & was present, the phenomology (mental experience) of the puthujjana is a blindness to what inherently exists & is present. Since what inherently exists & is actually present is not within the phenomology (mental range) of the puthujjana, how can Buddha-Dhamma be phenomology for the puthujjana when the actual Buddha-Dhamma does not even exist for the puthujjana, apart from words in books at times inaccurately translated & more often wrongly explained by the likes of Nyanatiloka, Nyanaponika, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Analayo & their Maha Vihara SriLankan Visuddhimagga based cohorts?"

Examining the Yamaka-Sutta further, immediately following the passage you quote (the case of the assutavā puthujjano), is, as you know, a parallel passage, wherein the "the well-instructed, disciple of the noble ones" (the ariyasāvako) views the same matters, but correctly in terms of Buddha-Dhamma: "He discerns inconstant form, as it actually is present, as 'inconstant form.'" (also Than-Geof's translation)

I.e. the proper, correct view of of the ti-lakkhana (3 characteristics), here applied to the 5 khandas, IS WITHIN "the phenomenology (mental range)" of the well-instructed disciple. Both the incorrect and the correct viewsare phenomenologically present to the respective viewers.

The Pali for "not discern … "and "discern …as it actually is present" reads:
yathā-bhūtaṃ (in relation to what has become) nappajānāti (not discerning)
yathā-bhūtaṃ
(in relation to what has become) pajānāti (discerning)
'Bhūta'
is part-participle of bhavati, the Pali verb 'to become', also translated often into English as 'to be', 'to exist'.

Since you are comfortable using Than-Geof's (Thanissaro Bhikku's) translation of the Yamaka Sutta (dated 1997), you might be interested in how he intreprets the Pali for these terms 'bhava' and 'bhavati' (in his book "The Paradox of Becoming", 2008), page 3:
"The Buddha had a word for this experience of an identity inhabiting a world defined around aspecific desire. He called it bhava, which is related to the verb bhavati, to "be," or to "become." So "becoming" is probably a better English rendering for the term than "being" or "existence," especially as it follows on doing, rather than existing as a prior metaphysical absolute or ground. In other words, it's not the source from which we come; it's something produced by the activity of our minds."

(btw: the "activity of our minds" is the realm of phenomenology.)

And, on page 13, Than-Geof is even more explicit:
"Bhava is not "Being" in the sense of a primary metaphysical absolute. Instead, it is part of an on-going, dynamic process, something produced repeatedly in a complex network of cause and effect – what Sn III.12 calls the"stream" of bhava."

(btw: "a primary metaphysical absolute" – that's what is commonly considered ontological. The term you've used -- "inherently exists" -- suggests this too.)

And (from the BPS Dictionary, defining 'anattā':
"The anattā doctrine teaches that neither within the bodily and mental phenomena of existence, nor outside of them, can be found anything that in the ultimate sense could be regarded as a self-existing real ego-entity, soul or any other abiding substance.This is the central doctrine of Buddhism, without understanding which a real knowledge of Buddhism is altogether impossible. It is the only really specific Buddhist doctrine, with which the entire Structure of the Buddhist teaching stands or falls. All the remaining Buddhist doctrines may, more or less, be found in other philosophic systems and religions, but the anattā-doctrine has been clearly and unreservedly taught only by the Buddha, wherefore the Buddha is known as the anattā-vādi, or 'Teacher of Impersonality'."

Note: neither in the body and the mind, nor outside, can be found anything that can be regarded as self, soul, or "any
other abiding substance
." This latter phrase is what ontology is all about, and the words of the Buddha give no credence to it.

Or is (Ajahn) Thanissaro Bkihhu on the list of wrong teachers (with the Burmese, and Sri Lankan), even though he represents a Thai Forest lineage, as does Ajahn Chah and his students, such as Ajahn Sujato?

In your first post:
"the dictionary states phenomenology is an approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience[.]
that sounds all well & good but that can also become something extremely subjective. for example, is the study of the objects of consciousness while stoned on LSD the buddhist goal? or is the belief "I am studying the objects of my consciousness" the Buddhist goal, where there is no comprehension of not-self (anatta)?"

This understanding seems to have been way-layed by the subjective-objective dualism, whereas seeing-through and escaping this dualism is precisely what the Buddha's words, and real (level-3) phenomenolgy have in common. "Have in common"– which does not assert that they are the same, nor that the Buddha's words are being reduced to phenomenology here.

(But, in the context of the thread "Why do you think the Buddha's teachings fall short?", you have stated: "…t only required one profound insight into the profound harm (wrongly practised) sex can cause to extinguish my sexual orientation. The extinguishing of my sexual phenomenology was unrelated to 'strict morality'."-- which seems to in some way equate 'phenomenlogy' with 'orientation'? What might that mean?)

Thank you for your thoughtful contributions here.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/22/14 5:12 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Thanks Chris

My use of the term 'sexual phenomenolgy' was a play with words but I hope it was used correctly. As for my contributions, they are always thoughtful (i.e. insightful/vipasannaful), based in what is real.

Your use of the word 'bhutam' & your correlation with 'bhava' (becoming) are very mistaken. Further, your translation Yamaka Sutta is wrong. Bhikkhu Bodhi translates the same as Thanissaro and Bhikkhu Bodhi is generally right (apart from some crucial errors but not here).

You seem to be inferring a noble disciple, an arahant, is engaged in 'becoming' when discerning the aggregates. This does not make sense.

'Bhava' is an asava, i.e., a mental defilement. To quote:

~~what are the taints? There are three taints: the taint of sensual desire, the taint of being and the taint of ignorance. With the arising of ignorance there is the arising of the taints (asava). MN 9


~~This mode of perception is empty of the effluent of sensuality... becoming... ignorance. And there is just this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, pure — superior & unsurpassed. MN 121

Arahants are free from 'bhava'. For example, MN 121 explains how the enlightened mind is empty of bhava despite the five aggregates (i.e., the 'kaya'/collection) remaining. The five aggregates do not come into existence due to 'becoming'. Here, you are very mistaken. For example,  SN 22.48 explains there are two kinds of five aggregates: (i) mere aggregates; and (ii) aggregates subject to clinging. It is the aggregates subject to clinging which are related to bhava.

Dependent Origination explains (see SN 12.12) how due to the already existence of aggregates, becoming occurs. Since contact (consciousness) is an aggregate, feeling is an aggregate, perception is an aggregate and craving & attachment are the play of another aggregate, how can 'becoming' refer to the coming to be of the aggregates?

The suttas explain the origin of the form aggregate is the four elements & the nutriment (food) required to sustain form:
~~what is form? The four great existents and the form derived from them: this is called form. From the origination of nutriment comes the origination of form. From the cessation of nutriment comes the cessation of form.

~~SN 22.56

There term 'bhuta' is used in the teaching of the nutriments, where the aggregates have come to be due to nutriment, i.e. physical food. Example, MN 38:

~~Monks, do you see, 'This has come to be'

~~Yes, lord

~~Monks, do you see, 'It comes into play from that nutriment'

~~Monks, do you see, 'From the cessation of that nutriment, what has come to be is subject to cessation'

This does not refer to 'bhava' or 'becoming'. This is not phenomology. The above merely refers to biological causation, that due to there being physical food, the aggregates come to be or due to the lack of physical food the aggregates cease to be.

The term 'this' (above) refers to the mere aggregates, the very same as in MN 121, where the term 'there is this' refers to the mere aggregates. For example, when the five aggregates of a child grow in the womb of its mother due to the mother obtaining sufficient nourishment, this is not 'becoming'. 'Becoming' is an asava, a mental defilement, a play of the sankhara aggregate or thought.

As for what you said about 'anatta', this does not make sense. It seems to be providing an argument about 'atta' ('self') to try to debunk the reality of 'anatta' (not-self). 'Self' & 'not-self' (anatta) are not a 'duality'. The duality is 'self' (atta) & 'no-self' (natthattā), as Vacchagotta erroneously questioned the Buddha about in SN 44.10 You said:

~~neither within the bodily and mental phenomena of existence, nor outside of them, can be found anything that in the ultimate sense could be regarded as a self-existing real ego-entity, soul or any other abiding substance.
What you said above is about 'atta' rather than 'anatta'.

About 'anatta', the Buddha said this is ontology but you continue to turn a blind eye to it due to obviously some strong adherence (attachment) to a doctrinal postition. The Buddha said:
~~ emoticonemoticonWhether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All phenomena are not-self.emoticonemoticon

~~The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All phenomena are not-self."

~~Dhamma-niyama Sutta: The Discourse on the Orderliness of the Dhamma

You seem so stuck of the term 'phenomology' yet cannot distinguish between the phenomological process of mental becoming, i.e., the formation of 'self-identity', & the ontological causation & characteristics of the aggregates, i,e, the subsistence of the physical body due to food & its impermanence.

'Becoming' (bhava) phenomologically certainly causes suffering. But becoming does not ontologically cause the mere aggregates to exist (bhuta). As the Buddha taught in MN 66 or 65, the new born child from the mother's womb has no idea of 'self' thus is devoid of becoming (despite the anusaya to becoming lying dormant within their genetic makeup).

If you are unsure how becoming & self-identity are related, to quote:
~~The craving that leads to new becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming: This, friend Visakha, is the origination of self-identification described by the Blessed One.

MN 44

To end, the enlightenment of the arahants in SN 22.59 was due to the full comprehension of ontology, i.e. the
emoticoninherentemoticonThree Characteristics.

Take care. emoticon

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/23/14 7:02 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
re Nicky Dee – (9/22/14 5:12 PM as areply to Chris J Macie)

Going back a bit -- (9/18/14 1:08 PM Nicky)
"You could probably start with Buddhadasa & Sujato ..."

Thank you so much for the references to Buddhahasa and Sujato.

Six years ago or so, when I was just starting to study this stuff, a teacher 'Santikaro' held a day-long teaching here (at Shaila Catherine's meditation group in California) on 'Emptiness' – glossing MN 121, with some reference to MN 111, as a basis for understanding and practice. That was inspiring. When asked, Santikaro reccomended "The Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree" as further reading – which I read and was further inspired.

Ajhan Sujato was new to me, but, with some research, found his "A History of Mindfulness," (which seemed it might fit into a current area of interest – see below) and am currently half-way through reading it. Lots of interesting information and interpretation, about which he is quite explicit that these are his viewpoints, well-informed, in light of this and that evidence, and put forth as worth considering by others. Surprisingly, he and Analayo turn out to be buddies, i.e. professional colleagues – they research and write on similar topics, communicate with each other, share findings, help each other out, cite each other's work respectfully, AND also have differing viewpoints on some issues. 

Sujato's book fit nicely in an on-going study of interpretations of 'Sati' – is it 'bare/choiceless awareness'? is it discriminative watching (the gate-keeper)? is it 'remembering' to attend to dhamma, kusala, akusala moment to moment? etc. Lots of divergent views on this. Here's a list of worthwhile writings I've found so far:

1) Analayo "Satipatthana:The Direct Path to Realization" 2003 pp 46ff, citing evidence for the (popular) 'bare awareness' viewpoint, and noting other views;
2) Bhikkhu Sujato "A History of Mindfulness" (2nd half of book) 2005(&2012) – a huge theory (GIST) on the evolution of the Dhamma canons; and Satipatthana & Anapannasati (haven't finished this part yet);
3) Rupert Gethin "On Some Definitions of Mindfulness", 2011 – a rather even-handed history of English translations of sati and especially interpretations in Western Buddhism from mid 20th century;
4) Thanissaro Bhikkhu "Right Mindfulness" 2012 – evidence that sati has active as well as passive aspects, vs predominent 'Vipassana/Insight' movement teachings; he's written/talked extensively about both Anapannasati and Satipatthana.
5) Analayo "Perspectives on Satipatthana" 2013 – pp. 21-38 going over in more detail the views on sati; p.35 fn 44 he refers to Gethin (3 above), and takes issue with Thanissaro (4 above) -- "that the satipatthana instructions on their own appear incomplete to him and in need of supplementation" [i.e. Than-Geof's view would seem to be closer to Sujato's.]

In sum, an intriguing, classical discussion / debate going on here; these authors are all aware of each others' work, probably all know each other personally, and are discussing, honing viewpoints back and forth.

Likewise we're here (DhO) having discussions of viewpoints. Are arahants free of viewpoints? In orthodox Theravada, starting with SE (stream-entry) there's no more 'personality views', but up to the final leap into arahantship there's still restlessness (because one hasn't made it yet), conceit (because there's still 'one' who hasn't made it quite yet) , and the root of it all, ignorance (lacking the purity of awareness of the mind that's already made it).

In particular, as per Thanissaro's (Than-Geof) "The Paradox of Becoming", there's cultivation (bhaavana) of the desire (cetana) to become (bhaava), to attain the 'beyond becoming.' Bhaava (bhaavana), cetana, khandhas, etc. are all sankaras (formations, Than-Geof: fabrications) to be used as tools, as the raft to get across the flood; then to be, along with every other conditioned thing, relinguished. That's the paradox in the means to the end. Even the 4NT (Noble Truths), the 8FP (eightfoldpath), ti-lakkhana, etc. are all conditonal fabrications (they're all linguistic formations), involving cause and effect, to point to, be used as means to get to a goal of unconditioned, of doing without anything conditioned. Those of us not yet arrived (at arahant) are stuck having to use these fabrications as provisional tools. (If we happen to be into the Theravadan models.)

Re some points in Nicky's last message:

1) "Your use of the word 'bhutam' & your correlation with 'bhava' (becoming) are very mistaken. Further, your translation Yamaka Sutta is wrong. Bhikkhu Bodhi translates the same as Thanissaro and Bhikkhu Bodhi is generally right (apart from some crucial errors but not here)."

Let's see. Here's the Pali text (Yamaka Sutta, from Chattha Sangayana Tipitika 4.0 edition):
So aniccaṃ rūpaṃ ‘aniccaṃ rūpa’nti
yathābhūtaṃ nappajānāti.
The translations:
Thanissaro: "He does not discern inconstant form, as it actually is present, as 'inconstant form.'
Bhikku Bodhi: "He does not understand as it really is impermanent for as 'impermanent form'.

The English "meanings" of the Pali words:
yathā
-- adv. as; like; in relation to; according to; in whatever way; just as.
bhūta
-- pp. of bhavati - become; existed.
bhavati
-- bhu + a - becomes; to be; exists.
na -- ind. (negative particle), no; not.
pajānāti
--pa +ñā + nā - knows clearly.

Where exactly is this renditon of the Pali text "very mistaken"?

Actually, bhūta as 'past-participle' should be rendered 'has become' (or 'existed,' i.e. in the past -- but this doesn't work well in English style). Another reason for using 'become' rather than 'exist' or 'be'; as in
(Yamaka passage) "He does not discern/understand [in the present tense] impermanent form as it has become [its "presence," here and now, is the result of it's having become so – past-participle tense of bhūta]…"
I.e. BOTH Than-Geof's and B. Bodhi's translations, in this respect, are inaccurate. Note: Than-Geof has, since the time of that translation, leaned more towards the use of 'become' than 'be' or 'exist' for bhāva/bhavati. (See the quotation in my last message from "The Paradox of Becoming".)

Nota Bene
: 'Bhūta,'is NOT the same word as 'bhutta':
bhūta
is part-participle of bhavati, the Pali verb 'to become', also translated often into English as 'to be', 'to exist'.
bhutta
-- pp. of bhuñjati- eaten; enjoyed.

2) The quotation (BPS Dictionary) and discussion of anatta focused on its aspect of being free-from any abiding substance, any permanent 'stuff' that can be construed as 'self' (e.g. as the goal of contemplation of the body parts). "All phenomena are not-self" I construe as "no phenomenon/appearance has any fixed (permanent) thingness behind it that can be considered itself". That's my view. Apparently not the same as your (Nicky) view.

3) 'Ontology,' in my view, has to do with that 'stuff' or some-thing that's out there in 'reality,' behind the phenomena or appearance of it. This is a widely agreed-upon meaning. In your view, perhaps the truth of Dhamma, for instance, is understood as a 'thing' that is real, permenent, etc. i.e. in your view, 'ontological.' Your use of words suggests that. I find that usage of the word a bit idiosyncratic, but you're entitled to your view.

4) Again, arahants have no need of 'becoming,' being already in touch with Nibbana, all tanha (craving) is dissolved (nirodha). The rest of us are stuck with the paradoxical impulse (craving) to undertake a path to 'become' such. Btw, can an arahant truly say "I am [self-identity] an arahant"? I rather like G. Buddha's linguistic stratagem here: "The Tathagata says…"

5) "To end, the enlightenment of the arahants in SN 22.59 was due to the full comprehension of ontology, i.e. the inherent Three Characteristics."
As a still-struggling non-arahant, I find it more useful Than-Geof's view (from his teacher, Ajahn Fuang), that the ti-lakkhana (3 characteristics) are perceptions. Ajahn Fuang is reported (by Than-Geof) to have said (paraphrasing): "Don't blame it on reality out there; the problem (suffering) lies in the (un-awakened) human mind projecting constancy into, expecting satisfaction from, and seeking identity in terms of things out there in 'reality'."

6) "You seem so stuck of the term 'phenomology'…"
That's correct. Sorry about that. It happens to be the title of this discussion thread on DhO, which was started by a question as to what other people use that term to mean. Admittedly I have a vested interest in the topic, as abundantly clear in the essays posted here. Maybe tedious, and probably few have read much of it, but insight has been gained through the struggle of trying to express it all.

Perhaps we could agree to disagree on various of these views?

P.S. You (Nicky) appear to have an impressive command of the Suttanta material. Is it from memory? Or do you have good concordances for looking things up? I haven't as yet found good concordances – those in Bhikkhu Bodhi's Nikaya books have proven of inconsistent usefulness.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
9/25/14 2:51 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
Mark:
We can push the concepts a step further too I think - consciousness itself can be considered a qualia - like the color red or thought. It is how we model attention in the same way red is how we model certain wavelengths of light. This is an oversimplification but it does threaten the common view &#40;on this forum&#41; that the human mind is somehow capable of being in touch with the fundamental nature of the universe

Jake:
So how do you get to the representation of reality that says "human experience is fundamentally different from the rest of Universe"? What evidence do we have for this? Isn't it simpler to assume that human experience is just another natural system? And hence shares with other natural systems a very basic level of operating principles?
Hi Jake,

I think you've put words in my mouth emoticon I'm not saying that human experience is fundamentally different from the rest of the universe. I'm proposing that human experience does not need to (and is very unlikely to) give direct knowledge of fundamentals of the universe or "reality".

The human experience is an abstraction and distortion of reality. We know this with simple things like how we are tricked by optical illusions. Our direct experience does not particularly help us understand quantum mechanics or relativity - we evolved in a niche. Most people would agree that other animals have different expereinces to humans (e.g. bats or whales) and they will mostly agree that they can't imagine what the experience of those other animals are like. We have limited senses and limited brains, there are an infinite number of different ways to experience the universe. It would be rather naive to assume our experience provides an absolute knowledge.

To push your analogy (I hope you'll not take it personally!), relative to a rock you are extremely similar to a plant. Therefore we could conclude that a plant knows as much about the universe as you do. My point is that relative to the potential for conscious intelligence, humans are closer to the begining of that story than the end so we should avoid drawing conclusions.

History tells us humans like to re-interpret the world as if we are at the center of it. Most of those interpretatins have met their demise so I think it is safe to assume the current assumptions of "fundamental" knowledge will see a similar demise.

I agree with you that we are similar in many ways with other natural systems but I disagree that this means our experience is something more than an approximation.

There are also some good reasons to think that humans' relatively large number of neurons leads to conscious behavior. So in that regard we are different from a lot of other systems. Which leads to some pretty "unnatural" results it seems!

 

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
10/4/14 4:11 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:
re Nicky Dee – (9/22/14 5:12 PM as areply to Chris J Macie)

Sujato's book fit nicely in an on-going study of interpretations of 'Sati' – is it 'bare/choiceless awareness'? is it discriminative watching (the gate-keeper)? is it 'remembering' to attend to dhamma, kusala, akusala moment to moment? etc. Lots of divergent views on this. Here's a list of worthwhile writings I've found so far:

1) Analayo "Satipatthana:The Direct Path to Realization" 2003 pp 46ff, citing evidence for the (popular) 'bare awareness' viewpoint, and noting other views;
2) Bhikkhu Sujato "A History of Mindfulness" (2nd half of book) 2005(&2012) – a huge theory (GIST) on the evolution of the Dhamma canons; and Satipatthana & Anapannasati (haven't finished this part yet);
3) Rupert Gethin "On Some Definitions of Mindfulness", 2011 – a rather even-handed history of English translations of sati and especially interpretations in Western Buddhism from mid 20th century;
4) Thanissaro Bhikkhu "Right Mindfulness" 2012 – evidence that sati has active as well as passive aspects, vs predominent 'Vipassana/Insight' movement teachings; he's written/talked extensively about both Anapannasati and Satipatthana.
5) Analayo "Perspectives on Satipatthana" 2013 – pp. 21-38 going over in more detail the views on sati; p.35 fn 44 he refers to Gethin (3 above), and takes issue with Thanissaro (4 above) -- "that the satipatthana instructions on their own appear incomplete to him and in need of supplementation" [i.e. Than-Geof's view would seem to be closer to Sujato's.]



'Sati' is not 'choiceless awareness'. "Sati' is the 'gatekeeper'. There is little point debating this and particularly continuing to cite Analayo. Despite his fame, Analayo is not a monk I personally consider has much, if any, authority about Buddha-Dhamma.  

'Sati' means 'remembering' and thus will function differently in different contexts.

Consciousness (vinnana) by nature is 'choiceless'. In formal meditation, sati acts to remember to keep the mind free from judgements, cravings, attachments, etc. Thus sati itself is not 'choiceless' but sati keeps consciousness in its pristine or original nature, which is 'choiceness'.

However, if verbally speaking (rather than meditating), sati acts to remember to keep the mind engaged in right speech (honest, pleasant, cordial, beneficial, timely, etc) rather than wrong speech. To quote:

~~One makes an effort for the abandoning of wrong speech & for entering right speech: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong speech & to enter & remain in right speech: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort & right mindfulness — run & circle around right speech.

MN 117

Sati must function to bring into operation every factor of the 8 fold path, be it understanding, thought, speech, action or livelihood, as explained in proper detail in MN 117, a sutta Analayo has made serious efforts to debunk.

Regards emoticon


~~And what is the faculty of mindfulness? There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago. He (remembers to) remain focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... the mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert & mindful — (remembering to) putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. This is called the faculty of mindfulness.

~~SN 48.10


~~"What is sammasati? Sati means to bear in mind or bring to mind. Sati is the state of recollecting, the state of remembering, the state of non-fading, the state of non-forgetting. Sati means the  sati that is a Spiritual Faculty, the sati that is a Spiritual Power, Sammasati, the Sati that is an Enlightenment Factor, that which is a Path Factor and that which is related to the Path. This is what is called sammasati."

[Vbh.105, 286]

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)
Answer
10/4/14 4:56 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie

The English "meanings" of the Pali words:
yathā
-- adv. as; like; in relation to; according to; in whatever way; just as.
bhūta
-- pp. of bhavati - become; existed.
bhavati
-- bhu + a - becomes; to be; exists.
na -- ind. (negative particle), no; not.
pajānāti
--pa +ñā + nā - knows clearly.


Thanks. I cannot read Pali. Further, I doubt anyone understands Pali 100%. If we look up words in the Pali dictionary, we will find many different Pali words translated in the same way, which seems to shows a bit of guessing on behalf of the scholars.

However, I have examined various words in their context and have found 'bhava' & 'bhuta' are used in different contexts.

'Bhava' is phenomological 'mental becoming', as found in the 2nd noble truth & dependent origination, where craving gives rise to self-conceptualisation & self-identity (for example, a certain man sees a certain woman and due to feelings, craving, attachment, etc, that man eventually 'becomes' that woman's husband via marriage).

Where as 'bhuta' I have read in the teaching of the 4 nutriments, as follows:
~~Cattārome, bhikkhave, āhārā bhūtānaṃ vā sattānaṃ ṭhitiyā, sambhavesīnaṃ vā anuggahāya. Katame cattāro? Kabaḷīkāro āhāro oḷāriko vā sukhumo vā, phasso dutiyo, manosañcetanā tatiyā, viññāṇaṃ catutthaṃ.

~~Monks, there are these four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born. Which four? Physical food, gross or refined; contact as the second, intellectual intention the third, and consciousness the fourth

Here, 'bhuta' certainly appears to be 'ontological' or biological, namely, how the nutriment of physical food is a requirement for the physical coming to be (bhuta) of beings (satta, in the conventional sense. Note: 'satta' can have a non-conventional meaning, per the Satta Sutta).

The 4 nutriments here are not things to be abandoned but, instead, requirements for life that are to be used wisely. To quote:

~~What do you think, O monks? Will they eat the food for the pleasure of it, for enjoyment, for comeliness' sake, for (the body's) embellishment?"

~~Certainly not, O Lord

~~Will they not rather eat the food merely for the sake of crossing the desert?

~~So it is, O Lord

~~In the same manner, I say, O monks, should edible food be considered. If, O monks, the nutriment edible food is comprehended, the lust for the five sense-objects is (thereby) comprehended. And if lust for the five sense-objects is comprehended, there is no fetter enchained by which a noble disciple might come to this (sensual) world again.

~~Puttamansa Sutta: A Son's Flesh

Therefore, I have not seen the term 'bhuta' used in the place of 'ego becoming'.

But I have seen the term 'bhava' used in many contexts when it is cojoined with another word (eg. sambhavesinam above) or patubhavo. 'Patubhavo' is translated as 'appearance' or 'manifestation', including in the phrase 'The Buddha manifests in the worlds for the benefit of many'.

So these words 'bhava' & 'bhuta' and their various uses appear to not always be exactly synonomous.

Regards. emoticon