Author Topic: Between indulgence and self-denial  (Read 15635 times)

Green Tara

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Between indulgence and self-denial
« on: February 11, 2008, 05:06:43 PM »
I am wondering, is it necessary to become a monk or a nun to realise the truth and end the cycle of birth and death?
I thought the Buddha’s way was the middle way.
Which to me is not to attach or detach.
So eating a lot and being greedy is one extreme and total fast is another extreme.
Sleeping around is indulgence and being celibate is self-denial.
And it is the same for everything else, so I don’t understand why the path of nuns and monks is the way to enlightenment.
Of course I understand that monks and nuns have more time to meditate and therefore have more of a chance to clear their karma and stop the cycle of birth and death.
Also their lives is like a lighthouse to us and it show us what we are capable of doing and avoiding.
Can laymen and laywomen reach enlightenment?
Have any of you heard of Arahants who are married with kids. After all the Buddha had a son.
   
What do you think?



"Samsaric beings! Cling not to worldly pleasures.  Enter the great city of liberation”

mettajoey

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2008, 12:18:38 PM »
Hi Tara,
My feeling is strongly in the middle way and discovering our own unique path.  Much like the Buddha's quote under Matthew's avatar, "Strive diligently for your own salvation".  If we can quiet the mind and seek out our true essence we will function out of our best self regardless of our circumstance.  I have four kids, should I become a monk?  I think not.
For arguments sake when it come to this issue; isn't it possible to become so self absorbed in denial and asceticism the it's done merely to serve the ego?  Can one get lost there as well?  Slowly as I become a better listener, with both the ups and downs of my actions, I am finding a better way.  My personal changes have started to come from a caring about me, this Joe person in the world I'm responsible for guiding, and not because I think I should.  I still see the suttras as signposts and clues but not the actual truth.
Warmly,
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

pamojjam

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2008, 01:46:49 PM »

hi Tara and Joe,

Quote
Green Tara, on: Monday 11 February 2008, 05:06 PM:

I thought the Buddha’s way was the middle way

Sure it is.

Quote
The Clothless Ascetic Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya 12, 17:

''The one who acts is the one who experiences' [the result of the act] amounts to the eternalist statement, 'Existing from the very beginning, stress is self-made.'
- 'The one who acts is someone other than the one who experiences' amounts to the annihilationist statement, 'For one existing harassed by feeling, stress is other-made.'

Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle:
- From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.
- From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.
- From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name & form.
- From name & form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.
- From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.
- From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.
- From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.
- From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.
- From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming.
- From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.
- From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play.
Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.'
Quote
Tara:
Which to me is not to attach or detach.

Exactly. If ignorance is seen with wisdom, no need to. Fabrications without supporting condition simply wont arise.

Quote
Sleeping around is indulgence and being celibate is self-denial...

Of course I understand that monks and nuns have more time to meditate and therefore have more of a chance to clear their karma and stop the cycle of birth and death.

(As a side note, past kamma can't be cleared, in a beginningless samsara we would never get finish with. However, right now with ignorance seen through, this beginningless kamma can indeed come to its end. But not because it has been 'worked through'.)


I think the question of what is self indugence and what is self-denial is a very personal one - so related to the circumstances one finds oneself in.

That's why the Buddha also said: that the same action which would not deviate one person from his upward path, could lead an other to experience hell.

Just as an example: myself. I never slept around (I mean in this live ;-). Not because I'm training in the precepts (at young age I wouldn't even know about) nor because in my fantasies I wouldn't want to - but simply because I can't. Emotional intimacy - in my psychological makeup - gives me the 'high' other seem to get out of accelerated heardbeat, sweating, etc. which also could be sqeezed out of sports, and I'm also not a friend of in itself alone.

Now if I in my situation am not carefully considering, and just let this favorable condition and the causes which gave me this setup, pass by. It could be a very bad surprise the next time around. Because it could become plain self-indulgence in my case.

While another, who only got this intimacy out of sleeping around (I mean in this live again) but slowly warming up and finding less hurting ways for himself and others involved, could really find a nice surprise one day. And in my opinion it wouldn't be self-indugence in this case at all.

Quote
I am wondering, is it necessary to become a monk or a nun to realise the truth and end the cycle of birth and death?

Can laymen and laywomen reach enlightenment?


I'm convinced that this principle of cause and effect applies equally to lay persons and monks alike.

kind regards..
« Last Edit: February 12, 2008, 01:51:08 PM by pamojjam »

Green Tara

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2008, 06:56:18 PM »



For arguments sake when it come to this issue; isn't it possible to become so self absorbed in denial and asceticism the it's done merely to serve the ego?  Can one get lost there as well? 
there is an interesting argument there Joe

I still see the suttras as signposts and clues but not the actual truth.
I agree with that  :)



I'm convinced that this principle of cause and effect applies equally to lay persons and monks alike.


I agree with that too Pamojjam, the principle of cause and effect governs every living thing.

If being a monk or a nun is not so important to reach enlightenment why then there was this big ho ha about the Buddha ordaining women to be nuns.
"Samsaric beings! Cling not to worldly pleasures.  Enter the great city of liberation”

pamojjam

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2008, 12:29:20 PM »

hi Tara,
 
with big 'ho ha' you mean that the Buddha allegedly was reluctant in admitting a sangha of nuns - and had to be begged by Ven. Ananda first?

There are some who explain the Buddha's reluctancy with the prevalent social conditions at that time. But honestly, I myself don't really remember this time myself at all and only can depend on what I'm able to read about it now.

An other similar surprising reluctancy was that the Buddha allegedly had to be begged by a God to start teaching at all. I mean if I'm forgetful of my past lifes, no surprise ;-)
But if the Buddha allegedly worked for aeons of countless lives accumulating paramies with the intent to become a fully awakened Buddha, one would oversee if he had forget about that as still a Bodhisattva - but as a fully enlightened Buddha?!

However, in such points which easily give rise to useless controversies, I found the Kalama Sutta most helpful:

Quote
Anguttara Nikaya, Tika Nipata, Mahavagga, Sutta No. 65, excerpt:

[The criterion for rejection]
4. "It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them.

[Greed, hate, and delusion]
5. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does greed appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" — "For his harm, venerable sir." — "Kalamas, being given to greed, and being overwhelmed and vanquished mentally by greed, this man takes life, steals, commits adultery, and tells lies; he prompts another too, to do likewise. Will that be long for his harm and ill?" — "Yes, venerable sir."

6. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does hate appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" — "For his harm, venerable sir." — "Kalamas, being given to hate, and being overwhelmed and vanquished mentally by hate, this man takes life, steals, commits adultery, and tells lies; he prompts another too, to do likewise. Will that be long for his harm and ill?" — "Yes, venerable sir."

7. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does delusion appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" — "For his harm, venerable sir." — "Kalamas, being given to delusion, and being overwhelmed and vanquished mentally by delusion, this man takes life, steals, commits adultery, and tells lies; he prompts another too, to do likewise. Will that be long for his harm and ill?" — "Yes, venerable sir."

8. "What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things good or bad?" — "Bad, venerable sir" — "Blamable or not blamable?" — "Blamable, venerable sir." — "Censured or praised by the wise?" — "Censured, venerable sir." — "Undertaken and observed, do these things lead to harm and ill, or not? Or how does it strike you?" — "Undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill. Thus it strikes us here."

9. "Therefore, did we say, Kalamas, what was said thus, 'Come Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, "The monk is our teacher." Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill," abandon them.'

One other thing not to forget, the kamma out of thinking males would be superiour -which in my opinion can only come out of delusions - will be the experience of the results of such acts by body, speech and mind as a female in the next life.

kind regards..
« Last Edit: February 15, 2008, 12:31:25 PM by pamojjam »

Stefan

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2008, 09:34:50 PM »
isn't it possible to become so self absorbed in denial and asceticism the it's done merely to serve the ego?

It seems obvious if you sit at the ghats of varanasi and watch some of the ascetic yogis posing around ... but no matter which way to paradise one chooses, one will find traps on the way.

One other thing not to forget, the kamma out of thinking males would be superiour -which in my opinion can only come out of delusions - will be the experience of the results of such acts by body, speech and mind as a female in the next life.

Haven't seen any Yogini posing in Varanasi! What would we be without the female aspect in the universe? Non-existent in so many ways!

But what do we know? According to Tery Pratchett there's planets out there where they have five different sexes (maybe more?!)... which leaves the children with a lot of parents  :D They don't care for duality there ...

Metta, Stefan
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Matthew

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2008, 12:48:17 PM »
Have any of you heard of Arahants who are married with kids. After all the Buddha had a son.

There were quite a number of lay followers of the Buddha who became Arahants whilst still engaged in family and the world of daily life*. It is easier to follow the path if one follows a 'monastic' discipline - however I am putting the monastic in quotes for good reason: The Buddha did not have monasteries. The appearance of monasteries was largely to confine the activities of Buddhists within the monastery walls and was a political compromise to allow them to continue practicing their way.

Personally I am not very convinced that for Buddhism the compromise was a good one. I have a strong sense much is lost if one practices behind the walls of a monastery. Better to create the 'walls' you need around your practice in your current situation.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew

* See "The Meaning of Nibbana" Rune Johansen London 1969 for details (if you can find a copy!)
« Last Edit: February 24, 2008, 09:17:53 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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pamojjam

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2008, 06:32:07 PM »
Hi Matthew,

Quote
There were quite a number of lay followers of the Buddha who became Arahants whilst still engaged in family and the world of daily life*.
...
* See "The Meaning of Nibbana" Rune Johansen London 1969 for details (if you can find a copy!)

In the suttas themself I don't remember even one family-man going beyond Anagami (the stage just before Arahant). Which still doesn't has to mean much, especially in this respect.

However, because I guess it rather difficult to find a book of Johansen which isn't out of print and if one hasn't got access to English libraries, could you elaborate a bit - if and when you find the time and are at ease to do so - on what grounds Johansen raises this claim: that there are a number of lay followers of the Buddha who became Arahants whilst still engaged in lay life?

kind regards..

Green Tara

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2008, 07:25:50 PM »


 it rather difficult to find a book of Johansen which isn't out of print and if one hasn't got access to English libraries,

You are right Pamojjam, I couldn't find the book  :(

In the suttas themself I don't remember even one family-man going beyond Anagami (the stage just before Arahant). Which still doesn't has to mean much, especially in this respect.
so is your understanding that you can't become an Arahant whilst still engaged in lay life?
if that is so, where does your understanding comes from?
"Samsaric beings! Cling not to worldly pleasures.  Enter the great city of liberation”

Stefan

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2008, 07:53:29 PM »
I have a strong sense much is lost if one practices behind the walls of a monastery.

I would add "...only." to your sentence.
When we did Yoga in India we used to say: "It's no good to be in Samadhi for years in your himalayan cave and then you come to the big city and go berserk for the first stupid fellow who keeps on trying to sell you fake trumpery."

In the suttas themself I don't remember even one family-man going beyond Anagami (the stage just before Arahant).

Lahiri Mahasaya was a quite recent saint who led the life of a householder. He wanted to prove to us that you don't have to be a Monk to become fully enlightened. But first: I never met him personally (in this life ...) - and second: he didn't do Vipassana, he did Babaji's Kriya Yoga. (This means much to me, but does it mean anything to you?  I love Vipassana but I am definitely not a "Buddhist" - nor "Hindu", "Muslim", "Jew", "Christian" or "Younameit").

MettaBhakti, Stefan
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pamojjam

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2008, 11:03:51 PM »


so is your understanding that you can't become an Arahant whilst still engaged in lay life?


No that's not my believe. It is however a traditional believe that any layperson preceding from Anagami to Arahanta stage of liberation - and then not abandoning the laypersons life - would die within a few days.

Beside the difficulty and usefulness of ascertaining such believes, it's the most difficult thing to be sure of anyone's stage. In the Pali there are stories of monks living for years together and still being ignorant about an Arahant amongst them for so long.

It's already difficult enough to know about one's own:

Quote

Anguttara Nikaya 7.68

Just as when a carpenter or carpenter's apprentice sees the marks of his fingers or thumb on the handle of his adze but does not know, 'Today my adze handle wore down this much, or yesterday it wore down that much, or the day before yesterday it wore down this much,' still he knows it is worn through when it is worn through. In the same way, when a monk dwells devoting himself to development, he does not know, 'Today my effluents wore down this much, or yesterday they wore down that much, or the day before yesterday they wore down this much,' still he knows they are worn through when they are worn through.


The only thing I'm certain is, that an Arahant in the clear comprehension of all implications of this becoming known by secular society would certainly hide it very well. But even more so because with an Arahant the last remains of conceit are gone.

So the only marks one would be able to watch out for is, how humble without pretense a person has become.  :-\

kind regards..
« Last Edit: February 20, 2008, 11:06:46 PM by pamojjam »

Stefan

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2008, 08:52:26 PM »
It is however a traditional believe that any layperson preceding from Anagami to Arahanta stage of liberation - and then not abandoning the laypersons life - would die within a few days.

where & by whom is this believed? I understand that you won't lead a "normal" life after being "enlightened", but I'd file this traditional believe under "deeply suspicious".

I too think it's quite difficult to tell which stage you're on, and it's not even worth thinking about it as this is not a computer game ("hei! I reached level 22!"), but I suppose if you reach "the final stage" there will be no doubt about it. And an Arahant wouldn't tell you "hei, I'm an Arahant, what about that?", because he knows we non-arahantic people wouldn't benefit from this statement. And - how true - no more conceit ...

So the only marks one would be able to watch out for is, how humble without pretense a person has become.

.. but you'd have to be an Arahant yourself to be sure there's really no pretense?

Metta to you, Stefan
« Last Edit: February 22, 2008, 08:54:07 PM by stefan »
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pamojjam

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2008, 02:42:37 PM »

Hi Stefan,

Quote
where & by whom is this believed?

In South Asia's Theravada countries, like Burma, Sri Lanka... Since I don't remember having it read in one of the Sutta's (without having read them all) I'm pretty sure it to be found either in the Abhidhamma Tipitaka or a commentary to the Suttas.

Quote
.. but I'd file this traditional believe under "deeply suspicious"

for me it's just irrelevant to my practice.

Quote
I too think it's quite difficult to tell which stage you're on, and it's not even worth thinking about it as this is not a computer game ("hei! I reached level 22!"),..

I completely agree. I only came to investigate this further since one Australian AT, I had a longer conversation about my meditation practice with, mentioned that one meditative experience I took for being an expression of 'metta' to be actually called 'nibbana-dhatu' in our tradition.

Sometimes I'm really slow in grasping ;-) So also after this conversation it only dawned slowly on me, that this would mean: only 7 more lifes?!
I thought, well, wait a minute, to be unshakingly convinced about anicca and have inhibiting complexes desolve actually I'm already quite satisfied with. But only 7 more lifes? - And all that bhava-tanha (craving for becoming) would pop up. So I started to become intent on thwarting this destiny by making the bodhissattwa vow.  >:( lol

However, after further investigation in the Suttas, questioning about 5 Achariyas (fully authorized teacher by Goenka, in distinction to ATs) about this issue, and even the resident teacher at IMC Yangon - I came to the following conclusions (to make long story short)

- that the bodhisattva vow would only be wishful thinking and a wholesome reflection at the most
- that when the Goenka tradition calls awakening factors 'nibbana-dhatu' - it invented a new concept for awakening-factors - whereby the implications of this concept seems to be missleading even Achariyas
- that these 4 stages to Arahanthood is a nice map to know what's involved at each stage, but downright deluding if one would fabricate new identities out of them.

This doesn't mean I'm opposing all practitioners of Mahayana, Vajrayana and Goenka's tradition - if they would think otherwise - I'm just convinced out of my own experience what leads to wholesomeness FOR ME - and what isn't. Which might be completely different for others out of their own experience.

kind regards..

« Last Edit: February 23, 2008, 04:07:12 PM by pamojjam »

Stefan

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2008, 08:53:27 AM »
... but I'd file this traditional believe under "deeply suspicious"

for me it's just irrelevant to my practice.


True! That's why I'd file it under suspicious!
(For the sake of my spiritual development I try to look for the quotes that "the dark side" inserted into the holy books or into the minds of people. I could imagine that some nearly enlightened beings (not only humans) fell into one last trap ... on this dual earth there's crossroads everywhere.)

I too think it's quite difficult to tell which stage you're on, and it's not even worth thinking about it as this is not a computer game ("hei! I reached level 22!"),..

I completely agree. I only came to investigate this further since one Australian AT, I had a longer conversation about my meditation practice with, mentioned that one meditative experience I took for being an expression of 'metta' to be actually called 'nibbana-dhatu' in our tradition. 

[ . . . ]


Thanks for your story! It shows to me (again) that it's actually quite confusing to try to define non-mind-experiences with what we call our logical mind. (I know that sometimes it's necessary to understand where practical meditative problems come from, but in general I'm convinced that this is the crossroad between wisdom and scholarship ... as I wrote before I once fell into this trap and it still takes efforts to get out of it again ... as you may have noticed I enjoy talking about "it" a lot.)

This doesn't mean I'm opposing all practitioners of Mahayana, Vajrayana and Goenka's tradition [...]

Glad to hear that ... I have to admit that some sentences I read on your website made me suspect the opposite - sorry!
(I'm quite sure that there's no spiritual teaching in this world that is true only ... dual world! The words said by "the enlightened masters" may be right, but I'm afraid as soon as the master turns round, the non-masters start to interpret and twist the only half understood words. That's why the practice is so important to understand "the books". Opposing others opinions is essential when one feels uncomfortable with them, but - trap again! - it's pretty close to starting a personal war without noticing it ...)

And only seven more years ...
HAH! I wish you (all) to reach the ultimate goal until next sunday!!!  :D

Metta sincerely, Stefan
« Last Edit: February 24, 2008, 08:58:59 AM by stefan »
anicca

Matthew

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2008, 09:37:05 AM »
However, after further investigation in the Suttas, questioning about 5 Achariyas (fully authorized teacher by Goenka, in distinction to ATs) about this issue, and even the resident teacher at IMC Yangon - I came to the following conclusions (to make long story short)

- that the bodhisattva vow would only be wishful thinking and a wholesome reflection at the most
- that when the Goenka tradition calls awakening factors 'nibbana-dhatu' - it invented a new concept for awakening-factors - whereby the implications of this concept seems to be missleading even Achariyas
- that these 4 stages to Arahanthood is a nice map to know what's involved at each stage, but downright deluding if one would fabricate new identities out of them.

Dear pamojjam,

As usual you are quite precise in your understanding. I have taken the Boddhisattva Vow however it does not mean in reality what it is interpreted to mean by most traditions. I use the Boddhisattva vow as a two-fold vehicle on the path - firstly, in terms of wholesome reflection and secondly, in terms of part of my daily life "meditation in action": whereby each moment I have a chance to be a selfish being or put my selfishness to one side and see the other and their need/sufering.

I think that most people taking the Boddhisattva vow are under the mistaken impression that they are coming back lifetime after lifetime to help others and this understanding is contrary to fundamental doctrines of Buddhism: It is as you say "wishful thinking".

The other point you raise is a very fundamental one. Any verbal interpretation of the path, stages thereon, meditation techniques etc risks becoming another layer of ego defence. The risk of fabricating an identity from them is huge, vast. This is true whatever school one is following, whatever practices one is following. True if you idetify as "Buddhist" or "not-Buddhist" as both are mere conceptualisations. The Buddha didn't even identify himself as Buddha (awake) - it was the little girl who gave him the milkrice who gave him this honorific title.

Regarding Johansons book I can't elaborate. Having read it a dozen times I knew what I needed to know from it and passed it on. I got the title wrong though:

"JOHANSSON, RUNE EDVIN  The Psychology of Nirvana; a Comparative Study of the Natural Goal of Buddhism and the Aims of Modern Western Psychology.

It's available from USD 18.95 plus postage here at abebooks

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
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Green Tara

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2008, 01:13:44 PM »
I understand that you won't lead a "normal" life after being "enlightened", but I'd file this traditional believe under "deeply suspicious".


Before I was enlightened, I chopped wood and carried water.
After I became enlightened I chopped wood and carried water.
Zen Teaching

for the rest of the replies I found this,

An eager young disciple went to the master and said,
"Could you give me a word of wisdom? Could you tell me something that would guide
 me through my days?" Since it was the master's day of silence, he picked up a pad and wrote on it.
It said, "Awareness." When the disciple saw it, he said, "This is too brief. Can you expand on it a bit?"
So the master took back the pad and wrote, "Awareness, awareness, awareness.
" The disciple said, "Yes, but what does it mean?"
The master took back the pad and wrote,
 "Awareness, awareness, awareness means -- awareness."  ;)


Green Tara
 

« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 12:43:34 PM by Green Tara »
"Samsaric beings! Cling not to worldly pleasures.  Enter the great city of liberation”

pamojjam

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2008, 02:25:53 PM »

Dear Matthew and all,

(to make long story short): ...

thanks for elaborating in such detail clearing possible missunderstandings. :-) I sometimes aren't patient enough in a second language, as English is for me.

Personally, I started to understand the Boddhisattwa vow as 'Samma Sankappo':

Quote
Right Resolve:
 "And what is right resolve? Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill-will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve."

Which only leaves resolves of good-will, loving-kindness, compassion and equanimity.

... are under the mistaken impression that they are coming back lifetime after lifetime ...

Which would be opposite of 'Samma ditthi':

Quote
Right Understanding:
"And what is right view? Knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the cessation of stress, knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called right view."

It's available from USD 18.95 plus postage here at abebooks

Thanks for the reverence.

in Dhamma..

pamojjam

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2008, 02:57:26 PM »

Dear Stefan,

... but I'd file this traditional believe under "deeply suspicious"
for me it's just irrelevant to my practice.

True! That's why I'd file it under suspicious!

I understand and like the freshness you look at these things. However, during my long time of practice I met and talked to persons who have been much longer than me on this path, like S.N.Goenka and U Tint Yee both personal disciples of U Ba Khin; or Ven. Rewata Dhamma a personal disciple of Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw, also appointed teacher of Ven. Mogok Sayadaw and U Goenka; and Ven. Pha Auk Sayadaw U Acinna - just to name the most prominent. And all these teachers originating from Myanmar, don't look at the Abhidhamma and the commentaries as from some 'dark side', but contrarily very helpful if not essential to understand in detail the practices outlined in the Suttas.

Now it is not primarily out of my reverence to those teachers, with whom I discussed quite frankly if Abhidhamma is really supporting, and not only complicating, if not downright misleading in actual practice - but it is out of consideration to all the Burmese people I have much affection with, I would not consider these additions to the Suttas suspicious, especially in written form. Since Burmese people have much faith in all these Sayadaw and Sayagyis, and therefore also these scriptures. Faith is their form of Buddhism - which I found legitimated through the Buddha himself - and which will bring much more wholesomeness to their lifes. I am actually so glad about.

Even if the reflections of Abhidhamma and the Commentaries have become the main point of practice to fellow Dhamma- brother and sister - I am also perfectly glad and fine with this - it only is, at this point, for its biggest part simply irrelevant to my own practice. My metta to all of them. The 'dual crossroad' is only here and now in my mind.

It is something completely different to look at and discuss - to agree or disagree - different points of the 3th basket of the Tipitaka in relation to one's own practice, as I also did on this forum: http://www.abhidhamma.org/forums/

Thanks for your story! It shows to me (again) that it's actually quite confusing to try to define non-mind-experiences with what we call our logical mind...
that this is the crossroad between wisdom and scholarship ...

The problem is only if non-mind experiences are confused with mental processes, as if one calls them 'nibbana-dhatu' without further or wrong elaboration. Take a look at the actual instructions in the Satipatthana Sutta, the scriptural base of Vipassana:

Quote
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanasatta/wheel019.html

The Seven Factors of Enlightenment

And further, monks, a monk lives contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of enlightenment.

How, monks, does a monk live contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of enlightenment?

Herein, monks, when the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is present, the monk knows, "The enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is in me," or when the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is absent, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the non-arisen enlightenment-factor of mindfulness comes to be; and how perfection in the development of the arisen enlightenment-factor of mindfulness comes to be.

When the enlightenment-factor of the investigation of mental objects is present, the monk knows, "The enlightenment-factor of the investigation of mental objects is in me"; when the enlightenment-factor of the investigation of mental objects is absent, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of the investigation of mental objects is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the non-arisen enlightenment-factor of the investigation of mental objects comes to be, and how perfection in the development of the arisen enlightenment-factor of the investigation of mental objects comes to be.

When the enlightenment-factor of energy is present, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of energy is in me"; when the enlightenment-factor of energy is absent, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of energy is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the non-arisen enlightenment-factor of energy comes to be, and how perfection in the development of the arisen enlightenment-factor of energy comes to be.

When the enlightenment-factor of joy is present, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of joy is in me"; when the enlightenment-factor of joy is absent, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of joy is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the non-arisen enlightenment-factor of joy comes to be, and how perfection in the development of the arisen enlightenment-factor of joy comes to be.

When the enlightenment-factor of tranquillity is present, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of tranquillity is in me"; when the enlightenment-factor of tranquillity is absent, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of tranquillity is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the non-arisen enlightenment-factor of tranquillity comes to be, and how perfection in the development of the arisen enlightenment-factor of tranquillity comes to be.

When the enlightenment-factor of concentration is present, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of concentration is in me"; when the enlightenment-factor of concentration is absent, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of concentration is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the non-arisen enlightenment-factor of concentration comes to be, and how perfection in the development of the arisen enlightenment-factor of concentration comes to be.

When the enlightenment-factor of equanimity is present, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of equanimity is in me"; when the enlightenment-factor of equanimity is absent, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of equanimity is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the non-arisen enlightenment-factor of equanimity comes to be, and how perfection in the development of the arisen enlightenment-factor of equanimity comes to be.

Thus he lives contemplating mental objects in mental objects internally, or he lives contemplating mental objects in mental objects externally, or he lives contemplating mental objects in mental objects internally and externally. He lives contemplating origination-factors in mental objects, or he lives contemplating dissolution-factors in mental objects, or he lives contemplating origination-and-dissolution-factors in mental objects.26 Or his mindfulness is established with the thought, "Mental objects exist," to the extent necessary just for knowledge and mindfulness, and he lives detached, and clings to nothing in the world. Thus, monks, a monk lives contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of enlightenment.

Glad to hear that ... I have to admit that some sentences I read on your website made me suspect the opposite - sorry!

Don't feel sorry - clear your conception by pointing out where you found I wrote too antagonistically, which wasn't my intention at all. English is my second language too, and therefore I feel always grateful if such wrong wordings could be pointed out.

But please start an extra thread for this - and don't let your preconceptions color all our encounters on this forum. I wrote very clear and repeatedly in my text, for example in the last line of its the introduction:

Quote
This page is intended to improve mutual understanding, to be prepared to reveal sectarian tendencies in its beginnings - so no one has to fear anymore to be kicked out by telling his opinions. And of course for me to be able to come to courses without having to distrust and deny my own experiences (or if proved wrong - to be helped to adjust them).

And only seven more years ...

You misread 7 lifes.

may there be much ease..

Green Tara

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2008, 03:59:36 PM »

And only seven more years ...


You misread 7 lifes.

May be Stefan didn't miss it Pamojjam, maybe only seven more years......who knows :)

tara
"Samsaric beings! Cling not to worldly pleasures.  Enter the great city of liberation”

Stefan

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2008, 05:09:49 PM »
Dear Pamojjam,

I wrote it wrong ... seven days, seven lives ... both is quite a short period compared to eternity.

As for the "dark side" - thing ... nothing against the scriptures really! I still lack of a lot of experience, so maybe I understand only a tenth of it (which would be a lot already!). Sometimes it's not the words, it's who reads it and when. The sentence I was referring to bears a lot of psychic confusion for those who are not Arahants (as for me). For us it's irrelevant, but it could mislead the understanding of "average-level-disciplines".

Quote
But please start an extra thread for this - and don't let your preconceptions color all our encounters on this forum.

My answers go to what you wrote. If I brought preconceptions into my answers then I feel sorry for it. But it was (and still is a bit) my personal feeling on your writings on your website, so I didn't want to start a public thread here  but I wrote you a PM (some weeks ago). I wanted to keep this opinion personal and discuss it with you only. I think your non-answer maybe enhanced preconceptions, which on the other hand also teaches me a thing about myself.

Quote
clear your conception by pointing out where you found I wrote too antagonistically [...]

it's the feeling rather than logic argumentations. my words are heart-on-tongue (hm, there's a proper english expression for that, I'm sure ...).

With respect & Metta, Stefan
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pamojjam

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2008, 01:48:19 PM »

Dear Stefan,

so there is a 'heart-on-tongue word' - that's interesting!

The reason why I find this interesting is, because such a 'felt-sence' may have much insight enfolded, as I pointed out in this thread:
http://vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,148.msg1161.html#msg1161

Sorry for not responding to your pm. It gave me the feeling of not really being talked with, or asked anything. I was simply at a loss of words and felt completely disconnected.


So there is now a feeling within you - that says, something doesn't feels quite to the point - reading my webside?

Since this doesn't seem to have anything to do with logic at the outset - just let's leave reasoning for a moment aside and welcome that something sensed.

What word would you use for describing that feeling?

(which you get by remembering reading my website)

Quote
> Sometimes it's not the words, it's who reads it ..
> .. still is a bit) my personal feeling on your writings on your website,
> it's the feeling rather than logic argumentations
> With respect & Metta

I don't know if this was only a preconceptions or an intuition for something you just can't put into words yet. However, you also seem to confirm that a somewhat unpleasant feelings towards me does linger on.
I believe, if we don't get clear about this we will never know, and preconceptions could become prejudices. I believe there is an aspect of valitity in any perception, also preconceptions. So again, no need to feel sorry about it, but let it inform you what it is about.

I'm just curious, since it could be really something very important I have overseen(?) - Or maybe it's something important to you and no need for me to know(?)

either way, kind regards..

Stefan

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2008, 05:12:26 PM »
Dear Pamojjam,

Sorry for not responding to your pm. It gave me the feeling of not really being talked with, or asked anything. I was simply at a loss of words and felt completely disconnected.

Reading my pm again I have to admit it was quite cryptic  :-[

What word would you use for describing that feeling?

I'm not sure wether the meaning of the word that came to me (german - vienna lingo) is translated properly, so I give three possible translations (they could all be incorrect anyway):  affront, insult, mortification ... if it really is so, I realise that it's on a very deep level and quite subtle. maybe my pm explains my feeling in another way, maybe better (now that you know what I was referring to) ...

it can also be that I have been sensitized to this topic. my Vipassana-research brought me to the conclusion that although everybody is very polite and apologetic in a frosty kind of way there's a sort of subtle rivalry between different schools and branches of Vipassana (or better: between some of their representatives). this I've seen as a sort of a sneaking poison, and now I realise it has affected me already ...

[...] that a somewhat unpleasant feelings towards me does linger on.

No not towards you! I don't sign with "Metta" for nothing  :) I (try to) mean it, I try to send it, imperfectly as I am at this stage. I am just not quite sure at the real intention behind (parts of) your forum.
You have a lot of experience, and a lot of knowledge of the "buddhistic" scriptures. I on the other hand started Vipassan only nine months ago and didn't read more than some basic books by Goenkaji and U Ba Khin (and W. Hart, of course).
So I feel like a sheep barking at a shepherd ...  ;D

Your insightful words did me good - thanx.

Metta, Stefan

PS.: Heart-on-tongue ... I say what I sense without the filter of mind
... as I don't know many english phrases I have to invent my own ....

PPS.: Quoting myself: "my Vipassana-research brought me to the conclusion that although everybody is very polite and apologetic in a frosty kind of way there's a sort of subtle rivalry between different schools and branches of Vipassana (or better: between some of their representatives)."
that's why I like this forum ... if there's something to say, it's "straight forward" without sneaking around and in a friendly kind of way. we people from Vienna love that! Pamojjam I hope we reached this point!
« Last Edit: February 25, 2008, 05:25:03 PM by stefan »
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pamojjam

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2008, 09:15:21 PM »

Thanks so much for clarifing, Stefan
 
Quote
... if there's something to say, it's "straight forward" without sneaking around and in a friendly kind of way. we people from Vienna love that! Pamojjam I hope we reached this point!

Yeah, now I understand much better what's been going on between us and can relate to it really well. However, in my experience such openness needs unceasing - as Tara brought it to the point - 'awareness, awareness, awareness -- means awareness'.
And the courage to talk about unpleasant preconceptions.

Which brings me, after quite some detours, back to our topic:  'Between indulgence and self-denial' ;-)

In its relation to some time I spend practicing in a Burmese meditation monastery, and my insight there - maybe appearing paradoxical due to having lived adventures many are only dreaming of - that out of my particular psychological setup I in reality lived most of my live in denial. And that I had to leave always politely smiling South- Asia (and not only the monastery really), if I wanted to balance myself. Denial not so much of pleasures, but inward pretense really.

However, I found that I've been really mistaken by the openness of most travelers into concluding Westerners to be more open than Asians. I've been away for about 10 years and what I felt coming back was a very subtle but deeply rooted fear of each other in public places here. And undesigned honesty - whenever it occurs - feels soo precious to me. So how did you mean Viennese being different in loving straight-forwardness? Don't you think they have this subtle fear too?

Quote
You have a lot of experience, ...

I hope you don't mistake my experience to mean authority - which in my opinion should never be given away. Though one's authority could be given, consequences remain always with oneself!


Quote
affront, insult, mortification ... if it really is so, I realise that it's on a very deep level and quite subtle..

Kränkung (?)

There is something on a very deep level within you which feels as 'gekränkt' (?)

Can you locate this feeling somewhere in the body? - does it still feel like that?


(I don't mean to get the answers you'll get written down here! They aren't at their proper place on a public forum.) However, you being so ready for this inquiry, it's this time my turn to say thanks for your insights!

Quote
No not towards you! I don't sign with "Metta" for nothing   I (try to) mean it, I try to send it, imperfectly as I am at this stage. I am just not quite sure at the real intention behind (parts of) your forum.

Wholesome and unwholesome mind moments, kusala and akusala dhamma, always change and alternate. That's the rule and no different with me, or you (I assume).
The map of 4 stages to liberation, if nothing else, should make exactly that clear. So it would be the pretense we wanted to leave behind, which would claim that I was able to write a text in such a length out of - let me look on our map - the stage of an Anagami? A Non-Returner? - Real intentions are always mixed, till then, you can be sure.

the very best..

Green Tara

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2008, 10:48:40 PM »
 Pamojjam, Stefan Wow, what a great debate, what a great insight to human nature, what a wonderful illustration to how words, concepts, opinions and ones judgment can get in the way of seeing the truth OR it could lead someone to see it.
Thank you both for that. :)
every time I enter this forum I feel like Alice in wonderland, not knowing what I will see or hear next.
Back to the starting point. I have been reading about this topic – I mean the middle way- on the internet and so far I have, as usual found so much contradicting information it varied between, everyone has a chance this lifetime to become enlightened to, only monks have this chance- nuns and laypeople won't, and in this life time they could only do their best to support the monks in the hope they will comeback as monks in their next lifetime.
With great difference between the Mahayana and the Theravada.
So what I think is that, I don’t know what the Buddha really said maybe I wasn’t there.  I don’t know if the teachings were corrupted. What I know is there is great suffering in life, and my own suffering so far seem to springs from attachments. And my attachment seems to loosen its grip every time I focus on impermanence.
So far what the Buddha said make sense. The rest of it I don’t know. I will carry on doing what I am doing for the time being. Till it stops making sense then I will move on.
If there are stages to enlightenment then I am somewhere between the first class and graduation. 

please don't let me stop you carry on with your debate.

May you all be happy, well and at peace

Green Tara
 
 :)



"Samsaric beings! Cling not to worldly pleasures.  Enter the great city of liberation”

Stefan

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Re: Between indulgence and self-denial
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2008, 05:37:50 PM »
 :)     I'll try to cut long replies short ...

@ Pamojjam:   Kränkung, yes ... but the correct translation doesn't say we mean the same thing.
However, I meant that I felt the "Kränkung" deep within you, coloring some parts of your forum as an (understandable) result of what happened to you. "kusala and akusala dhamma", as you said. At the same time I am aware of the fact that I didn't only feel it, but I had a strong resonance to it, which means that theres a good deal of "Kränkung" within me, too. This explains my not-so-good reaction to what I sensed. Kränkung normally sits in the stomach (for me). It's a "public" forum ...! Good that they all can read this, I think (I hope it's allright for you, too ...)

Vienna people have the same subtle fear, but compared to others they tend to deal with this fear in a "straightforward" rudeness which on the other hand is not meant unfriendly ... but there are all kinds in Vienna, too.

Yes, experience is experience, authority is authority. "Bark, bark" said the sheep ...

@ Tara: Only monks can get enlightened! Nuns and laypeople have to serve! that's a so very typical thing for men to think up, and also a typical thing for "monks" all around the world in every century in every tradition! I still say that this is a VERRRRY suspicious quote ... but maybe it's the truth, I don't know ... and I wouldn't abandon my family for that. Well, we'll find out in a life ahead of us (or next sunday   ;) )

Metta & also a smile of relief, Stefan

PS.: Tara, if you are Alice, then who's that grinning cat, appearing and disappearing?   ;D (... Matthew, are you grinning right now ?!?!?)
I suppose I'm the singing teapot.



« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 05:40:00 PM by stefan »
anicca