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: Republican states -> monarchy Agrarian -> centralized city economy 3rd bce - Asoka - unification of northern India Not far off from the Buddha's death 483 BCE is classic, dated on a Sri Lankan text - no reason to date it here at all His death is probably 400 BCE - much closer to Asokan period than before. “Religious” ferment – wrong word for what Buddhism is Sense we have of the religious in the west is not really what they have in Indian subcontinent even to this day. Orthodoxes: what you subscribe to in belief systems. Christian Catechism, for example. What it means to be a Christian: set of props you believe in. In India are not orthodoxes but also praxes: what you do rather than what you believe. For example, Hindus more defined by what they do than what they believe. Hindus from north and south have very different belief systems. “Do I perform my religious rituals and rites?” is more relevant. Hinduism did not exist at the time of the Buddha. What did exist was Brahmanism. Religion of highest class of Indian society: Brahmans: scholars and priests. Aria: noble. (Aryan society.) By being born into a particular race of people. More noble if at top of pile in Indian society. Sanskritic languages in the north (Aryan – from Caucasus). Dravidian languages in the south (displaced original pop). Pali is a northern Indian – Middle Indo-Aryan dialect. Sanskritic. Veda is an ancient Indian dialectic. Hindi is a modern Indian dialect. Stratified into 4 classes: Brahmans at the top, group at bottom which was still Aryan, and then a non-Aryan group below that (became untouchables). This was not caste, this was class. (??) Varna were the classes of Indian society. Caste is Portuguese, not Indian word. Priests and scholars Rulers and warriors (highest during Buddha’s time) – hence claim that he was born into this class Mercantile class (wealth generators) Menials (all the laboring work) Those outside the system: indigenous, displaced society Vedic people – people of the Vedas – people of these four classes Vedas are not philosophical – very practical (poems/hymns) – revealed texts Sanskrit becomes lingua franca of ancient Indian society. Highly stratified society. No movement between strata. Rita: the cosmic order
Dharma: law, order, the way things are, the way to the universe Could keep order (rita) through ritual (ritual animal sacrifice). Ancient forms probably had human sacrifice of those outside Aryan society. All by time of Buddha had been transmuted into symbolic sacrifices – all done around ritual fires. Appease the devas. Buddha demotes devas: they’re not outside samsara. Doesn’t dispense with them, puts them in their place. A society that considers itself noble by birth. To keep order going, has ritual as its dominant element. Everything governed by ritual. Suastika: living well (su=good, asti=to be) Duastika: not living well Prefix “du” (as in dukkha) means dirty, unpleasant, painful. “Kha” means space. Dukkha is a dirty space, unpleasant space to be in. Referred to the hole to which an axle fitted in a wheel. Hole filled with dirt, grease, and grit, and went round and round. Also a wound inflicted by an arrow. Sense of lack as well. Suppurating. “Suffering” does not do dukkha justice. Suffering is a very, very inadequate translation. It means anything unpleasant or qualified by lack in your life. Dukkha is what you’re experiencing right now. Anything you find you want to have changed at this moment in time as you sit there. “I wish the chairs were more comfortable.” “I wish it were sunnier and cooler.” Not something happening in the future. It’s happening right now. Fundamental aspect of human experience. Could avoid dukkha in ancient vedic society by performing the rituals. Sankara literally meant a religious ritual you engaged in. A habit. If you performed it well, it was good karma. If badly, bad karma. Create cosmic harmony/order or fail. Such societies always produce dissidents. In India, they run off to the forests. Different vision of the good life, purity, not be reborn in unpleasant circumstances, etc. Set of literature – Buddha quotes it, deliberately misquotes to make fun of it – Upanishads (“to draw close and to listen”). Teachings from individual teachers, usually in a forest setting. (a few women teachers, too) Interested in knowing what future rebirths will be like. Want to know about mechanism of reincarnation. Nature of the universe. Nature of the human individual and relation with universe. Brahman = nature of things (to expand to be expansive) In the individual = Atman (same nature of the Brahman) – universal within the individual Both considered to be unchanging, fixed. In Upanishads, change is considered to be maya, illusion. The real is unchanging. Anything that was changing was unreal. The phenomenal world we inhabit is unreal.
Same idea coming up in Greek society. Plato, Socrates … speculation about the real: that which didn’t change. Throughout the history of eastern and western thought, there has been a certain revenge against time (Nietzsche). Anything within time is unreal. Brahman is defined as pure consciousness in some of the Up texts. Atman is defined as pure consciousness. See the lack of difference between the two. Pursued in Advaita tradition. These ideas infect later Buddhism. They are Brahmanical or later Hindu ideas that reinsert themselves into the thought of Buddhist philosophy. Two metaphysical realities. This is the one Buddha deliberately attacks. Hume: I can’t find anything in my experience that is unchanging. Any one fixed point I can access empirically. This is the doctrine of anatta (lit “not self”, NOT “no self”). Later Vedic period gave rise to Up texts. http://www.shraddhananda.com/The_Poetry_of_Creation_Rig_Veda_Book_10_Hymn_129.html The Buddha uses this in a particular text, the Aggañña Sutta (“On Knowledge of Beginnings”). http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/AggannaSutta.pdf There are elements of the Creation Poem misquoted deliberately. The Agganna Sutta is a huge joke that Theravada takes seriously, because they forgot the context in which it was made: attacking this particular piece of Vedic literature. Creation Poem is open series of questions based in origin of the universe. This is the way you should hear B’s teaching: in relation to cultural stuff but in relation to turning away from the metaphysical and bringing it to the actual, to what and where we actually live. Taking it out of consolation of metaphysics and rooting it in this world. We stray outside our habitats the moment we start looking for metaphysical explanations for things. We get nowhere. Tevijja Sutta. http://www.dhammaweb .net/Tipitaka/read.php?id=13 Points up the uselessness of the metaphysical. Described as a staircase to a house built at a crossroad with no house around it. Literally goes nowhere. [“Vasettha, it is just as if a man were to build a staircase for a palace at a cross-roads. People might say : “This staircase for a palace - do you know whether the palace will face east or west, north or south, or whether it will be high, low or of medium height?” and he would say : “No.” And they might say : “Well then, you don't know or see what kind of a palace you are building the staircase for?” and he would say : “No.” “Does not the talk of that man turn out to be stupid?” “Certainly, Reverend Gotama.”] What Buddha says maps on to Vedic or Upanishadic tradition. Buddha probably studied in these yoga traditions. Inherits this stuff. “Buddha” never occurs in any of the texts. Ever. That word is a later appellation. Applied to somebody. Biography of the Buddha Not a biography. More a hagiography. Biography of saints in Xtianity – tells you about what it is to be a Christian than it ever tells you about the actual life of the person. Virtually no biographical details. Small bits we have are probably accurate since they don’t lend anything.
First biography written 500 years after he died. Just on the cusp on Mahayana. Changes occur to the nature of the figure we call “Buddha”. When we go back to the early texts, engagement with society, we find a different figure from the mythology. If you read in Pali, you get a sense of the personality. Makes joke. Don’t come across well in English. Puns between words in Sanskrit and their derivations in Pali to make points – disparagement of the earlier tradition. Deep level of social critique. Ethical critique of his society. Stratification. People considering themselves to be noble by birth. B engages that and teaches that being a Brahman means nothing about birth but totally about action, comportment in daily life. (Achieving Arhatship.) Four noble truths (bad translation) is a joke directed at brahmanical society. Ariyasaccāni. Saccani can just mean “what is” but it means the truth in the Vedas. These are the noble isnesses. Turn out not to be the immutable truths of the Vedas and Brahmans. The truth is: dukkha. Takes it from the metaphysical, places it in the real. They look outward in the sayings, and the metaphysics of the gods, and the rituals performed around it. B brings it right back and says you are experiencing dukkha: that’s your nobility. Ariyasaccāni. That’s appended later. “four noble truths is the worst translation” Four Ennobling Truths. We’re ennobled by inquiring into dukkha. Discerning the cause, the origin of dukkha. By beginning to realize its possibility of stopping. Dukkha niroda – the third so-called truth. Niroda = to stop leaking. Unedifying images. A kind of incontinence that everyone is suffering from. Fetters, hindrances – leaking out. B was speaking about ordinary field. Have to shore up a field to stop it from leaking. Niroda. Stop it from leaking. So you don’t lose all the fertilizer (manure). We’re stopping the leaking of the crap in a different way. By Visuddhi, purity. Different from the Brahman use of the word. Ennobling activity – walking away, way-making. Path seems to be a straight line, march from A to B. Eightfold Path. Not a path. Complete interaction, interweaving to make our way through the world. Questions “Buddha” is part of Brahmanical society. Used to refer to a seer. Application of a wording at a much later date to authenticate him within a tradition, back in Indian culture. Buddha is far more radical than the character that has come down to us. Using the word “Buddha” deradicalizes him. One of the good things about the word is that it offers a challenge. If the Buddha is an awakened one, then we’re fast asleep. That defines sangsaric behavior: sleepwalking. The figure we refer to as the Buddha has woken up to how things are. Awakening is process rather than Big Bang. Not striking light on the road to Damascus. Miniawakenings. We wake up, then fall back to sleep. The longer you can keep it going is what characterizes you as a Buddha or an Arahant. Ongoing process. “Nibbana” as a big place to end up at. Nibbana is a verb! (extinguishing, blowing out) Dukkha is like slowly rubbing your arm against a brick wall. It’s not stabbing pain. Gets more and more painful as we do it.
Buddha did not speak Pali. He spoke a northern Indian dialect. Maybe a number of them. When you go through the Pali you find dialects from other Indian lgs in there. Pali was an attempt at a later period – period of the compilation of the texts – to find a homogenized language that would encompass all those different dialects he’s using. It’s a middle-Indo-Aryan dialect. Reflects idioms of spoken languages, the Nikayas. (Not so in Buddhaghosa.) Written down in Sri Lanka in 1st BCE. Up til that point it was oral teachings. Transmitted orally in Pali. Attempt to homogenize. “Enlightenment” is a 19th century word. “Awakening” is more linguistically accurate (bodhi, to wake). Wakening is a process. From a practical sense, that’s what it’s about. Process of waking up is what we’re trying to do. Enlightenment sounds like big bang. What occurred in the west in the 18th century, not what occurred to figures in the Buddhist tradition. Questions Reincarnation - shows up in Upanishads - literally the same thing taking up another body - what is the same thing? - The Atman - The Self - Sanskrit word literally means “breath” - linked to German word for “to breath” atem - life, breath, self of the individual takes up residence in another body. Big diff bt rebirth and reincarnation. (??) Fixed, unchanging thing moving from life to life to life until something can be liberated. Until it can merge back with Brahman. Metaphysical idea that permeates Indian society even to this day. Can wait for future rebirth to make it better. Context in which Buddha speaks of rebirth. Rebirth - much more metaphorical than literal. Playing w/ background understanding. If there’s no fixed self, even if there was rebirth, it’s not me that’s reborn. It’s no consolation. Being reborn isn’t a great big deal anyway. If something is reborn as a cockroach in a south american jungle, it’s not going to be me, it’s going to be something else. Rebirth is a moment-to-moment thing. We literally carry our stuff over from moment to moment to moment. And if you carry your stuff over, it will create sangsara. The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. More than that. Literally “going round in circles.” Finding ourselves in the same place repeatedly. Same or similar places on almost a regular basis. Because we’re carrying the same stuff over. That’s the sense of how we’re reborn, moment to moment to moment. Get outside that, liberate yourself from carrying stuff over. This is a meaning of rebirth that can help us. It’s not metaphysical. Can be free of repetitive behavior in this life. “Basically a big version of OCD.” Motivating force behind it: loba. Infatuation with stuff. Aversion to the stuff we’re not infatuated with. Confusion (rather than delusion or ignorance - pejorative sense to them, it’s your fault you're confused and deluded). Reduce the amount of debris we leave behind as we go on. Passing our bad traits on to our children by harming them. Leaving our rubbish behind. ***
Engaged in an intense relationship with two polarities of Indian society: finding a middle way between: Brahman Society house and hearth, it was your duty to get married and produce children, life was mapped out from cradle to grave, duties to social strata (produces the drop-outs) Stultifying to any spiritual awakened experience (or can be) - all governed by ritual Jainism Complete asceticism. Digambara, skyclad philosophers. Literally could not stay more than one night in one place. Strong aspect of non-violence. Extreme ascetic practices.
Social corrective between the two. People become renouncers. B says if you want to renounce society, I’ll make you dependent on that society. You can’t escape society, even if you’re entering the sangha. Puts ethics at the forefront of his movement. Does not get talked about enough in Western Buddhist circles. Buddhaghosa says even your meditation practices, if not rooted in ethics, are groundless. Look at your behavior, thinking, intention. Bedrock of practice. Not adjuncts. Not defined by the style of meditation. Dharma is rooted in ethics. Everydayness. Rule of training. Mistranslations Bhikkhu means beggar or sharer, not monk. Share what they gain as food. They share the dharma. Vihara is not a monastery. Literally a dwelling place. Language of the dharma is very precise. Avijja - “ignorance” - so pejorative. Means not-wanting-to-know. Sangsara - going ‘round in circles - it’s a verb Nibbana - this is not Buddhist heaven. Nibbana is process, verb. Intransitive verb in Pali. Doesn’t move from subject to object. Literally means “gone out”. Gone-out-ness of greed, infatuation, aversion, and confusion. Ceased to be the flaming forces behind your behavior. Sankhara - “volitional formations” - doesn’t really get it, which is “habit”. Good or bad habits. Unthinking, neural pathways on which the mind runs, reproduce themselves in various activities. Viññāṇa - “consciousness” - neglects dynamic aspect, thinking. Cognizance. Led into religiosity by the language we use. Not present in the early texts. Theravada is a religious position. Reading of the early texts in a very particular way. Very selective reading of the early texts. Buddhaghosa (5th century), Visuddhimagga. Sri Lanka, “pristine Theravada”. It is an orthodoxy.
Destructive retrieve (Heidegger) of early Buddhism. Trying to retrieve those gold nuggets in the early texts that get lost in orthodoxy. Dependent origination is explication of the ennobling truths. What is this practice about and NOT about? It’s not about mysticism. It’s not a mystical practice. Aimed very much at the here and now. Not about transcendental reality to tap into or reach. Reach where we are now. Becoming who we are now. Not being static about where we are. The teaching is about THIS. Seeing the way things actually are. Divine eye? Inner essence? No. Seeing them as being the three characteristics. Anicca, dukkha, and anatta. Dukkha is like the bridge between them. We don’t perceive things as anicca or as anatta that we perceive them as dukkha. Dukkha is the key term in this. See them as impermanent and not self, get rid of dukkha. “There is nothing hyperintellectual about understanding that everything is impermanent!” Doesn’t take a great brain to work it out. Nothing worse than your partner changing on you. Irritating fact of ordinary life. Things break down. Look for things to possess something they cannot deliver. If you’re not seeing things with the eye of impermanence and live that way, then we set ourselves up for dukkha on a big scale, because we don’t live in accordance with the way things are. Rates of impermanence are different. Old buildings crumble but not as fast as a human life. But when your headache disappears, don’t say wish headache was permanent. We set ourselves up for big time aversion and craving. Everyone knows this, but as soon as something doesn’t go our way, we suffer. Impermanence written into everything: our emotional qualities, our grasping after what we like, rejecting what we don’t like. “Awakening is nothing other than the ability to live impermanence.” (Dzogchen) “But not me!” We think we’re somehow immune from the impermanence written into everything. Dukkha of impermanence. Dukkha of conditions. The dukkha of dukkha. Of sickness, of old age, of corporeal existence. Doesn’t go away. We will not get rid of pain. Is there the possibility of coming into a different relationship with the pain in our lives? Of loss, old age, disease, sickness, natural things in our lives. This is the challenge. Nibbana is not about some inner, mystical experience. If you want an inner, mystical experience, it’s this life. The mysticism is in dealing with this life as it presents itself. We like life when it presents itself as in our favor. Otherwise, not so happy.
Develop genuine responsiveness to life, not reactive. To respond is to still be in the heart and midst of life. “Detachment.” Sounds like somebody standing on the periphery of life. Upādāna - attachment, grasping Opposite is correct engagement, not detachment Anatta: not-self. What does this mean? Nothing possesses any kind of fixed essence. No specific character trait that can remain completely permanent. Mental states. No fixed self. That’s good news! Whatever is bad, seemingly intractable in life does not have to remain the same. Links up with impermanence. It can change. How do you nudge the change in the right direction? That’s the point of the path. Wholesome as opposed to unwholesome. Skillful, not unskillful. Succinct def of path: Cease to do what’s unwholesome, start to do what’s wholesome, clarify the mind. Eminently practical concerns. Not a philosopher. Philosophy speaks Greek. B doing something completely different. Stoicism and Epicureanism probably come closest. Myth of authenticity: need authentic mental feeling to do the right stuff. Have to have the full emotional quality to engage in behaviors that go with it, otherwise a hypocrite. But the path ain’t like that much of the time. Metta is not loving-kindness. “It’s kind of sloppy.” To befriend. Boundless friendliness toward oneself and toward others. Friendliness is doable. You’re not going to love everybody. Could wait a really long time for the authentic, expansive emotion of generosity to descend upon us, but you might wait your whole life. If you want to know what it feels like to be generous, be generous. Action comes before the feeling. Often think the opposite. Keep doing your acts of whatever virtue you select, you might actually genuinely experience it. “What’s feeling got to do with it?? Just be compassionate.” B emphasizes this practical dimension. However you incline the mind, that will become the shape of your life. Infatuation, aversion, and confusion - then you get lives that include those things. Generosity, friendliness, understanding - then get a life shaped that way. We couldn’t shape our lives by inclining our minds if it was somehow preset. (Anatta) “I’m stuck with this.” “Well that’s the way I am!” [and I can’t possibly change!] But we can always change. Change is going to occur anyway. How do you generate it in a direction that works to develop wholesome, skillful behaviors in your ordinary, day-to-day existence? That’s the litmus test: How are you in average, ordinary, everyday situations? Not sitting in some meditation hall or on retreat. Everyday existence.
Training in service of the development of the understanding of tilakkhaṇa, the three characteristics. That’s the content of what we’re meant to get. The world is structurally incapable of providing you with satisfaction - because it changes. The ability to live with that knowledge itself makes it a completely different world (loca). Word “loca” or world often seems to refer to what’s outside. World is the world of our minds through which all the exp of the outside is filtered. Of course there’s stuff out there. Our world is the world that is imprinted with our minds. If we incline our minds with greed, aversion, infatuation, and confusion, then that’s what we get. We get a world saturated with that and all the psychology generated from it. If we incline with the eye of kindness and friendliness, then we get a world that reveals itself in a very different way. “Mind precedes all things.” (Dhammapada) How the mind is inclined determines what story follows next. Tell yourself the story about your happy childhood or your unhappy childhood? We’re always perceiving the world through a mood. The way the mind imprints itself on the phenomena it encounters. Change that, change your world. The goal really is equanimity - not to be pushed out of balance by what’s going on in the world. To be in the middle of life - seated, balanced, poised there without being thrown by what’s happening. Life is a play of joy and sorrow - sometimes one or another. Preciousness in any joyful moment is that it will change. We know it will change. B is a very practical teacher/guide to get us to see, hear, and reflect upon certain things. Buddha makes no distinction between theory and practice. Understanding is just as important as sitting on a cushion. Sutta = to hear something. To start any inquiry is to receive it. Citta means to reason through and analyze for yourself - to connect it to experience. Does it make sense through the authority of your experience? Saddhā - not faith, but trust, confidence - founded on something yoiu’ve already investigated and understood and experienced for yourself. Based on something you’ve contacted in your own average experience. Unfolding inquiry. Citta is about establishing that base of inquiry so you can inquire further. Practice, cultivate what you have insight into: bhavana. Insight that arises through cultivation, inquiry... Pañña does not mean wisdom, means understanding or insight. Sutta, citta, bhavana - three approaches. That is the path, way, template for the inquiry the Buddha gives. Three-pointed approach to being integrated practice. Not just bhavana (sitting or walking). It’s doing these other things. Being-involved in opening out your field of inquiry. Anatta
Lack of fixed self. Indian tradition speaks about atman. Essence of the individual. The kernel of what represented the individual, their real self. What is a real self? There is no fixed self. The self is a verb. It’s not a thing. Things->processes. Early texts talking in terms of processes, not things. Buddhist lgs tend to talk more in verbs than in nouns. Many verbs and declensions. 8 verb case declensions in Pali. We are one of the processes in the world. Not outside that. Our world - senses, mind - is process itself. B is really the first process thinker. Atman in Sanskrit is very much an unchanging phenomenon within the person. It represents the real self of the ind - somehow connected to unchanging aspect of the universe = Brahman. Unchanging essence of the universe. Wonderfully consolatory idea. Connected to everything. “Aren’t we all one?” phenomenon. 5 khandhas (“aggregates”) = “lumps” - exhaustive analysis in the Abidhamma - taken from Brahman religion where it’s very exalted All the corporeal processes (rupa) Any meaningful talk of the self has to be spelled out in terms of the lumps. Appear to be linear in the way they’re set up in teaching. Not rupa, then consciousness … all interacting together. All 5 processes occurring simultaneously. Otherwise reductionist. Material processes (rupa - “form” - forming, in process) going to make up, nothing remaining the same within it. Nothing is static. Physical processes are not under our control. Any kind of condition for being a real self is that if it was a real self it would have real control. Homunculus in the head. Crane driver in the crane. Our bodies do peculiar things to us. Doing bodily things. We’re not under control in that sense. We try to be. Live healthier lives. Still get sick. Vedanā (feeling) - pleasant, unpleasant, neither pleasant nor unpleasant - not even conscious of areas (neither pleasant...) e.g., earlobes - actual absence of sensation. Out of pleasantness/unpleasantness a connection with... Saṅ khāra - the vedana will drag on in the sankharas of emotion. Aspects of forming our experience. They’re already formed, many of them. Deep-set narrative structures that rationalize experience. This is what emotion is. Emotion is completely rational. It has its own logic about the rationalization of our experience. But it’s a rationalization of something I find pleasant or unpleasant. You’re going to tell yourself big stories about pleasant or unpleasant experience. Main job of sankhara: tell us stories. Infects every aspect of our sense of being in the world. Most of our perception (sanna) are colored by deep narrative structures which means: Do you actually experience anything new? All you’re doing is connecting past experience in the present moment. It’s already perceived in that process. Perception of time speeds up as you get older because you’re not encountering anything new. Sense of curiosity and connecting with something new when you’re a child. Been there, done it, seen it as you get older. Experience of time contracts, gets faster. This is why meditation retreats can seem very long. Opening experience to reperceive, ignite something lost. Igniting
curiosity, interest in what is actually happening. Moving from already knowing to not knowing. Not-knowing opens us to what’s really going on. Not contracting. Our sankharas affect our perceptions which affect our way of feeling about things which then form further sankharas. Around in a lovely, vicious circle. Sooner you can break this circle, otherwise trapped in this cycle. Entrapment. Sangsara (samsara). 5 aggregates of dukkha, of grasping. When we’re grasping, there’s dukkha arising. It creates more dukkha. Any time we try to grasp after any of these dimensions of being us, it’s dukkha. Singularly or collectively. Viññāṇ a - cognizance more than consciousness - not just bare but also has elements of sankhara and perception in it. Consciousness in the thinking which is involved in these which is embodied and never not-embodied. Mahayana talks about consciousness being a primal base, the part which is reborn. Dimension of consciousness reborn into another situation. None of this is coherent with the early texts. ALL vinnana is an embodied consciousness/cognizance. He who has no mindfulness of body (rupa) has no mindfulness. Sañña - discrimination - infected my narratives of sankhara, affecting way we perceive - ability to discriminate things - capacities included which are also highly significant to being human: memory and language - Language is an important function of sanna. If we’re to use lg, we need memory. One def of sanna is ability to take an object and mark it for recognition. Marking objects - linguistic markers. No good having them if you can’t remember. If you want a self -- what is the self other than ability to remember past events and connect them up with present experience? That’s what the self basically is. Not a fixed self. Memory of life is not continuous, it’s fragmentary. Bits drop out, others come in. It’s not no-self, it’s not-self. Memory goes in dementia. Can’t remember who they are anymore. Ability to connect up aspects of experience to construct a sense of I. Buddha not recommending us to be like that. It’s how we hold the sense of self. How do we hold the selfing process? Are you attached, grasping at it? Or lightness of touch that can hold it? Can you be a self w/out being egotistical? No Pali word for “ego”, it’s from Latin. How to be a selfing process w/out being selfish. The teaching of no-self is positively dangerous, esp with people who have fragile sense of self. Could be quite destructive. Khandhas firing all together, mixed together. Not linear. Viññāṇa or citta (pronounced chitta, not cheetah) used synonymously - consciousness or cognizance - in the Nikaya material. Vijnana connected with the narrative structure and with perception. Rarely just conscious of something. Conscious of it being this or that, with a certain narrative, liking or disliking it. If it’s a dead zone, connected with confusion or delusion, because not even aware of it. Questions Mindfulness-based application therapies. Drawing on traditional B understanding in a modern model. MBCT. Dialectical behavioral therapy. Acceptance and commitment therapy. MBSR is the precursor of most of them. Western models of mind not necessarily in contradiction. They just come from a different angle.
Disparities with psychodynamic theory. Freudianism. Emptying contents of unconscious out. F suspicious of this. But that’s what we’re trying to do in MBCT. --Unborn, deathless, uncreated, etc. Made much of by many Western teachers. Only 2 citations in whole canon. Both in Khuddaka Nikaya. It’s canonical, not an insertion. Most interpret it in a metaphysical way, transcendent state. But in Pali, you make negations. Do so to make the opposite point. The not-born is also the born. Peculiar. Dealing with the self. Occasion for a transcendental self? Arahants have access to mystical dimension of experience ordinary people don’t. If there is no fixed self, then what is it that dies? There is no self to die. Only that which is permanent can die. This lg only makes sense if there’s something fixed. But there is nothing fixed. Not a reality behind experience of change. Absolute, unconditional reality. Really speaking of dismantling constructions of greed, aversion, and delusion. Death is only present when there are these. Mara. Literally means “the killer”. GAD (greed, aversion, delusion) are that which kill life. When there is not GAD, there is life. Not transcendental life, just real life experienced differently. Not through that stultifying killer that kills experience. Desire kills the experience but in the thought that we’re intensifying it. Great temptation of Mara. When we’re just with desire, we kill the experience. When you sit in med and you’re expecting something to happen, you lose sight of what IS happening. You kill the experience. Absence of GAD is the immortality, not a transcendent experience. --Jhana. Something like this going on with the Hindu teachers that the B studied under. http://www.accesstoinsight .org/tipitaka/mn/mn.026.than.html Doesn’t see liberation in simple jhanic states. The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. The concentration experiences are actually more mundane than the tradition points out. There’s something about the holding on to power within monastic context. If you keep upping the bar to have these extraordinary experiences that don’t hold that much value in terms of liberative process. A form of the power within religious traditions where the goal is outside the realm of ordinary people. But in B’s life, people are doing this all the time. Gaining awareness, insight, states, liberation. Not this massive, uphill, mythic, sisyphean task.
Buys into competitivism. Even if it’s only with yourself. To get these states. Equivocal position in the early texts. --Reading the Suttas. Basic Teachings of the Buddha, tr Glenn Wallis. In the Buddha’s Words. Middle-Length Discourses. Central. Majjhima Nikaya. --Citta more expansive sense of mind. Sometimes just a synonym for vinnana. Manas is another term used for mind. Overall functions of mind. Vinnana more often than not in early trad associated with consciousness. Many connotations. Questions Emptiness. Anything that is dependently originated is empty and vice versa. Emptiness is a negative term. GIves wrong impression of what teaching is about. Nothing and everything. Sunyata. Lots of wrong-headedness around the notion of karma. Always ends up being Hindu fatalism. Not what B intended. --Evolution of B’s ideas? Sat under bodhi tree, and boom. What happened? Almost revealed truth. Never claims to have revelation from on high. Claims to have found something. Time contraction. Bodhi tree exp - whatever it was - there is something like a bodhi tree exp. Doesn’t happen out of a vacuum, just like B-ism. Probably occurred over a period of time, probably not on one night. B’s conception of what he’s doing, way sangha is evolving, changes from early strata of text. Problem with suttas is that there’s no chron order. Very difficult to know development of B’s thought over time. Can see development of sangha. Vinaya Pitaka: “Ananda, weren’t things better in the old days?” Can’t do with the Pitakas what you can do with the Gospels, of laying it out chronologically and seeing what’s original and what’s interpolations. Can only look at the themes emphasized again and again. If something only occurs twice (business about the deathless), that’s one thing. Dependent origination mentioned many times. Skandhas mentioned again and again. Probably form the core teaching. ---
Why did B pursue monasticism? Sign of breaking away from the conventions of society in India at the time. To pursue listening to someone speak, pondering them, engage in meditation - they were luxuries in Indian society. Still are in some places. Degree of wealth and leisure. B-ists or monastics now primarily talk about ethics. Only way these people have time to practice. By entering into monastic tradition, create time. Free yourself up from other responsibilities. First time you get lay people meditating is under colonialism. Colonialism employed a lot of people, paid them relatively well, created wealth. Meditating as lay practitioner. Sri Lanka. 19th century. British rule. That wasn’t available to people earlier than that. B-ist cultures were subsistence economies: China, Korea, Tibet. If you just wanted to learn to read and write in Tibet, had to enter a monastery. European medieval monasticism. Monasteries own the land. Tithes to the monasteries. Spiritual/religious welfare looked after by the monks. When that’s no longer a necessity, it starts to break down. Is it useful in Western context now? No. We’re in a very unusual situation here. Only monastics in the past would have received this information. Case for monasticism becomes increasingly less convincing. Not a big player in establishing B-ish in a Western context. What’s the teaching vs. the culture? Heavily inculturated aspects of Buddhism. Tibetan is one of the most heavily cultured. Hard to pull B-ism out the culture there. Influenced by previous indigenous religious traditions. Controversy about the role of women in Thai Forest. Big cultural difference. Fought and gained in west, retrogressive and patriarchal with trad Thai approaches. Doubt role of monasticism. Cultural clashes. *** Paticcasamuppāda - Dependent Origination Kernel of the Buddhist teaching. Conditioned co-genesis. Many translations. Probably the most important teaching in the Pali canon. Memorize the links in the chain. Fantastic tool for meditation. Feeling, craving, grasping - real kernel of the problem that everyone suffers from. This is how we create the mess - not always deliberately. No moralistic finger-wagging. This is how it naturally starts to unfold with certain things being in place. Sangsara starts to unfold … entrapment starts to occur as a natural condition of certain things being there. Maha-nidana Sutta. Great teaching on causation. Classic. Main teaching on DO. Only 10 links, not 12. Other two added in as an afterthought by the tradition? Other 2 are from an Abidhamma perspective. Probably afterthoughts. Primacy on direct exp of things, what we can actually experience. B chain does not start with ignorance but with consciousness. Ananda comes to the B and says the teaching on DO is clear. Can imagine sharp intake of breath by B here. “Ananda, think again. This teaching is profound.” He means it’s difficult. Not intellectually but experientially. 12-link version starts with avijjā, usually translated as “ignorance”. Fundamental ground on which we walk. This word can also mean “confusion”. Confusion is the fund ground on which
we walk. Also not wanting to know about things. It’s all too difficult. I don’t want to know about it experientially. Can sort it out intellectually. (More scholars of B-ism than awakened practitioners. Vacillation between all study and no med or vice versa. Theravada: Scholarly monasteries (town-based monks) and the forest-based monks (the meditators). Whole history of B-ism has been like that. Need to bring them together.) How do we get it? Through your laboratory - your meditation practice. Intellectual grasping just one part of the story. When you see it in practice, it gets real. Dependent origination - dependent - not a description of causality - not A causes B but A is dependent upon B. Image of cornstalks. Collect them in bundles, stack them against each other. They support each other. (Stacked rifles in triangles.) Mutually supporting aspects. Avijjā does not cause sankharas to arise. Dependent on avijja being present, sankharas will arise. (??) Get away from any sense of linearity. Tibetan wheel of life. This causes this, then that, then, that, then death. Not that simple. Profundity is in complexity of interactions of links in the chain. Not just one thing supporting another; all supporting each other. That’s why it’s diff to unravel exp even when have best motivation. Lots and lots of interdependent dimensions, all which support, reinforce. Reinforce a sense of self. Avijjā Problem doesn’t just start with avijjā. Everything takes place on the backdrop of avijja, but it is not a first cause. Where does it come from? B doesn’t say. It’s just there, in our experience. Confusion rather than ignorance - fundamental existential confusion. What we’re doing, how we’re doing it. Like being dropped in by parachute into a strange land. No map. Wander around. Bump into a few locals. Landscape is life. Confused inhabitants are probably your parents. All they’re trying to do is give you their confusion. Confusionism. [Heidegger: thrown projection] Unskillful actions arise out of the fundamental condition of being confused. Not just that I don’t know; I don’t want to know. If someone says everything is impermanent, the part that won’t let you live with impermanence doesn’t want to know. None of the teachings are difficult. But our lives don’t change that much. Something buried deeply in the psyche that doesn’t want to know. That’s the blockage. Need to clear the path. Sweep the blockages, rubbish, impediments, etc. Thinking too much is an impediment. Proliferation, spreading out - thought gone rampant. To obsess about things. Avijja will not suddenly go away. Avijja is composite. Not just one thing. Composed out of the Āsavas . Hard to translate. Can give a sense of its dynamics. Word borrowed for Jainism. Means “influx”, something coming in. Jains believes sangsara occurred because we engaged in any act at all, good or bad. Atman weighted down by the dust of the influxes which weighted it and stopped it from being awakened. For Buddha, main meaning is “flowing out”. What’s flowing out of us? Incontinence. Effluent.
Avijjāsava - the effluent of confusion. I don’t like to keep my confusion to myself; I like to spread it around! “Outflows” … “cancres” (not very good translation) … what is flowing out of us, coming out of us? Literally what we can’t keep to ourselves? 4 asravas - roots of all unwholesome psychological behavior - it’s that bad! Arahant is usually described as kinasravas - lit ended the asravas Kāmāsava - the asrava of sensual desire - deeply craves sensuality, sees it as a positive thing always - cravings for innovation, new experiences - really deep stuff, addiction to sensuality in all its forms: substance abuse, sex addiction, etc. - a bit like a dog being thrown a bone, no flesh on it, just smeared with a bit of blood, keeps chewing it again and again searching for nutriment out of it - compulsions Bhavāsava: craving for continued existence - not just a physical craving to continue but a craving for continuing to be reborn as the same person - deeply linked sense of wanting to be me forever - deep grasping after self, clinging to it - continued existence through children, good works, people having good memories of you, chippings on your tombstone - somehow to go on in some way Diṭṭ hāsava - the asava of views (opinions) - we’re just opinionated - contrast opinion with knowledge/insight into the way things are - lots of opinions about the way things are but not a lot of insight - manifestation of the confusion - most conflict is about views - correct/incorrect right/wrong The asavas block insight into the 3 characteristics. Unpromising beginning! These are the conditioning factors for the arising of sankharas. Sankharas arise in dependence on confusion. Everything misplaced here. Confusion is misplacing the search. (??) We’re not bad people. Lack of moralistic finger-wagging for the most part. Moralism is not in the bulk of the text. Outcomes of dealing with the problems of life. Still under the delusion/confusion that these things will give me what I want. Sankharas Deeply embedded “habits”. “Volitional formations.” Avijja described as two blind men trying to lead each other. Tapping their way through the world. Sankhara usually seen as molding pots. One is being produced, similar to the one being molded, but wonky. Molding and remolding, often our habits. Proclivities to behave in certain ways. Neural pathways. Bad habits. Always setting up and operating out of sankharas. “Here is the habit that moved in and didn’t leave.” (Rilke) When the going gets tough, fall back on default option. Don’t even have to think about it - even if result is further misery. Lit means “formed and forming”. Model of the potter is a good one. Often just shaping the same thing. Painter who can only paint one subject.
Narrative structures, stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves and who we are. Two aspects to breaking a habit. Often a great feeling of loss. But also of freedom. Double-edged, initially. Until you become more relaxed, comfortable with what you lost. Almost a grief. This is describing sangsaric experience: sankharas and avijja. Unwholesomeness, something not being quite right, sense of lack. Pathology of desire. Desire is linked to a philosophy of lack. Always feel like we’re lacking something. Can fill ourselves up with something which will then make us feel fulfilled. Elimination of this pathology of desire - dimension of early teachings. It’s there in the traditions but not so much stressed. Some links in chain more susceptible to intervention than others. Can break it down in practice. In ordinary life it’s going on so quickly. Often don’t see a desire for a piece of chocolate arising in the mind. Just find yourself eating chocolate. Slow down the process. See a lot more clearly. Then we know when we can intervene. Questions: Tib obsession with emptiness in some ways just an implication of DO DO = “the mess”, the sangsara-ing mess - an activity we’re engaged in DO covers everything. Nothing arises out of nothing. There is no first cause. Everything is caused. This happens, this happens. This ceases to happen, this ceases to happen. There are causes/conditions upholding sangsara-ing activity. If we get rid of those causes, then sangsaraing will cease to be. Extrapolation of 2nd of ennobling truths. “There is an origin...” something which supports dukkha. Supports its arising. Proximate cause of the arising of dukkha is Taṇ hā. In Pali the word possesses enormous pathos about the human conditions. Not quite “craving”. Dominated, absolutely pervaded by tanha - so it’s pretty sad. Not captured by craving or desire. 12 links all occurring in one moment. “Classic” Theravadan desc of DO as spread over 3 lifetimes. Visuddhimagga. “Buddhaghosa is a closet Hindu.” Can’t throw off idea of something being passed around over 3 lifetimes - rather than desc of this all going on in the moment. Situational patterning. Every situation/moment is patterned. Things take up a particular patterning in your life, moment to moment, if something not done about it. Always something carrying over into the next moment. We started looking at this by thinking about avijja (confusion). “Vijja” derives from “veda” which means “knowledge”. Lit avijja means “non-knowledge”. What we don’t possess. It’s not simply about lack of the requisite information. You’d all be awakened by now, you have the knowledge. We’re not talking about the collecting of some kind of information/knowledge that we need. We have the knowledge, but we still don’t do anything about it. It’s also not-wanting-to-know. Fundamental existential level - it’s pretty painful. Existence characterized by dukkha and not-self. Doesn’t get any better than that! Structurally incapable of providing you satisfaction. So this has to come from within. Instead of looking without, the only certainties and satisfactions can come from how we process the material -
however it comes to us, whatever comes to us. We learn not to get into this reactive patterning of simply pushing away what we don’t like, grasp what we like and stabilize it and make it certain. So we live with some degree of wisdom in this world, knowing whether it is aversive or pleasant, it will change. Not pessimism - realism. B is not into cheap certainties or cheap consolations. “Absolutely all phenomena are impermanent. Now get on with it.” Only peace, happiness, tranquility comes from within - while connected with others. (Metta - boundless friendliness) Then we can find and seek for the tranquility that we don’t find when we externalize. Death knell of a relationship = “make me happy”. Impossible burden. Can’t make someone the cause of your happiness. Another instance of Mara, the killer. Avijja - confusion - is carpet of your experience. Trying to make sense of the world. It’s not ignorance, because it’s not your fault. Our conditioning does not give us the tools to cope with life, so we cope the best we can, not having the full range of skills to deal with things. So confusion is better. Often not under your control. Take pejorative sting out of it. Guilt? Judeo-Xtian thought. Not one Asian lg other than one guilt has been translated into an Asian lg. Not in canonical lg of B-ism. Words for shame but not guilt. Starting place? No. Background. Not the first cause. Deeply rooted aspect of experience. Hard to eradicate. Sankharas arise next. Volitional formations. Being formed. Actively engaged in. Acts of intention and will. Formed by chitina (citta?), intention. Practice is about beginning to discern what our intentions are. Some will be unconscious. Not immediately perspicuous. Don’t have immediate access. Uncovering our intentions behind our actions. Opens minefield of karma/kamma. Most misinterpreted word. Simply means action. Layers of metaphysics laid on this, particularly in HInduism. Fatalistic (in cruder forms) - cannot do anything about. Vipāka - fruit of the action (result) - phala B lived in an agrarian society, so he often uses phala, “things fruit”. All the trees are fruiting at different times. This is how actions produce consequences. Different fruiting times in our lives. Some don’t catch up until many, many years later. (Don’t worry about lifetimes model.) We live in this world creating sankharas because we can’t avoid acting. Even if I don’t act, that’s an act. Doctrine of acts and omissions. Omitting to act is also an act. Even sitting in a cave in Himalaya is an act with consequences. Thought, word, deed … body, speech, mind. Intentions are generated in the mind. Try to clean up your intentions, but don’t be attached to the fruit of them. If you do something nice and expect a consequence, you’re looking for a fruit. World we live in is a complex nexus of causes and conditions. Even the best intention will not always give rise to the fruit we may want. Often good intentions end up with bad consequences. The real consequence is in relation to your mind. If your intention is clean, wholesome, then it has a positive effect on the mind. Not about getting everything you want. Actually engaged in this stuff all the time, every moment. Intentions are there rapidly. Big part of sitting practice. Examining your intentions. What’s your intention behind your practice?
Does your intention coincide with your bodily posture? Intention to stay awake, alert. Intention is a bodily thing, not just something going on in the mind. Reflected in the body itself. --Goal of Vipassana practice: Upekkha, attainment of poise, balance, and equanimity in this life. That’s the point of the Nibbana experience. To have a degree of responsiveness instead of reactiveness in life. Pranna, wisdom. “Goal of all practice.” It’s a bad translation. The goal is understanding, insight. Insight into 3 chars. also meant to lead to equanimity. That’s the insightful way of living with this. The getting on with it. “Strive on diligently” is the more polite way of putting it. Mostly we don’t want to know about the TCE. (avijja) Insight into this generates uppeka and all the brahmavihāras. Ground or soil of metta. Metta has been sidelined. Much more central to what the B is teaching. Any practice w/out metta involved in it is actually extremely cold. Simply tied into an ideal of wisdom. Cold, brutal wisdom. Softness and gentleness comes with metta. “boundless friendliness” One of the etymologies means “to grow fat” with friendliness. Spread out. Goal of understanding all of this. It’s a big project. The nibbanaing experience includes all that. Cessation of greed, aversion, and delusion/confusion, too. Shantideva - beginning to gain empathy with others. It makes no sense to talk about my dukkha or your dukkha but just dukkha. Stop personalizing it. Everything that occurs to us, we take so personally. Any suffering that occurs, Why have I been picked out?? Alternative: WHY NOT? I start to add the Royal I-ness into this at an early stage. Yet the links in DO are pretty impersonal up to a point, and then it becomes personal. Movement out into metta is an absolutely fundamental movement in the process. Friendliness toward confusion. Kindness toward it instead of castigation. Have to start with our dukkha, our patterning at the moment. Have to own up to who we are. The happinesses, too, so it begins to become a full appreciation and acknowledgement in order to move in some direction. Otherwise it’s not held with kindness. One thing that struck most eastern teachers when they came west was how tough, cruel we are to ourselves. Big guilt. Beating ourselves up. Sometimes the practice can be another way of beating ourselves up, of not being perfect at this. “When western people get into meditation, they make their lives even more miserable.” Striving for perfection. Metta softens this. --Kamma and vipaka are implicated in sankharas. Routes your mind will run down. Ways of dealing with problems, dealing with people. Narratives about who you are. Stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Almost as if you believe the sankharas (dispositions) are you. Proclivities of dealing with phenomena and situations - believe they are you. Attach yourself to them. You are this particular type of person.
“Trust me, I’m telling you stories.” Don’t necessarily want to psychologize it, but that’s what’s implied in the text. Stories we’ve inhabited for long periods of time, so we think this is who we are. *** Viññāna “Cognizance”. Third link in the chain. In direct relationship with the sankharas. Sankharas don’t CAUSE vinnana. The one depends on the other. Most of these point in both directions. Not this, then that, then that. Absolutely dynamically interlinked. Chains of dependency. Cannot divorce consciousness from what you’re thinking about, in experience. Intimate relationship between the two. ALL consciousness is intentional. All consciousness has an object. Never consciousness without an object. Partly in rel to Indian culture at the time. Upanishads always talking about pure consciousness, Atman or Brahman. B: there is no cons without being cons-of. Some of the Zen traditions and Dzogchen and Mahamudra talk about pristine forms of consciousness without an object. Yogacara, too. Much later development. This early stuff is more radical than the later traditions. Has the word “nana” in it - has to do with knowing. When we’re conscious, we’re conscious of an object. There’s a divisive aspect of it. There is a dividing of consciousness between the object and the consciousness. Consciousness is always a consciousness of. Always a reflexive movement in it. Franz Brentano. Husserl. Phenomenology. Exactly about this. Consciousness and its acts and the objects it has in it. B had already discerned this at such an early period. --Formation of Pali canon probably started in B’s lifetime, including the Abidhamma. Canon itself probably isn’t closed even after it’s written down until early Xtian era. Buddhaghosa: consciousness is like a king. Always arrives with a huge retinue. Vinnana arises with a whole lot of sankharas (mental factors), both wholesome and unwholesome, to create the narrative structures. --Vinnana doesn’t arise on its own. It’s dependent on namarupa. Nāmarūpa
Name and form. Mental and physical processes. Name = mental and rupa = physical. (Nama includes discriminative, perceptive aggregate.) Buddhaghosa sees this as generation of actual physical body and mind coming into existence. If you think about this as a one-lifetime process instead of a two-lifetime process, you have a problem: two bodies being born. One at link 11 and the other at link 4. The only way to make it work is to say that before this is past. 11-12 is future. Three lifetimes. You seem to have two births within this system. What the B is actually indicating by NR is the patterning or blueprinting of what’s going to come later within it. If you think of NR as the way in the present that you’re determining your future, you can think about time but not lifetimes. Blueprint for future moments. Could be 20 years or 10 mins. Doesn’t matter. But it’s a very rapid process. What we do now determines what we will become unless we influence it. Consciousness is part of the NR. We’re conscious of mind and body. Conscious of the patterning. Very dynamic process. Buddhaghosa lost the plot. In India, sense of the real person was the nama. B takes this and plays with something there in Indian thought and saying, no, it’s not the real sense of the person, just the processes being patterned. Not the fixed individual with some particular form. Playing with this. Part of the background. It’s in the poem of creation, too. Plays with doctrines, philosophies, and religions of his time. Theravada loses the context. This is you as you are patterning yourself now through all this stuff. Not essence of an individual. It’s what’s going on right now. You should be concerned by how you’re patterning your NR right now. Saḷ āyatana Six sense spheres. Mind/body possesses and conditions the way our senses operate. Five senses + mental sense of consciousness. Job of mind sense consciousness is to cognize mental stuff just like eye cognizes visual stuff. Spheres of existence. Eye literally palpates or encompasses the visual field. That’s why it’s called an ayatana which is a sphere in Pali. Phassa Contact Every sensory organ is coming into contact with something. We can’t help but contact stuff. We can’t ever avoid being in contact. Even sensory deprivation won’t work because you still have mental sense contact. You don’t escape being in contact with stuff. External phenomena. Perceived in particular ways because of the senses, vinnana, sankharas... It all comes in with something. This is the something. Vedanā Feeling that arises. Pleasant, unpleasant, or neither. Sukkha, dukkha. Particularly physical processes. Everything has a feeling tone to it.
adukkham-asukhā: dead zone. It’s not really “neutral”, it’s that we don’t even perceive it. Absence of sukkha or dukkha. That’s the way our world is divided up. “I like … I dislike … I couldn’t care less!” Poverty-stricken world. Metta - people you like, dislike, feel neutral toward. Most people we either like or dislike. Quite difficult to find someone we feel neutral toward. This is how experiences come up us. Connection with sankharas. There is also the narrative, story, the emotion that comes in with it. The rationalization of the feeling. “I don’t like BECAUSE …” and that becomes the rationalization and usually the emotion. Two things supporting each other very strongly - sensations and feelings supported by the emotional narrative. Very strong concatenation of things. Very power narrative. Dependent on vedena is... Taṇ hā Craving. Enormous pathos. This is the human cond as far as the B is concerned. Did all this sketching in to get to the proximate cause of dukkha: craving. Unquenchable thirst. It is, by its nature, a thirst that can never be satisfied. Never going to find any terminal point. Tanha is founding on the feeling of lack within our experience. Try to fill it up with something. Tanha is productive of the sense of self. When do we most feel ourselves? Often when we feel we’re lacking something. When there is contentment, i.e., absence of craving, there is minimal sense of self. Self comes into being between where I am and where I want to be/want to avoid. Between those two processes. That’s where we feel it most strongly. Here I am again in that moment of lack. Continuous generating the self in that moment. Tanha cannot come to an end. Lacan: the endlessness of desire. Our society is very good at producing desire and craving. Advertising promises a sense of fulfillment through the attainment of certain goods. Unlike ordinary thirst - like when you need a glass of water - tanha cannot be. “If only I had _______________, I’d be happy.” Infinite progress of these sorts of statements. “If only I was with ____________________...” The possibility of satisfaction, possibility of filling lack we feel. Always dir toward something external. Intimately related to external phenomena. Search is externally generated. A lot of this stuff is probably hard-wired. Survival. “If there’s any argument against design, nobody would have organized the brain like we have.” Internecine war. Primitive part of the brain in rel with the higher cortical function. Partly the reason why it’s so difficult - hard-wired, evolutionary, to fulfill function that it can’t fulfill now.
First manifestation of it is kāma-taṇ hā. Three forms of tanha we see manifest in our experience. Craving for sensuality. Constant craving for sensuous stuff. Material possessions. Intellectual acquisition. Fusion between being and having. We are what we have. Confusion. We are what we acquire. Rather than just being. Occurs in many lists. Hindrances. We are sense-seeking missiles. We are searching out for anything we can get something pleasurable from. Why is this a tanha? Because it’s endless. Model of addiction. Start with a low dosage, end with a high one to get the same amt of pleasure. Clinging to kama-tanha is upādāna. Clinging, grasping after sensory perception as a means of finding some kind of happiness in this world. Bhava-taṇ hā, the craving to be. Everybody wants to be something. Cult of celebrity. Caught up with novelty, innovation, always looking for where the action is. Stimulus to keep on wanting stuff. Always wanting to be in the midst of what’s fashionable, going on, etc. Gold, silver, elephants, slave-girls. Can also be represented by the things I have. Immortality. I want to be me forever. Atman. B is making a jibe at the brahmans. Idea of the atman carries through the whole of Indian thought up until this day. Bhagavad Gita. In line with the Upanishads. “If you think you kill or are killed, you are mistaken.” Ethically dubious. You can kill a person, but it’s not really the person you kill. Wish to perpetuate yourself in some form. I am going on through you (my children). Many a chair at Oxford named after the person who set it up. We all have this craving. Could be subtle. Writings on your tombstone. There’s a dark side: Vibhava-taṇ hā - drive toward extinction - wishing not to be at all - suicidal tendencies - selfharm - aggression toward others - annihilate self by annihilating the other - give you a hard time because I want to give myself a hard time - I don’t like being here at all. Eros vs. thanatos. Wanting to become something, making a mark, worldly whims, wealth, fame vs. this is such a strain, too much work to keep it together, it’s all too much. Not mutually exclusive. Mixed up. Drinking too much. Nice sensations … oblivion. Sense of not being at all. I am what I have, I’m making a statement, I am becoming this person in my acquisition of knowledge/wealth/whatever.
Not a linear process. Not character types. Descriptive of ordinary, everyday processes. Trapped within this. Tanha governed not just by what we want but by what we don’t want to happen. Lives governed by what they don’t want to happen. I crave to avoid certain things to happen to me. I crave that they don’t happen in my life. If only I didn’t have this, I’d be happy. If only I wasn’t in this situation. In this, we’ve got aversion. Distinct, powerful elements of aversion working through continually. Aversion, craving. Reactiveness all the time. Upādāna B’s brilliant play on words. Brahmanical rituals around a fire. Three fires. Sanskara, to perform the ritual. B takes that and builds it into a volitional formation, sanskhara. Upadana lit means to fuel the material process. Referred to the physical act of putting more wood on the ritual fire. You’re actually stoking your fires. But there are three fires. The whole world is burning with the three fires of greed, aversion, and delusion. If you really want to keep your fires stoked, keep on grasping. B uses stuff of his own society to keep on making an alternative point. Fire appears to cling to the wood. B-ist path is about cooling. Brahman path is about heating. Fire no longer clings to the wood. Loads of metaphors used around fire. Mind aflame. The senses burning. T.S. Eliott - The Wasteland - everything is burning. Swamped by stuff - mental and physical - that we take on board. Upadana is polyvalent - also means a closed hand, not being able to let go, won’t release to find our freedom. Holding on to grievances, malice, retribution, thoughts of revenge. The stuff of primitive human emotions. Refuse any sense of spaciousness or freedom in our existence. Claustrophobic. Confined in a very narrow space by it. Tanha-Upadana, this is what it’s doing. This is a sequence we can observe in meditation: contact, feeling, craving, clinging. can really see this. Traditionally, in med exp, weakest link is between vedana and tanha. Vedana is an automatic arising. Some feelings are hardwired. If I stick my hand on a hot plate, I’m going to feel it as unpleasant. Can’t do anything about the vedana. Can do something about the craving and the clinging subsequent to it. What follows the vedana? Goenka trad - whole practice dedicated to looking at the vedana, esp bodily vedana. Scanning the body, looking at connection between vedana, clinging, and craving. Monastic high-jumping: thinking you can break it between contact and feeling. In exp I’ve never seen this as being possible. Can see it very clearly between vedana and tanha. Ways monastics cling to power and authority: putting bar higher and higher about what people can do. Often that is the case with this, saying you can break the chain higher. U Pandita: oh, there’s no problem, you can do it up here. But U Pandita is U Pandita.
Can immediately see the vedana giving rise to the tendency to crave avoidance or having. Clinging and grasping that follows upon that. Really, tanha-upadana come as a pair. Dependent upon upadana, you get... Bhāva We’re always in the process of becoming something, always wanting to become something. A being who wants a cup of tea. Always trying to make a mark in the world in some way. The ways we try to become the images we project of ourselves ni the future. Might be extremely mundane: I am the person that wants to get a drink. Psychologically and physically manipulate a situation to get who or what we want to become. That will give rise to... Jāti Being born in that situation as the outcome of this process. If I’m the drinker who wants to get the drink through the grasping and craving, manipulation to get there - I might find myself being born in the bar. It’s as literal as that. That’s where I find myself. And if you go that far... Jarāmaraṇ a Old age and death. Don’t have to take it literally. That situation is going to decline and disappear. I’m going to drink my drink, and the bar is going to close. And I’m back into that old situation again. Can be trapped in that cycle of addiction. Could be drink, could be anything. Expecting something to provide you with happiness. Sankharas contract around that idea. To actually finding yourself in the situation. Always born in a situation. Always find yourself somewhere as the outcome of your psychological processes. Even if they don’t get you want, they get you somewhere - probably further misery. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, it’s going to decline and disappear, replaced by another thing. Ongoing process happening in every moment. Supported by Abidhamma moments as well. Going on in every moment. No three-lifetime interp necessary. Diffuses power of what this is talking about. Past, present, and future right now. You are all of them as you sit on your chairs. This is the summum bonum of the B’s practical way of getting out of sangsaric experience. If we truly begin to understand this and see this sequence in action, then you can start to do something about it. Can start operating within the laboratory of your exp, do something about it right now. See craving, serve the craving, go with it - anything arising in the mind will arise and pass away. We take it so seriously, hold on to it, but it arises and passes away. Thoughts: Just Passing Through! Questions Nibbana - absence of greed, aversion, and delusion. GAD help reify the self. Greed and aversion are both in tanha. Self is coming into being through that. Without GAD, no solid sense of self. Nibbana literally means the going out of the three fires that uphold that sense of selfing in that contracted sense.
How do we want to live this world? As a contracted being, contracted around a non-existent thing (fixed self), or do we want to live it in a spacious, expansive sense where we can be responsive instead of simply reactive. Self as noun reacts, self as verb responds. Tangles of notions of emptiness. Self is empty of any inherent, contracted existence. End of story. That’s all it is. Can contract around the things we do - create an identity out of our profession - that’s who I am - I am what I do. “What do you do?” - “I play at being professor of linguistics.” You are not it. We try to create identity out of any mode of being we inhabit. Could be “I am a professor of linguistics,” “I am a waiter,” etc. Reductionism. Reduced to some thing. Because of fear of not being anything. This is why we’re so deeply attached to our dukkha: it gives us a sense of identity. I am my misery. People can become the set of their symptoms. At least I know who I am now; I’m my symptoms. Can try to create identity out of anything. Not-self is actually a spacious process. Not tied to being any one thing. It opens up possibilities for us. “I think I’m a depressive.” You’re probably far more than that. Open up other possibilities. --What hijacks intentions? The automatic nature of DO. Slow it down on the cushion. Start to regain freedom. Have to have interest and curiosity. “What the hell’s going on here?” --When we start to spot the sankharas, habit-patterns, proclivities in behavior - looking at the narratives that support those behaviors, support this process of DO. Traditional view: vedanatanha is the weakest point. With more exp can start to see the patterns of the sankharas and how they form the patterns of our cravings, what we’re aversive to, what we’re wanting. Sankharas are us. Deeply responsible for our sense of identity. Feeding the whole process. Feed the mechanism just like we feed the fires. Reinforcing the sankharas. They’re all interacting with each other. Sankharas feed into bhava, my way of being. Bhava is feeding into my sankharas, which are fed by my cravings. Hold the whole process of unbinding with metta, friendliness. Nibbidas, disgust with things. Disenchantment. Starting to become disenchanted with the patterns that seem so seductive. Rather than being disgusted with the world, which is a traditional theravada thing, reflected in asceticism. Tibetans are very joyful. Unlike Burmese.
History of Buddhism has been one of creeping Brahmanization and Sanskritization. Everything the B tried to cut out, stop, creeps back in slowly through the history of B-ism. One of the four great clingings is to rites and rituals. What does B-ism become full of? Rites and rituals. Sanskrit was the lg of the intellectuals. By end of 3rd c bce, B-ist texts are starting to be composed in Sanskrit. Increasingly cut off from the mainstream. Most people can’t read them. Dissemination of B-ism in Tibet - arising of Tantra - intermixed of Hinduism and Buddhism that’s what the Tibetans got - that’s why they’re so ritualistic. --A mystery explained is no longer a mystery. That’s what metaphysics does. The mystery of life is revealed in the living of life. But mystery is not mystical. A sense of wonder, not mystery. That’s what B-ist practice has given me: a sense of wonder about the world. Sense of interest and curiosity - comes out of a sense of wonder. Explore the wonder out of sense of interest and curiosity. There is a sense of joy in uncovering the origins of dukkha.
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