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An Experiment With The Pali Canon

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An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/12/15 8:42 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/12/15 11:54 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Ian And 12/12/15 10:24 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/13/15 12:04 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/13/15 12:06 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/13/15 2:06 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Mark 12/13/15 10:51 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/13/15 8:04 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Mark 12/14/15 2:07 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/14/15 2:47 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Mark 12/14/15 5:05 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/14/15 9:20 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Mark 12/14/15 9:53 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/14/15 1:05 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/14/15 1:42 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/15/15 11:36 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/16/15 9:30 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Chuck Kasmire 12/16/15 11:55 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/16/15 3:26 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/17/15 1:34 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 1/9/16 7:56 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Eva Nie 1/9/16 10:42 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 1/11/16 11:46 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 4/21/16 9:24 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 4/21/16 8:02 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Chuck Kasmire 12/18/15 4:54 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon CJMacie 12/21/15 8:34 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Mark 12/14/15 4:03 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/13/15 7:59 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Daniel M. Ingram 12/13/15 9:48 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah 12/13/15 11:52 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Ian And 12/14/15 6:06 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon tom moylan 12/15/15 1:50 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah D 12/3/16 7:04 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah D 12/3/16 7:47 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah D 12/3/16 9:19 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah D 12/4/16 11:04 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Banned For waht? 12/5/16 7:28 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah D 12/5/16 10:23 PM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah D 12/15/16 5:20 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon shargrol 12/15/16 6:09 AM
RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon Noah D 12/15/16 6:58 AM
An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/12/15 8:42 PM
I'd like to run a little experiment with the Pali canon.  There are many things about the Dhamma that I have taken for granted or overlooked, the least of which is an over-focus on meditation in the West, at the absence of things such as morality training.  Pragmatic dharma, as a whole, seems to have its own version of all of this, by syphoning off meditation into different types, and by broad-brushstroking morality training as nothing more than 'down-to-earth, common sense' that is completely secular and simply involves being a 'good human'.

When I read the Pali canon, it feels like an instruction manual.  What if I removed all of my Western filters, and actually followed the instruction manual?  That is the experiment.

So this will be a journal, or a practice log for that.  As an initial step, I will try to practice right speech by avoiding 'idol chatter' and trying to condense my entries into as short a form as possible to get the point across.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/12/15 11:54 PM as a reply to Noah.
Some main points/ goals:

-Step 1 of the Dhamma is the practice of generosity, which I have completely overlooked.  I have come to believe that the purpose of generosity is to counter self-absorption, obsessive thinking, narcissism, and perfectionism, among other things.  In other words, it helps one get the 'big picture' and 'get out of their own head.'

-Regardless of timelines for path attainments, the Dhamma is a lifelong practice and commitment.  So another important adjustment for me to make involves thinking in the long-term.  Even if I had perfect enlightenment tomorrow, I would still have to make decisions concerning conduct, and mundane matters, in general.  How do I want to live, every day, for the rest of my life?  The canon covers this.

-Related to the above two points, I believe that keeping a sense of humor and an air of light-heartedness is a part of the path that I have been missing.  There is a ton of humor in the Pali canon.  It is frequently overlooked that the Buddha was a funny and clever dude.

-In addition to the timeline, the breadth of area that the Pali canon's instruction's cover is vast.  I intend to not be so quick to judge things as archaic and push them to the side.  I have been finding that many life lessons in the canon are directly applicable to modern dealings.  

-Cosmology is the basis of all Buddhism, being one of the main aspects of the Buddha's discovery on the night of his enlightenment.  Whether or not one chooses to take the doctrines of kamma, rebirth and merit literally, they are an unavoidable and necessary lens for skillful means.

Edit/ Added-on:

-Sensory control/rejection/renunciation is one one of the most important first steps, along with generosity and light-heartedness.  Taking this first little nudge towards "maybe I shouldn't believe everything I perceive and feel", makes it all (i.e. the precepts) seem much more possible.

-The Dhamma places equally importance on mental states from the past, the present, and the future, as well as the relationship between all three, and the relationship with conduct/ behavior.  This is different from the Western Buddhist practice of 'mindfulness.'

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/12/15 10:24 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:

When I read the Pali canon, it feels like an instruction manual.  What if I removed all of my Western filters, and actually followed the instruction manual?  That is the experiment.

I think you're on to something here, Noah. Keep at it.

What you are discovering is what I've been saying for the longest time. But most people are too fascinated by the forest to see the trees just in front of them.

I don't know if you'll reach the same place I did, but it should be an interesting journey for you.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/13/15 12:04 AM as a reply to Ian And.
12.11

-DN 1: The Buddha talks a lot about what the Dhamma is not.  Many of these schools of thought sound like slices of society in modern day.

-DN 2: The 'homeless life' is about self reliance and freedom from the machine... not putting any upwards limits on one's happiness and satisfaction.

-'Lovely in the beginning [...] middle [...] and end' only applies insomuch as one is actually open to the full range of teaching, and does not put too many initial filters and limiting factors on it.

-The Dhamma is about being a student of life, learning from past mistakes, thinking and then acting with wisdom, etc.

-One is supposed to reason out the Buddha's words within themselves before gaining faith... thus wisdom comes first and last.

-New way of dealing with libido in daily life: involves attitude going in + self-talk + humor + mindfulness = much more skillful resulting reactions than in the past

-Values fall along a grey-scale, and need to be adjusted for accordingly.  Some need to be dialed slightly down in importance (physical appearance, intelllect), some all the way down (self-image, feeling powerful), and some way up (honesty, virtue).


-DN 2.65: proof of mindfulness in daily life
-DN 2.75: precepts are supposed to be freeing and feel good, as the hindrances disappear… to the extent it ‘feels’ like discipline, you are doing it wrong!  And only after this baseline of feeling good, occurs, does one start to naturally get into jhana
-DN 2.76: Jhana is physical, “suffusing the body”
-DN 2.83: consciousness is “bound” to the body, and the body is made up of the 4 great elements
-DN 2.86: “mind-made body”= Buddha recommends astral projection! (as fruit of homeless life)... The Buddha wanted the monk’s inner experience to be interesting and entertaining (i.e. OOB, psychic powers, etc.)
-DN 2.97: psychic knowledge of ending the ‘corruptions’, i.e. knowing ‘birth is finished!’-- hints at how one might know they have attained a path
-DN 2.100: the king confesses to killing his father, the buddha ‘accepts’ the confession, saying it will help the king ‘grow in the ariyan discipline’, but when the king leaves, the buddha says ‘the king is done for, his fate is sealed’-- he didn’t lie to the king, since the confession will help him in the long run, but he may go through a hell realm first

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/13/15 12:06 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:
Noah:

When I read the Pali canon, it feels like an instruction manual.  What if I removed all of my Western filters, and actually followed the instruction manual?  That is the experiment.

I think you're on to something here, Noah. Keep at it.

What you are discovering is what I've been saying for the longest time. But most people are too fascinated by the forest to see the trees just in front of them.

I don't know if you'll reach the same place I did, but it should be an interesting journey for you.

Thanks Ian.  Only time will tell, but I have a good feeling about this.  Your writing has been very helpful in gently nudging me in this trajectory this whole time.  

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/13/15 2:06 AM as a reply to Noah.
12.12

-DN 3.1.2: The Dhamma is intertwined with superstitions and legends that were in India at the time (32 physical marks of a great man)
-DN 3.1.15: The Buddha uses tact and craft in conversation, making adjustments in real time.
-DN 3.1.21: The Buddha used force in conversation, when necessary (Vajra Pani backing him up), but returns to compassion quickly (in stanza 23).
-DN 3.2.4: The Buddha acknowledges relative degrees of morality (not just black & white).  Ambattha and his teacher suck because they did not even qualify for the lowest degree of morality training.
-DN 3.2.10: The Budddha goes through some of the specifics of virtue/ conduct... Buddhist morality is not just 'common sense.'
-DN 3.2.12: In order to show Ambattha his hidden 'marks of a great man', the Buddha gives Ambattha temporary x-ray vision... LOL!
-DN 3.2.17: Ability to remember past conversations meticulously seems to be a recurring theme.  Also, the Buddha forgives Ambattha's transgressions and declares goodwill.
-DN 3.2.19: The Buddha 'consents by silence', an interesting form of communication.
-DN 3.2.21: The Buddha gives Pokkharasati (Ambattha's teacher) the 'graduated discourse': generosity--> virtue--> heaven (cosmology)--> renunciation--> 4 noble truths.  Graduated discourse makes the student's mind "pliable, free from hindrances, joyful and calm."  All of this comes before the 4 noble truths!
-DN 3.2.22: Pokkharasati immediately gets SE and takes refuge, promising to practice morality.  This suggests that enlightenment is the realization of the necessity of morality, and not the other way around.  Also, Pokkharasati asks the Buddha to come visit him and his family.  This request for the Buddha to come visit him (and not the other way around), plus the late time of night of the visit in the Sutta, plus Ambattha's earlier rudeness, all show that the Buddha was treated as a totally normal human and was totally okay with working within those types of situations!


-When I practice addictive or compulsive habits, I feel bad in both the short term and long term.  It is important to remember this daily in order to reduce the desire for these habits in the first place.

-Listening to IMS teacher John Travis misrepresent Theravadan viewpoint in BG interview was holy shit moment (even IMS teachers don't necessarily know the suttas).  To paraphrase the misrepresentation: the Buddha advised us to stay in 'the universal' (not 'the personal')... the reason Western Buddhism needs psychology is to address 'the personal', because there are all types of problems that still remain when we emerge from 'the universal.'  To me, this message is obviously non-Buddhist.

-My LOA practice seems to be in line with the theory of merit, since prayer-work tends to manifest in years, and not weeks or months.

-It may not be that extreme to follow the Pali canon.  Perhaps it is more ridiculous to blindly follow the dictums of Western Buddhism.

-Realizations from breath meditation:
          a) thoughts about life affect the quality of the meditation, they are not just to be pushed down or 'vipassanized'
          b) writing out epiphanies is not necessarily a bad practice, even if it interrupts meditation... there are no hard-and-fast rules
          c) lute-tuning story applies... I can see how I have historically tried too hard to 'hold' the mind in one place (which maybe a Western filter of 'hardcore' meditation)
          d) this may not be a good time in my practice to take another in-person teacher or sangha... I should probably establish a formal practice first, and that could take a long time

-Did not drink coffee this morning because it felt wrong in my body to do so.  Starting to listen to body where before I was suppressing its messages.

-It is good to skillfully attach to merit: to all the good kamma one is developing (even if these are just seen to be conceptual tools and not reality).

-Good Thubten Chodron talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qfS9vK35UA  - She talks of 'loosening' as a part of developing compassion.  This is a theme I am picking up: the message is "lighten up, dude."
          -"Everyone wants to be free of suffering, just as much as I do" / "Just like me"
          -"The more we think about ourself, the more unhappy we get."

-It is okay if I suffer a little bit in the short term.  It is not okay if I suffer in the long term.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/13/15 10:51 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
What if I removed all of my Western filters, and actually followed the instruction manual?  That is the experiment.

Hi Noah,

I think you may be severly underestimating how deep those filters go. Even the concept of a western filter is a western filter emoticon If you could strip away all the filters what would be left ? You'd have no language, no education, no social conventions. I guess you could try to replace those with filters from another culture but wouldn't that culture be just as removed from India of 2,500 years ago as western culture ?

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/13/15 7:59 PM as a reply to Noah.
Paweł K:
wait, what?
aren't you practicing actualism now?

Haha, I can see why you'd be confused.  About three weeks ago I had a chat with a dharma buddy who convinced me that insight progress beyond 'technical 4th' was possible.  As I absorbed this information, my gut instinct started to be that I should switch back to spirituality.  This decision process took about two weeks.  Basically, the statistical likelihood of me benefitting from spirituality seems much higher than that of actualism, given sample size of success stories alone.  In short, I've just been bouncing around like a pinball.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/13/15 8:04 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

Hi Noah,

I think you may be severly underestimating how deep those filters go. Even the concept of a western filter is a western filter emoticon If you could strip away all the filters what would be left ? You'd have no language, no education, no social conventions. I guess you could try to replace those with filters from another culture but wouldn't that culture be just as removed from India of 2,500 years ago as western culture ?


Hi Mark, I agree that we can never strip away filters completely. That being said, there is still a relative scale.  In other words, it is still worth the effort to make a partial gain.

Also, filters from other cultures can be used skillfully.  For instance, people in Asian countries do not have as much neurosis (at least on a conscious level), on average, compared to Westerners.  Than Geoff talks about this a lot.  Part of the reason for this is because they are less self-absorbed than Westerners, being a collectivist culture.  As a stereotypical Westerner in this regard, I acknowledge that I have a lot to gain from adopting aspects of an Ancient Indian filter and reading the Pali Canon.  

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/13/15 9:48 PM as a reply to Noah.
MCTB 2 goes to great lengths to try to correct the impressiont that people somehow got from it that morality isn't important. There are so many great books that are out there on Buddhist Morality that I didn't focus on that, and somehow that and many other factors seem to have converged to create an impression that somehow meditation is the most important thing.

MCTB was designed to counter a culture where Morality and relative psychological work and skillful living was nearly everything and the rest was largey ignored, so I can see how that message may come through, despite numerous places it works to try to say that Morality is key.

I myself strive mostly in Morality in my life as the core training that takes up the vast majority of my time.

As to the Pali Canon, you can refer people to it again and again, and, until they are somehow ready to go there, people just don't. My current audiobook I am listening to as I commute is The Dhammapada, The Udana, The Itivuttaka: Key Texts from the Khuddaka NikayaIt is just brilliant stuff, obviously.

I have read a substantial chunk of the Pali Canon over the years, taking it slowly, sutta by sutta, book by book, and am very happy that I have, and many parts of it, such as the MN, DN, Udanna, and Dhammapada, I have read multiple times.  The commentaries, while they do get a bad rap from some, still contain points that are valuable for practice pragmatically, but, like the Pali texts, are not uniform in their level of quality. Still, they are a remarkable resource for life and practice, and, coupled with good practice, really fill in a lot that one would otherwise be totally clueless about.

I think you are going in a good direction. Regarding "techical fourth path", I am not sure why that term grates against my sensitilibites so, but it probably relates to the long history of people having such low standards for it, standards they apparenly made up on their own. Anyway, practice and study well.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/13/15 11:52 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel:

As to the Pali Canon, you can refer people to it again and again, and, until they are somehow ready to go there, people just don't. 


Interesting observation.  I certainly would not have been able to read it with an open mind before burning out some of the other impulses to travel down path ways such as insight meditation, actualism, and hedonistic materialism.

I think you are going in a good direction. Regarding "techical fourth path", I am not sure why that term grates against my sensitilibites so, but it probably relates to the long history of people having such low standards for it, standards they apparenly made up on their own.


I have absolutely no attachment to the label 'technical 4th path' at all.  Its just a common understanding my teacher and I used, and that has also helped me communicate with others who have had similar experiences in meditation.  It is not my experience, by the way, that this network of people are each making up their own, individual standards, as there appears to be a huge degree of commonality.  I truly mean this as no disrespect.  Perhaps we would do better to come up with a different vocabulary that is less related to the suttas, but does honor the validity of the experience.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/14/15 2:07 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:

Hi Mark, I agree that we can never strip away filters completely. That being said, there is still a relative scale.  In other words, it is still worth the effort to make a partial gain.

Also, filters from other cultures can be used skillfully.  For instance, people in Asian countries do not have as much neurosis (at least on a conscious level), on average, compared to Westerners.  Than Geoff talks about this a lot.  Part of the reason for this is because they are less self-absorbed than Westerners, being a collectivist culture.  As a stereotypical Westerner in this regard, I acknowledge that I have a lot to gain from adopting aspects of an Ancient Indian filter and reading the Pali Canon.  
In regards to morality training do you find that the Pali Canon is suggesting you behave in a way that a moral Westerner would not behave ?

I think we can find examples of the Pali Canon ignoring the most important moral issues in Wesern culture. That is not a fault of the Pali Canon, it was developed in a different culture.

Generosity is an interesting example. There is a long tradition in the USA (I think you live there) of the wealthy donating significant portions of their wealth, it is quite the trend for billionaires at the moment. There is an interesting POV on this, some charity by early immigrants was a result of not having (or desiring) the social protection of a collectively controlled economy. The Protestant church provided a simple way of buying one's morality through charity. In exchange the social questions of why there were people that depended on charity did not need to be addressed. It could be argued that the USA is still following that Protestant pattern. It would be very easy to lay Buddhist generosity over that Western filter rather than see a Western filter.

I don't think the stereotypical Westerner has looked into the critical analysis of Western culture by recent Western philosophy (often influenced by Eastern philosophy). That seems to me a more effective path to strip away filters compared to reinterpreting the Pali Canon.

I'd be interested to hear of insights from the Pali Canon regarding morality that you are adopting and are in contradiction with the rules commonly accepted (but less often applied) in Western morality. I wonder why you are rejecting Western morality. I suspect it might be because you are comparing a theoretical Eastern morality from the Pali Canon with the everyday morality we see in Western society. You could more justly compare the 10 commandments to the 5 precepts, I doubt either would lead you very far astray. 

In Eastern cultures I think you'll find the same paradox between the texts and everday behavior. It is easy to put the blame on Western morality rather than accept that I've not been following Western morality but Western immorality to some degree. 

I agree other cultures are of great value for seeing our own filters. From my experience it is living in those cultures rather than reading about them where the greatest insights occur. A few years in a culture where you don't speak the language is well worth it!

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/14/15 2:47 AM as a reply to Mark.
Hey Mark,

My core effort here is to neither reject nor deny Western or Eastern philosophy.  As much as possible, the goal is to interpret the words in the text, as a human being.  Once again, I understand that we will always have filters and relative understanding, but since that is unavoidable and always the case, I consider that a fairly irrelevant point.  

It seems like your focus here is on a more macro/cultural lens, whereas I am mostly interested in the micro/personal life lens.  My understanding thus far is that the Dhamma is basically about making one's life work, having intuition and street smarts, and learning to work with one's mind skillfully (on all levels).  I am happy to admit that I am basically ignorant regarding the cultural examinations you have provided above.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/14/15 5:05 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
Hey Mark,

My core effort here is to neither reject nor deny Western or Eastern philosophy.  As much as possible, the goal is to interpret the words in the text, as a human being.  Once again, I understand that we will always have filters and relative understanding, but since that is unavoidable and always the case, I consider that a fairly irrelevant point.  

It seems like your focus here is on a more macro/cultural lens, whereas I am mostly interested in the micro/personal life lens.  My understanding thus far is that the Dhamma is basically about making one's life work, having intuition and street smarts, and learning to work with one's mind skillfully (on all levels).  I am happy to admit that I am basically ignorant regarding the cultural examinations you have provided above.
Hi Noah,

I don't think I was making the point that we always have filters. That was my initial point in reply to your desire to "remove all filters". I think we are on tha same page regarding that. 

My focus is not on the macro/cultural lens, however I don't think it is something that is separable from individual morality. But obviously we can avoid questioning those assumptions.  I guess there is an indirect critcism of the way the Pali Canon does not seem to address the "macro/cultural lens" and instead encourages a "micro/personal life lens" but I started another thread to address that.

The question I asked was "In regards to morality training do you find that the Pali Canon is suggesting you behave in a way that a moral Westerner would not behave ?" which seems relevant to the "micro/personal life lens" you are interested in.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/14/15 9:20 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

The question I asked was "In regards to morality training do you find that the Pali Canon is suggesting you behave in a way that a moral Westerner would not behave ?" which seems relevant to the "micro/personal life lens" you are interested in.


I think the answer would be 'no.'  But the reasonings behind choices are different.




RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/14/15 9:53 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
Mark:

The question I asked was "In regards to morality training do you find that the Pali Canon is suggesting you behave in a way that a moral Westerner would not behave ?" which seems relevant to the "micro/personal life lens" you are interested in.


I think the answer would be 'no.'  But the reasonings behind choices are different.




I agree. What about the other way - are there presonal morality issues in modern Western cultures that are not considred in the Pali Canon ?

Things like pornography, climate change & the media come to mind. 

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/14/15 1:05 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

I agree. What about the other way - are there presonal morality issues in modern Western cultures that are not considred in the Pali Canon ?

Things like pornography, climate change & the media come to mind. 


Yeah for sure.  But there are methods in the Pali Canon that can be applied to these situations.  Looking at our intentions, and our actual effects in the world, from past experience.  We can tell what actions have led to harmful climate change.  We are able to formulate a plan to do the opposite.  The Buddha would be into that (even if it would not be his main focus).  This is the theme of 'heedfulness' that Than-Geoff talks about.  This also goes along with the theme of ensuring long-term relief from suffering.

With pornography, it would be all about internal state.  Pornography promotes harmful (even if subtle), internal states of mind.  This was the Buddha's main focus: working towards more skillful states of mind.

Obviously there is more nuance to these modern themes but it could be easily overlooked that the Canon does address these types of things.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/14/15 1:42 PM as a reply to Noah.
12.13

-DN 4.5: Pokkharasati reappears, referenced as one who reveres Sonadanda… pattern of Buddha gaining respect of ever-more legit or ‘big’ figures in India… backed up by being called “the teacher’s teacher” in the next stanza
-DN 4.8: The Buddha’s reputation for skill in questions precedes him.
-DN 4.11: Being a nice guy, the Buddha asks Sonadanda a question he can answer, which helps him to save face.
-DN 4.14: The teachings of the Three Vedas are easily compromised.
-DN 4.17: The Buddha tricks Sonadanda into espousing his own teaching, by stripping Brahmin-hood of its more vain values.
-DN 4.18: The Buddha skillfully handles an attempted interruption to the conversation.
-DN 4.22: “Wisdom is purified by morality, and morality is purified by wisdom.
-DN 4.25: The Buddha has a ‘prepared seat.’  It occurs to me that the precept of not sitting on high seats might be because one can not sit higher than the Buddha did.
-DN 4.26: The Buddha is down with social tact; he is sophisticated.
-DN 4.27: The Buddha ‘fires up’ his students with enthusiasm, through Dhamma talks.

-DN 5.10: A king wants to make a great sacrifice, and asks his chaplain how to make it to his long term benefit.  The chaplain wisely advises him to make the people of his country happy first.
-DN 5.18: Sacrifice was bloodless, involving objects and substances only.  No servants were made to work- fairly liberal/ democratic view of the Buddha here.
-DN 5.19: ‘Sacrifice’ is seen to be synonymous with ‘generosity’ and rubs off on the people.
-DN 5.22-27: Kutadanta discovers, through a series of questions about better and better sacrifices, that taking the 3 jewels and practicing the Dhamma is the best type.
-DN 5.30: Just as in previous suttas, he feeds the sangha and they “eat until satisfied” (I wonder how much food that is).

-DN 6.5-11: Otthaddha asks the Buddha about his student Sunakkhatta, who only saw heavenly sights through meditation, but did not hear heavenly sounds.  Buddha explains that different types of Samadhi reap different types of heavenly perceptions.  
-DN 6.13: Buddha describes ten fetter model.
-DN 6.14: Buddha describes 8fold path as the way up the ten fetter model.
-DN 6.15-19: Going through the jhanas, one loses the desire to make attributions about the soul and the body (‘what am I?’).  Bodily satisfaction seems to replace the need for this.  Also, morality causes one to experience “blameless bliss” “as if they were freed from debt” or sickness, bonds, slavery, and perils of the desert.  This ‘protection’ idea is common, and is based on merit.  Although not hedonistic, the Dhamma absolutely involves the experience of pleasure!  This makes me question the idea of 'pure insight' being about total equanimity or 'seeing things as they are,' etc.  It seems that the Buddha's insight was intertwined with the realization that healthy pleasure is totally possible and necessary.

-DN 7: Short sutta repeating story at end of previous sutta.

-DN 8.3: Buddha does not put down all ascetics.  Their practice of mortification is unrelated to their future rebirth.
-DN 8.5: He encourages aspects of practice that are in line with the Dhamma already, and discourages those that are not, when talking to ascetics.  Dhamma is a gradual or relative thing, not a black and white proposition.  Also, Buddhist teaching is not in some bubble, but is rather a collection of ‘good ideas’ that many non-Buddhists are probably already practicing.  For more on the grey-scale aspect of discipline in the Dhamma, see Ambattha and the relative degrees of homelessness.  
-DN 8.6-8: Buddha has freed himself from all the unskillful things, while other teachers have only done so in part.  This suggests a gradual model of awakening that is intertwined with morality and his more customizable than the 10 fetter model.
-DN 8.13: Interesting phrase- “the Dhamma and the discipline”... suggests that they are separate.
-DN 8.14: Different ascetic diets… kind of reminds me of pop diets today.
-DN 8.15: “but if his morality, his heart and his wisdom are not developed and brought to realisation, then indeed he is still far from being an ascetic or a Brahmin. But, Kassapa, when a monk develops non-enmity, non-ill-will and a heart full of loving-kindness and, abandoning the corruptions, realises and dwells in the uncorrupted deliverance of mind, the deliverance through wisdom, having realised it in this very life by his own insight, then, Kassapa, that monk is termed an ascetic and a Brahmin.” -- this awesome quote seems to suggest to me that morality delivers or trains the heart, and that the heart delivers or trains wisdom… that the ‘heart full of loving-kindness’ leads to ‘dwell in the uncorrupted deliverance of mind.’

-Interesting C&E nana, with the breath being one with the mind… leading quickly into A&P… dismissed them because they weren’t skillful in leading towards sleep

-There is a way to be detached, but not dissociated.  One is still embodying one’s experience, but intuitively knowing its illusory nature.  A lot of 'insight' meditation I have done has had an element of dissociation to it, i.e. by vipassanizing things I take a special lens that makes them less painful (Shinzen's 'divide and conquer'), by noting things I simplify them down into one word and sort of push them away, by taking a more awareness based approach, I take a positive and bright lens which amplifies the energy in objects and makes them less painful.  Interestingly, I have always found that samatha practices have not had this effect, because they involve less moment-by-moment willpower, and more surrender, which has the automatic result of facing things naturally.

-The traditional Dhamma approach has more to do with learning to skillfully cultivate the right mindstate, regardless of moods, and also across all the nanas.  Rather than having specific strategies for specific nanas.  Although, the Buddha probably would not have been against using one’s intuition to some degree in meditation (i.e. tuning the lute).

-Noted today that it felt good to share positive feelings with coworkers, in the form of laughing together.  This fits in because connecting with others involves generosity and goodwill, freely giving smiles and compliments with positive intentions.

-Its hard to judge the Dhamma as working or not for someone until certain requirements are met:
  1. That they have practiced enough generosity to counter self-absorbed perfectionism.
  2. That they have practiced enough virtue to have the positive side effects of a good conscience and a good self esteem/ self efficacy.  
  3. That they have grokked the importance of the conceptual framework related to cosmology, merit, and renunciation (controlling sense-doors).


RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/14/15 4:03 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
Mark:

I agree. What about the other way - are there presonal morality issues in modern Western cultures that are not considred in the Pali Canon ?

Things like pornography, climate change & the media come to mind. 


Yeah for sure.  But there are methods in the Pali Canon that can be applied to these situations.  Looking at our intentions, and our actual effects in the world, from past experience.  We can tell what actions have led to harmful climate change.  We are able to formulate a plan to do the opposite.  The Buddha would be into that (even if it would not be his main focus).  This is the theme of 'heedfulness' that Than-Geoff talks about.  This also goes along with the theme of ensuring long-term relief from suffering.

With pornography, it would be all about internal state.  Pornography promotes harmful (even if subtle), internal states of mind.  This was the Buddha's main focus: working towards more skillful states of mind.

Obviously there is more nuance to these modern themes but it could be easily overlooked that the Canon does address these types of things.

Hi Noah,

I agree there's lots of common sense in the Pali Canon. But I think it requires making leaps in some areas where it could be wiser to look toward modern analysis of the issues.

In terms of western morality I've found Virtue Ethics relevant and it has a lineage from ancient Western civilizations. It is more centered on the layperson's concerns. I doubt Virtue Ethics would step over the boundaries of the Pali Canon but could have more practical advice for things like managing a team of people at work.

Values like the universal declaration of human rights seem important contributions which seem to go well beyond what the Pali Canon considered.

Certainly worth running your experiment, it is an interesting topic and I found the Western sources rich. It was frustration with the Pali Canon and insight from the eightfold path that got me more interested in Western morality.   Best wishes.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/14/15 6:06 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, very good post!  :-)
Daniel M. Ingram:
MCTB 2 goes to great lengths to try to correct the impression that people somehow got from it that morality isn't important. There are so many great books that are out there on Buddhist Morality that I didn't focus on that, and somehow that and many other factors seem to have converged to create an impression that somehow meditation is the most important thing.

MCTB was designed to counter a culture where Morality and relative psychological work and skillful living was nearly everything and the rest was largely ignored, so I can see how that message may come through, despite numerous places it works to try to say that Morality is key.

I myself strive mostly in Morality in my life as the core training that takes up the vast majority of my time.

As to the Pali Canon, you can refer people to it again and again, and, until they are somehow ready to go there, people just don't. My current audiobook I am listening to as I commute is The Dhammapada, The Udana, The Itivuttaka: Key Texts from the Khuddaka NikayaIt is just brilliant stuff, obviously.

I have read a substantial chunk of the Pali Canon over the years, taking it slowly, sutta by sutta, book by book, and am very happy that I have, and many parts of it, such as the MN, DN, Udanna, and Dhammapada, I have read multiple times.  The commentaries, while they do get a bad rap from some, still contain points that are valuable for practice pragmatically, but, like the Pali texts, are not uniform in their level of quality.Still, they are a remarkable resource for life and practice, and, coupled with good practice, really fill in a lot that one would otherwise be totally clueless about.

To the reading list of volumes in the Pali Canon within the Khuddaka Nikaya I would personally add the Sutta Nipata as a rare and virtually unheralded gem within the Sutta Pitaka. The Sutta Nipata is one of the oldest volumes (and therefore closest to the originator's actual communication) of suttas in existence. It contains clarifications of the teaching not found in other volumes, and is well worth anyone's reading and contemplating.

Buddharakkita's translation of the Dhammapada is not to be missed. Especially for those who see the wisdom of parcing the meaning of the words and terms being used in order to enhance their understanding of the subtleties of the information being conveyed.

For people who wish to break it down practice-wise in terms of topics and subject matter for study and examination, in order to focus on one aspect of the practice as opposed to another, the following would be the way I break it down by volume:

For suttas about the practice of meditation (including the deeper states of meditation and what can be found there in terms of realizations) there is nothing better than the Majjhima Nikaya. This Nikaya is probably the most accessible Nikaya for Westerner to begin reading and contemplating. It also contains aspects mentioned as highlights obtained from the other Nikayas, but the practice of meditation seems to be its main focus.

For suttas regarding an overview picture of key doctrinal points of the Dhamma (i.e. the thicket of views, commentary on metaphysics, the great discourse on dependent co-arising, a few references to the significance of the fruit available in deeper states of meditation, references to the integrity of the man Siddhattha Gotama which may affect the way you view what he was actually attempting to accomplish as opposed to what the religion of "Buddhism" recounts, as well as various other topics of related interest) the Digha Nikaya is a necessary resource. In all of these volumes that I am mentioning, the Introductions are chock full of interesting and insightful tidbits that you may not find elsewhere.

For suttas challenging the reader to gain insight into the main teachings of the Dhamma responsible for attaining an end to dukkha, both the Samyutta Nikaya and the Anguttara Nikaya are indispensible. The suttas in these two volumes are among the oldest of those recorded and therefore are not to be missed. Both these volumes (in all these recommendations, I'm speaking about the Wisdom Publication editions of these translated suttas together with their footnotes and not online translations) also contain insightful passages which will help the attentive practitioner to gain useful insight into the practice of mindfulness and meditation.

My favorite volumes are the ones containing the older (earlier?) suttas which are the Samyutta and Anguttara Nikayas along with the Sutta Nipata. The footnotes are an indispensible part of the reading and comprehension process which help to clarify obscure passages for modern readers.

In peace,
Ian

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/15/15 1:50 AM as a reply to Ian And.
I have got to agree.  Of all of the strange books I have accumulated over the years NONE of them have the gravitas, authority and central place on my bookshelf than bikkhu bodhis' translations.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/15/15 11:36 AM as a reply to Noah.
12.14

-DN 8.16: How are “non-enmity and non-ill will” different?  ‘Enmity’ is being actively opposed to something, whereas ‘ill will’ involves a more emotional hostility.  So perhaps one is more intellectual/thought-based, and the other more emotional.  Paired with the phrase ‘a heart full of loving kindness,’  the three generally seem to point to the idea of accepting people for who they are (as a result of their kamma), and not letting them disturb one’s own inner state.  
-DN 8.17: In relation to above, the reason to develop these things is not because others don’t suck or necessarily deserve our praise, but for the selfish reason of abandoning one’s own corruptions.  This is one and the same with the ‘wisdom’ of enlightenment.  In other words, Pali enlightenment seems to have a huge emotional component to it.
-DN 8.21: Dhamma is called “super-morality”, “super-austerity”, “super-wisdom”, and “super liberation”- in relation to other practices and systems in India, at the time.
-DN 8.22: It is important that the Dhamma stands up to the test of dialogue: that the Buddha speaks confidently, with others there, is able to answer questions, win people over, etc.  This is his “lion’s roar” (a phrase that seems to be most popular in Vajrayana, ironically).
-DN 8.24: Interesting fact- a monk from another sect has to wait four months after disrobing and before taking Buddhist ordination.

-DN 9.1: The Buddha is frequently called “the Lord.”
-DN 9.3: Examples of “various kinds of unedifying conversation” are “kings, robbers, ministers, armies, dangers, wars, food, drink, clothes, beds, garlands, perfumes, relatives, carriages, villages, towns and cities, countries, women, heroes, street- and well-gossip, talk of the departed, desultory chat, speculations about land and sea, talk of being and non-being.”
-DN 9.5: Buddha frequently asks ‘hey, what were you guys just talking about?’ to initiate a teaching.
-DN 9.7: Perceptions arise and pass through an order of cause and effect.  They are to be trained in, and out of being.
-DN 9.9-10: First jhana=subtle delight and happiness born of detachment.
-DN 9.11: Second jhana=subtle delight and happiness born of concentration.
-DN 9.12: Third jhana=subtle sense of equanimity and happiness.
-DN 9.13: Fourth jhana=subtle sense of neither happiness nor unhappiness.

-Volunteered at food bank, 2.5 hours.


RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/16/15 9:30 AM as a reply to Noah.
12.15

-DN 9.39: 3 kinds of acquired self-
  1. gross=physical body
  2. mind-made=physical body+5 sense doors
  3. formless=5 sense doors+resulting perception only
-DN 9.40-47: The method of “getting rid of” each type of self is the same… decreasing mental defilements, and increasing mental purity.
-DN 9.46: Staircase metaphor- Dhamma is a direct path, only efficacy, no extra philosophy
-DN 9.48-53: Buddha makes a point that working skillfully with what is prominent in the mind at any given moment is the only thing that matters.  Past and future moments only matter as they converge in, and inform action in the present.
-DN 9.56: Many of the suttas end in describing how a newly ordained monk gains arahantship “in a short time.”
-DN 9.14: “Again, by passing entirely beyond bodily sensations, by the disappearance of all sense of resistance and by non-attraction to the perception of diversity, seeing that space is infinite, he reaches and remains in the Sphere of Infinite Space.”- This suggests a series of progressive insights that allow one to move into the 5th jhana.  There are similar descriptions for each jhana-- how they lead into one another, almost overlapping.
-DN 9.15: 6th jhana
-DN 9.16: 7th jhana-- Description of transition between 4 and 5 is the most detailed.
-DN 9.17: “from the moment when a monk has gained this controlled perception, he proceeds from stage to stage till he reaches the limit of perception. When he has reached the limit of perception it occurs to him: Mental activity is worse for me, lack of mental activity is better. If I were to think and imagine these perceptions [that I have attained] would cease, and coarser perceptions would arise in me. Suppose I were not to think or imagine? So he neither thinks nor imagines. And then, in him, just these perceptions arise, but other, coarser perceptions do not arise. He attains cessation.”- This is a very detailed description of 8th jhana (without labelling it- curiously), and then cessation.  The whole thing is seen as a process, not a stable place.  Just being in 8th jhana, with the right framework, seems to lead into cessation.  Also, there is some volitional, mental activity implied, even in the highest jhanas.  There is a vector, or a specific approach and end goal, in mind.
-DN 9.19: “ ‘Lord, do you teach that the summit of perception is just one, or that it is many?’ ”  The Buddha replies that it is both-- I didn’t understand either the question or the answer, but by googling the line from the sutta, I discovered a quote from Ayya Khema’s Who is My Self? on google books … to paraphrase, the summit of perception is many, in that there are progressive stages through each jhana, and one’s jhanic cutting edge is the summit of their perception, at that point in practice.  The summit of perception is one, in that cessation is the final, highest peak, and is one thing.
-DN 9.20: Perception arises, THEN knowledge arises.  Conventionally, things happen, then we learn from them afterwards.  Ultimately/fundamentally, one groks certain insights by going through the jhanas.  Conditions lead to no conditions at all.
-DN 9.28: The only things that matter are those that lead to “lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.”  This is the Buddha’s response after Potthapada asks a series of questions about True Self and afterlife.  A large part of the Buddha’s teaching method seems to involve allowing people to burn out their desires for answers that don’t pertain to the path.  The Buddha just patiently listens and neutrally responds, until people have calmed down a bit and are ready to focus only on what actually works… This seems to be what is happening to me!


-DN 10.1.1: Takes place shortly after the Buddha’s death.
-DN 10.1.5: Ananda summarizes what the Buddha ‘praised’ and ‘aroused others with’ as morality, concentration and wisdom.
-DN 10.1.30: After morality is ‘perfected’, there is ‘more to be done’, although ascetics of other schools would probably think morality is enough.
-DN 10.2.2: Jhana= “guarding the sense doors”
-DN 10.2.21: After the first four jhanas are perfected, the monk “attains various insights”:
  1. Body is impermanent, and consciousness bound to it
  2. Astral projection
  3. Super-normal powers (psychic directly on physical world)
  4. Divine ear
  5. Reading minds
  6. Remembering past lives
  7. Seeing others reincarnations and kammic patterns (divine eye)
  8. Knowledge of the destruction of the corruptions (4 noble truths)
  9. Psychically knowing that ‘birth is finished’ (arahantship)
-DN 11.1: Kevaddha asks the Buddha to have his monks perform miracles to increase the faith of the lay-people.  The Buddha refuses, saying that of the three types of miracles (psychic powers, telepathy and instruction), the first two can be explained by saying a monk cheated, using magic charms (11.5-7).
-DN 11.80: The monk goes to the Brahma realm “by way of appropriate concentration.”  Concentration seems to be a tool that can get you almost anything, from psychic powers, to enlightenment.  Also, Great Brahma is a somewhat rare sighting, only appearing under certain conditions.
-DN 11.68-79: In an effort to find out “where the 4 elements cease without remainder”, a monk rises in concentration, through various devic realms, in succession… At each level, the gods find the question above their paygrade, until the highest level (Brahma).
-DN 11.83: Great Brahma tries to save face in front of his lackies (he does not have the answer), and then whispers to the monk to go ask the Buddha.
-DN 11.85: Answer seems to involve both purified consciousness, and the cessation of consciousness… Perhaps the cessation of consciousness results in a purified waking consciousness.  The footnotes did not answer this sufficiently.  This is also different from the Tibetan ‘awareness’... it is the citta which comes and goes.

-DN 9 is chock full of important meditation details.  I have likely missed subtle but helpful word choices.

-Past few nights, moved away from the screen and towards deep breathing.  Prioritizing sleep more, health more.

-About five days into vegetarian experiment.  Noticing that I do not even have the desire to eat meat.

-Qigong/energetic exercises to promote groundedness: 'stirring,' horse stance, micro-cosmic orbit, holding mind in third chakra. 'twists.'  Although not explicitly described, the sutta's imply that groundedness is an important prerequisite to meditation, by promoting action in the world, through the form of generosity and virtue, first.  Renunciation and heedfulness also seem to point to the theme of initial groundedness and stability.

-I predict that, as a result of practicing the Dhamma in the way described in this log, certain trivialities will begin to fall out of importance in my life, in a way that has not happened before for me.

-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcEQjBsjzMM
From this video, around 24:30, Than-Geoff talks about Buddha’s advice on passion, of which there are 3 kinds: sensuality, formed (first 4 jhanas), and formless (last 4 jhanas).  How to deal with passion… ‘if there is some detail that sets you off, within a given perception, don’t focus on that detail.’  It’s not about suppression, it’s about examining the ‘looking’ process, and noticing how the mind gravitates towards the details that it is passionate about.

-Trying to practice non-obsessiveness and non-perfectionism every day… taking a long-term, big-picture view… not taking temporary states seriously, and also combining this with toughness- being willing to have some grit when agitation hits, knowing that I am on a path which will gradually decrease agitation over time.

-It seems what is happening to me is similar to what happened to many characters in the suttas, which is that at first you are excited to have all the answers and know the ultimate truth, but over time you burn out on all of these different avenues until you give up, and are finally willing to only do what works, even if it requires more patience and is less sexy or romantic.

-2 types of walking around practice:
          1) gratitude/ contentedness: "I am grateful for ---, I am grateful for ---, I am grateful for ---."  Pick three things at a time, rotate them, again and again.
          2) goodwill: "May --- be happy, may --- be healthy, may --- be free from danger, may --- live with ease."  Start with 'all beings.'  Then rotate statements through people that have annoyed me recently.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/16/15 11:55 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah, I am enjoying your sutta adventure. I like your brief summarizing of each.

Wanted to put in a plug for sutta central for those interested in following what you are up to. The entire cannon is now available there online. Many of them have been translated into quite a few languages. For example, where you are at now with DN 11 - its been translated into about 20 different languages. Navigation is good via a top left menu button where you can switch languages – including original pali with pop-up pali-english dictionary. You can also find each sutta cross linked to the Chinese Agamas where a parallel has been found.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/16/15 3:26 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Hey Chuck,

I didn't know about Sutta Central- thats awesome!  It looks like it'll be harder to work from because there aren't section and stanza numbers, so I'll probably stick with the Wisdom Publications versions for now.  Plus its always nice to have a real book in your hand.  Thats the future right there though... making it accessible to everyone.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/17/15 1:34 PM as a reply to Noah.
12.16

-DN 12.9: The custom was to offer the monks food, wait till the Buddha was finished eating, and then ask him questions.
-DN 12.10: Wrong view leads to hell or animal rebirth.

-I'm starting to feel a bit of conformity to, or alignment with, the Dhamma view and full-scale training.  Less questioning in the mind, more direct action.  Inner council coming on board.

-There is another daily life practice, in relation to certain 'triggers': make note of disguisting aspects of the sensual object or activity which you are craving.  Relatedly, notice the entirety of the thing, including neutral aspects, i.e. noticing neutral personality aspects of someone you are attracted to.

-Developing skillful attachments to, and desire for, admirable qualities.  Related to healthy self-image and self-esteem.  Also, skillful disdain for poor traits (even in others, if that helps you, and does not cause you to act harmfully towards them).  

-Good TG vid: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8yuYxc9vIs
         
-"Focus on any details that help you avoid greed or distress"... "People erroneously focus on only the pleasing details."
         -The Buddha recommended that people go out into the wilderness.
         -Renunciation and discipline necessarily involve replacing unskillful pleasures with skillful ones, and NOT simply denying all pleasure.
         


RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/18/15 4:54 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
Hey Chuck,

I didn't know about Sutta Central- thats awesome!  It looks like it'll be harder to work from because there aren't section and stanza numbers, so I'll probably stick with the Wisdom Publications versions for now.  Plus its always nice to have a real book in your hand.  Thats the future right there though... making it accessible to everyone.
Real books are the best and the Wisdom Publications books are very nice (even without a pali english pop-up dictionary). I hope the future has a place for them.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/21/15 8:34 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck Kasmire:...
Wanted to put in a plug for
sutta central for those interested in following what you are up to. The entire cannon is now available there online. Many of them have been translated into quite a few languages. For example, where you are at now with DN 11 - its been translated into about 20 different languages. Navigation is good via a top left menu button where you can switch languages – including original pali with pop-up pali-english dictionary. You can also find each sutta cross linked to the Chinese Agamas where a parallel has been found.

And Ajahn Sujato, the "Daniel Ingram" of Sutta Central, is also quite accessible. He's directly answered several questions I've posed in the discussion forum there.

Especially things having to do with early or late historical stratta of the sutta-s and in the various canons and translation issues. He's done, together with Ven. Analayo and others, a lot of research in that area.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
1/9/16 7:56 AM as a reply to Noah.
1/8/15

After about a three week hiatus, a couple factors have converged to reignite my interest in this experiment.  One is that my hard copy of the Digha Nikaya finally came in the mail.  Another is that I finally seem to be regaining some meaningful direction in my practice.  I signed up for the Buddhist Geeks dojo, I'm working with a new off-cushion/daily-life technique (inspired by repeated phone conversations with a dharma friend), and I'm skyping an interesting teacher from the Thai forest tradition.

The traditionalist-purist part of me dislikes the idea of cherry-picking the Pali canon to align with my personal meditation experience and dismiss everything else as impractical dogma.  However, this is what my intuition is telling me to do.  I do think it is interesting to learn about things like customs, culture, physical settings, precepts, cosmology, etc.  However, I can not dismiss all the real progress I've made just because it doesn't perfectly match up with the stories from the canon.  People have been repeating the Buddha's realization(s) using all sorts of techniques and approaches in the past 2500 years.  It just so happens that mine has been based around a modified version of Mahasi noting in the context of slowly curing bipolar disorder.  

I like skimming the lists of sutta summaries on accesstoinsight, and opening up the ones that seem interesting.  If translations are not available there, I can find them on suttacentral.  This method seems a bit more realistic and sustainable than painstakingly taking notes on irrelevant dogma in hundreds of suttas.  

Here are some things I noticed tonight:

-Richard (of the Actual Freedom Trust) made me question the provenance of the Western Buddhist understandings of Sati and Vipassana in a pretty major way.  I think I have finally recovered from that period of doubt.  Mindfulness and insight are real things from the time of the Buddha, as shown by the Anapanasati (MN 118) and Sathipattana (MN 10) suttas.  The pragmatic dharma approach to morality is defensible under the Relay-Chariots sutta (MN 24), which says that the entire reason for following the dhamma is to reach 'total unbinding,' and that the preliminary practices of virtue are basically only valuable to the extent that they eventually lead into this outcome.  This seems different, and more realistic, than the merit-building motivations for right conduct expressed in other suttas.  

-I have had a prolonged sense of cognitive dissonance with regards to the idea that virtue is to be developed before concentration and wisdom.  I suppose I am not fully convinced that it could not be turned the other way around.  The Buddha makes a lot of arguments for the development of right speech, conduct, livelihood, resolve, renunciation, etc.  Some of these involve immediate benefits (i.e. DN 2: The Fruits of the Homeless Life).  Others involve being reborn in better realms.  In my opinion, the most interesting cases involve spontaneous morality carried out by those who are already enlightened, rather than disciplined effort sustained by novice meditators.  For instance, the Buddha shows a lot of compassion in various debates he has with challengers (i.e. DN 3: To Ambattha).  Also, why do the arhats choose to remain monks even after they gain release?  Obviously the transformation they have experienced has done something for them regarding patience and discipline.  

Some people on the forums criticize me for being too hopeful or naive with regards to the way meditation can heal mental illness.  But this has already happened to me, to a huge degree.  Furthermore, is this not the lessening of the taints, as described in MN 7: The Simile of the Cloth?  Whenever I have breakthrough's via insight practice, it feels as if I am 'abandoning' something unskillful.  I guess I feel that perhaps my path is not so nontraditional after all.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
1/9/16 10:42 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
1/8/15

Here are some things I noticed tonight:

-Richard (of the Actual Freedom Trust) made me question the provenance of the Western Buddhist understandings of Sati and Vipassana in a pretty major way.  I think I have finally recovered from that period of doubt.  Mindfulness and insight are real things from the time of the Buddha, as shown by the Anapanasati (MN 118) and Sathipattana (MN 10) suttas.  The pragmatic dharma approach to morality is defensible under the Relay-Chariots sutta (MN 24), which says that the entire reason for following the dhamma is to reach 'total unbinding,' and that the preliminary practices of virtue are basically only valuable to the extent that they eventually lead into this outcome.  This seems different, and more realistic, than the merit-building motivations for right conduct expressed in other suttas.
I went to read the sutta too after you now mentioned it.  It's interesting, but I probably took a view of it that is a hair diff than what  you did, ie not that practices of virtue are ONLY valuable for reaching the unbinding.  I also do not go with the merit/ points system of karma tabulating and all that but I am thinking perahps a certain level of general virtue is maybe needed for unbinding, not just as a tool but as a basic building block that remains in place.   That the unbinding may not be compatible with heavily not virtuous tendencies, not necesarily that killing an ant would prevent enlightenment but that there be a basically virtuous stability that will be needed.  Of course, I don't have much proof of that and it is also something I wonder about myself sometimes.   

-I have had a prolonged sense of cognitive dissonance with regards to the idea that virtue is to be developed before concentration and wisdom.  I suppose I am not fully convinced that it could not be turned the other way around.  
Seems to me that htings that start off as guidelines and suggestions that work best most of the time have a tendency to gradually become rigid laws for which the original spirit is often lost.  Such that something like try to schedual one day of relaxation per week becuase it's good for you can become something like, if you do one iota of work on Sunday, you will go to hell.  ;-P 

The Buddha makes a lot of arguments for the development of right speech, conduct, livelihood, resolve, renunciation, etc.  Some of these involve immediate benefits (i.e. DN 2: The Fruits of the Homeless Life).  Others involve being reborn in better realms.  In my opinion, the most interesting cases involve spontaneous morality carried out by those who are already enlightened, rather than disciplined effort sustained by novice meditators.  For instance, the Buddha shows a lot of compassion in various debates he has with challengers (i.e. DN 3: To Ambattha).  
I suspect that anger comes from pain, if you get past where someone can hurt you with words, then you won't get angry at them.  It's like if an angry bird chirps at you, understanding its anger you may not take it personally and feel compassion towards the bird's limited view and options.  Understanding that it is doing it's best and will likely be overwrought if you challenge it with too much at once, people might often choose to try not to disrupt the bird any further if not necessary and give it a change to handle the stress it has already incurred. 

Also, why do the arhats choose to remain monks even after they gain release?  Obviously the transformation they have experienced has done something for them regarding patience and discipline.
I suspect you lose interest in superficial stuff and so have no desire to accumulate it in the future.  If you no longer want somethign then it's not about patience and discipline when it comes to not going after it.  You don't go after it due to lack of interest.  

Some people on the forums criticize me for being too hopeful or naive with regards to the way meditation can heal mental illness.  But this has already happened to me, to a huge degree.  
 I suspect a lot of people think they can do some meditation and then their problems will go away.  I agree this is naive, not just for those with 'mental illness' with official labels but also for those with more common kinds of pschological issues.  However, for the few that are willing to go into their minds with sustained longterm effort to confront everything including the scary and uncomfortable, for the few that are willing to throw out even the sacredest of cows and turn over even the heaviest of rocks looking for answers, pulling on every string that might work, using both traditional psychological methods as well as spiritual methods, for those people, I think it's quite reasonable that continuing improvement can be expected.  It's just that there are very few willing to put that kind of not just time but mental effort into it. 

Somewhere I read a saying, maybe it was even on here someplace, that was along the lines of that change occurs when the suffering caused by not changing clearly outweigh the sufferings caused by changing.  Maybe those who suffer more have in some ways more motivation to explore ways out.   

Furthermore, is this not the lessening of the taints, as described in MN 7: The Simile of the Cloth?  Whenever I have breakthrough's via insight practice, it feels as if I am 'abandoning' something unskillful.  I guess I feel that perhaps my path is not so nontraditional after all.
It's probably just not exactly corresponding to the current mainstream tradition of your time and location.  But again it probably depends on mindset too, if someone looks mostly for differences that's what he/she finds, if someone looks mostly for commonalities, there are plenty fo those too.  ;-P
-Eva

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
1/11/16 11:46 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva:


Seems to me that htings that start off as guidelines and suggestions that work best most of the time have a tendency to gradually become rigid laws for which the original spirit is often lost. 


Agreed.

for those people, I think it's quite reasonable that continuing improvement can be expected.


Word.  I won't stop.  I hope that others after me can do it faster.  

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
4/21/16 9:24 AM as a reply to Noah.
4.21.16

DN - 13 - Tevijja Sutta - The Way to Brahma

Lines 1-12: Lots of yogis were hanging out in Kosala and arguing about which of their teacher's methods leads to meeting Brahma.  The Buddha gets them to admit that none of them have them have met Brahma, nor has anyone in their llineages, therefore they are not legit.  13-18: He uses logic and metaphors to show just how silly their teachings are.  19-26: More of the same.  

26-28:  Their teachers are enslaved by the "five strands of sense desire" (five senses).  29-30:  They also have five hindrances (sensuality, anger, laziness/sleepiness, anxiety, and doubt).  31--36:  Obviously Brahma is free from sense desires and hindrances, so how can these teachers unite or meet with him if they still are in bondage?  How can they unite with him after death in this state?

37-77:  Buddha does know the way to Brahma!  Practice morality, then get into first jhana, then "suffuse the whole world," and wish loving-kindness everywhere.  78-82:  Then do the other BV's.  Then you can unite with Brahma after death.  The monks were impressed and became Buddhists.

My thoughts:  The pragmatic parts of this sutta are in the comments on being caught in the five senses and the fetters, as well as in practicing morality, leading to first jhana, leading to the BV's.  However, Buddha does not say that this path destroys the fetters, only that it is the way to see Brahma.  

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
4/21/16 8:02 PM as a reply to Noah.
DN - 14 - Mahapadana Sutta - The Great Discourse On The Lineage

22 pages of straight science fiction: the life story of different Buddhas in different aeons.  Not going to summarize it.  The only interesting component is the way my teacher points out when the Pali Canon is being sarcastic.  I think this might be one of those times.  

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/3/16 7:04 PM as a reply to Noah.
MN 1 - The Root Sequence 
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.001.than.html
This Sutta goes through the way a person relates to a list of things:

-Elements (i.e. Earth) aka material stuff, boring daily life  
-Heaven & Gods (I.e. Brahma) aka awesome material events, riches, both real and imaginary 
-Jhana 
-Nirvana  
    
And shows how 4 types of people relate to them:
-untrained 
-trainee 
-arhat
-Buddha

a couple thoughts on it:
1- The Pali Canon does not reject heaven.  Perhaps the lower teachings on kamma are a metaphor for the necessity of morality training.  Without behavioral modification and emotional regulation, deeper meditation benefits can't fully sprout.    
2- While engagement with the elements and gods is necessary, the only point of it is to work towards complete release within life.  This isn't possible with shitty morality: meditation was never enough.
3- If y axis progress (perceptual shifts) was enough, why wouldn't this discourse skip right to nirvana?  

Perhaps more thoughts later.  Anyone else is welcome.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/3/16 7:47 PM as a reply to Noah D.
MN 2 - All The Fermentations

"Fermentations" cover suffering on all levels in this sutta (physical, mental, perceptual).

Dealing with suffering requires "attention" which includes external and internal actions.  Inappropriate attention causes conscious suffering to worsen and dormant suffering to activate.  Appropriate attention does the opposite.  

There are 7 types of appropriate attention:

1) Seeing = investigating what works and what doesn't to alleviate stress
     a) example of past-future thinking leading to thicket of views

2) Restraining = control five senses + thoughts and emotions

3) Using = ongoing, day-to-day life skills (realism, efficacy, pragmatism, minimalism)
      a) 4 major areas (food, shelter, clothing, medicine)
      
4) Tolerating = grit/toughness when necessary (uncontrollable factors)

5) Avoiding = Make smart life decisions to prevent future suffering 

6) Destroying = eliminate unskillful habits

7) Developing = build skillful habits 

=========================================

Notes:

-6 & 7 are a combo of all the others, & occur when 1 - 5 are mastered 

-Whole 8fold path in this sutta (y and x axis, 3 trainings) --> they integrate bc habit formation leads to 7 which is perceptual shifts

-Broadly, the method of the Pali Canon is "whatever works"; if you understand the task then the tools are 2ndary

-Buddha viewed humans as programmable robots or trainable dogs in some sense.... there is no "be yourself", "be true to your heart", "be natural" in the Pali Canon.

-It's obviously mostly about off cushion practice... even jhana is described as occurring in daily life (i.e. Buddha's childhood memory)... also, path shifts happen during the discourses, etc
          -This sutta describes mostly off cushion techniques

-6 & 7 describe how habit formation progresses, specifically that old habits DO completely disappear, and the underlying mental and neural structures come undone 
         -This happens gradually, through a synergy of perceptual shifts and conventional improvement, not in single "path moments" (which describe only the y axis increase).... the real "good life" comes from the combo

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/3/16 9:19 PM as a reply to Noah D.
MN 4 - Fear & Terror

Convo between Buddha & visitor about fear of being in jungle at night.  They discuss how it is not easy being alone.  And also how jungles "plunder the mind of the unawakened."  The Buddha lists 12 reasons for this:
1) impure physical, verbal and mental activities 
2) passion for sense pleasures
3) destructive attitudes
4) sleepiness and tiredness  
5) restlessness   
6) underconfidence
7) self-absorption/judgementalness
8) panic 
9) wanting game & power
10) laziness 
11) not mindful
12) not concentrated

Someone who's overcome these issues can keep discernment in the forest.  Even in scary nights of the lunar calendar.  This story turns out to be the night of the Buddhas enlightenment, aka the 3 watches of the night (possibly the least useful part of the Pali canon :p)

=======================================

Notes:
-Jungle is an allegory for all difficult external circumstances 
-That's what makes this Sutta cool - it talks about how internal skills can cause total independence from difficult external circumstances 
-Buddha listed many hindrances and many solutions to help people identify which ones related to them 
-The loneliness thing is significant-- having healthy relationships DOES matter, but so does being ok without them 
-Generally, the canon seems to list specific techniques but also an overall view... the being alone and independent from conditions in this sutta seems to be more part of the view (aka not different for different people)

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/4/16 11:04 PM as a reply to Noah D.
MN 7 - Simile of the Cloth

Buddha presents metaphor; a dirty cloth can't be dyed properly - a defiled mind can't be happy.

16 Defilements are listed.  
-greed, ill will, anger, denigration
-hostility, domineering, envy, jealousy 
-hypocrisy, fraud, obstinacy, presumption 
-conceit, arrogance, vanity, negligence 

Process of KNOWING each defilement is described - leading to their abandonment, one by one.

The student gains confidence in the Buddha through hearing this teaching: confidence in Buddha's
1 clear vision and '
2 virtuous conduct.  

Student gains confidence in the Dhamma because it's 
1 realizable here and now 
2 possessed with immediate result
3 inviting you to try it
4 user-friendly 

Student gains confidence in the Sangha because they are
1 "entered on the straight, good, true and proper way"
2 worthy of gifts, hospitality, offerings and salute
3 providing a field of merit 

Because of all this confidence, student has
1 enthusiasm for goal ->
2 gladness linked to goal ->
3 joy in mind ->
4 tranquility in body ->
5 global happiness->
6 effortless concentration 

If someone does this process, they can eat awesome food without attachment (bc their mind is now like the clean cloth which can be dyed by happiness)

Then Metta will arise automatically 
1 Then Karuna 
2 Mudita
3 Upekkha
4 Mind is boundless 

Then cessation - fruition, which uproots the fetters.

A dude asks the Buddha - "but what about this magical river... that should work to purify the mind too"
1 Buddha says no, only a fool would think so 
2 DIY approach is only one that works (fuck all the rituals and holidays)

Dude says - "Buddha you're awesome!  I'm gonna try your method"

He went into forest and became an arhat soon after.

=========================================

Notes:
-Sequence of events is significant in this Sutta 
-Defilement list seems too long and redundant 
-The Brahma Viharas arise automatically, not purposely cultivated
-Cessation arises automatically, not purposely cultivated 
-Meat of the path is getting the mind free of hindrances (& learning conduct), everything else is easy 
-Dyeing clean cloth requires no effort
-Notably, becoming an Arhant does not take long

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/5/16 7:28 AM as a reply to Noah D.
You can't know the defilements, if you would you would eradicate them automatically by your own mind.
Buddha is enlightened and describing what is defiling you when in samsara or when you are in nirvana. Trying to relate and understand them is not ok, enforcing your own conclusions like you would know what is written. Would you know these things by yourself too if you thrown into wilderness where you don't have the scriptures?

Think of it why noone follow fetters model(just the all powers, arhant 4000 times average joe etc), because of the ego it is not possible to accept that you don't have it already so what you can do to feel better is trade and start water down attainments.

There is also a reason why only certain people can speak of what is written in scriptures. That notion alone is revealing.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/5/16 10:23 PM as a reply to Banned For waht?.
Damn dude, you're right.  It's totally pointless to read the scriptures.  I heard they're actually just symbolic allegories and poetry and stuff!

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/15/16 5:20 AM as a reply to Noah D.
MN 8 - The Discourse On Effacement

Note: “Effacement” basically means “erasing” the defilements, per Nyanaponika (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel061.html#ch-2).

Summary:-

An advanced student (Maha Cunda) asks the Buddha if a novice can eliminate wrong views about self & world.
-The Buddha says yes, by seeing the beliefs that underlie these views.  Specifically, the object which causes a wrong view to arise must be seen with wisdom: then the resulting effects will go away.  He then goes on to provide examples of this process:
  1. A monk might go into first jhana to erase the defilements.
  2. [...] second jhana [...]
  3. Same for third jhana thru eighth jhana.
-The Buddha elaborates that Cunda can erase the defilements in the following ways:
PRECEPTS: 1 - 10
8FOLD PATH: 11 - 20
FREE FROM NEGATIVES: 21 - 34
HAVING POSITIVES: 35 - 44
  1. Non-harm
  2. Non-killing
  3. Non-stealing
  4. Non-cheating in relationships
  5. Non-lying
  6. Non-cursing
  7. Non-harsh-speech
  8. Non-gossip
  9. Non-greed
  10. Non-anger
  11. Right view
  12. Right intention
  13. Right speech
  14. Right action
  15. Right livelihood
  16. Right effort
  17. Right mindfulness
  18. Right concentration
  19. Right knowledge
  20. Right deliverance
  21. Free from sloth & torpor
  22. Free from agitation
  23. Free from doubt
  24. Free from anger
  25. Free from hostility
  26. Free from denigrating others
  27. Free from domineering others
  28. Free from envy
  29. Free from jealousy
  30. Free from being fraudulent
  31. Free from hypocritical
  32. Free from stubbornness
  33. Free from arrogance
  34. Easy to admonish
  35. Having noble friends
  36. Being heedful
  37. Being faithful
  38. Being shameful
  39. Having a conscience
  40. Being learned
  41. Being energetic
  42. Being mindful
  43. Having wisdom
  44. Discarding views with ease
-Buddha goes through list again for 4 different methods: Making resolutions, Avoiding, “Leading Upwards”, Quenching (details follow below).

-After listing how to erase the defilements, Buddha stresses importance of thought (making resolutions to master each of the 44 methods of erasing defilements)
       a - “Others will be harmful, I will not.”
       b - Others will be [#2}, I will not,”
       c - #3 through #44.
-After listing how to make resolutions to erase the defilements, Buddha stresses the importance of erasing them through avoiding:        a - (listing #’s 1 - 44).
-After listing how to erase defilements through avoiding them, Buddha stresses that each erase-method leads upward, whereas the negative leads downward: "all salutary states lead upward..."
        a - (listing #’s 1 - 44).
-Buddha says it is impossible for unenlightened to lead unenlightened.  But enlightened can lead unenlightened.  Same for those are restrained, disciplined & quenched vs those who are not.  Quenching of the passions.
        a - Lists “quenching” the defilements with their opposites (#’s 1 - 44)
-Buddha concludes by telling Cunda to do it!

Thoughts-

It is significant that Cunda asks about meditation first, and the Buddha responds with the path of Jhana. However, when the Buddha elaborates, his answer looks much more like the Natural Method, which consists of mostly off-cushion examination & integration.

-Specifically, this “natural method” is broken down into 44 defilements which seem to outline stages of the path: taking precepts⇒ 8fold path=> becoming free from tension=> building positive states.  This fits in with my theory that positive behavior leads to an empty mind, and an empty mind displays spontaneous positivity.  

-The Buddha also lists a progression of ways to deal with these defilements.  Making resolutions has to do with study and mundane right view, as well as law-of-attraction/auto-suggestion work: prepping the personality for training.  Avoiding corresponds to initially freeing the mind of hindrances via gross effort (“coarse hammer stuff” as Dream Walker says).  This is the bulk of Dhammarato’s instruction.  “Leading upward” seems to be a transition period of training, in which the mind is free from surface hindrances, and is beginning to work on uprooting defilements at the deeper, fetter-level.  Quenching seems to be a level of observation/speed-of-attention at which they stop arising completely.  I wonder if these 4 methods could correspond the the 10 fetter 4 paths?

However, as Dhammarato always stresses, things do not go in neat, linear orders.  There is a continuous interplay between various stages, methods, techniques, etc., at higher and lower levels.  It does make me wonder if one thing can naturally lead to another... since he stresses that the first 4 enlightenment factors lead spontaneously to the last 3.  I suspect that positive thinking/motivation, avoiding (skill-formation), may naturally lead to "moving upward" and thus "quenching."  Perhaps the turning phrase of this sutta is "all salutary states lead upward" which seems to have 4 parts:
1 - skillful vs unskillful
2 - some vs all
3 - leading (sounds effortless)
4 - upward vs downward.

If all healthy states & actions lead to healthier states and all unhealthy states & actions lead to more of the same, the goal is to *clearly see* this, and then to act on it, and eventually to have it become effortless.

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/15/16 6:09 AM as a reply to Noah D.
The evidence I've personally experienced for this "leading upward" idea is the source of my faith in this life.

It's very hard to explain fully, but just to point at it...

It amazed me when I did yoga as a main practice that awareness of the body led to seeing knots and releasing those knots. Holding the mind a certain way when looking at the body (accepting, honoring, curiousity, bravely exploring the yucky/shadowy stuff), was condusive to developing flexibility.

Same thing when I started understanding psychology (initially what freud was pointing at when talking about defense mechanisms and reaction formations, but then other modalitys of therapy), there too holding the mind a certain way opened up an understanding into these non-conscious behaviors and allowed options where before there we just habits.

Same thing when I started chinese martial arts. Except now there was an even greater aspect of "accepting" in the form of relaxation. How could relaxation make you faster and more powerful? It was really a curiousity for a long time, but aha! Relaxation allows for very efficient coordination. And so relaxation plus awareness became the exploration, making my body and mind healthier...

Same thing when I started noting practice, except now the emphasis was on developing the skill of noting, so more about the exploration of the method. When the dark night hit, I had to learn relaxing/acceptance again...

Same thing when I started metta practice, how to relax into feelings of metta and explore feelings of ill will

Same thing when I started using jhanas, how to relax and explore...

Same thing when doing 6 realms...

Same thing when doing 5 elements...

Same thing when doing "no distraction, no control, no practice"...

In a certain sense, the same mind nature --- naturally aware, naturally curious, naturally desiring the absense of ill will, naturally holding both self and other in the same regard --- is behind all of these developments. Seeing that, time and time again, is one of the most amazing things for me in this life. Noah, you use the word "positive" for this in the post above, but I tend to label it "natural". How cool that "natural" leads to happiness and greater ability! 

When I think back to reading taoist stuff as a kid and how I just knew that "the way" was really pointing to something, and when I reflect on my life, I'm amazed at how I got a chance to taste a bit of it by just by following my natural inclinations: naturally aware, naturally curious, naturally desiring the absense of ill will, naturally holding self and other in the same regard. 

RE: An Experiment With The Pali Canon
Answer
12/15/16 6:58 AM as a reply to Noah D.
MN 9 - Right View
  • This sutta is Sariputta teaching monks in Jeta’s Grove.  He is asked: to what extent does one have “true Dhamma?”
  • Being rooted in Dhamma is discerning skillful vs unskillful… root of skillful vs root of unskillful.
  • Unskillful = killing, stealing, cheating, lying, cursing, gossip, idle chatter, greed, anger, wrong view
  • Roots of unskillful = greed, aversion, delusion
  • Skillful = non-killing, non-stealing, non-cheating, non-lying, non-cursing, non-gossip, non-idle chatter, non-greed, non-anger, right view
  • Roots of skillful = non-greed, non-aversion, non-delusion
  • Discerning these things uproots greed, aversion & delusion, which ends suffering
  • To the extent one has done this, one has “true Dhamma”

  • He is then asked: is there another map of “true Dhamma?”
  • Yes - Understanding the fuel/related-factors of skillful & unskillful
  • The arising and passing of fuel for skills and unskills
  • 4 types of fuel: 1 physical, 3 mental (contact, intention, consciousness)
  • Craving = fuel for unskillful
  • Non-craving removes fuel for unskillful
  • The way to remove this fuel is the 8fold path
  • 8fold path removes roots of unskillful aka fuel for unskillful aka 3 poisons
  • To this extent, one has “true Dhamma”

  • Is there a third map of “true Dhamma?” - Yes
  • Understanding stress, arising passing, way leading to passing of stress
  • List of things that are stressful:  birth, aging, death, sorrow, grief, pain, panic, despair, not getting what one wants
               AKA 5  aggregates
  • Arising of stress = craving for further becoming + passion/delight + “relishing now here & now there”
  • Passing of stress = fading, cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, letting-go of craving
  • What practice leads to this passing of stress? 8fold path

  • Another map is based on aging & death
  • Understanding its arising, passing, way of practice related to it
  • Aging = decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of life-force, weakening of faculties
  • Death = decreasing, passing away, breaking up, disappearance, dying, death, completion of time, break up of the aggregates, casting off of body, interruption in life faculty
  • Arising of aging & death = birth
  • Cessation of birth = Passing of aging & death
  • Way to cessation of birth = 8fold path

NOTE: It then goes through dependent origination links, but in each case, 8fold path & clear understanding are the answer, which to me suggests that “cessation”/ elimination/ passing of the links is not “the answer” (even though it sounds like it).  If it were, it would treat the links of dependent origination like the defilements, but it DOES NOT do so.   
  • Same analysis for becoming: sensual, form, formless
    •              Eliminated by cutting off clinging
  • Clinging: sensuality, view, rules, self
    •              Eliminated by cutting off craving
  • Craving: forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile senses, ideas
    •             Eliminated by cutting off feeling
  • Feeling: feeling from each sense door
    •             Eliminated by cutting off contact
  • Contact: contact from each sense door
    •             Eliminated by cutting off 6 senses
  • 6 senses
    •            Eliminated by cutting mind & matter
  • Mind (feeling, perception, contact, attention) + Matter (earth, fire, water, air)
    •              Eliminated by cutting off consciousness
  • Consciousness: consciousness of 6 senses
    •            Eliminated by cutting off fabrication
  • Fabrication: fabrication of body, speech & mind
    •            Eliminated by cutting off ignorance
  • Ignorance: ignorance of stress, its arising, passing and practice leading to its cessation    
    •           Eliminated by cutting of fermentation
  • Fermentation: fermentation of sensuality, becoming, ignorance

Thoughts
This sutta spends a huge amount of time describing the 12 links, which, when taken as an exact formula, do not seem that useful to me.  The general IDEA of the 12 links seems to be the understanding that all that we know (our entire world & life) originates from raw sense data.  We do not have direct control over this process of how qualia become processed and integrated into our gestalt, but we have indirect control to the extent that we can observe this process.  Furthermore, we do have direct control over the 8fold path, which is basically the first 4 factors of enlightenment (with the final 3 being effortless arisings):
  1. Mindfulness
  2. Investigation
    1.            Seeing cause & effect
    2.            Subtle-level insight
  3. Persistence
    1.            Acting on cause & effect
  4. Joy
    1.            Fuel for right view/ motivation/ attitude

Earlier in the sutta, Sariputta focus both on skillful/unskillful + the root of skillful/unskillful.  The point here is that meditation is necessary, but not enough (“root” level would refer to very subtle vipassana and later awareness-based practices).  Without support from all the 8folds, the cascading process of release can not occur.  

Also, the specific contents of the 12 links are very significant.  The advice is to focus on the content of them: focus on death, and its specific aspects; focus on the 6 senses and the process which arises from each of them, focus on mind/matter, consciousness, etc.  It is important to understand that there is a process of creation and decay occuring that is out of our hands BUT ALSO the exact extent to which we do have control over our baseline awareness, thoughts and actions.