Message Boards Message Boards

Dealing with the Dark Night

Nana 6, 7 & 8: One Stage

Nana 6, 7 & 8: One Stage
12/6/17 8:41 PM
Paraphrasing Manual of Insight (p.388) - fear, misery & disgust are one stage in 3 degrees of maturity.  Did anyone else know this?  Thoughts?

In my experience they are different in quality & flavor so they seem standalone.  But this is Mahasi talking...

RE: Nana 6, 7 & 8: One Stage
12/6/17 9:31 PM as a reply to Noah D.
I'm almost finished reading Mahasi Sayadaw's 'Manual of Insight' and I've noticed too how sometimes he puts a few nanas together and says there part of the same stage. For example, if I remember well, desire for deliverance, re-ob and equanimity are lumped together as being in the same territory.

What I speculate, based on reading and some of my experiences (not totally reliable I gather because I'm not totally clear about this), is that after dissolution the territory may stay the same (meaning things keep dissolving) but experienced with different qualities of mind and levels of concentration. E.g. dissolution experienced with fear. Dissolution giving rise to disgusting images or feelings that life is miserable. Dissolution experienced in a deep but wide concentrated state.

I could be off here. I'm curious to read what others may have to say on this.

RE: Nana 6, 7 & 8: One Stage
12/6/17 10:24 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Ben & Noah,

I can’t speak much on fear, misery, and disgust being the same broader knowledge, except that they have the obvious theme of dhukka through them. But regarding desire for deliverance, reobservation, and equanimity, Buddhagosa in his Visuddhimagga also says that desire for are one stage. 

From Chapter XXI of the Visuddhimagga:
79. This [knowledge of equanimity about formations] is the same in meaning
as the two kinds that precede it. Hence the Ancients said: “This knowledge of
equanimity about formations is one only and has three names. At the outset it
has the name of knowledge of desire for deliverance. In the middle it has the
name knowledge of reflection. At the end, when it has reached its culmination,
it is called knowledge of equanimity about formations.”
80. “How is it that understanding of desire for deliverance, of reflection [i.e. reobservation], and of
composure [i.e. equanimity] is knowledge of the kinds of equanimity about formations?
Understanding of desire for deliverance, of reflection, and composure [occupied
with] arising is knowledge of equanimity about formations. Understanding of
desire for deliverance, of reflection, and of composure [occupied with] occurrence
… the sign … (etc., see §37) … with despair is knowledge of equanimity about
formations” (Paþis I 60f.).
81. Herein, the compound muñcitukamyatá-paþisaòkhá-santiþþhaná(“consisting
in desire for deliverance, in reflection, and in composure”) should be resolved
intomuñcitukamyatá ca sá paþisaòkhá ca santiþþhaná ca. So [661] in the first stage it
is desire to give up, the desire to be delivered from, arising, etc., in one who has
become dispassionate by knowledge of dispassion that is desire for deliverance. It
is reflection in the middle stage for the purpose of finding a means to deliverance
that is reflection. It is equanimous onlooking in the end stage on being delivered
that is composure. It is said with reference to this: “Arising is formations; he looks
with equanimity on those formations; thus it is equanimity about formations”
(Paþis I 61), and so on. So this is only one kind of knowledge.
82. Furthermore, it may be understood that this is so from the following text;
for this is said: “Desire for deliverance, and contemplation of reflection, and
equanimity about formations: these things are one in meaning and only the
letter is different” (Paþis II 64).
(Translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Ñáóamoli, freely given at, except italiziced terms in brackets which I added)

This is pretty technical and somewhat beyond me right now, but I think the jist is that the mental development that takes place in nana-s 9, 10, and 11 flows together even if the experiences themselves are quite disjointed and even at complete opposite ends of the vedena spectrum. After the fear, misery, and disgust (aka disenchantment) in the preceding knowledges, the meditator gets truly fed up and wants to get out of it. This is desire for deliverance. However the meditator's mind is too noisy, still clings/craves too much to let go into nibbana (one of the three types of craving is vibhava tanha, or the desire to not be), and the factors of enlightenment are not present. So the meditator resolves to keep at it, keep observing, keep doing vipassana, and enters reobservation. During reobservation the meditation matures somewhat. I was at a few dhamma talks given by Ven Sayadaw Vivekanda where he went over reobservation in a lot of detail, and it’s a somewhat complicated unfolding in itself, and equanimity grows throughout reobservation. Then at some point there’s a sharp transition, and the equanimity gets much stronger, and this is equanimity nana, although a lot of backsliding can occur. In mature Eq, the mind is free enough to do what it first wanted to do in desire for deliverance: let go completely. In all three nana-s, the meditator is looking at the same thing: formations. This is also what we look at in all the other nana-s, so this is a partial explanation at best.
Interstingly, the Visuddhimagga says that if a meditator in either of these three stages stops meditating, the meditator will eventually fall back down to the knowledge of disgust. I wonder if that’s because the current broader insight class (DfD, ReObs, & Eq) is unfinished so practice falls back to the last thoroughly understood knowledge.
I don’t know. I think all of this stuff if endlessly fascinating, but even more than understanding the dynamics of it, I’d love to know why the mind unfolds this way in the first place.

RE: Nana 6, 7 & 8: One Stage
12/7/17 6:23 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Fear, misery and disgust are all different reactions to the same 'stuff'. The difference between these ñanas is purely down to how the meditator is acquainted with the passing away of phenomena.

As fear is the initial natural response to realising nothing, even the self is permanent, misery is the immature realization that one cannot avoid such phenomena, and disgust is the process of disidentifying with the same be phenomena.

I guess desire for deliverance is too different by nature and is considered a different ñana.

With regards to fear misery and disgust, it can be likened to a person being around other people he considers threatening. His first reaction will be to turn his back in fear due to the lack of understanding of his company. As he realises he can't get away, this turns into a sense of misery (also known as danger) where he can face the others, but still doesn't want to be there. Disgust is realising that these people haven't hurt him, but he still doesn't want to become them. I guess desire for deliverance is the dissolution of the nature of separation to this experience and Re-Observation is the dissolution of the aversion that the sense of separation relies upon.

RE: Nana 6, 7 & 8: One Stage
12/7/17 7:16 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Thanks everyone so far.

Definitely multiple takes on the matter , no surprise there.  

I do already notice some difference between my take on the nanas & that of Mahasi .  I can't quote pin it down, but the nanas are somehow a more active ingredient in the Mahasi take - like they have a strategy of how they reorganize ones whole take on life.  I've thought of them in the past as a "naturally occurring physio-energetic thingy."  But I digress.

RE: Nana 6, 7 & 8: One Stage
12/7/17 7:36 AM as a reply to Noah D.
I'll go with you on the naturally occuring physio-energetic take. I'd like to add and suggest that perhaps it's the only possible means of discovery due to a combination of the manner in which distortions are created with dependent origination, and the organisms need for survival.

RE: Nana 6, 7 & 8: One Stage
12/7/17 10:17 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Also another point paraphrased from page 397 - Nana 3 & 10 are mature & immature or general & specific versions of the same recognition.  This makes a lot of sense.  

Overall, it seems like the traditional take requires more study, contemplation & morality than the post traditional pragdharm one.  With the former leading to the path & fruit & the latter leading to only the path.  That last bit matches the data I've seen in myself & my friends.