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Various related terms.

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Various related terms.
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2/18/16 11:20 AM
I would like to start this thread to help me put the following concepts into a clearer understanding:

Realization vs. Nibbana:  Are these the same if not how are they related? How does realization lead to nibbana?

Letting go of attachments and aversions vs. Realizing not-self: For example does looking into the 5 skandhas to see they are not-self a) lead to letting go of attachments and aversion to them producing nibbana or b) lead to realization of not-self?

Samadhi vs. Realization:
By "samadhi" I mean non-dual states that occur during meditation. Realization is also a non-dual state. Are they the same? Does a non-dual experience in meditation, ie samadhi, lead to the non-dual experience of realization. Or does samadhi just quiet the mind so it can obtain insight that leads to realization.


UPDATE: I'm adding another pair...

Mindfulness practices vs Meditation: By mindfulness I mean things like awareness of positions and actions. In the sutras it says, paraphrasing, when a practitioner is walking he is aware I am walking, same for standing, sitting, lying down, going forwards, going backwards,etc. Is this a form of meditation that leads to realizing not-self, or is it just a way to keep the mind quiet between meditation sessions where the real work is done? If it is a form of meditation, how does it work? How does it lead to insight or realization?

Thanks

RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/18/16 3:36 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
This makes me think of different aspects of insight... There is the ability to progress through the nanas, and eventually experience fruition-cessation.  There is the ability to generate stability and continuity of attention, Culadasa-style.  There is the ability to train the mind out of the hindrances, and into continuous joy.  It seems that all three could be classified as 'wisdom' training, with the first one digging down into the mind to reveal something at its core, and the second two resulting in a pointing-out of aspects of the mind that are always present, even at the surface.  

RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/19/16 1:43 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_27.html

Dhamma and Non-duality
by
Bhikkhu Bodhi
...
The teaching of the Buddha as found in the Pali canon does not endorse a philosophy of non-dualism of any variety, nor, I would add, can a non-dualistic perspective be found lying implicit within the Buddha's discourses.

RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/19/16 4:49 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Even so, when the rubber hits the road...

RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/19/16 7:46 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
You can get stuck with something like watching TV and can't quit it even when you would wish it and are aware that you are stuck with it. Only things superior to you, like things you afraid of can help you out of it, fear of loosing a job, loud noise can snap out of it, a wife calling etc.

Clearly the awareness is not deciding that you are watching TV nor decides when you quit. Therefore awareness doesn't care or is nondual, its self who decides and does things but that self is not you either, because it doesn't listen me.

RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/19/16 9:05 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I just watched these two videos from http://tripurashakti.com/   a web site on yoga meditation. 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku8cCrdh4Ic (8:03 min)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Rdou1Fr7qI (5:46 min)

And they made a lot of sense to me. According to their way of thinking (I'm paraphrasing using Buddhist terms), a false sense of self is created by the activity in the mind: 5 senses, perceptions, impulses, attachments and aversions etc. By meditation and mindfulness, watching the interplay of these things, we can see how the illusion of self is created and see through the illusion of self and experience the ultimate reality - non-dual consciousness.

It seems to me a different point of view than I understood from Buddhism where I thought the point was to understand Buddha's argument that all things are not-self so you would drop your attachents things and experience the end of suffering. Looking into the activities in the mind would show you what causes suffering so you would also let go of attachments and aversions.

Maybe I misunderstand Buddhism, but investigating things that create the illusion of self in order to see beyond into the ultimate reality makes much more sense to me. It seems more like it's something I can really do. Observing attachments doesn't really cause them to disappear instantly.  The yoga view is also consistent with a feeling I get from meditation that I am existing in a virtual reality. According to this way of thinking that is exactly what we are all doing.

RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/19/16 9:53 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Maybe I misunderstand Buddhism, but investigating things that create the illusion of self in order to see beyond into the ultimate reality makes much more sense to me.


That's not a misunderstanding.That is much of what Buddhist meditation offers you. Although I would assert that there is no ultimate reality. What we eventually come to realaize is that all our dreams of an ultimate reality are some of the things that chase us around endlessly. What we have, all we ever have, is what we find right here and right now.

RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/19/16 7:10 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
I would like to start this thread to help me put the following concepts into a clearer understanding:


Hi Jim,
I am going to make a stab at this but keep in mind that there are many modern spiritual traditions - each with it’s own terminology and practices. Just within Buddhism you find many different schools and the various players do not necessarily agree with each other on what constitutes awakening and how it is achieved. For example, Mahasi Sayadaw and Ajahn Chah did not apparently agree on what awakening was - yet both were considered awakened within their respective traditions. And that is just within Theravada Buddhism - So... it’s complicated.

Realization vs. Nibbana:  Are these the same if not how are they related? How does realization lead to nibbana?

Short answer:
They might be referring to the same thing - if not they are probably referring to a stage of the same thing - just not the same stage.

Long answer:
First, let me introduce 2 terms: non-abiding awakening (temporary experiences) and abiding awakening (permanent shifts). These terms are used by adyashanti and they are consistent with my own experience. You find the same concept in zen where satori defines something temporary and kensho refers to a permanent shift.

So when people use the term realization try to look at the context to see if they are describing something permanent or temporary. Self realization is probably describing an abiding awakening. Adyashanti defines two types of abiding awakenings. The first, he calls enlightenment and begins with the experience of ego collapsing (this is how westerners often describe it). This stage is called Unitive by Bernedette Roberts, enlightenment by Actual Freedom guy (Richard), and Anagami (Thai Forest) - that will upset some folks. It is characterized by a sense of oneness, radiance, mystical, union with god - this kind of stuff. It is not the same as Nibbana. The second type is called Not-self by both Roberts and Adyashanti, Actual Freedom by Richard (that will upset some folks) and Arahat by Thai Forest - this will upset some more folks. Some like Thusness tack on a few more levels/sub-categories but these are the two main abiding shifts. This second shift is the on going experience of Nibbana (stream entry is the first experience of nibbana - but it is temporary).

I suppose I should mention here that I don’t relate to the MCTB stages. I say this because responding here on this forum - people who don’t know me may assume I am talking about these stages. It’s not a criticism. I read a few pages from Bernedette Roberts, Adyshanti, AF, Maha Boowa, Jed Mckenna and I can relate to what they are talking about. With Mahasi and MCTB - no. Maybe it’s the language/terminology - I don’t know - but my sense is that we are not talking about the same thing - again, not a criticism, not saying it doesn’t bring about lasting beneficial changes for people. Not questioning authenticity. Anyway, this is why I am referencing adyashanti, roberts, etc and not MCTB - it’s just what I relate to.

To add to confusion - just because people use terms like “I am”, God, oneness, etc - does not necessarily mean they are talking about the first abiding stage - the unitive. It depends on their own tradition, their audience, culture, belief system, etc. You have to be able to look at these descriptions in the greater context of how they unfold over time. Also, the language more associated with the Not Self folks is often grabbed onto by people at the previous (Unitive) stage to describe their own experience - further complicating things. And even after you experience this stuff, it is still confusing - a tower of Babel.

And just because patterns appear doesn’t mean that this thing has to unfold in that particular way - it may just mean that sometimes it does.

Letting go of attachments and aversions vs. Realizing not-self: For example does looking into the 5 skandhas to see they are not-self a) lead to letting go of attachments and aversion to them producing nibbana or b) lead to realization of not-self?

I am going to present this from the perspective of the ebt’s (early buddhist texts - suttas/agamas) - to the best of my ability. I will probably upset some more folks.

Realization (at the highest level) is the functional equivalent of nibbana. Realization is referring to the fact that you have come to know something directly - while nibbana is referring to the fact that samsara (wandering-on)/mind-made-world has come to an end - two sides of the same coin. not-self - as a practice - is part of a very specific recipe/practice spelled out in the ebts  - so yes to both a and b.

Samadhi vs. Realization: By "samadhi" I mean non-dual states that occur during meditation. Realization is also a non-dual state. Are they the same?

No. Samadhi is a temporary experience while Realization is a permanent change. They are not experientially the same thing. Samadhi is an important part of the recipe but not the final result (flour vs bread?). Realization is something entirely different.

Does a non-dual experience in meditation, ie samadhi, lead to the non-dual experience of realization. Or does samadhi just quiet the mind so it can obtain insight that leads to realization.

Yes, the latter. Think of the mind like a giant electro magnet - like they use in scrap yards. There is all this crap (aggregates) stuck to it. If you want to get the crap to release you have to turn off the current to the magnet - the experience of samadhi is what you are aware of as the current is reduced beyond a certain threshold - so it’s not something that you ‘do’ - it’s something that you are aware of. When the current reaches zero that is when the deathless will appear (stream entry) - the magnet experiences itself for the first time free of all that crap. Then, to your surprise - but you understand why - the current switches back on, and all the crap gets sucked back up by the magnet. It’s not subtle.

Mindfulness practices vs Meditation: By mindfulness I mean things like awareness of positions and actions. In the sutras it says, paraphrasing, when a practitioner is walking he is aware I am walking, same for standing, sitting, lying down, going forwards, going backwards,etc. Is this a form of meditation that leads to realizing not-self, or is it just a way to keep the mind quiet between meditation sessions where the real work is done?

Mostly the latter. It’s part of the recipe. What you are describing is usually translated as ‘clear comprehension’ where as mindfulness would apply more to meditation practice. It’s a way to train the mind to not wander off and it is also an essential quality for the practice of sila (usually translated as Virtue or Morality but personally I think Harmlessness is more accurate) and also for monks in following their code of discipline (vinaya). You have to know what you are doing when you are doing it before you can do it differently.

If it is a form of meditation, how does it work? How does it lead to insight or realization?

If you think about driving a car - first you have to know that you are driving a car and what is going on around you - that is like clear comprehension. But that is not enough - you have to know when to make corrections in steering, avoid obstacles, and keep in mind where you are trying to go - this is the role of mindfulness.

In  another thread you posted a quote from Lester Levenson - the source and context may be found here. The article describes Lesters path to awakening. At first, Lester is suicidal. But something tells him that the cause of his unhappiness comes from within and he starts investigating within himself. He feels a strong sense of desperation (compare this with the Buddhist term samvega). He starts investigating thoughts, feelings, the nature of happiness. He becomes very sensitive to what is going on in his mind and importantly becomes actively engaged in figuring out how to release and transform these experiences - this is mindfulness at work. As he goes further he becomes happier and happier - eventually describing the pleasure as something like orgasm. His mind grows very still, powers develop, and eventually he realizes a permanent sense of release.

Compare that story with this sutta - this is a standard recipe found in many places in the ebts. This is how traditionally these pieces fit together.

RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/19/16 8:16 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Wow, amazing response, Chuck!

RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/20/16 2:57 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Thanks, Chuck, for the detailed reply. I appreciate it.

One thing about Lester Levenson, Lester Levenson's Story doesn't really make clear what led to his realization. He actually use direct enquiry from a state of samadi. The people who post the Lester Levenson's Story are sometimes selling classes, books, and or tapes on "release" techniques that are a lot like the process described in the Lester Levenson's Story. It's not that it isn't true, it just isn't complete. Release techniques are based on the psychological healing aspect of Levenson's experience not the realization part and they are targeted toward a different group than those interesed in realization.

The actual process he went through is explained in more detail here:

http://www.stillnessspeaks.com/sitehtml/llevenson/keystoultimate.pdf


When I started my quest I thought “thinking” would give me the answers. I had a mind that was as active as any mind could be. But I was at the end of the line. I had had a second heart attack and they told me I was finished, that I had only a short time to live, and so I had to have the answers. And even though my mind was far more active than the great majority of minds, the intensity of the desire for the answers caused me to hold to one question at a time, obliterating all else. This concentration did it!

I started seeking with no knowledge of metaphysics, no knowledge of the way. In fact I was anti all religion and all metaphysics; I thought it was nonsense, for the weakminded, for people who believed in fairy tales.

But it was only because of the intensity of the desire to get the answers, I had to have the answers, that they began to come, and they came relatively quickly. Over a period of three month’s time I went from an extreme materialist to the opposite extreme: the material is nothingness and the spiritual is the All.

The wish to get the answer was so strong, that in spite of my mind being one of the noisiest of minds, the answers began to come. I automatically fell into things (I knew no words for them) like samadhi. I would concentrate on a question with such intensity that I would lose awareness of the world, lose awareness of this body, and then I would be aware of just a pure thought, the thought itself would be the only thing existing in this universe. That's absorption when the thinker and the thought become one. One loses consciousness of everything but that one thought. That's a very concentrated state of mind and the answer is always discovered right there.

I started with “What is happiness? What is life? What do I want? How do I get happiness?” I discovered that happiness depended upon my capacity to love. At first I thought it was in being loved. I reviewed my life and saw that I was very much loved by my family and friends and yet I was not happy. I saw that was not it. Continuing, I realized that it was my capacity to love that gave me happiness.

The next question was “What is intelligence?” I persisted until Ah! I saw it! There is only one intelligence in the universe and we all have a direct line to it.

Then I worked on responsibility and discovered that I was responsible for everything that happens or happened to me. Creation was something I created!

Finally, I held the question “What am I?” until the answer presented itself.

And this went on and in a matter of three month’s time I believe I saw the entire picture, went all the way, only because of the concentrated approach. I knew nothing about the subject; I knew nothing about the direction, the way, the path, but I wanted to know: “What am I? What is this world? What's my relationship to it?”

You discover that the whole world is nothing but you, that there never was anything but you all along, because there's only One and you are It! But that isn't the final state. You come out of it and there's still a certain amount of mind left. So you go back into the meditative quest until there is no more mind controlling you. When you've eliminated all the habits of thought, all the tendencies of mind, you are free; then you can use your mind and you are the master and director of it. It no longer determines you, you determine it.


RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/20/16 6:37 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.

Jim Smith:
Maybe I misunderstand Buddhism, but investigating things that create the illusion of self in order to see beyond into the ultimate reality makes much more sense to me.


Chris Marti:
That's not a misunderstanding.That is much of what Buddhist meditation offers you. Although I would assert that there is no ultimate reality. What we eventually come to realaize is that all our dreams of an ultimate reality are some of the things that chase us around endlessly. What we have, all we ever have, is what we find right here and right now.

Not being sure how either here interprets "ultimate reality", it may be worth clarifying that the terms in the Abhidhamma translated as "ultimate realities" actually refer to the irreducible phenomena that "we find right here and right now", i.e. sensations (rupa), mental states-processes (citta), qualities that differentiate those states (cestasika, e.g. kusala/skillful or akusala/unskillful), and "the unconditioned" (nibbana). All else is fabricated by the mind. Realities in this sense are not some kind of essence lying behind things, or anything like some sort of divinity underlying it all, which people s/t imply by the term.

RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/20/16 8:18 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Not being sure how either here interprets "ultimate reality"...

I suspect that in most instances "ultimate reality" means something beyond what we observe in everyday experience. So I answered it that way. There is a tendency among practitioners, especially in their early practice, to think they are looking for something special. That's typically part of the practice until eventually the realization occurs that there isn't anything like that to be found.


RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/20/16 9:26 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Bernadette Roberts: "...what most Buddhist authors define as the no-self experience is actually the no-ego experience. The cessation of clinging, craving, desire, the passions, etc., and the ensuing state of imperturbable peace and joy articulates the egoless state of oneness; it does not, however, articulate the no-self experience or the dimension beyond."



http://www.spiritualteachers.org/b_roberts_interview.htm

Interview with Bernadette Roberts Reprinted from the book Timeless Visions, Healing Voices, copyright 1991 by Stephan Bodian (www.stephanbodian.org). In this exclusive interview with Stephan Bodian, (published in the Nov/Dec 1986 issue of YOGA JOURNAL), author Bernadette Roberts describes the path of the Christian contemplative after the experience of oneness with God.
...
Initially, when I looked into Buddhism, I did not find the experience of no-self there either; yet I intuited that it had to be there. The falling away of the ego is common to both Hinduism and Buddhism. Therefore, it would not account for the fact that Buddhism became a separate religion, nor would it account for the Buddhist's insistence on no eternal Self - be it divine, individual or the two in one. I felt that the key difference between these two religions was the no-self experience, the falling away of the true Self, Atman-Brahman. Unfortunately, what most Buddhist authors define as the no-self experience is actually the no-ego experience. The cessation of clinging, craving, desire, the passions, etc., and the ensuing state of imperturbable peace and joy articulates the egoless state of oneness; it does not, however, articulate the no-self experience or the dimension beyond. Unless we clearly distinguish between these two very different experiences, we only confuse them, with the inevitable result that the true no-self experience becomes lost. If we think the falling away of the ego, with its ensuing transformation and oneness, is the no-self experience, then what shall we call the much further experience when this egoless oneness falls away? In actual experience there is only one thing to call it, the "no-self experience"; it lends itself to no other possible articulation.

Initially, I gave up looking for this experience in the Buddhist literature. Four years later, however, I came across two lines attributed to Buddha describing his enlightenment experience. Referring to self as a house, he said, "All thy rafters are broken now, the ridgepole is destroyed." And there it was - the disappearance of the center, the ridgepole; without it, there can be no house, no self. When I read these lines, it was as if an arrow launched at the beginning of time had suddenly hit a bulls-eye. It was a remarkable find. These lines are not a piece of philosophy, but an experiential account, and without the experiential account we really have nothing to go on. In the same verse he says, "Again a house thou shall not build," clearly distinguishing this experience from the falling away of the ego-center, after which a new, transformed self is built around a "true center," a sturdy, balanced ridgepole.


RE: Various related terms.
Answer
2/28/16 4:05 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:

Realization vs. Nibbana:  

Letting go of attachments and aversions vs. Realizing not-self: 

Samadhi vs. Realization:
By "samadhi" I mean non-dual states that occur during meditation. Realization is also a non-dual state. Are they the same? Does a non-dual experience in meditation, ie samadhi, lead to the non-dual experience of realization. Or does samadhi just quiet the mind so it can obtain insight that leads to realization.

Mindfulness practices vs Meditation: 

Thanks

Realisation = insight: the transformation of mind when insight occurs. Nibbana = peace: the peace that is experienced when/after realisation occurs. However, seeing insight leads to peace is also a realisation. 

Letting go of attachment can occur in two ways: (1) seeing directly attachments torment the mind; and (2) the result of realising not-self. The Pali scriptures state: (1) samadhi is developed by making 'letting go' the object of meditation - SN 48.10; and (2) letting go is the final result of insight - MN 118; SN 22.59, etc. Therefore, 'letting go' is both the path & result of practise. 'Letting go' as path occurs due to the volition or intention to let go. Where as 'letting go' as result occurs without volition; as the natural result of insight. 

Non-duality is a delusion or beguilement of samadhi (concentration). Non-duality feels like liberation only because the mind is not thinking or (temporarily) lacks a sense of self. However, in Buddhism, real realisation occurs when the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness & not-self of all conditioned things is experienced, which results in letting go & the destruction of craving. The Buddha's liberation was the destruction of craving (rather than non-duality based on samadhi). Samadhi (cleanliness; stillness; clarity; gentle malleability) is required as the foundation for insight into the 4 noble truths & 3 characteristics.

Mindfulness is not meditation. Mindfulness (sati) is a generic term that means to 'keep in mind'. For example, an assassin who wishes to murder a person must remain mindful of the person they want to shoot; in Buddhism, this is called 'wrong mindfulness'. 'Right mindfulness' means to keep 'right view' in the mind, namely, the abandoning or letting go of craving. Right mindfulness is to keep the mind in a state of letting go. The Pali meditation teachings state: "one is mindful to abandon liking & disliking/covetousness & distress in relation to the world". If the in & out breathing is observed with covetousness, that is wrong mindfulness. If rapture is clung to with covetnousness; that is wrong mindfulness. 

Regards