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Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu sawfoot _ 12/14/13 1:08 PM
RE: Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu Richard Zen 12/14/13 1:26 PM
Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification Ian And 12/15/13 1:12 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification sawfoot _ 12/15/13 5:09 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification Ian And 12/16/13 12:15 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification sawfoot _ 12/16/13 8:03 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification Ian And 12/16/13 11:12 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification sawfoot _ 12/16/13 12:33 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification Bruno Loff 12/17/13 5:34 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification sawfoot _ 12/17/13 9:15 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification triple think 12/17/13 11:30 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification triple think 12/16/13 7:06 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification sawfoot _ 12/16/13 8:06 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification triple think 12/16/13 1:52 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification Chuck Kasmire 12/17/13 12:38 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification sawfoot _ 12/17/13 3:29 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification triple think 12/17/13 6:20 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification Chuck Kasmire 12/17/13 12:24 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/17/13 3:01 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification sawfoot _ 12/17/13 6:36 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification triple think 12/17/13 9:18 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification Chuck Kasmire 12/18/13 2:26 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification sawfoot _ 12/19/13 1:08 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification triple think 12/19/13 1:38 AM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification Chuck Kasmire 12/19/13 12:13 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification sawfoot _ 12/20/13 12:52 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification Stian Gudmundsen Høiland 12/20/13 2:11 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification John Wilde 12/20/13 3:13 PM
RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification sawfoot _ 12/21/13 2:50 AM
RE: Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu Chuck Kasmire 12/15/13 9:51 AM
RE: Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu Bruno Loff 12/15/13 7:23 PM
RE: Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu sawfoot _ 12/16/13 4:05 PM
RE: Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu triple think 12/16/13 4:54 PM
I have been reading Thanissaro Bhikkhu recently - first time I have really read his stuff (Katy's recent post with an interview gave me a taster). He has a newish book out, which is about breath meditation Each and every breath (available for free and backed up by a wealth of related resources). So I really liked the book, and wanted to summarise the bits I thought were important, and thought I would share that here. So this is a condensation of his condensation of the/a Buddhist path.

If you end up saying the same thing over and over again in different ways, you become very good at refining that message. TB is a scholar of the sutta's, and writes in a way that is both seemingly authentic and definitive about the "core teachings of the Buddha". The 4 noble truths are integral to the approach, and so it feels like real Buddhism. As I understand it though, his interpretation of Buddhism is his interpretation. It is idiosyncratic and individual to him but it has strength as a unified and coherent approach.

I didn't get that much value from the "meditation and daily life" and "finding a teacher" chapters. Here he is banging his monk's drum. But the introduction, the chapters on concentration with the breath, and advanced practice, are really excellent. Relatively short, yet jam packed with wisdom and good practice. He is able to take advanced topics, for example, the formless realms, and writes about with great clarity, at a level for both beginners and advanced practitioners. And in a few chapters he outlines a complete systematic approach which can take you all the way to stream entry, in theory.

His approach is based on the Thai Forest tradition, and his teacher, and the teacher of his teacher, Ajaan Lee's guide to meditation ("method 2") http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html, which is based on apanapasanati (and contains it all) and in this approach there is no distinction between Samatha and Vipassana, as sometimes found in commentarial traditions. Rather, they are intrinsically linked. And the breath is the key to the whole approach. He outlines many reasons why using the breath is advantageous. One that struck a cord with me was finding the pleasure in the breath, which makes the idea of meditation more fun and interesting, which could seep into everyday life as working with the breath becomes an off-cushion tool And a core idea was using the refinement of pleasure then to find increasingly subtle levels of stress. TB uses the term stress where others would use "suffering", and in the contexts he uses it in it I prefer that term. Jhanas turn out to be crucial, in allowing that refinement to see stress more clearly. Jhanas are described but the approach involves not deliberately learning them, but discovering and exploring these states organically.

The whole approach is based on discovery, exploration, experimentation and learning about the breath. Treating meditation as your laboratory. See what works, what doesn't, what relaxes, what causes stress, where is stress, what proceeds, and what follows stress. Manipulate, play, learn. And the act of trying to become concentrated (and relaxed) leads to a process of insight; the more concentrated you become the clearer the insight becomes. This rings true in my own experience as a pre-path practitioner, and I tend to assume that unless you are very advanced, insight and concentration practice always go hand in hand.

TB has a section on "release" which I took to mean STREAM ENTRY, which he describes as a taste of the deathless. He doesn't go into details, as he worries that too much description could cloud the experience and the necessary steps to get there. He instead discusses some of the lessons learnt from it. He stresses that this is just a taste, and for testing the truth of that release you need to know what you did to get there, so you can have a "mundane breakthrough", and warns of complacency.

An important concept is that of "becoming" - the construction of mental worlds. Becoming is a process of fabrication. Insight is used to see fabrication, but the path itself involves fabrication - fabrication of skilful states. So this is contrast to an approach like zen, in that the aim is to deliberately produce skilful states of mind, to fabricate experience in a certain way (such as with Jhanas - though eventually go beyond that - see below).

He points out the Buddha refused to answer whether we have a self or not. TB notes that we can see the construction of a self through becoming, and can recognise if this is skilful or not. And integral to the TB approach is the idea that the path involves not seeing "no-self", but instead seeing "self" and becoming disenfranchised with it, which leads to dis-identification. This is the ultimate goal - once you see clearly enough how becoming causes stress, you can decide that you don't want to live your life like that any more. Through "discernment" (his term for "wisdom") you see that, and through virtue (sila/morality) you act in skilful (virtuous) ways.

He explicitly points out the path does not involve finding your "true self". He makes continual use of the metaphor as the mind as a committee, which matches well the view of the mind of modern science, and analyses the 5 aggregates as being built around different kinds of desire (he uses the metaphor of desire as "feeding"). And what I particularly liked was how made very concrete and clear a strategy of seeing and experiencing anatta, and how that leads to stream entry (though he doesn't use that word)

A few key quotes on that topic:

"Look for any rise or fall in the level of stress within that experience. Then look for the activity of the mind that accompanies that rise and fall. When you see the activity in action, drop it. This is called contemplating inconstancy and the stress in inconstancy. When you see the stress, ask yourself if anything inconstant and stressful is worth claiming as you or yours. When you realize that the answer is No, this is called contemplating not-self. You’re not taking a stance on whether or not there is a self. You’re simply asking whether you want to identify with the parts of the committee creating the stress."

"As long as you hold to these identities and these worlds as having solid unity, it’s hard
to go beyond them. It’s hard to let go of them. This is why the Buddha’s strategy is to
sidestep this sense of solid unity by regarding the building blocks of identity as actions, for
actions are easier to let go of than a solid sense of who you are."

"The sense of disenchantment—which in most cases reaches maturity only after you’ve approached these contemplations from many angles—is the crucial turning point in this process."

"When you pursue these contemplations until they reach a point of disenchantment, the
mind inclines toward something outside of space and time, something that wouldn’t be
subject to the drawbacks of these activities. At this point, it wants nothing to do with any
of the committee members of the mind, even the ones observing and directing its
concentration, or the underlying ones that keep asking and demanding an answer to the
questions of hunger: “What’s next? Where next? What to do next?” The mind sees that
even the choice of staying in place or moving forward to another state of concentration—
even though it’s a choice between two relatively skillful alternatives—is a choice between
nothing but two stressful alternatives, for both are fabrications. At this point it’s poised for
something that doesn’t involve either alternative, something that involves no fabrication.
When it sees the opening in that poise, it lets go and experiences the deathless. That’s the
first stage in experiencing release. In this way, the mind dis-identifies with all becomings without even thinking about “self” or “worlds.” It looks simply at actions as actions. It sees them as stressful,
unnecessary, and not worth the effort. That’s what enables it to let go. "

What I didn't like: he talks about "ultimate happiness" (and paraphrases of that), and whenever anyone uses the word "ultimate" I smell bullshit. And it is pretty crucial to the whole thing. I presume this is linked to assumptions based on concepts of reincarnation and karma - and why one should act skilfully. But even if you don't buy into that, being "skilful" seems sensible for its own sake. And this "ultimate" is linked to the great emphasis on the "deathless" and it being unconditioned, "
It’s an experience of total, unalloyed freedom and happiness…where suffering and stress all end." And if it comes from the same brain that produces all our other mind states it can't be unconditioned, in at least how understand the term.

RE: Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Answer
12/14/13 1:26 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Thanks! That's a good website.

Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/15/13 1:12 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:

What I didn't like: he talks about "ultimate happiness" (and paraphrases of that), and whenever anyone uses the word "ultimate" I smell bullshit. And it is pretty crucial to the whole thing. I presume this is linked to assumptions based on concepts of reincarnation and karma - and why one should act skilfully.

But even if you don't buy into that, being "skilful" seems sensible for its own sake. And this "ultimate" is linked to the great emphasis on the "deathless" and it being unconditioned, "It’s an experience of total, unalloyed freedom and happiness…where suffering and stress all end." And if it comes from the same brain that produces all our other mind states it can't be unconditioned, in at least how understand the term.

Hi sawfoot,

Thanissaro Bhikkhu is the genuine article; and for that reason alone he needs to be given some space before tearing into the intent of what he writes. Presumption can be a double edged sword that can leave one wishing they hadn't used it. And while I, too, have some mild critiques about some of his translation word choices, he generally displays not only great scholarly knowledge but also deep personal knowledge and mastery of the practice. In short, the man knows what he is talking about, even if we don't always agree with the way he expresses it.

I noticed your (mis-)use of the word "reincarnation" in reference to the Dhamma. The Dhamma that Gotama taught does not use that word, but rather uses the word "rebirth" which has a totally different meaning to it in the soteriological and ontological sense that Gotama used it.

Reincarnation is a belief in the transmigration of the “soul” or "self" of a person after death — to another body. On the whole, those who follow the Dhamma accept a teaching of rebirth while Hindus, Jains, and some Christians believe in reincarnation.

Rebirth is the acceptance in the continuity of karmic tendencies from one life to another.

Very briefly, it is possible to view reincarnation as the continuity of the person (and the specific personality) after death, while rebirth refers to the continuity of karmic tendencies — not the person — after death.

The concept of reincarnation does not fit within the Dhammic teaching on impermanence, which teaches that one’s current conventional self is transient, and that there is no fixed or substantial soul or personality that goes from body to body upon the demise of the primary host body. Most Buddhists do not believe in a permanent self (anatman or anatta, without enduring self) but accept that the human consciousness (the "I" or self) dissolves at death and that only a subtle mindstream remains. The mindstream carries with it karmic imprints from prior lives (but not memories and emotions associated with prior lives, unless the person is a highly developed spiritual practitioner, in which case reincarnation is possible) and it is this subtle mindstream that conjoins with a new life-form after death.

With regard to Thanissaro's use of the word "ultimate" in reference to happiness, it seems pretty clear that his intent is not to become controversial. There's only one passage in the book that I was able to find its use in:

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
As the meditation develops, discernment frees you from progressively subtler levels until it can drop the subtlest levels that stand in the way of the unfabricated dimension: the unconditioned dimension that constitutes the ultimate happiness.


It seems fairly clear (at least to my reading of it) that he is referring here to the experience of nibbana or the signless stage of mind wherein its conditioning has subsided, leaving crystal clarity in its wake.

Context and exactitude are two elements one needs to take into consideration both when reading the Dhamma and those who write about it. Presumptions, especially when they are made in error, can often lead one in the opposite direction of genuine clarity. Take care in your subsequent reading.

In peace,
Ian

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/15/13 5:09 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:
sawfoot _:

What I didn't like: he talks about "ultimate happiness" (and paraphrases of that), and whenever anyone uses the word "ultimate" I smell bullshit. And it is pretty crucial to the whole thing. I presume this is linked to assumptions based on concepts of reincarnation and karma - and why one should act skilfully.

But even if you don't buy into that, being "skilful" seems sensible for its own sake. And this "ultimate" is linked to the great emphasis on the "deathless" and it being unconditioned, "It’s an experience of total, unalloyed freedom and happiness…where suffering and stress all end." And if it comes from the same brain that produces all our other mind states it can't be unconditioned, in at least how understand the term.


Hi sawfoot,

Thanissaro Bhikkhu is the genuine article; and for that reason alone he needs to be given some space before tearing into the intent of what he writes. Presumption can be a double edged sword that can leave one wishing they hadn't used it. And while I, too, have some mild critiques about some of his translation word choices, he generally displays not only great scholarly knowledge but also deep personal knowledge and mastery of the practice. In short, the man knows what he is talking about, even if we don't always agree with the way he expresses it.

I noticed your (mis-)use of the word "reincarnation" in reference to the Dhamma. The Dhamma that Gotama taught does not use that word, but rather uses the word "rebirth" which has a totally different meaning to it in the soteriological and ontological sense that Gotama used it.

Reincarnation is a belief in the transmigration of the “soul” or "self" of a person after death — to another body. On the whole, those who follow the Dhamma accept a teaching of rebirth while Hindus, Jains, and some Christians believe in reincarnation.

Rebirth is the acceptance in the continuity of karmic tendencies from one life to another.

Very briefly, it is possible to view reincarnation as the continuity of the person (and the specific personality) after death, while rebirth refers to the continuity of karmic tendencies — not the person — after death.

The concept of reincarnation does not fit within the Dhammic teaching on impermanence, which teaches that one’s current conventional self is transient, and that there is no fixed or substantial soul or personality that goes from body to body upon the demise of the primary host body. Most Buddhists do not believe in a permanent self (anatman or anatta, without enduring self) but accept that the human consciousness (the "I" or self) dissolves at death and that only a subtle mindstream remains. The mindstream carries with it karmic imprints from prior lives (but not memories and emotions associated with prior lives, unless the person is a highly developed spiritual practitioner, in which case reincarnation is possible) and it is this subtle mindstream that conjoins with a new life-form after death.

With regard to Thanissaro's use of the word "ultimate" in reference to happiness, it seems pretty clear that his intent is not to become controversial. There's only one passage in the book that I was able to find its use in:

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
As the meditation develops, discernment frees you from progressively subtler levels until it can drop the subtlest levels that stand in the way of the unfabricated dimension: the unconditioned dimension that constitutes the ultimate happiness.


It seems fairly clear (at least to my reading of it) that he is referring here to the experience of nibbana or the signless stage of mind wherein its conditioning has subsided, leaving crystal clarity in its wake.

Context and exactitude are two elements one needs to take into consideration both when reading the Dhamma and those who write about it. Presumptions, especially when they are made in error, can often lead one in the opposite direction of genuine clarity. Take care in your subsequent reading.

In peace,
Ian


Hi Ian,

I agree with you about TB being the real deal and being worthy of consideration, which is why I posted this. I actually liked the translation choices, in that it gives a somewhat fresh pespective compared to more commonly used terms (i.e. dukkha as "stress").

I am broadly aware of the difference between reincarnation and rebirth. While though I appreciate it is an important distinction for most, I always took the doctrine of rebirth as a subtle reworking of anatman via the back door, and hence I see them often as interchangeable, and exactitude in such matters seems to me a bit like arguing how many arms the giant spaghetti monster has.

I know he only used the phrase "ultimate happiness" once, which is why I wote "and paraphrases of that" immediately after. The term "genuine happiness" comes up a lot which I took as being a paraphase, along with "total freedom" and "total alloyed freedom". Of course, they do come up in different contexts, but I assumed they were pointing to the same thing, though I make that assumption partly from not fully understanding what he means by them.

So my two questions to you are: do you think he is pointing at something substantially different with those phrases, and (in your interpretation of TB's thought, or in your own) how intrinsic is the idea of rebirth to realization and meaning of such states?

Yours, in presumption,

Sawfoot_

RE: Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Answer
12/15/13 9:51 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
I have been reading Thanissaro Bhikkhu recently - ..So this is a condensation of his condensation of the/a Buddhist path.


Hey sawfoot,

Nice condensation of condensation. Thank you. A good skill in this worldly wordy world of ours.

He has some very good longer talks on various subjects over at audiodharma.org that are pretty interesting. They bring out his sense of humor and personality nicely.

RE: Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Answer
12/15/13 7:23 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
What a nice overview of the book!

After "each and every breath" I got into "the wings to awakening," which I found marvelous. Nowadays it is the book that serves as my intelectual ground for thinking about buddhist meditation, deciding what I want to do and how to go about it, etc.

It is Thanissaro's rendering of "the seven sets" which, he claims, were the teachings that the buddha considered most precious.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/16/13 12:15 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:

I am broadly aware of the difference between reincarnation and rebirth. While though I appreciate it is an important distinction for most, I always took the doctrine of rebirth as a subtle reworking of anatman via the back door, and hence I see them often as interchangeable, and exactitude in such matters seems to me a bit like arguing how many arms the giant spaghetti monster has.

The point I was endeavoring to get across is just the opposite of the view you have chosen (at least at this stage in your practice) to accept. That point being: that rebirth and reincarnation are not interchangeable. However, I can certainly understand why (or how) you might accept the view that they are. What that view tells me is that a deeper understanding and realization of the teaching on dependent co-arising needs to take place before the differentiation shows up within one's perception of these two concepts. It seems obvious that you aren't seeing that differentiation; and that is fine for now.

sawfoot _:

I know he only used the phrase "ultimate happiness" once, which is why I wrote "and paraphrases of that" immediately after. The term "genuine happiness" comes up a lot which I took as being a paraphrase, along with "total freedom" and "total alloyed freedom". Of course, they do come up in different contexts, but I assumed they were pointing to the same thing, though I make that assumption partly from not fully understanding what he means by them.

So my two questions to you are: do you think he is pointing at something substantially different with those phrases, ...

Context is the only criteria upon which one can take a standpoint with regard to the meaning of the use of any given phrase or word. So, to throw out context, is to throw the baby out with the bath water (in my humble opinion).

In the case of the phrase "genuine happiness," it seems (to me at least) that he is speaking about an affective state within one's emotional stability. Not about nibbana, per se. To your way of viewing this, the mind is associating the reaction of an outcome with the cause of the outcome and not with the process of the cause itself. They are two separate things.

With regard to the phrase "total freedom" let's look at an example of its use: "So even if you don’t make it all the way to total freedom from stress and suffering, meditation can help you to handle your sufferings more skillfully..." Here, it is being used in association with the attainment of nibbana, and not with the affective state that may result from having attained nibbana. The cause (nibbana) is not the outcome (happiness); and the outcome is not the cause. These are two separate elements, even though they may be closely associated with one another in terms of cause and effect. Nibbana means the cessation of all formations; that is not what the experience of the emotion of "happiness" necessarily implies. Rather, happiness implies the opposite of cessation. It implies movement within the mind. Nibbana most definitely is not associated with mental movement, but rather its opposite.

I wasn't able to find an instance in the book of the phrase "total alloyed freedom" with the search mechanism in Adobe Reader. And therefore am not able to comment on that phrase for lack of existence and context.

sawfoot _:
. . . and (in your interpretation of TB's thought, or in your own) how intrinsic is the idea of rebirth to realization and meaning of such states?

The following is my thought with regard to the question you posed; I haven't had an opportunity to read Thanissaro's book yet, and so am not able to comment on his thought. While one may be perfectly able to attain to realization without a full understanding of the concept of rebirth, if that person were looking forward in this life (the one in which he or she attained realization) as being the last in a series of lives, if he wasn't aware of the process that produces such transitions (i.e. from one physical life to another) then I find it difficult to accept that this (present) life (in which he achieved realization) will end up being his last in a series. If the person is unaware of the process of rebirth, how is that ignorance going to assist him when it comes time for him to either be reborn into another physical body or to forego that experience (assuming that an essential part of his goal was to end the cycle of rebirths)? I will leave it to you to decide.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/16/13 7:06 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
I am broadly aware of the difference between reincarnation and rebirth. While though I appreciate it is an important distinction for most, I always took the doctrine of rebirth as a subtle reworking of anatman via the back door, and hence I see them often as interchangeable, and exactitude in such matters seems to me a bit like arguing how many arms the giant spaghetti monster has.

I know he only used the phrase "ultimate happiness" once, which is why I wote "and paraphrases of that" immediately after. The term "genuine happiness" comes up a lot which I took as being a paraphase, along with "total freedom" and "total alloyed freedom". Of course, they do come up in different contexts, but I assumed they were pointing to the same thing, though I make that assumption partly from not fully understanding what he means by them.

So my two questions to you are: do you think he is pointing at something substantially different with those phrases, and (in your interpretation of TB's thought, or in your own) how intrinsic is the idea of rebirth to realization and meaning of such states?

Yours, in presumption,

Sawfoot_
hi SawsAll,
I'm keen for you to cut through this other foot, I feel creaky in the knees and my back could use some extended down time...

In the meantime, on the way over, I can take a swipe at the rebirth/re-inky thingie.

The effort to comprehend this truth directly is why attending well to the three characteristic marks is frequently cited.

If and when the three characteristics of sensation and perception and thus of the momentary nature of experience become clear enough, and when it further eventually becomes obvious enough that these characteristics are not simply of the nature of what is perceptible and of that which is perceived but that these characteristics are invariable in relation to dependently conditioned being and becoming;

then,

the unsatisfactoriness of the ongoingness of being and becoming becomes more obvious, if not immediately or progressively entirely unpleasant and oppressive in appearance and in effect.

Further, being with reference to the temporality of any given moment of the assignment of name and of the percipience and sense of form is always with reference to a group of conditions which are all also continually becoming otherwise.

This being so, there is never any even directly sequential being which is the same as any directly previous being of any sort all of which are becoming otherwise ongoing from one moment to the next moment.

As this is so, there can likewise be no such becoming of any ongoing being. A continuity of being can not ever become from one moment to the next and so too this can not be so from one type of compounding of this concatenation of repeatedly becoming otherwise names of or types of becoming forms to the next with reference to any time frames of any lengths.

What can be seen to be ongoing and unrelenting owing to dependence upon conditions and conditioning is only this becoming otherwise.

This is why the mitigation in any ways of this, a process of ongoing becoming otherwise, is incrementally ever more pleasing. No less so, the exhaustion and complete extinction any of these becoming otherwise processes are ultimately a complete relief from the dependent conditions and conditioning thereby involved conditions of dependency, or of bondage or of binding up with conditions which by nature are conformatively always unsatisfactory and which are therefore likewise to one extent or another also unsatisfactory and unpleasant.

The logic of this may be difficult to follow, so to put this as simply as possible;
That which is BECOMING OTHERWISE is all that is ever BEING in any case, be this from one moment to the next or from one kind or type of existence to another or from one lifetime to the next.

Furthermore then, comprehension of this state of affairs is beneficial, taking the changes in hand and directing these transformations is pleasing and ultimately mastering this entire process is ultimately satisfying.

Hope that helps,
btw, when you get done with that Saw over here...
do you have any matches?
I could use a light...
- triplethink

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
5.
Answer
12/16/13 8:03 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Thanks Ian, I appreciate the efforts and your responses to my questions, though on further reflection on these matters it just strengthens my impressions which led to the initial comments about the weaknesses of this book,TB's (and Buddhist) thought, and his writing.

Some more of the contexts, and my summary, below:

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:


0. "You can train the mind to access a totally reliable
happiness, a happiness that causes no harm to you or to anyone else.
Not only is the goal of meditation good; the means for attaining that goal are good as
well. They’re activities and mental qualities you can be proud to develop: things like
honesty, integrity, compassion, mindfulness, and discernment. Because true happiness
comes from within, it doesn’t require that you take anything from anyone else. Your true
happiness doesn’t conflict with the true happiness of anyone else in the world. And when
you find true happiness inside, you have more to share with others."

1. "Always remember that genuine happiness is possible, and the mind can train itself to find that happiness.
These are probably the most important premises underlying the practice of breath
meditation. There are many dimensions to the mind, dimensions often obscured by the
squabbling of the committee members and their fixation with fleeting forms of happiness.
One of those dimensions is totally unconditioned. In other words, it’s not dependent on
conditions at all. It’s not affected by space or time. It’s an experience of total, unalloyed
freedom and happiness. This is because it’s free from hunger and from the need to feed."

2. "So even if you don’t make it all the way to total freedom from stress and suffering,
meditation can help you to handle your sufferings more skillfully"

3. "One is that the Buddha was right: There really is a deathless dimension, outside of
space and time. And it really is free of suffering and stress.

On returning from that dimension into the dimensions of space and time, you realize
that your experience of space and time didn’t begin just with this birth. It’s been going on much longer. You may not be able to remember the particulars of previous lifetimes, but you do know that they’ve been happening for a long, long time.

Because you reached that dimension by abandoning the activities of fabrication, you
know that it was through the activities of fabrication that you have been engaged in space and time all along. In other words, you’re not just a passive observer of space and time. Your actions play a crucial role in shaping your experience of space and time. Your actions are thus of foremost importance. Because you see that unskillful actions simply make it more difficult to access the deathless, you never want to break the five precepts ever again.

Because none of the aggregates were involved in the experience of the deathless, and
yet there was still an awareness of that dimension, you see that the act of identifying with the aggregates is a choice that places limitations on you. You’ll never again agree with the view that they constitute what you are.

Because you realize that the deathless dimension was always available, but that you
missed it because of your own stupidity, the first taste of release is humbling. It’s not a
source of pride.

But above all, you realize that the activities of engaging in space and time are
inherently stressful. The only true happiness lies in gaining total release. There is no
activity more worthwhile than that.

It’s important not to mistake a mundane breakthrough for genuine release, for that can
make you heedless and complacent in your practice. One of the touchstones for testing the truth of your release is whether it feels grounding or disorienting. If it’s disorienting, it’s not the real thing, for the deathless is the safest, most secure dimension there is.
Another touchstone for testing the truth of your release is whether you understood
what you did to get there, for that’s what provides insight into the role of fabrication and mental action in shaping all experience. If your mind senses a great unburdening but without understanding how it happened, it’s not release. It’s just a mundane breakthrough.
So don’t be heedless.

However, even people who have attained their first taste of genuine release can grow
heedless, as the safety of their attainment can lower their sense of urgency in the practice.

They can start getting complacent. So whether your sense that you’ve tasted release is
genuine or not, the advice is always the same: Don’t be heedless. There’s more work to do."

4. "The more clearly you see what’s happening in the present, the more likely you are to make skillful choices: ones that will lead to genuine happiness—and, with practice, will bring you closer and closer to total freedom from suffering and stress—now and into the future."

5. "As the meditation develops, discernment frees you from progressively
subtler levels until it can drop the subtlest levels that stand in the way of the unfabricated
dimension: the unconditioned dimension that constitutes the ultimate happiness."



So in these quotes he is describing the experience of "total, unalloyed freedom and happiness" (1) (affective states) associated with the actual experience (3) of "the deathless", a dimension that constitutes "the ultimate happiness" (5). This experience can be a case of "genuine release" (or a non-genuine one), but in itself is just a "taste" of "genuine release" - it is an experience of "release" but it can't be "genuine release" if it is just a taste. Then there is the realization from this taste that the only "true happiness" is in gaining "total release" (3). So we work towards "total freedom" (2), in an attempt to find "genuine happiness" (1, 4) (on the way?), a "true happiness" that is " totally reliable" (0), and this process is associated with regularly accessing an experience of "total, unalloyed freedom and happiness" (the deathless (3)), which can eventually lead to "total freedom" (4), the "only true happiness" (3) that comes from "total release" (3).

So you can experience a taste of genuine release through an experience of total, unalloyed freedom and happiness, (ultimate happiness), which leads to genuine, true and reliable happiness, and eventually, over time, total freedom, true happiness and total release.

Phew...No wonder I am confused. TB has quite the fondness for words like genuine, ultimate, total, and true - words that I would normally recommend avoiding with a large barge pole.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/16/13 8:06 AM as a reply to triple think.
triple think:
sawfoot _:
I am broadly aware of the difference between reincarnation and rebirth. While though I appreciate it is an important distinction for most, I always took the doctrine of rebirth as a subtle reworking of anatman via the back door, and hence I see them often as interchangeable, and exactitude in such matters seems to me a bit like arguing how many arms the giant spaghetti monster has.

I know he only used the phrase "ultimate happiness" once, which is why I wote "and paraphrases of that" immediately after. The term "genuine happiness" comes up a lot which I took as being a paraphase, along with "total freedom" and "total alloyed freedom". Of course, they do come up in different contexts, but I assumed they were pointing to the same thing, though I make that assumption partly from not fully understanding what he means by them.

So my two questions to you are: do you think he is pointing at something substantially different with those phrases, and (in your interpretation of TB's thought, or in your own) how intrinsic is the idea of rebirth to realization and meaning of such states?

Yours, in presumption,

Sawfoot_
hi SawsAll,
I'm keen for you to cut through this other foot, I feel creaky in the knees and my back could use some extended down time...

In the meantime, on the way over, I can take a swipe at the rebirth/re-inky thingie.

The effort to comprehend this truth directly is why attending well to the three characteristic marks is frequently cited.

If and when the three characteristics of sensation and perception and thus of the momentary nature of experience become clear enough, and when it further eventually becomes obvious enough that these characteristics are not simply of the nature of what is perceptible and of that which is perceived but that these characteristics are invariable in relation to dependently conditioned being and becoming;

then,

the unsatisfactoriness of the ongoingness of being and becoming becomes more obvious, if not immediately or progressively entirely unpleasant and oppressive in appearance and in effect.

Further, being with reference to the temporality of any given moment of the assignment of name and of the percipience and sense of form is always with reference to a group of conditions which are all also continually becoming otherwise.

This being so, there is never any even directly sequential being which is the same as any directly previous being of any sort all of which are becoming otherwise ongoing from one moment to the next moment.

As this is so, there can likewise be no such becoming of any ongoing being. A continuity of being can not ever become from one moment to the next and so too this can not be so from one type of compounding of this concatenation of repeatedly becoming otherwise names of or types of becoming forms to the next with reference to any time frames of any lengths.

What can be seen to be ongoing and unrelenting owing to dependence upon conditions and conditioning is only this becoming otherwise.

This is why the mitigation in any ways of this, a process of ongoing becoming otherwise, is incrementally ever more pleasing. No less so, the exhaustion and complete extinction any of these becoming otherwise processes are ultimately a complete relief from the dependent conditions and conditioning thereby involved conditions of dependency, or of bondage or of binding up with conditions which by nature are conformatively always unsatisfactory and which are therefore likewise to one extent or another also unsatisfactory and unpleasant.

The logic of this may be difficult to follow, so to put this as simply as possible;
That which is BECOMING OTHERWISE is all that is ever BEING in any case, be this from one moment to the next or from one kind or type of existence to another or from one lifetime to the next.
- triplethink


What or who is it that experiences the deathless, the unfabricated dimension? Who or what does the becoming? Who or what is "BEING"?

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/16/13 11:12 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Thanks Ian, I appreciate the efforts and your responses to my questions, though on further reflection on these matters it just strengthens my impressions which led to the initial comments about the weaknesses of this book,TB's (and Buddhist) thought, and his writing.

Some more of the contexts, and my summary, below: ...


So in these quotes he is describing the experience of "total, unalloyed freedom and happiness" (1) (affective states) associated with the actual experience (3) of "the deathless", a dimension that constitutes "the ultimate happiness" (5). This experience can be a case of "genuine release" (or a non-genuine one), but in itself is just a "taste" of "genuine release" - it is an experience of "release" but it can't be "genuine release" if it is just a taste. Then there is the realization from this taste that the only "true happiness" is in gaining "total release" (3). So we work towards "total freedom" (2), in an attempt to find "genuine happiness" (1, 4) (on the way?), a "true happiness" that is " totally reliable" (0), and this process is associated with regularly accessing an experience of "total, unalloyed freedom and happiness" (the deathless (3)), which can eventually lead to "total freedom" (4), the "only true happiness" (3) that comes from "total release" (3).

So you can experience a taste of genuine release through an experience of total, unalloyed freedom and happiness, (ultimate happiness), which leads to genuine, true and reliable happiness, and eventually, over time, total freedom, true happiness and total release.

Phew...No wonder I am confused. TB has quite the fondness for words like genuine, ultimate, total, and true - words that I would normally recommend avoiding with a large barge pole.

Ah. Now that you've more fully pointed out your criticisms I understand what you are saying. And, yes, I would generally agree with your criticism and with your last statement (emphasized above in boldface). Tan Geoff's use of vocabulary here is reminiscent of Tibetan Buddhist flowery and poetic way of attempting to describe various phenomena or the Mahayana school's insistence of using terms like "True Self," "Buddha Mind," "Primordial Mind," "Essential Nature," "Ultimate Nature," "Buddha essence," and "True Nature." Even though I am able to understand what these terms are pointing at, for those who are not as discriminating, the use of such terms as these can cause confusion and doubt about the teaching, as the mind begins to reify the meaning that these terms are pointing toward, turning their apprehension of these concepts into some sort of metaphysical entity that has a substantial existence and identity.

I think what Thanissaro may be attempting to do is to communicate with people who perhaps have not reached the depth of a level of understanding about the subtleties of practice and are more prone to comprehend an appeal to the emotions. In doing so, he is perhaps attempting to get them to move further down the road toward a more mature outlook and understanding, to encourage them to stay with the practice. While that is pure speculation on my part, it does make some sense about the rhyme and reason for these actions.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/16/13 12:33 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:
sawfoot _:

So you can experience a taste of genuine release through an experience of total, unalloyed freedom and happiness, (ultimate happiness), which leads to genuine, true and reliable happiness, and eventually, over time, total freedom, true happiness and total release.

Phew...No wonder I am confused. TB has quite the fondness for words like genuine, ultimate, total, and true - words that I would normally recommend avoiding with a large barge pole.

Ah. Now that you've more fully pointed out your criticisms I understand what you are saying. And, yes, I would generally agree with your criticism and with your last statement (emphasized above in boldface). Tan Geoff's use of vocabulary here is reminiscent of Tibetan Buddhist flowery and poetic way of attempting to describe various phenomena or the Mahayana school's insistence of using terms like "True Self," "Buddha Mind," "Primordial Mind," "Essential Nature," "Ultimate Nature," "Buddha essence," and "True Nature." Even though I am able to understand what these terms are pointing at, for those who are not as discriminating, the use of such terms as these can cause confusion and doubt about the teaching, as the mind begins to reify the meaning that these terms are pointing toward, turning their apprehension of these concepts into some sort of metaphysical entity that has a substantial existence and identity.

I think what Thanissaro may be attempting to do is to communicate with people who perhaps have not reached the depth of a level of understanding about the subtleties of practice and are more prone to comprehend an appeal to the emotions. In doing so, he is perhaps attempting to get them to move further down the road toward a more mature outlook and understanding, to encourage them to stay with the practice. While that is pure speculation on my part, it does make some sense about the rhyme and reason for these actions.


That is a charitable reading of that use of language. I think that your interpretation has some truth to it (which I will return to below), but also a result of other factors. One is poor writing. I don't think overall he is quite a clear writer, but all writers have the tendencies to over use certain words and phrases, which often a good editor (or good editing) can overide. Another is I do think this reflects his thinking as a religious man who does see the world in absolutes, and also reflects his inability to see clearly the inherent contradictions in his position. He criticises the danger in such language:

"watch any of the jhanas as forms of mental action requires notseeing them as
metaphysical principles—say, as a Ground of Being, a True Self, Cosmic Oneness,
Primordial Emptiness, Encounter with God, or any other grand-sounding abstraction. The
metaphysical trap is an easy one to fall into..."

But then talks about the "deathless" and "unfabricated dimension: the unconditioned dimension that constitutes the ultimate happiness" (plus see also quotes above). I understand the experience of those states in advanced practitioners may be different, and he or you maybe could up with various counter arguments why they are different (he claims one still involves stress, one doesn't), but this seems exactly like a metaphysical grand-sounding abstraction to me.

Onto your speculation. Yes, I agree, and I see it as a sales pitch. He is enticing one into the practice, but from the secular buddhist perspective he is selling snake oil.

He has three carrots. One is the happiness associated with directly experiencing the deathless, one is the happiness associated with increasingly skilful practice within this lifetime, and then the final carrot is there is some kind of truly ultimate happiness. On that last version, although he isn't explicit, I took that to be associated with the doctrine of rebirth (e.g., "closer and closer to total freedom from suffering and stress—now and into the future..."). So you get hooked in by these (relatively speaking) mundane form of happiness, but then there is the promise of so much more, such that you would then seek to devote your entire life to it ("There is no activity more worthwhile than that").

With only one exception that I can recall, he doesn't talk about rebirth, and it seems like a deliberate ploy (though he couldn't help himself that one time) to appeal to a non-diehard buddhist audience. And he only mentions karma once, though it shows his position: if a teacher doesn't believe in karma, then they are "unlikely to put forth the effort to be genuinely skillful" - because (in my interpretation) only those who believe in karma and rebirth will have the sufficient motivation to act in moral or skillful ways.

As I commented above, even if the skilfull actions don't lead you to the promised land, then perhaps there is no great harm done, but by not being upfront about the importance of karma and rebirth to what he is selling, it feels verging on the duplicitous.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/16/13 1:52 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
triple think:
The logic of this may be difficult to follow, so to put this as simply as possible;
That which is BECOMING OTHERWISE is all that is ever BEING in any case, be this from one moment to the next or from one kind or type of existence to another or from one lifetime to the next.
- triplethink


What or who is it that experiences the deathless, the unfabricated dimension? Who or what does the becoming? Who or what is "BEING"?
I have no idea, people speak of these whats and whos continually, I have yet to directly locate any such first hand. I wish I could help out here. I am clearly very slow and simply do not get it. I have a head made up like a stone soup, if you haven't noticed.

- triplethink

RE: Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Answer
12/16/13 4:05 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Paweł K:
sawfoot:
What I didn't like: he talks about "ultimate happiness" (and paraphrases of that), and whenever anyone uses the word "ultimate" I smell bullshit. And it is pretty crucial to the whole thing. I presume this is linked to assumptions based on concepts of reincarnation and karma - and why one should act skilfully. But even if you don't buy into that, being "skilful" seems sensible for its own sake. And this "ultimate" is linked to the great emphasis on the "deathless" and it being unconditioned, "

this is Buddhist writing book for Buddhists so what do you expect? emoticon


Yes, is Buddhist, but apparently amongst the best western "pali cannon style" buddhism has to offer. And it seems aimed at normals as well as buddhists. And look, you don't have to be buddhist to believe in all that stuff. See, for example, Stephen Batchelor

Paweł K:

3T:
I have no idea, people speak of these whats and whos continually, I have yet to directly locate any such first hand. I wish I could help out here. I am clearly very slow and simply do not get it. I have a head made up like a stone soup, if you haven't noticed.

your best post to date emoticon


A post I understood.

RE: Summary of a book on how to get to stream entry by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Answer
12/16/13 4:54 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
A post I understood.
Rock on, post that saw.
t - t - t

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/17/13 12:38 AM as a reply to triple think.
triple think:
sawfoot _:
triple think:
The logic of this may be difficult to follow, so to put this as simply as possible;
That which is BECOMING OTHERWISE is all that is ever BEING in any case, be this from one moment to the next or from one kind or type of existence to another or from one lifetime to the next.
- triplethink


What or who is it that experiences the deathless, the unfabricated dimension? Who or what does the becoming? Who or what is "BEING"?
I have no idea, people speak of these whats and whos continually, I have yet to directly locate any such first hand. I wish I could help out here. I am clearly very slow and simply do not get it. I have a head made up like a stone soup, if you haven't noticed.

- triplethink


Seems to me Mr B. is saying the one that does the work is the one that experiences it. Y'all can read - can't ya? (never seen before friendly emoticon goes here):

"Monks, ...Don't let the deathless be lost to you."
"Being subject myself to ... death... , seeing the drawbacks of ... death..., seeking the..., deathless, .. I reached the ... deathless, Unbinding."
"There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body .... From the comprehension of the body, the deathless is realized"
"Better it is to live one day seeing the Deathless than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the Deathless."

Most Arahats (and European Magpies) can pass the mirror test for self-awareness. If they can spot a bit of crumb on their chin, why couldn't they know the deathless? Seems like allot of work to go through if no one gets the cookie.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/17/13 3:29 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck Kasmire:


Seems to me Mr B. is saying the one that does the work is the one that experiences it. Y'all can read - can't ya? (never seen before friendly emoticon goes here):

"Monks, ...Don't let the deathless be lost to you."
"Being subject myself to ... death... , seeing the drawbacks of ... death..., seeking the..., deathless, .. I reached the ... deathless, Unbinding."
"There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body .... From the comprehension of the body, the deathless is realized"
"Better it is to live one day seeing the Deathless than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the Deathless."

Most Arahats (and European Magpies) can pass the mirror test for self-awareness. If they can spot a bit of crumb on their chin, why couldn't they know the deathless? Seems like allot of work to go through if no one gets the cookie.


Ok, that is a sensible answer. My motivation for asking was related to my understanding of the idea that our concept of self is experienced through the workings of the conditioned 5 aggregates. The deathless, by its very nature, is unconditioned, so that the 5 aggregates can't be in operation. If they fall away, what are we left with (who experiences the deathless?)? If it experienced (say, compared to deep sleep), there must be consiousness. As I point out in my last post about carrots, above, it seems like we are left with something akin to the metaphysical traps TB advises to avoid, "a Ground of Being, a True Self, Cosmic Oneness, Primordial Emptiness, Encounter with God", something beyond time and space (i.e. eternal(ish)), something a bit like an Atman.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/17/13 5:34 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Wow, terrific, thank you for such a sharp criticism! I wouldn't have pulled it off myself (my reading process is way less detailed than yours, it seems!), but now that you've pulled it off, maybe I can contribute to make it a tiny wee bit sharper?

Indeed, when I recommend that people read TB's book, I do so with a forewarning. I usually say that the stuff he writes is excellent, but there is a little bit of buddhist dogma that you need to filter through.

Unfortunately I am yet to find a book abou meditation which is thorough and well-written, but which doesn't go into that kind of thing at all. Even MCTB, I think, fails a bit in that regard, with its discussion of "ultimate truth" (not with its discussion of magick, though I understand that from your perspective it fails in that regard also).

However, when it comes to TB's discussion of kamma, I agree with him that this makes up an essential part of the buddhist path. Let me go into that.

You write:

sawfoot_:
As I commented above, even if the skilfull actions don't lead you to the promised land, then perhaps there is no great harm done, but by not being upfront about the importance of karma and rebirth to what he is selling, it feels verging on the duplicitous.


I don't think that this is fair, at least with respect to kamma. In the wings to awakening book, TB is extremely upfront about the importance of "the principle of kamma".

In my understanding, "the principle of kamma" he is referring to the general principle that present and future events depend on both past and present actions.

The historical importance of the concept lay, according to TB, in contradicting certain views that were fashionable in the buddha's time: one stated "what happens is only a result of the past", another that "what happens is determined by the will of gods, and another was that what happens to you is entirely arbitrary, just a matter of luck.

The principal of kamma states that, indeed, what happens to you depends on the past, but that there is some degree of freedom in the present that allows you to shape your future.

From the point of view of someone who believes in rebirth, and pretty much everyone in buddha's time did, it is very natural to extend the principle of kamma to make it work over multiple lifetimes. But, as far as I can see, this isn't essential.

The reason that believing in the principle of kamma is important is that when you do not believe in it, it is hard to justify doing something like meditation.

For instance, a modern way of not believing in the principle of kamma is to believe that our way of acting and feeling about things is a result of what happened to us during our early childhood, and that the influence of that period is so strong that there are certain things you can't really change, no matter what you do.

If you have that belief, you might do meditation to relax a little, and try to "cope" with whatever misfortunate hand you've been delt with during those crutial years, but you don't really believe that meditation can change you significantly, and hence are not likely to put in the time to make that happen (assuming that is indeed possible, which I currently believe in).

So yeah, believing in kamma is probably one of the most essential beliefs in the game.

In the following reading guide by TB, this is the first sutta that is quoted:

AN3.61:
"Monks, there are these three sectarian guilds that — when cross-examined, pressed for reasons, & rebuked by wise people — even though they may explain otherwise, remain stuck in [a doctrine of] inactivity. Which three?

"There are brahmans & contemplatives who hold this teaching, hold this view: 'Whatever a person experiences — pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor painful — that is all caused by what was done in the past.' There are brahmans & contemplatives who hold this teaching, hold this view: 'Whatever a person experiences — pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor painful — that is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation.' There are brahmans & contemplatives who hold this teaching, hold this view: 'Whatever a person experiences — pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor painful — that is all without cause & without condition.'

"Having approached the brahmans & contemplatives who hold that... whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past?' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of what was done in the past. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... an abusive speaker... an idle chatterer... covetous... malevolent... a holder of wrong views because of what was done in the past.' When one falls back on what was done in the past as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative...

"Having approached the brahmans & contemplatives who hold that... whatever a person experiences... is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... whatever a person experiences... is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation?' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings... a holder of wrong views because of a supreme being's act of creation.' When one falls back on a supreme being's act of creation as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative...

"Having approached the brahmans & contemplatives who hold that... whatever a person experiences... is all without cause, without condition,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... whatever a person experiences... is all without cause, without condition?' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings without cause, without condition. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... an abusive speaker... an idle chatterer... covetous... malevolent... a holder of wrong views without cause, without condition.' When one falls back on lack of cause and lack of condition as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative."

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/17/13 6:20 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:


Ok, that is a sensible answer. My motivation for asking was related to my understanding of the idea that our concept of self is experienced through the workings of the conditioned 5 aggregates. The deathless, by its very nature, is unconditioned, so that the 5 aggregates can't be in operation. If they fall away, what are we left with (who experiences the deathless?)? If it experienced (say, compared to deep sleep), there must be consiousness. As I point out in my last post about carrots, above, it seems like we are left with something akin to the metaphysical traps TB advises to avoid, "a Ground of Being, a True Self, Cosmic Oneness, Primordial Emptiness, Encounter with God", something beyond time and space (i.e. eternal(ish)), something a bit like an Atman.
hey SawsAll
I can never figure out if you are beside yourself or ahead of yourself. Anyways, my angle, being so pressed and doubtless unimpressed by such thickness would be As Such:

InSight exists.
The VOID exists.

Thus, there you have it.

triplethink /// 2REM / 2WIT / Touche'd & a microphone

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/17/13 9:15 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Wow, terrific, thank you for such a sharp criticism! I wouldn't have pulled it off myself (my reading process is way less detailed than yours, it seems!), but now that you've pulled it off,


Well, it was mainly backing up my impressions by doing searches using key words in a pdf (which makes you realise that certain words get used a lot...).

Bruno Loff:


Indeed, when I recommend that people read TB's book, I do so with a forewarning. I usually say that the stuff he writes is excellent, but there is a little bit of buddhist dogma that you need to filter through.

Unfortunately I am yet to find a book abou meditation which is thorough and well-written, but which doesn't go into that kind of thing at all. Even MCTB, I think, fails a bit in that regard, with its discussion of "ultimate truth" (not with its discussion of magick, though I understand that from your perspective it fails in that regard also).



Yes, I did just recommend the book to a friend with those same caveats, and I agree a similar issue is found with MCTB (though I would say it fails a lot in that regard), though actually I found the section of magick quite well measured.

Bruno Loff:

However, when it comes to TB's discussion of kamma, I agree with him that this makes up an essential part of the buddhist path. Let me go into that.

You write:

sawfoot_:
As I commented above, even if the skilfull actions don't lead you to the promised land, then perhaps there is no great harm done, but by not being upfront about the importance of karma and rebirth to what he is selling, it feels verging on the duplicitous.


I don't think that this is fair, at least with respect to kamma. In the wings to awakening book, TB is extremely upfront about the importance of "the principle of kamma".


I put in that bit to stir up some controversy and give you something to disagree with... And I agree it may not be entirely fair, as I am not privy to the full reasons why he isn't upfront in this book, though I know he is completely upfront in other works. And whatever the rationale, I think the book suffers as a result.

Bruno Loff:

In my understanding, "the principle of kamma" he is referring to the general principle that present and future events depend on both past and present actions.

The historical importance of the concept lay, according to TB, in contradicting certain views that were fashionable in the buddha's time: one stated "what happens is only a result of the past", another that "what happens is determined by the will of gods, and another was that what happens to you is entirely arbitrary, just a matter of luck.

The principal of kamma states that, indeed, what happens to you depends on the past, but that there is some degree of freedom in the present that allows you to shape your future.



Put in this way, this just seems like a mundane conception of free will. Now, being an arch materialist, I don't really believe in free will in one sense, but in another sense, being a human being, I can't help not experience myself as having free will (though arguably "enlightened" individuals experience it differently). So rather than kamma being a principle to be believed in, does it not just follow from the experience of an being agent who causes or will actions to occur?

Bruno Loff:


From the point of view of someone who believes in rebirth, and pretty much everyone in buddha's time did, it is very natural to extend the principle of kamma to make it work over multiple lifetimes. But, as far as I can see, this isn't essential.



This is a key question - is it or is it not essential? Can you take value in everything else he writes if you whitewash out those concepts? You say rebirth isn't essential, but kamma is. That might suit you to have that opinion, and potentially be agnostic on the rebirth question, but I would guess that TB would say they are interlinked and both are essential.

Bruno Loff:


The reason that believing in the principle of kamma is important is that when you do not believe in it, it is hard to justify doing something like meditation.

For instance, a modern way of not believing in the principle of kamma is to believe that our way of acting and feeling about things is a result of what happened to us during our early childhood, and that the influence of that period is so strong that there are certain things you can't really change, no matter what you do.

If you have that belief, you might do meditation to relax a little, and try to "cope" with whatever misfortunate hand you've been delt with during those crutial years, but you don't really believe that meditation can change you significantly, and hence are not likely to put in the time to make that happen (assuming that is indeed possible, which I currently believe in).

So yeah, believing in kamma is probably one of the most essential beliefs in the game.


In your example, I see it just as the broader principle of does the efforts justify the end results. If you doubt whether a particular result will occur (risk is involved), and/or the reward is not perceived to be of sufficient value, then you might not want to sacrifice short term benefits for questionable long term rewards. As such, we don't have to think about it terms of belief in kamma, but as a consequence of human decision making. As I suggested above, at some level we all experience free will, and therefore we all "believe" in kamma, and we know that certain actions in the present will have negative consequences in the future. But smoking that cigarette sure does feel good.

T B:


http://secularbuddhism.org/2012/03/20/thanissaro-bhikkhus-the-truth-of-rebirth-a-review-part-3/

“One reason the Buddha recommended conviction in rebirth as a useful working hypothesis is that, as we have noted, he had to teach that skillful human action was powerful and reliable enough to put an end to suffering; and his teaching on the consequences of skillful and unskillful action would be incomplete–and therefore indefensible–without reference to rebirth

“This is because the distinction he draws between skillful and unskillful is based on the consequences of the actions: The working-out of karma may always be complex, but skillful actions always lead in the direction of happiness and well-being; unskillful actions always lead in the direction of suffering and harm. This distinction provides not only the definition of these concepts, but also the motivation for abandoning unskillful actions and developing skillful ones in their place.

“This motivation is necessary, for while people are not innately bad, they are also not innately good . . . To develop skillful qualities, people need to see the dangers of unskillful behavior and the advantages of skillful behavior. Because actions can sometimes take many lifetimes to yield their results, a complete and convincing case that unskillful actions should always be avoided, and skillful ones always developed, requires the perspective that comes only from seeing the results of actions over many lifetimes.”



On the "is essential" question: The position from this quote is implicit in some of the discussions in the book. For example, when talking about the precepts, he is quite insistent that they shouldn't be broken, and the use of skilful means to avoid breaking them. So why should one try so hard not to break the precepts? What is the harm that one ham sandwich could do? Only because of the harm done across multiple lifetimes. TB has to believe that, to believe that his life choices are justified, to have the confidence in preaching to others how to live their lives, that he isn't missing out on renouncing the transient pleasures of life, and that sitting very still with his eyes closed is a worthwhile use of his time.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/17/13 11:30 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
[quote=@sawfoot _]@
Bruno Loff:
Wow, terrific, thank you for such a sharp criticism! I wouldn't have pulled it off myself (my reading process is way less detailed than yours, it seems!), but now that you've pulled it off,


Well, it was mainly backing up my impressions by doing searches using key words in a pdf (which makes you realise that certain words get used a lot...).

Bruno Loff:
Indeed, when I recommend that people read TB's book, I do so with a forewarning. I usually say that the stuff he writes is excellent, but there is a little bit of buddhist dogma that you need to filter through.

Please. Do us the honor of so doing then.
Unfortunately I am yet to find a book about meditation which is thorough and well-written, but which doesn't go into that kind of thing at all.

More's the pity.
Even MCTB, I think, fails a bit in that regard, with its discussion of "ultimate truth" (not with its discussion of magick, though I understand that from your perspective it fails in that regard also).

Please do also share Your: Ultimate Truth(s). (I'd suggest you particularly focus on the footnote from Adorno in - Power Tools for Power Users)


Yes, I did just recommend the book to a friend with those same caveats, and I agree a similar issue is found with MCTB (though I would say it fails a lot in that regard), though actually I found the section of magick quite well measured.
Bruno Loff:

However, when it comes to TB's discussion of kamma, I agree with him that this makes up an essential part of the buddhist path. Let me go into that.

You write:
sawfoot_:
As I commented above, even if the skilfull actions don't lead you to the promised land, then perhaps there is no great harm done, but by not being upfront about the importance of karma and rebirth to what he is selling, it feels verging on the duplicitous.
I don't think that this is fair, at least with respect to kamma. In the wings to awakening book, TB is extremely upfront about the importance of "the principle of kamma".
I put in that bit to stir up some controversy and give you something to disagree with... And I agree it may not be entirely fair, as I am not privy to the full reasons why he isn't upfront in this book, though I know he is completely upfront in other works. And whatever the rationale, I think the book suffers as a result.
How so are you fair at all?
Bruno Loff:
In my understanding, "the principle of kamma" he is referring to the general principle that present and future events depend on both past and present actions.
Is this your ultimate truth? More's the pity again.
The historical importance of the concept lay, according to TB, in contradicting certain views that were fashionable in the buddha's time: one stated "what happens is only a result of the past", another that "what happens is determined by the will of gods, and another was that what happens to you is entirely arbitrary, just a matter of luck.

The principal of kamma states that, indeed, what happens to you depends on the past, but that there is some degree of freedom in the present that allows you to shape your future.

Put in this way, this just seems like a mundane conception of free will. Now, being an arch materialist, I don't really believe in free will in one sense, but in another sense, being a human being, I can't help not experience myself as having free will (though arguably "enlightened" individuals experience it differently). So rather than kamma being a principle to be believed in, does it not just follow from the experience of an being agent who causes or will actions to occur?
More unseemly-ness? Ah, more of your 'materials', 'bee-leafs' and argh-hue-mentation. The agents of clown division strike again.
Bruno Loff:
From the point of view of someone who believes in rebirth, and pretty much everyone in buddha's time did,...
This from your census records? I will be keen to see such "material."
...it is very natural to extend the principle of kamma to make it work over multiple lifetimes. But, as far as I can see, this isn't essential.
Do speak more of these 'essences', for a clown's sake, good fellow.

This is a key question - is it or is it not essential? Can you take value in everything else he writes if you whitewash out those concepts? You say rebirth isn't essential, but kamma is. That might suit you to have that opinion, and potentially be agnostic on the rebirth question, but I would guess that TB would say they are interlinked and both are essential.
Bruno Loff:
The reason that believing in the principle of kamma is important is that when you do not believe in it, it is hard to justify doing something like meditation.

For instance, a modern way of not believing in the principle of kamma is to believe that our way of acting and feeling about things is a result of what happened to us during our early childhood, and that the influence of that period is so strong that there are certain things you can't really change, no matter what you do.

If you have that belief, you might do meditation to relax a little, and try to "cope" with whatever misfortunate hand you've been delt with during those crutial years, but you don't really believe that meditation can change you significantly, and hence are not likely to put in the time to make that happen (assuming that is indeed possible, which I currently believe in).

So yeah, believing in kamma is probably one of the most essential beliefs in the game.
In your example, I see it just as the broader principle of does the efforts justify the end results. If you doubt whether a particular result will occur (risk is involved), and/or the reward is not perceived to be of sufficient value, then you might not want to sacrifice short term benefits for questionable long term rewards. As such, we don't have to think about it terms of belief in kamma, but as a consequence of human decision making. As I suggested above, at some level we all experience free will, and therefore we all "believe" in kamma, and we know that certain actions in the present will have negative consequences in the future. But smoking that cigarette sure does feel good.
T B:
http://secularbuddhism.org/2012/03/20/thanissaro-bhikkhus-the-truth-of-rebirth-a-review-part-3/

“One reason the Buddha recommended conviction in rebirth as a useful working hypothesis is that, as we have noted, he had to teach that skillful human action was powerful and reliable enough to put an end to suffering; and his teaching on the consequences of skillful and unskillful action would be incomplete–and therefore indefensible–without reference to rebirth

“This is because the distinction he draws between skillful and unskillful is based on the consequences of the actions: The working-out of karma may always be complex, but skillful actions always lead in the direction of happiness and well-being; unskillful actions always lead in the direction of suffering and harm. This distinction provides not only the definition of these concepts, but also the motivation for abandoning unskillful actions and developing skillful ones in their place.

“This motivation is necessary, for while people are not innately bad, they are also not innately good . . . To develop skillful qualities, people need to see the dangers of unskillful behavior and the advantages of skillful behavior. Because actions can sometimes take many lifetimes to yield their results, a complete and convincing case that unskillful actions should always be avoided, and skillful ones always developed, requires the perspective that comes only from seeing the results of actions over many lifetimes.”
@On the "is essential" question: The position from this quote is implicit in some of the discussions in the book. For example, when talking about the precepts, he is quite insistent that they shouldn't be broken, and the use of skilful means to avoid breaking them. So why should one try so hard not to break the precepts? What is the harm that one ham sandwich could do? Only because of the harm done across multiple lifetimes. TB has to believe that, to believe that his life choices are justified, to have the confidence in preaching to others how to live their lives, that he isn't missing out on renouncing the transient pleasures of life, and that sitting very still with his eyes closed is a worthwhile use of his time.
Clown noses - @ - by T3
_____________________________________________________
footnote:

Stephen Batchelor @ is the renowned Chancellor of Clown's Collage.

- triplethink /// 2REM / 2WIT / Touche'd & a microphone

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/17/13 12:24 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
My motivation for asking was related to my understanding of the idea that our concept of self is experienced through the workings of the conditioned 5 aggregates
.
Our senses provide us with a sense of location and the phenomena that surround us. Arahats also experience this. The aggregates - though no longer seen as constituting a self - continue to function as before - they are after all not-self. Consciousness - when bound-up with the aggregates - takes this basic input which could be described as 'there is' and turns it into 'I am' giving a sense of a small self in a big world. The role of consciousness in binding-up with the aggregates due to clinging/passion is the key aspect of this process.

sawfoot _:
The deathless, by its very nature, is unconditioned, so that the 5 aggregates can't be in operation.

They are in operation - just not being clung to. They are not-self and continue to do what they have done all along. When consciousness releases from them (no longer bound-up) then the experience is more a "there is" instead of "I am".

sawfoot _:
If they fall away, what are we left with (who experiences the deathless?)? If it experienced (say, compared to deep sleep), there must be consiousness.

viññanam anidassanam — consciousness without a surface/consciousness without feature.

"..normal sensory consciousness is experienced because it has a "surface" against which it lands: the sense organs and their objects, which constitute the "all." For instance, we experience visual consciousness because of the eye and forms of which we are conscious. Consciousness without surface, however, is directly known, without intermediary, free from any dependence on conditions at all." - source

The Sri Lankan pali scholar/forest monk Ven. Nanananda in Mind Stilled wrote: "viññanam anidassanam is a reference to the nature of the released consciousness of an arahant. It does not reflect anything. To be more precise, it does not reflect a nāma-rūpa, or name-and-form. An ordinary individual sees a nāma-rūpa, when he reflects, which he calls 'I' and 'mine'. It is like the reflection of that dog, which sees its own delusive reflection in the water. A non-arahant, upon reflection, sees name-and-form, which however he mistakes to be his self. With the notion of 'I' and 'mine' he falls into delusion with regard to it. But the arahant's consciousness is an unestablished consciousness."

sawfoot _:
As I point out in my last post about carrots, above, it seems like we are left with something akin to the metaphysical traps TB advises to avoid, "a Ground of Being, a True Self, Cosmic Oneness, Primordial Emptiness, Encounter with God", something beyond time and space (i.e. eternal(ish)), something a bit like an Atman.

I think that the traditions that developed later, including the Theravadans, tried to address this issue of self/no self and the nature of ultimate reality beyond what Buddha was teaching. I think the Buddha's focus was 'get youself out of this mess (samsara) first and then you can ponder these things to your hearts content'.

A common metaphor is that of a person in a movie theatre that is absorbed in a film. They feel all the excitement and emotion just as if they themselves were in the film and the film was reality. Then someone coughs or a light is turned on and the person remembers they are in a theatre and its just a movie. The film is still playing but they are now standing back from it - no longer absorbed. So you have these two kinds of consciousness - one bound-up in the film creating a powerful sense of me in the movie - emotonally thrown this way and that while the other is aware of the film but not getting caught-up in it.

The traps that you speak of would be similar to our person absorbed in a movie where the characters are describing or imagining what it would be like to be in a theatre watching themselves. Imagining a movie within a movie so to speak. That is the trap. Once one steps back out of the movie - then what ever thoughts come up with regard to these things are just seen as thinking and don't lead to mental fabrications - to world making.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/17/13 3:01 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck,

Thank you. I am looking forward to pulling up his book again. A few years ago, I could understand a little, maybe now I can understand and benefit from a little more.

Chuck:
sawfoot _:
The deathless, by its very nature, is unconditioned, so that the 5 aggregates can't be in operation.


They are in operation - just not being clung to. They are not-self and continue to do what they have done all along. When consciousness releases from them (no longer bound-up) then the experience is more a "there is" instead of "I am".


To add, in cessation one gets the reboot chance to experience the aggregates of mind re-igniting as if the brain were turned off and then re-booted. During the re-boot process, aggregates can be seen functioning in independence-from-to-the-other-aggregate ways and knowledge of this known through the stream of mental "moments", like looking back a trails of video post card. The four aggregates of name-and-from, perception-recognition, sensation and volition are actually very weak forms of consciousness when they are not combined under a roof of craving.

And consciousness, that aggregate has a unique ability -- a stronger, outgoing ability --- which can go "touch" the other aggregates consciousnesses and it does so without any preferentially, without any sense of self or entity-ness or place. Yet it is touching the consciousness of other aggregates-- like a quiet dog that goes to sniff the consciousness of name and form, goes to sniff perception-recognition. It is so un-manipulative, so impartial, so soft in its touch that, to me, in hindsight it seems like a benevolent element.

I've heard nibbana and the paths are compared to seeing the quarter moon, the half moon, the three-quarter moon and the full moon. So a stream entry moment and coming to know the aggregates at that time works like a dissolving agent, going in and dissolving just a little of the possessive sense of "me" that acts so compulsively and, figuratively, hungrily. There are just a pile of fetters waiting to consume the "stream-enterer" who stops there, though. If the strong forms of clinging are admitted to oneself, the understanding of aggregates penetrates more deeply and dissolves the strong attachments: ill-will and sense-based craving, the strongest of which is sex. And that is the half-moon phase of seeing the whole moon. The analogy goes on like that (though I cannot speak directly to the analogy beyond SE). And this process is why a behavioural model like the fetter model is apt and helpful, why a person will change behaviourally with the bhavana and the resulting releases of prior 'hungry' or 'addicted' conduct leaving conceit as a final madness to see through.

Now there are still many un-answerables in this and the Buddha delineated un-answerables and in the un-answerables is a huge source of amity between traditions/people, knowing there is at least a point of not knowing.


Thank you for the thread, SF.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/17/13 6:36 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck Kasmire:


sawfoot _:
If they fall away, what are we left with (who experiences the deathless?)? If it experienced (say, compared to deep sleep), there must be consiousness.

viññanam anidassanam — consciousness without a surface/consciousness without feature.

"..normal sensory consciousness is experienced because it has a "surface" against which it lands: the sense organs and their objects, which constitute the "all." For instance, we experience visual consciousness because of the eye and forms of which we are conscious. Consciousness without surface, however, is directly known, without intermediary, free from any dependence on conditions at all." - source

The Sri Lankan pali scholar/forest monk Ven. Nanananda in Mind Stilled wrote: "viññanam anidassanam is a reference to the nature of the released consciousness of an arahant. It does not reflect anything. To be more precise, it does not reflect a nāma-rūpa, or name-and-form. An ordinary individual sees a nāma-rūpa, when he reflects, which he calls 'I' and 'mine'. It is like the reflection of that dog, which sees its own delusive reflection in the water. A non-arahant, upon reflection, sees name-and-form, which however he mistakes to be his self. With the notion of 'I' and 'mine' he falls into delusion with regard to it. But the arahant's consciousness is an unestablished consciousness."



This term is pretty controversial. Sujato argues that buddha used the term viññanam anidassanam as "a description that was meant to critique the inadequate conception of the Brahmanical goal is turned into a description of the Buddhist goal."

http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/vinna%E1%B9%87a-is-not-nibbana-really-it-just-isn%E2%80%99t/

And TB has been criticised for his interpretation, which differs from therevadan orthodoxy (this blog post ends approvingly with that quote you supplied).

http://leavesinthehand.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/vinnanam-anidassanam-thanissaro-vs.html

Chuck Kasmire:


I think that the traditions that developed later, including the Theravadans, tried to address this issue of self/no self and the nature of ultimate reality beyond what Buddha was teaching. I think the Buddha's focus was 'get youself out of this mess (samsara) first and then you can ponder these things to your hearts content'.


A common metaphor is that of a person in a movie theatre that is absorbed in a film. They feel all the excitement and emotion just as if they themselves were in the film and the film was reality. Then someone coughs or a light is turned on and the person remembers they are in a theatre and its just a movie. The film is still playing but they are now standing back from it - no longer absorbed. So you have these two kinds of consciousness - one bound-up in the film creating a powerful sense of me in the movie - emotonally thrown this way and that while the other is aware of the film but not getting caught-up in it.

The traps that you speak of would be similar to our person absorbed in a movie where the characters are describing or imagining what it would be like to be in a theatre watching themselves. Imagining a movie within a movie so to speak. That is the trap. Once one steps back out of the movie - then what ever thoughts come up with regard to these things are just seen as thinking and don't lead to mental fabrications - to world making.


The problem with that nice metaphor is that it raises the homunculus, and then an infinite regress. Who is stepping out?

---

This is all very interesting, and I appreciate that for some buddhists finding the correct interpretation of what the Buddha said is important, along with these debates about Arahats experience and what happens when an Arahat dies. Though as you say, the Buddha advised against most of this kind of speculation.

There is a point where I have to consider how relevant this is to 21st century practice. I mean, it is interesting to consider what the ancient Norse used to think, for a random example, but I don't let it inform my actions in life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_in_Norse_paganism

"There are at least two currently known interpretations of soul from accounts of ancient Norse belief. The last breath a person took was understood to be an evaporation of the life principle into a source of life that was primeval and common, and which was in the world of the gods, nature and the universe. There was also a "free soul" or "dream soul" that could only leave the body during moments of unconsciousness, ecstasy, trance and sleep. The conscious soul which comprised emotions and will was located in the body and it could only be released when the body was destroyed through decay or immolation. When the body had been broken down, the conscious soul could start its journey to the realm of the dead, possibly by using the free soul as an intermediary."

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/17/13 9:18 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
A concise reading list for the extraordinarily dense:
MATERIA RE: MATTA
T3

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/18/13 2:26 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
This term is pretty controversial. Sujato argues that buddha used the term viññanam anidassanam as "a description that was meant to critique the inadequate conception of the Brahmanical goal is turned into a description of the Buddhist goal."

If Sujato can wrap his mind around a Buddha - more power to him - actually he may already have enough then. Sujato is by the way arguing that the term does not imply that Nibbana is some kind of cosmic consciousness "I’ve just read yet another assertion that tries to slip a ‘cosmic consciousness’ Nibbana into the Suttas". Than. is not suggesting this - only using it for the nature of awareness that the Arahat experiences during his lifetime - which is much more relevant with regard to your question: "who experiences the deathless? If it is experienced ... there must be consiousness." - which is why I brought it up. If you don't like the term 'viññanam anidassanam' then go ahead and replace that with some letters more to your liking. Personally, I think both of them experientially know exactly what Than. Bhikkhu is talking about and are just engaging in that monk-bickering thing over pali minutia that monks seem to enjoy doing.

sawfoot _:
And TB has been criticised for his interpretation, which differs from therevadan orthodoxy (this blog post ends approvingly with that quote you supplied).

I am shocked and dismayed that the therevadan orthodoxy holds a different view. If memory serves me correctly, this amorphous unknown blob also views nibbana as unattainable in our modern age and determined that about 2,000 years ago. Let's see now, when did they write those commentaries? But I digress. 'They' also put Sujato in the dog house for ordaining nuns. Imagine! Shame on him - what was he thinking.

Orthodoxy - jeez - just typing that gives me the willies. Can't believe you dragged them into this. Perhaps you should try asking them 'who experiences the deathless?'. Let's see - I think I have their email address here somewhere....

sawfoot _:
The problem with that nice metaphor is that it raises the homunculus, and then an infinite regress. Who is stepping out?

No, actually it doesn't. What raises the homunculus is your own mind - which is also what sees this 'infinite regress'. Who is stepping out? That which is aware of reading these words of course. But you aren't actually interested in finding that are you.

Has it occurred to you that you are not really interested in any answers you might get to your endless questions and doubts? That you use them to make a nice little nest for your self of concepts and views much like my chickens with their little piles of straw? Buddhism like all isms is one big bale of straw so have at it. Obviously, there is something that draws you to this forum to ask these questions. Maybe some part of you finds the nest not quite right - Can't say - Don't know. Maybe ask Sujato?

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/19/13 1:08 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck Kasmire:


Than. is not suggesting this - only using it for the nature of awareness that the Arahat experiences during his lifetime - which is much more relevant with regard to your question: "who experiences the deathless? If it is experienced ... there must be consiousness." - which is why I brought it up. If you don't like the term 'viññanam anidassanam' then go ahead and replace that with some letters more to your liking. Personally, I think both of them experientially know exactly what Than. Bhikkhu is talking about and are just engaging in that monk-bickering thing over pali minutia that monks seem to enjoy doing.



It seems that you are suggesting that both Than Bhikkhu and Sujato are Arahats, since they have experiential knowledge of the consciousness that Arahats experience. And since you are offering your personal opinion and appear to value experiential knowledge, it also suggests that you have personal experience of that consciousness, and hence, you also think you are an Arahat. Is that a mistaken presumption?

Chuck Kasmire:


No, actually it doesn't. What raises the homunculus is your own mind - which is also what sees this 'infinite regress'. Who is stepping out? That which is aware of reading these words of course. But you aren't actually interested in finding that are you.

Has it occurred to you that you are not really interested in any answers you might get to your endless questions and doubts? That you use them to make a nice little nest for your self of concepts and views much like my chickens with their little piles of straw? Buddhism like all isms is one big bale of straw so have at it. Obviously, there is something that draws you to this forum to ask these questions. Maybe some part of you finds the nest not quite right - Can't say - Don't know. Maybe ask Sujato?


After starting off being on the end of Ian's condescension, now it is my turn to get some from Chuck.

It feels like in your frustration in the weak points of my last post you have sidelined the issues I was more interested in. If you followed the rest of that post and this thead, the main question and doubt I have is how seriously should we take the advice of someone like Thanissaro's Bhikkhu. To what extent does his thinking rely on an ancient religious belief system, and what value is left if we strip away away that belief system?

I like to call my visits to this forum "procrastispirtualisation". How about yourself - what draws you to this forum to answer questions?

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/19/13 1:38 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Chuck Kasmire:


Than. is not suggesting this - only using it for the nature of awareness that the Arahat experiences during his lifetime - which is much more relevant with regard to your question: "who experiences the deathless? If it is experienced ... there must be consiousness." - which is why I brought it up. If you don't like the term 'viññanam anidassanam' then go ahead and replace that with some letters more to your liking. Personally, I think both of them experientially know exactly what Than. Bhikkhu is talking about and are just engaging in that monk-bickering thing over pali minutia that monks seem to enjoy doing.



It seems that you are suggesting that both Than Bhikkhu and Sujato are Arahats, since they have experiential knowledge of the consciousness that Arahats experience. And since you are offering your personal opinion and appear to value experiential knowledge, it also suggests that you have personal experience of that consciousness, and hence, you also think you are an Arahat. Is that a mistaken presumption?

Chuck Kasmire:
It appears as though you are the guy with the pricing gun running up and down the isles at a Wallmart. Look. Do you have a frigging coffee maker in this stupid box somewhere or not?

No, actually it doesn't. What raises the homunculus is your own mind - which is also what sees this 'infinite regress'. Who is stepping out? That which is aware of reading these words of course. But you aren't actually interested in finding that are you.

Has it occurred to you that you are not really interested in any answers you might get to your endless questions and doubts? That you use them to make a nice little nest for your self of concepts and views much like my chickens with their little piles of straw? Buddhism like all isms is one big bale of straw so have at it. Obviously, there is something that draws you to this forum to ask these questions. Maybe some part of you finds the nest not quite right - Can't say - Don't know. Maybe ask Sujato?


After starting off being on the end of Ian's condescension, now it is @Sawtooth_'s turn to get some from Chuck. Chuck is not a clown whatsoever. You are a slapstick straightman genius.

It feels like in your frustration in the weak points of my last post you have sidelined the issues I was more interested in. If you followed the rest of that post and this thead, the main question and doubt I have is how seriously should we take the advice of someone like Thanissaro's Bhikkhu. To what extent does his thinking rely on an ancient religious belief system, and what value is left if we strip away away that belief system?

I like to call my visits to this forum "procrastispirtualisation". How about yourself - what draws you to this forum to answer questions?
I can't speak for Chuck, I assume he is merciful and compassionate. I'm a long suffering long haul big wheel. Get your assbackwards wobble off of the freeway @moron! HHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNKKKKKKKK!!!!

@ - clown noses T3 / Ativan 1mg / 3 REM / 4 eyes / WITless / nasty

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/19/13 12:13 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
I like to call my visits to this forum "procrastispirtualisation". How about yourself - what draws you to this forum to answer questions?


Thanks for the clarification. To each his own. I am here for I think the same reason most are:
The Dharma Overground is a resource for the support of hardcore meditation practice. It is a place where everything related to the support of practice may flourish, including where to go on retreats, what techniques may lead to what, an in depth look at the maps of possible states and stages, discussions about how to determine what experience was what, and in general anything that has to do with actually practicing rather than what typically occurs in standard meditation circles. Here you will find a robust and variable community of people with a wide range of experience levels, perspectives and interests, though all loosely bound by the same basic principles of empowering, helpful, engaged dharma and exploration of the possibilities of the mind.


Now that I realize that this is not why you're here - I'll leave you to your what-ever-it-is. Good luck to you.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/20/13 12:52 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
triple think:
sawfoot _:


I like to call my visits to this forum "procrastispirtualisation". How about yourself - what draws you to this forum to answer questions?

I can't speak for Chuck, I assume he is merciful and compassionate. I'm a long suffering long haul big wheel. Get your assbackwards wobble off of the freeway @moron! HHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNKKKKKKKK!!!!


Chuck Kasmire:
sawfoot _:
I like to call my visits to this forum "procrastispirtualisation". How about yourself - what draws you to this forum to answer questions?


Thanks for the clarification. To each his own. I am here for I think the same reason most are:

The Dharma Overground is a resource for the support of hardcore meditation practice. It is a place where everything related to the support of practice may flourish, including where to go on retreats, what techniques may lead to what, an in depth look at the maps of possible states and stages, discussions about how to determine what experience was what, and in general anything that has to do with actually practicing rather than what typically occurs in standard meditation circles. Here you will find a robust and variable community of people with a wide range of experience levels, perspectives and interests, though all loosely bound by the same basic principles of empowering, helpful, engaged dharma and exploration of the possibilities of the mind.


Now that I realize that this is not why you're here - I'll leave you to your what-ever-it-is. Good luck to you.


In response to the bolding, you could reduce or reformulate the questions I raised in my previous post which was specific to TB, to something like "why should we practice?" and "if you have mistaken ideas about the goal of practice, is there still value in practice?", which is another way of saying does it matter if we reject conventional wisdom?

Forgive me for indulging in this affliction I have called "thinking", but I would like to go off topic for a while to raise some thoughts in response to Chuck's post and recent developments in the TripleThink Saga.

Funnily enough, I have been at the receiving end of very similar (passive aggressive) comments from our overlord, Daniel M. Ingram, Arahat.

What it seems to reflect is that an attitude that can be found in some "advanced" "practitioners" of the "Dharma". I see it in people like Chuck, Ian, Nathan/3T/TTT, and often in Daniel. What it reveals is that these people believe very strongly that they are in possession of the truth. They know what real practice is and what real practice isn't. It betrays the attitude that of the truly religious, where doubt has been vanquished. Where they rest on such high ground that they safely dismiss, condescend and at times treat with contempt those that they have judged to be lacking. Crudely psychologizing, it feels like this is linked to a sense of self-worth, of being an authority and having achieved something privileged and special in getting to that truth.

Often this authority is backed up by an appeal to "experiential knowledge". Since I have never experienced the workings of the Arahat's "consciousness without surface", the nth Jhana, the power of Magick or seen a fairy, then I can be talked down to and patronised. Though, when the compassion kicks in, I am told perhaps one day, with good practice, I can learn to see the truth that they see it. And it leads to the working of a power dynamic, where people like Chuck and Nathan are in the club, the truly hardcore, and us heathen non-believers are outside; the power-dynamic of those in the know, "the enlightened ones", the ones we should look up to and respect, and us shit-eaters down here, trawling around in the rubbish.

It doesn't have to be that like though. There are "advanced ones" around on this forum, who embody the spirit of that quote by trying to respond in a helpful, engaged way, who present their "Dharma" as just that. And those archetypes I am chastising will often embody that spirit too, just don't rub them up the wrong way, or disrespect their authoritah...

Now, I am not religious but it not just a religious disease. I still can easily fall into those traps of the ego, which happens pretty much anytime you think or act as if you are better than somebody else. It is to be avoided at all costs, though saying that I am aware that this post has itself has fallen into that trap, and most likely I will later regret posting it.

Back to whatever-it-was that I should be doing.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/20/13 2:11 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Hey sawfoot _ (there a space there!)

I was gonna write some silky, comfortable smelling, generic niceties such as "trust yourself", "this happens to all of us", "sometimes the going gets rough" and similar usually insincere shit.

But instead, without any of that, and without introducing opinions on any of the current on-goings, I'd like to express empathy and a little bit of love and appreciation. It's hard to do so on an obscure forum on the Internet, to a stranger, using only black squiggles on a computer screen—so you'll just have to take my word for it.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/20/13 3:13 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
.
What it seems to reflect is that an attitude that can be found in some "advanced" "practitioners" of the "Dharma". I see it in people like Chuck, Ian, Nathan/3T/TTT, and often in Daniel. What it reveals is that these people believe very strongly that they are in possession of the truth. They know what real practice is and what real practice isn't. It betrays the attitude that of the truly religious, where doubt has been vanquished. Where they rest on such high ground that they safely dismiss, condescend and at times treat with contempt those that they have judged to be lacking. Crudely psychologizing, it feels like this is linked to a sense of self-worth, of being an authority and having achieved something privileged and special in getting to that truth.



That happens.

It might be a good idea to take all that you've experienced recently and let it inform your understanding of what meditative attainments can and can't do. And if it's important to you not to succumb to this sort of thing yourself (ie. the stuff that you perceive as a problem here) -- either as perceived victim or perpetrator -- it can be something to watch out for and work on.

For what it's worth, I've found your contributions to several recent threads pretty interesting, both in terms of their content and the responses your ideas have evoked in others. I don't think you've been at all unreasonable, and I think the questions you've raised in this thread are really important. But I do get the impression that you're starting to feel wronged now, and it could easily flip you into being a martyr and painting your interlocutors with too broad brush strokes.

Being able not to go there -- not succumb to the beat 'em or join 'em mentality, and not be talked out of the truth as you know it, even when you have both inner and outer inducements to do so -- might actually turn out to be the best form of practice you learn here.

RE: Rebirth verses reincarnation — clarification
Answer
12/21/13 2:50 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:
sawfoot _:
.
What it seems to reflect is that an attitude that can be found in some "advanced" "practitioners" of the "Dharma". I see it in people like Chuck, Ian, Nathan/3T/TTT, and often in Daniel. What it reveals is that these people believe very strongly that they are in possession of the truth. They know what real practice is and what real practice isn't. It betrays the attitude that of the truly religious, where doubt has been vanquished. Where they rest on such high ground that they safely dismiss, condescend and at times treat with contempt those that they have judged to be lacking. Crudely psychologizing, it feels like this is linked to a sense of self-worth, of being an authority and having achieved something privileged and special in getting to that truth.


That happens.

It might be a good idea to take all that you've experienced recently and let it inform your understanding of what meditative attainments can and can't do. And if it's important to you not to succumb to this sort of thing yourself (ie. the stuff that you perceive as a problem here) -- either as perceived victim or perpetrator -- it can be something to watch out for and work on.

For what it's worth, I've found your contributions to several recent threads pretty interesting, both in terms of their content and the responses your ideas have evoked in others. I don't think you've been at all unreasonable, and I think the questions you've raised in this thread are really important. But I do get the impression that you're starting to feel wronged now, and it could easily flip you into being a martyr and painting your interlocutors with too broad brush strokes.

Being able not to go there -- not succumb to the beat 'em or join 'em mentality, and not be talked out of the truth as you know it, even when you have both inner and outer inducements to do so -- might actually turn out to be the best form of practice you learn hereth.


I did have a small rant about/at Daniel about the "what meditative attainments can and can't do." question in the fairy thread, and I have got a sense of what they can't do (despite all the sales pitches). What they can do is something I do need to work out more for myself firsthand.

Well, yes, for sure, the post was written in the unhealthy spirit of emotional reactivity, feeling wronged from where I started off in the post and where it ended up. I used the word archetypes in recognition of the broad brush strokes, and the regret was the recognition that this particular form of engagement was a beat 'em mentality. But then it all gets a bit "meta" - just because you acknowledge you are being an arse, it doesn't stop you being an arse...

There is confidence in the questions I have in coming to terms with 21st Dharma (sorry for getting Buddhist Geeky) are worth exploring here, but it is difficult to avoid getting caught up in emotional reactivity along the way, which is in part a reflection of where I am in the path, and part a reflection of being human. I wonder if the Buddha could have avoided being a dick on internet forums and be able to tred that fine-lined middle way.....

Thanks appreciated, Katy, Love and appreciation, appreciated, Stian.

black squiggle

edited: a phrase