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Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 9:04 AM
There is no permanent self but there are habits and character i.e. a brain that has learnt patterns. Awareness is the feedback loop that leads to improvement, it creates the doubt which pushes us along the path. It is open to the inter-subjective which allows others to influence one’s actions. The confusion over not suffering and not caring, the statements of it "all unfolding as it should" make me wonder if the baby is sometimes thrown out with the bath water. There’s a risk of disengaging that feedback loop by attaching to no-self ?

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 9:09 AM as a reply to Mark.
Different adjustments at different times in different situations and stages, no?  The right technique is the one that works (not my words).  Upaya, or skillful means, at the heart of practice.

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 9:31 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
Different adjustments at different times in different situations and stages, no?  The right technique is the one that works (not my words).  Upaya, or skillful means, at the heart of practice.

Hi Noah, 

Certainly different techniques at different times. Not to be confused with any technique at any time emoticon For example reinforcing the illusion of a permanent self is unlikely to be skillful practise. Likewise the illusion of no self might be unskillful. I had Shinzen's Apprciate, Transcend, Improve in mind and I wonder if the Improve bit gets inconvieniently dropped through certain techniques.

I get the impression the permanent no self is taken more seriously than it should be. Fitter's recent post was a great one I thought. 

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 10:11 AM as a reply to Mark.
I have also begun to suspect that fixating on no-self can end up being one more defense mechanism. It prevents one from becoming aware of feelings that are happening around the fictitious self. This conclusion is a work-in-progress for me, so I don't state it with any certainty for now.

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 10:08 AM as a reply to Mark.
Yeah his post was awesome.  Interesting story called to mind by the Shinzen reference, on a 3 day retreat in nyc a few months ago, I asked him "from the perspective of trying to make the most insight progress, should I try to see things just as they are in any given moment, or specifically favor clear-seeing of equanimous/calming sensations?"  He laughed, said it was a big question, said that equanimity is the relationship to phenomena, not a phenomena in and of itself, and he also that favoring pleasant sensations is actually the divide between insight and morality training.  

I always wonder whether or not others experience a sense of meditative intuition, telling them what technique is appropriate at what times and actually get good results consistently. 

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 11:15 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
Yeah his post was awesome.  Interesting story called to mind by the Shinzen reference, on a 3 day retreat in nyc a few months ago, I asked him "from the perspective of trying to make the most insight progress, should I try to see things just as they are in any given moment, or specifically favor clear-seeing of equanimous/calming sensations?"  He laughed, said it was a big question, said that equanimity is the relationship to phenomena, not a phenomena in and of itself, and he also that favoring pleasant sensations is actually the divide between insight and morality training.  

I always wonder whether or not others experience a sense of meditative intuition, telling them what technique is appropriate at what times and actually get good results consistently. 
I'd guess he had the "focus on positive" practises in mind reagrding focusing on calming (pleasant) sensations. Seems to be a difference between what I understood Kenneth Folk describes as observing the relationship between subject and object and Shinzen's focusing on the phenomena.

Pretty much everyone I've heard claim awakening has had a teacher at some stage. I'm sure there are times when intuition is fine. I can see advantages in following a practise where teachers are available. It seems a good safety net.

If you buy into the role of the unconscious in our behavior then intuition is not always a good thing. I'm fairly convinced that for most people, most of the time, the issue is not their conscious behavior. There are plenty of teachers stating that contemplation by itself is not sufficient. The idea of Jung's Shadow makes a lot of sense to me and it is somewhat counterintuitive to go looking for it. There are plenty of stories of spiritual bypassing and I guess that is often related to listening to oneself too much.  

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 11:24 AM as a reply to Derek.
Derek Cameron:
I have also begun to suspect that fixating on no-self can end up being one more defense mechanism. It prevents one from becoming aware of feelings that are happening around the fictitious self. This conclusion is a work-in-progress for me, so I don't state it with any certainty for now.
Hi Derek, it was the not so subtle difference between "no permanent self" and "no self" that got me thinking. I don't have a good enough handle on the suttas but the impression I have is that the buddha is often describing what we refer to as a "process" and I wonder whether that concept exists in Pali as I don't see it used in the translations. I'm certainly not certain ;)

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 12:22 PM as a reply to Mark.
The five aggregates model doesn't draw attention to the process aspects of experience. However, the twelve links of paṭiccasamuppāda (codependent origination) definitely do. Interestingly, the first link in the paṭiccasamuppāda chain asserts that avijjā (ignorance) is what causes saṅkhāra (volitional formations). I think of this in terms of defense mechanisms. Volitional formations are what happen when you try to avoid a feeling. This psychological interpretation may horrify traditional Buddhists, but then I'm not a traditional Buddhist. emoticon

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 1:36 PM as a reply to Derek.
Derek Cameron:
The five aggregates model doesn't draw attention to the process aspects of experience. However, the twelve links of paṭiccasamuppāda (codependent origination) definitely do. Interestingly, the first link in the paṭiccasamuppāda chain asserts that avijjā (ignorance) is what causes saṅkhāra (volitional formations). I think of this in terms of defense mechanisms. Volitional formations are what happen when you try to avoid a feeling. This psychological interpretation may horrify traditional Buddhists, but then I'm not a traditional Buddhist. emoticon
Hi Derek, you motivated me to read more. If I look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skandha#Understanding_in_Theravada_Abhidhamma there is a diagram (on the right) of the 5 aggregates that looks very much like a process. The Six Consciousnesses ends with "In this scheme, form, the mental aggregates, and consciousness are mutually dependent." It is phrases like "mutually dependent" that I read and pretty much interpret as "process". Interested to have your thoughts on that. 

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 2:38 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
...it was the not so subtle difference between "no permanent self" and "no self" that got me thinking.

See, here is where people's minds and attitudes become influenced by what some misunderstanding contemporary or other has written about the meaning and definition of a word rather than going back to see what the horse's mouth had to say. You first must comprehend and understand the definition of the terms as they are being used in context and what they originally referred to before you can reasonably make any sense of what it is said that a person (in this case, Gotama) said about a matter.

The term anatta literally means "without self." The prefix "an" means "without" or "not having," and is similar in usage to the prefix "un-" in English, as in unconcerned or "not concerned." And of course "atta" refers to the English word we use for "self." Understanding this term in this way (as "without self") was what began to open up the doors of perception for me in terms of what Gotama was referring to when he talked about this concept in the discourses. The traditionally used term "not self" comes closer to this meaning than the term "no self" which can begin to conjure many misconceptions in the mind .

If you read the two Vacchagotta suttas (MN 71 & 72) in the Majjhima Nikaya in conjunction with one in the Samyutta Nikaya (SN 44.10), you quickly come to see that Gotama has never posited that he taught the existence of a permanent self nor did he posit that a self did not exist. He left those two questions to themselves, putting them aside because he had seen, with clarity, "things as they actually are."

MN 72, translated by Bhk. Nanamoli:
"Vacha, 'speculative view' is something that the Tathagata has put away. For the Tathagata, Vaccha, has seen this: 'Such is material form, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is perception, such its origin, such its disappearance; such are formations , such their origin, such their disappearance; such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.' Therefore, I say, with the destruction, fading away, cessation, giving up, and relinquishing of all conceivings, all excogitations, all I-making, mine-making, and the underlying tendency to conceit, the Tathagata is liberated through not clinging."

SN 44.10, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi:
    "How is it now, Master Gotama, is there a self?"
    When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.
    "Then, Master Gotama, is there no self?"
    A second time the Blessed One was silent.
    Then the wanderer Vacchagotta rose from his seat and departed.
    Then, not long after the wanderer Vacchagotta had left, the Venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: "Why is it, venerable sir, that when the Blessed One was questioned by the wanderer Vacchagotta, he did not answer?"
    "If, Ananda, when I was asked by the wanderer Vacchagotta, 'Is there a self?' I had answered, 'There is a self,' this would have been siding with those ascetics and brahmins who are eternalists. And if, when I was asked by him, 'Is there no self?' I had answered, 'There is no self,' this would have been siding with those ascetics and brahmins who are annihilationists.
    "If, Ananda, when I was asked by the wanderer Vacchagotta, 'Is there a self?' I had answered, 'There is a self,' would this have been consistent on my part with the arising of the knowledge that all phenomena are without self'?"
    "No, venerable sir."
    "And if, when I was asked by him, 'Is there no self?' I had answered, 'There is no self,' the wanderer Vacchagotta, already confused, would have fallen into even greater confusion, thinking, 'It seems that the self I formerly had does not exist now.' "[385]

Footnote:
[385] Probably this means that Vacchagotta would have interpreted the Buddha's denial as a rejection of his empirical personality, which (on account of his inclination towards views of self) he would have been identifying as a self. We should carefully heed the two reasons the Buddha does not declare, "There is no self": not because he recognizes a transcendent self of some kind (as some interpretaters allege), or because he is concerned only with delineating "a strategy of perception" devoid of ontological implications (as others hold), but (i) because such a mode of expression was used by the annihilationists, and the Buddha wanted to avoid aligning his teaching with theirs; and (ii) because he wished to avoid causing confusion in those already attached to the idea of self. The Buddha declares that "all phenomena are not-self" (sabbe dhamma anatta), which means that if one seeks a self anywhere one will not find one. Since "all phenomena" includes both the conditioned and the unconditioned, this precludes an utterly transcendent, ineffable self.

Mark:
I don't have a good enough handle on the suttas but the impression I have is that the buddha is often describing what we refer to as a "process" and I wonder whether that concept exists in Pali as I don't see it used in the translations. I'm certainly not certain ;)

If you cannot see that concept in the above quotation from the Aggivacchagotta Sutta (MN 72), To Vacchagotta on Fire, then you have some work to do in your contemplations. This is why I continue to implore those who wish to study the Dhamma to read the suttas in order to work their own salvation out themselves.

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 2:05 PM as a reply to Mark.
Ah, okay. That Wikipedia article says: "It is in the Abhidhamma, striving to 'a single all-inclusive system,' that the five aggregates and the six sense bases are explicitly connected." So that diagram appears to reflect an Abhidhamma-influenced reading of MN 109. Sorry, but I have never read the Abhidhamma, so I can't comment!

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 2:45 PM as a reply to Derek.
Derek Cameron:
Ah, okay. That Wikipedia article says: "It is in the Abhidhamma, striving to 'a single all-inclusive system,' that the five aggregates and the six sense bases are explicitly connected." So that diagram appears to reflect an Abhidhamma-influenced reading of MN 109. Sorry, but I have never read the Abhidhamma, so I can't comment!
OK, fair enough. On that same page there is reference to the description in the Sutta Pitaka. Seeing an aggregate as an aggregate points to the impossibility of a permanent self. The simile of the chariot points to some sort of interaction between the aggregates that give rise to the concept of "being". Not from a sutta but in that section "The constituents of being too are unsubstantial in that they are causally produced, just like the chaariot as a whole" The "causally produced" seems to point to process ?

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 3:03 PM as a reply to Mark.
Again, that's the Wikipedia author's summary of material from Kalupahana in a book about Buddhist notions of causality. 

RE: Risk of no-self
Answer
6/19/15 11:09 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:


I always wonder whether or not others experience a sense of meditative intuition, telling them what technique is appropriate at what times and actually get good results consistently. 
I suspect that sometimes you just have to make mistakes and go down dead end paths to get things out of your system.  Sometimes I think you need to verify what will not work just as much as what will work.  There are two ways to get over a craving, one is to just try to fight it directly, understand it's source, etc.  The other is to just let the craving have it's way until you finally realize that ultimately that too becomes disatisfying.  The first way works for some but sometimes trying the first way takes longer or does not work as well as the second way.  Thus I think that is why people appear to take the 'wrong' path when really that scenic route was likely IMO what was needed for that person.  People like to think the best path or technique is one without mistakes, but I think people often learn the most from mistakes.  Hence the hunt for 'the best path' often comes with a lot assumptions like that there is a successful path that will allow you to not make any mistakes and thus be faster if you only you could find it.  Whereas it may actually be that the path you are doing right is in fact the very best path for you, including all the twists and turns and 'mistakes,' and that you are always on the very best path for you, except that you just don't realize it yet.  ;-P
-Eva