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Monks opinion about Abhidhamma

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Monks opinion about Abhidhamma
Answer
5/7/15 9:27 AM
Curious to hear the opinions and perspective of those more knowledgable.

http://thebahiyablog.blogspot.ca/2014/02/abhidhamma-studies-ii-arising-and.html

RE: Monks opinion about Abhidhamma
Answer
5/7/15 12:36 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
Curious to hear the opinions and perspective of those more knowledgable.


http://thebahiyablog.blogspot.ca/2014/02/abhidhamma-studies-ii-arising-and.html
The article has some very well thought out human logical arguments.  Which works just fine if you believe the make up of reality and the universe complies with standard human logic.  But even at the observable quantum level, human logic does not seem to apply much, particle can appear and disappear, turn into other things, demonstrate spooky action at a distance, and even be in two places at once! We don't know how it works or where the particles go to and come from when they are doing their thing.  We don't know if they disappear or are in another dimension or what.  From my personal perspective, weird things that have happened to me do not seem to follow conventional logic either.  Some of it doesn't seem to translate well into typical waking consciousness at all and even more poorly into words.   If you really want to freak out your mind a bit, try contemplating infinity.  It goes on forever, and before it was here, it was still here, it has no boundaries, etc,  What is on the edges of infinity, on top of infinity, and what is it made of?  Just try to see if  you can actually grok the limitlessness of infinity fully just even for a millisecond.  The thinking mind tends to boggle.  The thinking mind like boundaries and limits and time frames, infinity is the opposite. I don't think waking mind humans have even  half the understanding of what is possible and impossible as they think they do.  There are many phenomenon science already knows about that have no logical explanation so would be no surprise if there are also many more things science doesn't yet know about.

As for meditating towards any set theory of how it all works and signposts that one must attain, one of my main issues with such systems is IME, if someone really wants to experiences something, no matter what it is, that person if trying hard enough and clearing mind of obstacles, will probably experience it, whatever it is.  Like when torturing prisoners, it's been said that if you say something over and over and derange the prisoner with torture enough, the prisoner willl eventually experience or see whatever you tell him.  I think we can also do something similar with ourselves.   I think the mind can create any experience for you if you program it correctly and diligently.  But if you experience that experience that you were told you had to experience, does that mean the experience is the true one and only be all and end all fact of all reality then?  Now that's another question.  I think  it's why Buddha said to find out for yourself and not believe blindly in others.  I think that's why people in specific religious groups are way more likely to experience things their group advocates.  They are trained to believe those  things have to happen and so the belief, whatever it is, turns to reality.  
-Eva   

RE: Monks opinion about Abhidhamma
Answer
5/7/15 9:43 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
I wasn't really too sure about the consistency of his arguments, so that's why I wanted other eyes on this. There were a number of items that bothered me. for instance, the bit about "we have something essentially arising from nothing". That seems to be the case no matter what. That's what the Big Bang is, if you believe that story (I have doubts myself, but that's for another time). And we really don't know if things arise from nothing simply because they blink in and out of existence. There could very well be something else beyond that, whether mentioned in the Abhidhamma or not. I wonder how deeply he has studied or even looked into the text. There might well be more going on here than he is aware of.

And that he thinks the past must exist somewhere seems questionable. Einstein believed it, and he might have even demonstrated it with equations. But that doesn't make it so. Einstein disliked and couldn't accept Quantum Theory (Spukhafte Fernwirkung, which you referred to Eva). Intuitively I sesnse that past is gone, nowhere to be found, vanished entirely. That doesn't mean I'm right, but I do tend to trust my in intuitions.

Those are just two examples of what didn't seem right in what he had to say. He might well be right about much or all of the rest. I really feel he's just whistling past the graveyard. He is frightened, or somehow troubled by these ideas and doesn't want them to be true. And this is his resistance, his fight against that we're reading. Still there is the maleability and programmability of the mind, so who knows what's going on.
So yes, we test these things for ourselves and see what we find to be true. The author should have at least given this idea from the Abhidhamma an honest try for a sufficient period of time.

RE: Monks opinion about Abhidhamma
Answer
5/7/15 11:20 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
  He is frightened, or somehow troubled by these ideas and doesn't want them to be true. And this is his resistance, his fight against that we're reading. Still there is the maleability and programmability of the mind, so who knows what's going on.
So yes, we test these things for ourselves and see what we find to be true. The author should have at least given this idea from the Abhidhamma an honest try for a sufficient period of time.
Well yeah I think it's something like that too.  The average American is trained to think of reality and logic in a certain way.  We grow up with it and it becomes ingrained.  When we encounter a world view that is very different, it's common to want to pick it apart in order to reject it.  Which makes sense, we'd probably go crazy if we adopted every variant world view we encountered along the way because there are so many of them!  What I see instead of most people may adopt part of a differnet world view, step a little bit into the Land Of Strange, such as it were, but not fully accept all of it, just kind of ignore or not think about some aspects that would be too threatening.  I see that a lot in religions.  Like in the Bible, in one story, someone was told by the voice of God to kill his son, so he sets about doing it (but luckily at the last minute is called off).  But how many would really advocate doing that now?  No, the mind rejects that lesson of the Bible, perhaps saying it's only something for history, not for today, or whatever.  We reject that because 'its obviously wrong' or some similar kind of vague reasoning.  (and don't get me wrong, I am not advocating doing that kind of thing either, it's just an example).  What I see is most people want to keep one foot firmly planted in the world view they grew up with.  If they dabble in another world view, often they are typically not going to go all the way in .  And many alternate world views are not going to mesh well with current society either giving added incentive not to do it.  

But I think what most people do not do when analyzing altnernate world views for perceived flaws is that they very rarely similarly put their ingrained existing world views under the same level of scrutiny.  They tend to not look back internally at their own world view, most criticism tends to turn outward at others' views, not inward to their own.  As you have mentioned, many things science tells us sound fairly vague and mystical, like the big bang you mentioned, which for many years was taught as fact but now is starting to fall out of favor among cutting edge scientists.  Many things are said to be fact even when little to know evidence backs them.  Much if not all of our current American logic rests on assumptions that have not been proven, and to an outsider, would possibly seem rather silly.  That's why I think it's a good idea to keep an open mind, not necesarily blindly adopt any idea but also to not automatically assume other ideas are false, because I think the truth is we just don't really know at this point. 

Personally, I've just tried to go with an idea of looking for what works better as a long term plan.  I think the mind is powerful and what beliefs you adopt strongly effect the course of one's life, so I try to choose my current game plan accordingly, but also keeping in mind that for the most part, I don't know much for sure and am just trying to surf the wave as it were.  ;-P

RE: Monks opinion about Abhidhamma
Answer
6/16/15 7:42 AM as a reply to Darrell.
I've written a review / critique of the article Darrell references: "The Nippapañca Blog - Abhidhamma Studies II - Arising and Passing Away".

It's the usual extended sort of essay I write (4 pages), so I've put it off in my 'Pariyatti' practice thread, so as not to overwhelm or hijack this little thread here. It's at:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/5722903#_19_message_5743430

RE: Monks opinion about Abhidhamma
Answer
6/16/15 7:52 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
re: Eva M Nie (5/7/15 12:36 AM as a reply to Darrell.)

(s/w OT)

"If you really want to freak out your mind a bit, try contemplating infinity.  It goes on forever, and before it was here, it was still here, it has no boundaries, etc,  What is on the edges of infinity, on top of infinity, and what is it made of?  Just try to see if  you can actually grok the limitlessness of infinity fully just even for a millisecond.  The thinking mind tends to boggle.  The thinking mind like boundaries and limits and time frames, infinity is the opposite."

Fascinating, Eva.

Have you ever tried those jhanic flavors that use 'immeasurable' (appamāna) objects ("extended" kasina-s, Brahmavihara-s,the arupa-jhana-s)?

Easiest might be 'metta', as the sutta descriptions virtually all emphasis qualities like those you list (above). Whereas the conventional teaching protocol we all know – "May I/teacher/friend/… be safe/happy/healthy…" -- is nowhere to be found in the sutta-s, but rather first spelled out in the Vimuttimagga (1st-century CE) and more thoroughly in the Visudhimagga (5th-century CE), and as taught today rarely gets as far or dwells much on the end-goal boundless mental state that the sutta-s (the Buddha?) describe, and that enables jhanic absorpion.

It really fits – no edges, benevolence permeating above, below, in all four quarters (directions), to all beings, small, medium, large, those in the air, water, on the earth, far and near, seen and unseen, ….

And "mind tends to boggle" – exactly: jhana can wrench the mind out of its normal framing experiences of time, space and objects. And it doesn't have to be trying to grok vastness of cosmic space, which can involve imaginational straining; but rather simply 'freedom from', relaxing, so simply (once one gets it) letting go of the boundedness of conventional mental action, which at first the mind may want to cling to as 'comforting', so to speak (but's actually stress / dukkha); whereas the suspension of that also may seem freaky (some people do freak out), but then, when the mind really lets go, falls into that unbounded experience and finds that it simply floats, and expands without measure, becomes a sublimely (variously) joyous, contented, serene awareness – a "blameless happiness" dependent on nothing outside of itself -- ceto-vimutti – 'deliverance of mind/heart' – an experience considered a tiny (albeit transient) fore-taste of nibbana.

Sorry to wax so poetic, but I believe what you brought up is very apropos.

RE: Monks opinion about Abhidhamma
Answer
6/16/15 7:57 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Quantum Theory as Spukhafte Fernwirkung (Albert, Eva and then Darrel)– that's great!

Ryan J could take that as his next avatar – der Spukhafte Fernwerker (reworking the German to signify the agent-doer) – what with his yen for Magick and things like in his thread "The Quantum Woo Zone":
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5736485

(No offense intended, Ryan, in case you see this.)

RE: Monks opinion about Abhidhamma
Answer
6/16/15 12:44 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
"If you really want to freak out your mind a bit, try contemplating infinity.  It goes on forever, and before it was here, it was still here, it has no boundaries, etc,  What is on the edges of infinity, on top of infinity, and what is it made of?  Just try to see if  you can actually grok the limitlessness of infinity fully just even for a millisecond.  The thinking mind tends to boggle.  The thinking mind like boundaries and limits and time frames, infinity is the opposite."

I should have responded to this when Eva posted this. This business of infinity goes to the heart of why I'm even here, why I find myself on this path. I had a profoundly frightening, nay, harrowing, experience when I was 16. I can only describe it as an experience with infinity. It happened spontaneously, out of nowhere. I was fortunate I was at home, lying on my bed reading when it happened. If I'd been in a public space, I'm pretty certain the wacky wagon would have been called and I would have been fitted with a very snug jacket. But it was a sudden and total dissolution of self. All sense of "I" was gone, only a sense of awareness that was part of something that fits what Eva's getting at. It was ana exisitential kick in the cajones. Somehow that sent me off looking into Taoism, then Buddhism. What I read in the Tao Te Ching, and in Zen seemed to be getting at what I'd experienced. And it's why I can believe in the idea of a small, independent self. Anything that might be a self would seem to have to be a parter of the Empty Field, the Buddha Mind/Buddha Nature, etc.

So this sort of contemplation can do more than simply freak out the mind. It seems it might have the potential to allow someone to arrive at something deeper. It might be a means for a deeper, intuitive understanding and realization of Emptiness and Not Self (depending on whose interpretation of Not Self you agree with)

Sadly, these are just views, so I'm not sure what value there is in what I've written here. It may just be a waste of photons.

RE: Monks opinion about Abhidhamma
Answer
6/16/15 5:57 PM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:

I should have responded to this when Eva posted this. This business of infinity goes to the heart of why I'm even here, why I find myself on this path. I had a profoundly frightening, nay, harrowing, experience when I was 16. I can only describe it as an experience with infinity. It happened spontaneously, out of nowhere. I was fortunate I was at home, lying on my bed reading when it happened. If I'd been in a public space, I'm pretty certain the wacky wagon would have been called and I would have been fitted with a very snug jacket. But it was a sudden and total dissolution of self. All sense of "I" was gone, only a sense of awareness that was part of something that fits what Eva's getting at. It was ana exisitential kick in the cajones. Somehow that sent me off looking into Taoism, then Buddhism. What I read in the Tao Te Ching, and in Zen seemed to be getting at what I'd experienced. And it's why I can believe in the idea of a small, independent self. Anything that might be a self would seem to have to be a parter of the Empty Field, the Buddha Mind/Buddha Nature, etc.

So this sort of contemplation can do more than simply freak out the mind. It seems it might have the potential to allow someone to arrive at something deeper. It might be a means for a deeper, intuitive understanding and realization of Emptiness and Not Self (depending on whose interpretation of Not Self you agree with)

Sadly, these are just views, so I'm not sure what value there is in what I've written here. It may just be a waste of photons.
I actually wrote that because yes, I did try it long ago in high school.  We were working with infinity in math a lot.  I noticed it was hard to really understand infinity from a deeply intuitive level.  I thought if I was able to do that, I might intuit the math better as well. So I made it a little project to work on, lay down, close eyes, try to understand infinity.  It was hard, at first my brain would get tired and I'd give up or get interrupted, it kind of bugged my pride that I couldn't do it!  I think it was like the 2nd or 3rd time I tried it, maybe 4th, scared the crap out of me.  I can't remember the exact order of events, they happened very close together, but I remember looking at how my mind wanted to have boundaries around everything including infinity and then kept trying to imagine that each one was not there anymore, just looking for the time and space boundaries over and over and imagining them gone. 

Then there was for a split second, an intuitive feel for infinity without boundaries was there, yielding an amazing feeling of great peace/pleasure/relaxation unlike anything (I'm calling this nirvana), and then a feeling like my entire existence was getting sucked away into the vastness of the universe such that I would not exist anymore.  Not so nirvana like and I am thinking this must have come afterwards.  I was not ready for all that at all!  No time to think about it, instant reflex was pulling myself back as hard as possible in abject panic before I was gone!  I did not have anything in my world view to fit that experience into for a long long time.  It was both amazing and totally terrifying.  I had jumped up and was standing there trying to figure out what the bleep!   Along with terror of annihilation I was left with a feeling that everything I often worried about was totally not important and totally not worth worrying about. Ironically, the thing that I remember most was that I realized it was totally unimportant if I did my homework or not!  I told myself I would be brave and try looking at infinity again sometime, but I never did. I think the fear of nonexistence must have beat out my curiosity.  For a long time, I just remembered it as a totally freaky experience I had one time. It was only last year that I came here and read about the paths that I realized it was kind of a classic experience in these circles. Yeah contemplate infinity and see if your brain gets sucked away into the great chasm!  I think even now it would still scare me.  ;-P
-Eva