Richard’s Selected Correspondence
Re: Enlightenment As An Aid To Enjoyment
RICHARD: Just a simple query if you will: given the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body all those years ago lived that/ was that which “Richard’s schematic points to”, night and day for eleven years (1981-1992), it would be appreciated were you to provide a report/ a description/ an explanation as to what a ...um... a non-dogmatic spirituality is.
Specifically, of course, a non-dogmatic spiritual awakenment/ mystical enlightenment. The reason I ask is because more than just a few of those persons of a ‘Pragmatic Dharma’ persuasion, in general, and those of a ‘DhO/ KFD’ persuasion, in particular, make a really big thing about how that which I thereby have an intimate acquaintance with – an experiential knowledge, a ‘hands-on’ comprehension, a lived understanding – is either dogma, doctrine, or (shudder) a view and, by doing so, seek to dismiss what is on offer on The Actual Freedom Trust website in a quite non-pragmatic manner. I look forward to your considered response.
RESPONDENT: Hi Richard, good to hear from you! I read what you posted carefully once and will do so several more times. For now, these are my thoughts (to the extent I am capable of understanding your words). I would say there is no completely non-dogmatic spirituality, but there are degrees. While it is true that my practice of vipassana, and the ensuing permanent changes, did involve some initial research, some assumptions about the 3 characteristics of perception, and some faith in the existence of nanas, cycles and paths, I would say that the actual practice was nonconceptual. All I did was ...
RICHARD: I will interrupt the flow of your self-report here because you do seem to be missing the point: you publicly accused me of espousing dogma and I am calling you out on it, asking you to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.
(Ha ... if this were a couple of centuries ago, back when men were quite prickly about such matters, it would be a case of pistols at dawn and all that).
I have made it abundantly clear, on my portion of The Actual Freedom Trust web site, how all of what I have to report/ describe/ explain cannot possibly be dogma and/or doctrine and/or a corpus of principles and/or a code of beliefs/ and etcetera.
In other words, what I have to report/ describe/ explain is the fully-lived experience, night and day for eleven years, of spiritual enlightenment/ mystical awakenment *as-it-is in reality* – as in, an autochthonic awakenment/ enlightenment; an indigenous awakening/ enlightening, that is – and not an adopted and/or absorbed dogma/ doctrine/ corpus of principles/ code of beliefs/ and etcetera which, having been internalised, is regurgitated on demand as if original.
Which is why I speak of having an intimate acquaintance – an experiential knowledge, a ‘hands-on’ comprehension, a lived understanding – of that which you dismissively characterised as [quote] “the category of dogmatic spirituality that Richard’s schematic points to” [endquote].
Given that your considered-for-thirty-two-minutes response was to tell me that [quote] “there is no completely non-dogmatic spirituality” [endquote] then, for the sake of emphasis, what follows is the essence of the above passage.
March 30 2000
Moreover, I particularly drew attention to that well-known distinction between an Avatar/ a Buddha and all other spiritually awakened /mystically enlightened beings – i.e., of not having been a follower of any dogma/ doctrine/ corpus of principles/ code of beliefs/ and etcetera – in Message № 12928.
Perhaps, upon a candid reappraisal, you might be inclined to reconsider your [quote] “there is no completely non-dogmatic spirituality” [endquote] asseveration and address my original question as asked?
Namely: given the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body all those years ago lived that/ was that which “Richard’s schematic points to”, night and day for eleven years (1981-1992), it would be appreciated were you to provide a report/ a description/ an explanation as to what non-dogmatic spirituality is.
Specifically, of course, a non-dogmatic spiritual awakenment/ mystical enlightenment.
And, again I will stress the reason why I ask: it is because more than just a few of those persons of a ‘Pragmatic Dharma’ persuasion, in general, and those of a ‘DhO/ KFD’ persuasion, in particular, make a really big thing about how that which I thereby have an intimate acquaintance with – an experiential knowledge, a ‘hands-on’ comprehension, a lived understanding – is either dogma, doctrine, or a view (i.e., Pāli ‘diṭṭhi’/ Sanskrit ‘dṛṣṭi’) and, by doing so, seek to dismiss what is on offer on The Actual Freedom Trust website in *a quite non-pragmatic manner*.
Again, I look forward to your considered response.
RESPONDENT: Hi Richard, I don't really know if I am capable of answering the question of what a non-dogmatic spirituality might be other than in the descriptions I have already given.
RICHARD: Given how you do not really know if you are capable of providing a description of a non-dogmatic spiritual awakenment/ mystical enlightenment (so as to contrast it with what “Richard’s schematic points to” for the sake of elucidation) then your observation that you do expect certain things out of your vipassanā practice – namely [quote] “a level of mind that can be penetrated” such as to “cause permanent, irreversible change” [endquote] – is kinda left floating nebulously in a vacuum, is it not?
Furthermore, you are quite explicit that the aforementioned permanent, irreversible change is a change to your psyche (and not the extirpation thereof).
If I might ask? In what way is that endeavour essentially different to what the flowchart/ the schematic points to (namely, to that which is reported/ described/ explained in the buddhavacana – i.e., the words/ the teachings of the sammāsambuddha, when he was the living embodiment of dhamma/ brahma, and therefore faithfully preserved memoriter, duly certified as being “Thus have I heard” (“evaṃ me sutaṃ”), in sacrosanct scriptures known in Pāli as ‘suttanta’ and in Sanskrit as ‘sūtrānta’ – and reverentially preserved through two and a half millennia or so down unto the present generation)?
RESPONDENT: Good Morning Richard, I now agree that my beliefs about my vipassana practice do not stand up to hard scrutiny in terms of being pragmatic or non-dogmatic.
RICHARD: G’day № 48,
Good ... and do you simultaneously see, albeit conversely, that my reports/ descriptions/ explanations on The Actual Freedom Trust website – regarding how the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body all those years ago lived that/ was that which “Richard’s schematic points to”, night and day, for eleven years (1981-1992) – do indeed “stand up to hard scrutiny in terms of being pragmatic or non-dogmatic”?
The reason why I am looking for a specific answer to this question is because the main purpose in responding to your evidentially ill-considered one-liner (at the top of this page) was to publicly draw attention to the quite non-pragmatic way in which more than just a few of those persons of a ‘Pragmatic/ Hardcore Dharma’ persuasion, in general, and those of a ‘DhO/ KFD’ persuasion, in particular, have sought to dismiss that which I have an intimate acquaintance with – a lived understanding from which to speak; a ‘hands-on’ comprehension thereof spanning nigh-on 35 years (i.e., dating from before many of those pretermitting persons were even born); a pragmatic/ hardcore expertise all of my own, as it were, comprising of experiential knowledge from which to draw forth any requisite expertise-based authority in these matters – in a manner which belies the very basis, the raison d’être itself, of their much-trumpeted ‘Pragmatic/ Hardcore’ stance.
And in failing to recognise (let alone acknowledge) the quintessential eschewer of the traditional – there is simply no-one on this planet, either currently alive or long-ago dead, who has eschewed the traditional, the doctrinal, the dogmatic, more thoroughly, more profoundly, more radically, more completely, more totally, than the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body all those years ago – they nakedly expose themselves, through that hypocritical pretermission of theirs, to be not all that different after all, in effect, to those traditionalists, those dogmatists, of whom they are so critically condemnatory.
RESPONDENT: Meaning, I can see there are beliefs and views in my decision to do it in the first place, in the actual act of doing it, in the results that I expect, and in the results that I achieve; furthermore, these results are actually related to “the absolute”, as it occurs in Buddhism ...
RICHARD: Yes ... although, in regards to no longer having your goal float nebulously in a vacuum, the secret to success lies in determining the nature of that absolute as it occurs in the buddhavacana – rather than “as it occurs in Buddhism” (the “Buddhism” you refer to would be more honestly termed ‘Buddhaghosa-ism’) – because Mr. Gotama the Sakyan experientially rediscovered ‘the ancient way’ (Pāli “purāṇaṃ maggaṃ”) to that absolute whilst seated under an assattha/ pippal tree (a.k.a. “Ficus religiosa”), around two and a half millennia ago, which he metaphorically likened, in the Nagara Sutta, to finding an ancient road leading to a fabulous lost city hidden deep in an antediluvian forest due to it having been immortalised by the Ṛishis of old as leading to the Vedic amṛta-loka (‘the realm of the immortals’).
Thus, as it is “the (alterity) absolute” of the Vedic period being referenced all throughout the buddhavacana, as distinct from “the (immanent) absolute” of the Vedantic period (the word Vedanta = lit. “end of the Veda”) which came into being after the Vedic period, then anyone actively promoting “non-duality” (Sanskrit ‘advaita’) – stemming as it does from the sublative ‘no-genesis’ Vedantic doctrine (i.e., ajātivāda) that Mr. Gauda the anchorite recovered, around one and a half millennia ago at Gowda Desha circa the 6th century CE, from the Māṇḍukya, Bṛhadāraṇyaka and Chāndogya Upaniṣads and which Mr. Adi Sankara of Kaladi (nowadays called Kerala) subsequently consolidated a century or so later – as being the only model of awakening holding up in “the dharma world” without apology, qualification or exception, plus speaking in glowing terms about “ditching the split”, has quite obviously taken no notice whatsoever of what has been sitting there in plain view in the buddhavacana for over two millennia.
RESPONDENT: ... “the absolute”, as it occurs in Buddhism (namely, in the ambiguous form of the “not this/ not that” that [No. 42] pointed out).
RICHARD: Hmm ... what you refer to there as “the ambiguous form of the ‘not this/ not that’” (i.e., “neti, neti”; lit. ‘not that, not that’), being sourced as it is in the third brahmana of the second chapter of that Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad already mentioned, further above, is quite unambiguous, really, as it refers to (the Vedantic) Atman-Brahman which, whilst metempirically existent and inherently blissful, is yet unknowable in the normal way of knowing due to having no qualities, characteristics, attributes, and etcetera, which are regularly recognisable (hence the “neti, neti”, or ‘via negativa’ approach).
It is important to comprehend the distinction between what could be called ‘Vedism’ (the 3-Veda period), where the ṚgVeda was predominant up until at least a millennia before Mr. Gotama the Sakyan seated himself unbudgingly under a certain tree, and what could be called ‘Vedantism’ – the period of Vedanta; lit. ‘end of the Veda’ as already observed – whereafter the Upaniṣads (wherein ‘Atman=Brahman’ features) became the dominant scriptures.
It is pertinent to note that nowhere in the Pāli Canon does that “Atman=Brahman” teaching feature despite the fact the sammāsambuddha has numerous dialogues with many brahmanā (i.e., ‘Brahmans’).
It is also noteworthy that nowhere in the Pāli Canon does he refer to the 4th Veda despite drawing attention to the 3-Veda practice (i.e., rituals, rites, sacraments, and etcetera).
Plus it is undisputable that the absolute of the Vedantic scriptures is an immanent absolute whereas the absolute of the buddhavacana is something else entirely: an acausal, atemporal, aspatial, aphenomenal alterity of an ‘utterly other’ nature.
Indeed, a major feature of the buddhavacana – as enunciated upfront and unequivocally throughout the second discourse in the first Khandhaka (chapter) of the Mahāvagga (division) in the Vinaya Piṭaka whereby the pañcavaggiya-bhikkhū (i.e., a group of five brahmana religieux) became arahants – is how the Pāli atta/ the Vedic ātma is not to be found in the phenomenal world (whereas the Vedantic ātman, being an advaita (i.e., non-dual) absolute, is the phenomenal world/ is everything).
NB: in this context the words atta/ attan and ātma/ ātman = the absolute; they do *not* refer to the egoic self (‘I’ as ego) or the personal/ reflexive self (oneself/ myself; himself / herself; yourself; themself/ themselves) except of course, in the latter case, where the personal/ reflexive usage references an avatar/ a buddha (i.e., an embodiment of brahma, an embodiment of dhamma).
Thus in this discourse, which was entitled the “Pañcavaggiya Suttaṃ” (SN 22.59; PTS: SN iii.66) when it was duplicated in the Sinhalese Saṃyutta Nikāya and “Anatta-Lakkhana Suttaṃ” in the Burmese version, where the sammāsambuddha reports/ describes/ explains how the five components of personage (i.e., the “panc’upādāna-kkhandhā”) are anattā – that is, they are not the self (as per, ‘an-’, a privative prefix, + attā, ‘the absolute’) – then what he is saying, in effect, is that (1) rūpaṃ is not the absolute ... and (2); vedanā is not the absolute ... and (3); saññā is not the absolute ... and (4); saṅkāra is not the absolute ... and (5); viññāṇaṃ is not the absolute.
This is so far removed from those “non-duality models” (wherein the panc’upādāna-kkhandhā, the five components of personage, are ātman, are ‘the absolute’) it must be asked just whom it might be who is “ditching the split”.
More to this salient point: in the Mūlaka/ Mula Sutta (AN 10.58; PTS: A v 106) the sammāsambuddha – upon having been specifically asked by some unidentified “bhikkhave” (i.e., mendicant renunciates of his own order) to expound on ten questions which “aññatitthiyā paribbājakā” (i.e., wandering religieux of another faith) might ask them – reveals the illuminative gnostic wisdom (i.e., intuitive/ metempirical wisdom as contrasted to dianoetic/ empirical knowledge) that nibbāna is the complete end (as in, “pariyosānā”) of “sabbe dhammā” [viz.: “nibbāna pariyosānā sabbe dhammā”].
In other words, the complete end of all things, both mental and material, means nothing exists for any such subjective-objective “split” to obtain.
And, by way of clarification as to what “all things” entails, in the Sabba Sutta (SN 35.23; PTS: SN iv 15) the sammāsambuddha details what he is referring to when he uses the Pāli word sabbaṃ (which is the neuter case of the adjective ‘sabba’). The Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary (a.k.a. PTS-PED) defines ‘sabbaṃ’ as “the (whole) world of sense-experience” and ‘sabba’ as “whole, entire; all, every” (‘sabbe’ is the nominative plural of ‘sabba’). Also, the Pāli ‘sabba’ is identical to the Sanskrit/ Vedic adjective ‘sarva’ which also means, according to the Monier Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary (a.k.a. MMW-SED), “whole, entire, all, every”.
In the above “Sabba Sutta” the sammāsambuddha specifies that when he uses the term ‘sabbaṃ’ he is referring to the eye [cakkhu] and whatsoever it sees [rūpā]; the ear [sota] and all of its sounds [saddā]; the nose [ghāna] and everything it smells [gandhā]; the tongue [jivhā] and all of its tastes [rasā]; the body [kāyo] and its every aesthesis [phoṭṭhabbā]; plus the mind [mano] and all its mental phenomena [dhammā]; and he accentuates this specification of his by then stating: “This is to be called sabbaṃ” [vis.: “idaṃ vuccati sabbaṃ”].
Furthermore, he emphasises the totally comprehensive and utterly inclusive material-mental nature of the term by then declaring that anyone, having rejected/ disavowed [paccakkhāya] this “sabbaṃ” as he depicts it, could not make known [paññāpessi] another one [aññaṃ sabbaṃ] as any such a one would be beyond scope, range or reach [avisaya].
Thus the term ‘sabbe’ (in that frequently flogged phrase “sabbe dhamme anattā” a.k.a. “sabbe dhammā anattā”), whilst denotational of absolutely everything whichsoever and everybody whomsoever, without exception, of each and every material or mental nature possible – taking place anywhere and everywhere wheresoever in the boundlessness of space and occurring anywhen and everywhen whensoever in the limitlessness of time plus happening anyhow and everyway howsoever in which anything and everything whatsoever can eventuate whencesoever at anyplace and everyplace whithersoever – specifically excludes that which, being beyond the scope, range or reach (of eyes, ears, mind, &c.), is ineffable/ indefinable ... namely: nibbāna.
Obviously, then, what the sammāsambuddha is conveying in the further above Mūlaka/ Mula Sutta is how the attainment of nibbāna is the complete end [pariyosānā] of absolutely all [sabbe] causal-temporal-spatial phenomena [dhammā].
Put differently: nibbāna is the complete end [pariyosānā] of all space, all time, and all matter (both as mass and as energy) both animate and inanimate [viz.: “sabbe dhammā”]. Hence the absolute of the buddhavacana being something else entirely (i.e., an acausal, atemporal, aspatial, aphenomenal alterity of an ‘utterly other’ nature).
Incidentally, if (note ‘if’) the phrase “sabbe dhammā” were to have been inclusive of nibbāna, and given that nibbāna is the complete end of ‘sabbe dhammā’, then it would mean that nibbāna would be the complete end of ... (wait for it) ... the complete end of nibbāna!
(As an aside: it would appear that whatever it takes to qualify for a “PhD.” in Pāli scholarship these days – to qualify as a Pāli scholar, a Pāli translator, that is – it does not include much in the way of critical thinking skills because the above absurdity is quite readily apparent).
Moreover, this revelation that nibbāna is the complete end of ‘sabbe dhammā’ has an earlier advent, by the sammāsambuddha, in the 3rd & 4th pada, of the last stanza in Dialogue 6 of the Pārāyanavagga, in the Suttanipāta, titled “Upasiva-manava-puccha” (Sn 5.6; PTS: Sn 1076).
As “sabbesu dhammesu” = ‘sabbe dhammā’ – (and as “samohatesu”, repeated at the beginning of the second line as “samūhata” and, from alternate manuscripts, transcribed as “samuhatesu” elsewhere, being the past participle of ‘samūhanati’ (“to remove, to abolish” ~ PTS-PED), translates as ‘removed, abolished’) – then what the sammāsambuddha is advising there is how, with all phenomena abolished, removed, then all ways of speaking about nibbāna are also removed, abolished (vādapatha means: “way of speech”, i.e.: “signs of recognition, attribute, definition” ~ PTS-PED).
By being thus beyond the scope, range or reach (of eyes, ears, mind, &c.) nibbāna is ineffable/ indefinable.
And because the Pārāyanavagga is amongst the earliest recorded portions of the buddhavacana – if not the earliest – then it is demonstrably evident that any notion about ‘sabbe dhammā’ being inclusive of nibbāna can only be a much later addition (as in, a latter-day Abhidhamma & Commentarial artefact, for instance) to the Pāli Canon.
Besides which, as nowhere in the buddhavacana is it recorded that nibbāna is anattā (i.e. ‘not-self’, ‘not the self’), then the abject craftiness of such a convoluted way of thinking – setting out to conceive of a diṭṭhi/ dṛṣti about the ineffable/ indefinable nature of nibbāna in spite of the silence of the sammāsambuddha on the topic, via sneaking it into “sabbe dhammā” – should in itself trigger-off flashing red-light warnings to both the instigators and the perpetuators.
RESPONDENT: I would not have necessarily seen these things before, as I was so committed to being a true believer in this practice.
RICHARD: In which case, and again in regards to your goal no longer having to float nebulously in a vacuum, this is an apposite place to utilise those URLs, now further above, for confirmation that the nature of the absolute, as it occurs in the buddhavacana, is indeed commensurable with the Vedic amṛta-loka (‘the realm of the immortals’). According to what transpires on page eight, of that 1962 English translation of the first Khandhaka (chapter) of the Mahāvagga (division), the sammāsambuddha, shortly after his awakenment/ enlightenment and while staying at the foot of the “Goatherd’s Banyan Tree” for the nonce, is approached by the otherworldly “Brahmā Sahampati”, fresh from Brahma-Loka, who exhorts him to teach dhamma because those with “little dust in their eyes” will be receptive. Then the following exchange takes place (edited to its essentials, from pp 8-9, with its operative words highlighted).
Thus, after observing how an impure dhamma, devised by stained minds, had made an appearance before in the region (Magadha), this Great Deva of Brahma-Loka (representing, in the buddhistic metaphysics, the creator god of the brahmanā) then urges the sammāsambuddha to: “open this door [dvāraṃ] to immortality [amatassa]; let them hear dhamma awakened to by the stainless one”; and then that ‘stainless one’ answers: “opened for those who hear are the doors [dvārā] of immortality [amatassa]”.
From this passage, and the overall context of the narrative itself, several pertinent factors emerge:
For instance, according to the Sahampatibrahmā Sutta (SN 48.57; PTS: SN v 232), and again whilst residing at the foot of that “Goatherds’ Banyan Tree” [ajapālanigrodhe] shortly after his attainment, the sammāsambuddha meditates upon how five particular controlling principals – namely (1) the faculty of faith [saddhindriya], (2) the faculty of vigour/ exertion [vīriyindriya], (3) the faculty of rememoration [satindriya], (4) the faculty of (introversive) self-absorption/ of mystical trance [samādhindriya] and (5) the faculty of intuitive/ otherworldly reasoning [paññindriya] – when taken-up seriously and cultivated [bhāvitāni bahulīkatāni], had immortality as their fordable footing [amatogadhaṃ], immortality as their principal aim [amataparāyaṇaṃ], and immortality as their ultimate ending [amatapariyosānaṃ].
I have numbered each incidence where the (compounded) word amata appears so as to emphasise how it can impressively embed itself, by its sheer dominance of topic (there are 21 instances in a 71-word paragraph), into the minds of the bhikkhu/ bhikkhuni chanting such a sutta, over and again, all dutifully learnt memoriter as prescribed in the Vinaya Piṭaka (with communal testing, each fortnight, for accuracy).
Furthermore, in the paragraph which follows the above paragraph, the (masculine case) Brahmā, in confirming his agreement with those meditations, repeats all those 21 incidences back to the sammāsambuddha and then, in the last and concluding paragraph (about half the size) yet another 3 times ... making a total of 45 instances in a very short sutta.
Presented below are a couple of regular, online translations of that opening paragraph wherein the first translator has whittled the 21 instances down to 6, and the second translator down to 4, both thereby soundly defeating the main function of the way in which the buddhavacana (i.e., “the words/ teachings of a buddha”) is structured ... to wit: as a memorable impressment into memory, via constant repetition, for those oh-so-essential rememoration-presentiation purposes – in these specialised contexts the Pāli “sati”/ Vedic “smṛ́ti” (often misleadingly translated with a ‘passive-witnessing’ meaning ascribed to ‘mindfulness’ such as “choiceless awareness”, “bare attention”, “lucid awareness”, and etcetera) has an exclusive relationship with the Pāli “suti”/ Vedic “śruti” (i.e., the sacred gnosis/ divine wisdom of immediate/ intuitive and/or unworldly/ otherworldly revelation as epitomised by the ancient Ṛishis of Vedic lore and legend) and nothing else – the fruitfulness of which is prominently demonstrated in the Pāli Canon by those numerous bhikkhū/ bhikkhunī of yore having thereby become arahants.
This is an apposite juncture, then, to further explain that oh-so-essential rememoration-presentiation process. To rememorate, in the sense which the Pāli “sati/ satimā” conveys itself linguistically, in the Pāli sentences themselves and contextually in the buddhavacana as a whole, is to not only be memorative but is to be so with an instinctual, intuitive apprehension of the exclusive relationship the Pāli ‘sati’ (=Vedic ‘smṛti’) has with the Pāli ‘suti’ (=Vedic ‘śruti’) in its special-usage revelatory sense.
Thus the Pāli suti (=Vedic śruti) refers to revelation as opposed to the Pāli sati (=Vedic smṛti) which refers to tradition. That comparison can be seen here (bear in mind that the Vedic śruti = the Pāli suti whilst reading):
And this exclusive relationship also rates a special mention in that Monier Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary entry for smṛti (= Pāli sati) where, it may be profitably noted, the word ‘mindful’/ ‘mindfulness’ is quite conspicuous by its absence (the first edition of that dictionary was published in 1872; Mr. Thomas Rhys Davids first translated ‘sati’ as “mindfulness” in 1881).
Thus the Pāli sati (=Vedic smṛti) refers, then, to not only “remembrance, reminiscence, thinking of or upon; calling to mind, memory” but to “the whole body of sacred tradition” (e.g., in the buddhistic context, to the entire Suttanta & Vinaya) as well. That is, the term “sati/ satimā” refers to “what is remembered by human teachers, in contradistinction to śruti [= Pāli suti]” which, in the buddhistic context, is in contradistinction to what is directly known or apprehended by the sammāsambuddha (i.e., a ‘Ṛishi’ par excellence, and then some, so to speak).
Put simply, the English word ‘mindful’/ ‘mindfulness’ cannot even begin to convey what the Pāli “sati/ satimā” refers to.
Furthermore, to be rememorative in the sense which the Pāli sati (= Vedic smṛti) conveys its meaning – a meaning conveyed both contextually and linguistically in the Pāli sentences themselves – is to be comprehensive, in a similarly visceral-intuitive manner, of the relationship the revelatory Pāli ‘suti’ (=Vedic śruti) has with the equally-special usage of the Pāli ‘suta’ (= Vedic ‘śruta’) as well.
Hence, instead of mindlessly continuing to translate the Pāli ‘sati’ with a late-19th century-voguish, western-acculturated and everyday-usage word it is more explanatorily helpful to resurrect an antiquated term (that Shakespearean-Era “rememoration” was already ‘not in use’ in 1828, ‘obsolete’ by 1913 and ‘archaic’ come 2008 according to the various “Webster’s Dictionaries” available), unto which restored word that special-usage meaning of an instinctually-intuitive type of memoration – essentially, then, in this context a rememoration of the gnostic knowledge/ metempirical wisdom itself, revivified feelingly with luminous vibrancy, in the memorative faculty – can thus be readily ascribed and hypostatised.
Moving on to page 11 of that 1962 English translation (now much further above): after his exchange with Brahmā Sahampati the sammāsambuddha, having resolved to teach dhamma to the pañcavaggiya-bhikkhū (i.e., that group of five brahmana religieux already mentioned further above), sets out on tour for Isipatana, a deer-park near Benares, and along the way a religieux of the ājivika sect greets him in a complimentary manner, regarding his disposition and demeanour, and enquires as to his mentor or whose dhamma he professes. The last lines of his reply to this religieux, on page 12, are as follows (with the word ‘amata’ highlighted for easy reference).
Thus, after having declared there is no teacher [ācariyo] for him – as none like he is exists inasmuch he is unequalled [natthi te paṭipuggala] in the world of humans and gods [sadevakasmiṃ lokasmiṃ], that he alone is the consummately self-awakened one [sammāsambuddho], and how all-conquering [sabbābhibhū] and all-knowing [sabbavidhūhamasmi] he is – he advises how he is going to [gacchāmi] the main city of the Kāsi County [kāsinaṃ puraṃ] to turn the dhamma-wheel (= the brahma-wheel; i.e., dhammacakkaṃ = brahmacakkaṃ) and beat the drum of immortality [amatadundubhin] in a world become blind [andhībhūtasmiṃ lokasmiṃ].
After arriving at the deer-park, and some discussion about an appropriate name, the following line is worth considering (again with the word ‘amata’ highlighted for easy reference).
On page 13, of that 1962 English translation, Ms. Isaline Horner renders that line as follows.
And on page 92 of the 1881 English translation Mr. Thomas Rhys Davids & Mr. Hermann Oldenberg render it thisaway:
(This is repeated three more times before the sammāsambuddha begins his first discourse, the celebrated ‘wheel-turning’ discourse, which is venerated as being the advent of the buddhavacana, albeit known as ‘Buddhism’ for the last 150+ years, into the world of humans and gods). What is more than passing strange is how, since the 1880s or thereabouts, there is a noticeable tendency, on the part of translators/ scholars/ etcetera, to dilute or attenuate, rather than duly emphasise, just what certain words denote and/or connote, both etymologically and contextually (contextually, that is, in both a linguistical and environmental manner) despite the vast array of antiquarian scriptural texts and oral tradition from sub-continental India which clearly delineate the age-old quest for immortality – as per the Sanskrit word amṛta and/or the Pāli word amata – as being the sole purpose of the brahmacariya modus vivendi (i.e., living an austere and celibate religious/ holy life), which strictly chaste way of life is scripturally incumbent upon any conscientious ordination as a bhikkhu/ bhikkhuni, as well as being the long-term aim of lay-persons, via an auspicious rebirth enabling committed ordination, per favour virtuous merit-accruing generosity in feeding or otherwise supporting and/or providing for those living that rigorous brahmacariya lifestyle (i.e., “dānamaya puññaṃ” where dāna = alms-giving and puñña = virtue, merit).
By and large the clearly defined/ readily describable goal of the buddhavacana – immortality in the current lifetime – has been obscured by an ineffable/ indefinable and faraway aspiration called nibbāna/ nirvāṇa. Hence “floating nebulously in a vacuum”. Hence, also, modern-day buddhistic aspirations being more of a therapeutic nature than salvational.
And it is more than but passing strange because, just as the English word immortal (‘im-’ + ‘mortal’) means not-mortal so too does the Pāli word amata (‘a-’ + ‘mata’) mean not-mortal. The Pāli “mata” refers to death, as does the Pāli “mara” and “maccu” for that matter, in the same way as the Latin “mort-” does (“mort”, the singular of “mors”, is what the English “mortal” is based upon) and as does the Greek “-brotos” as well (from which the English word ambrosia is derived, via “ambrotos”, the Greek word for immortal). The privative Pāli prefix ‘a-’ negates ‘mata’ just like the prefix ‘im-’ negates ‘mortal’ (thereby conveying not-mortal). Most translators, however, translating “mata” as “death” then negate it with the suffix “-less” (i.e., “deathless”) in the same way that the suffix “-less” of “timeless” means “no time” or “penniless” conveys “without money”. As the English word deathless is defined, for example, as “not subject to death; immortal” ~ (Webster’s College Dictionary) or as “not subject to termination or death; immortal” ~ (American Heritage Dictionary) or as, quite singularly, “immortal” ~ (Oxford English Dictionary), anyway, it is quite odd they would do so.
And particularly so, as amongst the many epithets ascribed to the sammāsambuddha, one in particular stands out: “amatassa dātā dhammassāmī”. Those first two words – amatassa dātā (“dispenser of immortality”) – are the crux of the epithet (the word which follows them, dhammassāmī, as in “master of dhamma”, is quite straightforward) as both the Pāli word amata and the Vedic/ Sanskrit word amṛta refer to precisely what the whole point of becoming mystically awakened/ spiritually enlightened really is.
Namely: to attain immortality [amata-patta], to dwell in the realm of the immortals [amata-pada], to rest in peace, forevermore, in the tranquillity of immortality [amataṃ-santiṃ], to enjoy the fruit of immortality [amata-phala], to be beating the drum of immortality [amata-dundubhi], to be bringing immortality [amatandada] to those with “little dust in their eyes” – having become the dispenser of immortality [amatassa dātā], having opened the doors to immortality [amata-dvārā], having revealed the way going or leading to immortality [amata-gāmin], along the path to immortality [amata-magga], for the benefit of all those seeking the medicine of immortality [amata-osadha] – so that whosoever is sprinkled with the ambrosia of immortality [amatena-abhisitta], who sees immortality [amata-dasa], who is tasting immortality [amata-rasā], is a drinker of immortality’s nectar [amatapo], is drenched by the rain of immortality [amata-vutthi; amṛta-varṣa], will be inclining to immortality [amata-pabbhāra], will be having immortality as their principal aim [amata-parāyaṇa] and, with immortality as their fordable footing [amata-gadha], will be diving into immortality [amata-ogadha], will be ending in immortality [amata-pariyosāna] and dwelling forevermore thereafter in the immortal state [amataṃ dhātuṃ] totally unaffected by death [anāmata].
And this, all of this and more, has been sitting there in plain view (albeit with ‘nibbāna’/ ‘nirvāṇa’ distracting attention away) for more than two millennia.
Speaking from personal experience: in September 1981 when the then-resident identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body became awakened/ enlightened ‘he’ was immediately aware – due to its marked absence – that ‘his’ ego/ ego-self (i.e., ‘the thinker’/ ‘the doer’) had most certainly died and ‘he’ would remark to those interested how ironic it was that ‘he’ only knew for sure now (now that it had vanished completely) how there had indeed been an operant ego all the while leading up to that moment. This absence of ego/ ego-self was so remarkably obvious ‘he’ would flesh-out ‘his’ description by pointing both forefingers directly to either temple so as to pinpoint its exact location via where an interior place immediately behind the mid-point of the eyebrows was intersected by that line-of-pointing. And, speaking even more experientially, a distinct vacancy, a clear emptiness, at that precise location was an on-going and compelling experience. So compelling, in fact, and so devoid of having ever even been existent this on-going reality was, then, that upon being asked, on occasion over the following years, as to what would happen at physical death ‘he’ would speak assuredly of being “already-dead” (meaning that only an end to embodiment could occur); of how there was “no such thing as death”; of how being immortal was what being awakened/ enlightened is (as “The Absolute”, as ‘he’ called it, that is); of how anything other than that was but a dream, an illusion, an appearance.
RESPONDENT: So where should I go from here, if you don’t mind me asking? What is the next step, assuming I have taken one in a positive direction by realizing these things?
RICHARD: No, I do not mind you asking at all – and I appreciate your courtesy – as spiritual awakenment/ mystical enlightenment is, after all, my forté due to having gone beyond it, to the other side of that institutionalised insanity (in fact to where the entire sanity-insanity spectrum, which encapsulates the human condition, has no footing whatsoever), after having lived that/ been that highly revered and/or greatly venerated state of being night and day for eleven years.
Quite frankly, the first step regarding where to go from here stands out like the proverbial outhouse in a desert ... to wit:
utilising that canonical bojjhaṅga known as “dhammavicaya”[*], the second of the seven factors or constituents of buddhistic knowledge or
wisdom, so as to investigate and research the provenance of
this “vipassanā” practice you are engaged in – (you advised DhO participants, on Jan 03, 2014, how you had “begun Mahasi
noting in both formal meditation sittings and daily life” around six months after your first post in which you described having “tried a
variety of techniques” but always returning to “the breath counting/ belly breathing of rinzai zen”) – in order to determine
whether or not that heterodox practice has both the generative potential for fulfilling your [quote] “basic trust that there is a level of
mind that can be penetrated” [endquote], and the transformative capacity to [quote] “cause permanent, irreversible change”
[endquote], given that after eighteen months or so of [quote] “trying to change my psyche as opposed to dropping it or escaping it or ending
it entirely” [endquote] you still do not really know if you are capable of providing a description of a non-dogmatic spiritual awakenment/
mystical enlightenment inasmuch that very goal of yours is floating nebulously in a vacuum.
However, in case you do not utilise dhammavicaya in regards to the provenance of this “vipassanā” practice you are engaged in – which is the most likely course of events going by your replies, so far, to all other responses to your requests for assistance – I am nevertheless only too happy to make public knowledge of what has been sitting there in plain view in the buddhavacana, for over two millennia (and thus why there have been no arahants for more than two thousand years), the obtention of which knowledge is a direct result of the unique advantage obtaining from having lived life in three majorly different ways – a normal egocentric feeling-being, an abnormal egoless feeling-being, and an actually selfless and thus literally apathetic human being – and thereby being well-placed to know what nobody else can know.
It is advisable to first read-through Message № 16259 (and especially the footnotes), where I refer to that presently-popular but nevertheless controversial sukkhavipassaka practice – what is known colloquially as the “Dry Burmese Vipassanā”, as in “Mahāsī-style noting” and “Goenka Vipassanā”, for instance – in the body of the text, because what follows hereon will be a ‘joining the dots’ in practical terms so as to have a standalone version available, once and for all, rather than paragraphs scattered here and there throughout many emails.
First of all, when that “A Long-Awaited Public Announcement”, prominently linked-to on the homepage of The Actual Freedom Trust website, was first published there were two major reactions to that ‘good news’ about how not only had Richard’s condition been replicated, and by a female as well as by a male, but that a ‘direct-route’ to what lies on the other side of insanity had also been established, per favour an epoch-changing opening in human consciousness, thus obviating the need to otherwise make one’s personal contribution to global peace-on-earth dangerously, via spiritual enlightenment/ mystical awakenment, as the trail-blazer had done ... namely:
(1.) a subversive attempt to maintain the status-quo vis-á-vis the human condition via confecting and popularising a much watered-down and bastardised facsimile of actualism (known as ‘affism’ due to its confectioners referring to ‘aff’ when communicating with other ‘affers’), via a meditative detachment-dissociative technique and/or a meditational affective-repression procedure, in which ‘I’ as ego/ ‘me’ as soul survive to wreak ‘my’ malicious-sorrowful and, antidotally, loving-compassionate damage as beforehand (i.e., affectively/ psychically) ... and:
(2.) a seditious attempt to stop the global spread of peace-on-earth dead in its tracks via disseminating all manner of made-up stuff, both clandestinely (surreptitious private emails) and unaccountably (anonymous public emails), about “Richard & Associates” until the outright ridiculousness their salacious fabulations – known to all in the post-modernist world and its ilk (a creative mind-space where ‘truths’ not only trump facts but where facts are ‘truths’ to be dissed at will, or even whim, at times) as “narratives” rather than the ‘lies’, the ‘bull’ or, even, the ‘spin’ they are – brought about its ignominious melt-down.
Needless to add, of course, is how actualism/ actual freedom sailed-on serenely throughout – being actual, unlike materialists’ ego-centric philosophies and spiritualists’ soul-centric religiosities, it is invisible to all and every auto-centric ‘being’ (whose automorphic missiles, being thus of the ‘heat’-seeking variety, can never, ever reach their mark) – completely unscathed, utterly unsullied and totally unaffected.
The reason as to why ‘self’ in its entirety remained intact for the ‘affers’ throws considerable light onto ‘samatha-vipassanā’ practice, in general, and “‘Mahāsī’-style noting”, in particular, because the anatta aspect, of its integral anicca-anatta-dukkha ‘three marks of the phenomenal world’ weltanschauung (Pali: tilakkhaṇa; Sanskrit: trilakṣaṇa), has been blown all out of proportion by the many and various practitioners, commentators, translators, scholiasts/ pundits, and so on, who successively contributed to and/or perpetuated the presently prevailing ‘diṭṭhi’/‘dṛṣṭi’ (i.e., “wrong view; theory, doctrine, system”) about what anatta/ anātma refers to, despite it having been sitting there in plain view in the buddhavacana, all along, that the anatta aspect of attavāda – (i.e., “theory of (a persistent) soul” ~ (PTS-PED) – applies specifically to the phenomenal world.
In other words, through holding fast to that particular ‘diṭṭhi’/‘dṛṣṭi’ – popularly known by one and all as “the no-self doctrine” and/or “the anatta doctrine” (as if some-such term as ‘an-attavāda’ might be tucked-away in the more obscure recesses of either the Suttanta or the Vinaya) – and believing it applicable to both the phenomenal world and the noumenal realm, they fervently maintain no ego-death/ egoic dissolution is required (due to that pre-supposed non-existence of ‘self’, in its entirety, in the first place).
Further compounding this mischief-making doctrine, this daemonic dogma, is its corresponding view that the lower yoke (a.k.a. “fetter”) known in Pāli by the term sakkāyadiṭṭhi – (from sakkāya + diṭṭhi, wherein sakkāya = “lit. ‘the existing body’ [from sat+kāya] or ‘the body in being’” ~ PTS-PED) – can be adequately translated by an anaemic term such as “personality-view” insofar as its eradication can thenceforth be effected via an intellectual/ ideational comprehension and/or a cerebrational/ mentational understanding.
Howsoever, by virtue of one’s goal no longer floating nebulously in a vacuum, per favour having seen for oneself what has been sitting there in plain view for more than two millennia, a truly critical examination of the Pāli Canon’s Suttanta & Vinaya can take place wherein it demonstrably evidences, both coherently and rather consistently for such ages-old and handed-down scriptures, that there is more to what the term sakkāyadiṭṭhi refers to than “personality-view”. In the Cūḷavedalla Sutta (MN 44; PTS: M i 299), for instance, a questioner enquires as to what ‘sakkāya’ is, according to the sammāsambuddha, and is told that sakkāya = panc’upādāna-kkhandhā – that is, the five (i.e., “pañca”) fuelled (i.e., “upādāna”) components (i.e., “khandhā”) constituting personage – namely:
I have added those emphases because “upādāna”, which means ‘fuelled’, distinguishes their stark difference to the five components of the awakened/ enlightened being (viz.: panc’anupādāna-kkhandhā) where “anupādāna” means “without fuel”.
Just to emphasise this salient point: similar to that definition of anupādāna – i.e., “without fuel” ~ PTS-PED – is anupādā/ anupādāya.
Thus the five unfuelled (i.e., anupādāna) components which constitute a spiritually enlightened/ mystically awakened being – a being in whom all āsavā, or (worldly) intoxications, are extinguished – are known as panc’anupādāna-kkhandhā (as distinct from the five fuelled (i.e., upādāna) components which constitute an unenlightened/ unawakened being ... to wit: panc’upādāna-kkhandhā).
Therefore, contrary to the impression conveyed by a cursory reading of the Cūḷavedalla Sutta the word ‘sakkāya’ does not refer to the five components constituting personage, per se, but refers instead to their fuelled nature (and obviously so, otherwise sakkāya would remain intact, after awakenment/ enlightenment). And, as it is ego-death/ egoic dissolution which distinguishes the awakened/ enlightened one from the unawakened/ unenlightened ones, then what the Pāli word ‘sakkāya’ refers to is none other than the ego/ ego-self.
Hence that lower yoke (a.k.a. “fetter”) known in Pāli by the term sakkāya-diṭṭhi – far from being adequately translated by that anaemic term “personality-view” – is better rendered as “egoistic-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” or “egoity-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” (as in, and staying true to what the buddhavacana conveys, an instinctively-visceral intuition of being present-to-oneself as the egoic locus-of-observation and agent-of-agency; the egoic thinker-of-thoughts and feeler-of-feelings; the egoic willer-of-deeds and initiator-of-actions; the egoic receiver-of-benefit/ deficit and recipient-of-praise/ blame; the egoic seeker-of-pleasure and avoider-of-pain or, in a nutshell, the egoic experiencer-of-experiences) and which egocentric diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi cannot, of course, be eradicated via intellectual/ ideational comprehension and/or cerebrational/ mentational understanding.
In fact, the only successful eradication of such an egoistical diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi is an experiential eradication and another critical examination of the Pāli Suttanta & Vinaya evidences how that is indeed the case. Turning again to that 1962 translation, of the first Khandhaka (chapter) of the Mahāvagga (division) in the Vinaya Piṭaka, on page 54 a description can be read as to how the eradication of sakkāyadiṭṭhi takes place.
Moreover, upon doing so it will also become apparent that the Pāli word ‘saddhā’ refers to a distinctive faith, a buddhistic type of faith, that is, which accrues contingent upon sammādiṭṭhika – upon having a consummate epiphanic/ revelatory vision of amata-pada (i.e., the region or place of immortality a.k.a. the “deathless” realm) as depicted on page 54 – whereupon the octadic patrician way [viz.: “ariya aṭṭhangika magga”], albeit popularly known in a rather pedestrian manner as “The Noble Eightfold Path” (wherein the word ‘Noble’ really refers to the French ‘Noblesse’, as in the English ‘Aristocrat’, hence the Latin ‘Patrician’), unfolds of its own accord for the thenceforth faithful wayfarer to traverse unto deliverance.
In other words, sammā-diṭṭhi (as in, this intuitive ‘consummate vision’ as opposed to the cognitive “right view” of popular dissemination), the 1st stage of the 8-stage path, not only opens up the way of the ancient path [viz.: “purāṇaṃ maggaṃ”] – rediscovered by the sammāsambuddha whilst immersed in introspective self-absorption [Pāli: jhāyanasīla; Skt.: dhyānayoga] under a certain assattha/ pippal tree (a.k.a. “Ficus religiosa”) around two and a half millennia ago – it also bestows the requisite buddhistic faith in the “paṭiccasamuppāda dhamma“” (i.e., the truth of ‘contingent-geniture’) as detailed, in extenso, by its illustrious discoverer.
What follows, then, is the original Pāli which contains that critical depiction of the consummate epiphanic/ revelatory vision of amata-pada which not only ensures the eradication of sakkāyadiṭṭhi – (the eradication of the diṭṭhi, that is, not of sakkāya itself (i.e., the ego/ ego-self) as that persists up until the last of the upper yokes (a.k.a. “fetters”) are eradicated) – but also elevates the wayfarer unto the status of a patrician traversing the octadic patrician way (the ancient way, the ancient path, immortalised by the Ṛishis of yore).
And here is the English translation by Ms. Isaline Horner in 1962:
Mr. Thomas Rhys Davids & Mr. Hermann Oldenberg rendered the same text thisaway in 1881:
Now, having comprehended what needs to ensue in order to (1) eradicate the “egoistic-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” or “egoity-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” and (2) thus set foot on the “ariya aṭṭhangika magga”, the octadic patrician way, as (3) a patrician wayfarer (i.e., one of the “ariya”, one of the buddhistic noblesse, aristocrats or patricians) it will be handy to see how that entree into the buddhistic nobility is usually depicted elsewhere in the text. Again on page 54 of the 1962 translation is the following line (with a square-bracketed insertion of the key Pāli words for the highlighted section).
And on page 146 of the 1881 translation it is rendered thisaway:
Returning, now, to pages 17-19 of the 1962 translation the following words will make a lot more sense.
As will pages 97-100 of the 1881 translation:
Plus these words on page 23 of the 1962 translation:
And the same on pages 104-105 of the 1881 translation:
And the same on page 27 and again on page 28 of the 1962 translation (and on page 111 and again on page 112 of the 1881 translation). An internet-based search with the search-string <dhammacakkhuṃ site:suttacentral.net> will bring forth many instances of “virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ” (i.e., ‘dustless, stainless dhamma-vision’/ ‘pure, spotless Eye-of-Truth’) to examine at leisure.
Speaking personally, soon after I began my Pāli studies a few years ago (in order to suss out how come so many practitioners go astray and why the Pāli-to-English translators render certain key-words the way they do) passages such as the above reminded me of the impactive event which was the turning-point for the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body, all those years ago, inasmuch instead of proceeding felicitously and innocuously towards becoming actually free, via an out-from-control/ different-way-of-being virtual freedom, ‘he’ went on to become mystically awakened/ spiritually enlightened instead. I referred to that impactive ‘stream-entry’ event thisaway about a decade ago (years before commencing my Pali studies):
Thus the eradication of sakkāyadiṭṭhi (of that “egoistic-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” or “egoity-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” that is), upon having a consummate epiphanic/ revelatory vision of amata-pada – a “dhamma-vision”/ “Eye of Truth” also referred to as ‘sammā-diṭṭhi’ in the Pāli Canon, the 1st stage of the 8-stage path, and yet translated with the cognitive term “right view” by scholars/ pundits and the ilk – is where ‘I’ as ego (i.e., the ego/ ego-self) temporarily transmogrify into a grandiose, vainglorious ‘Me’ as soul/ spirit (‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being is ‘being’ itself; usually capitalised as ‘Being’ upon awakenment/ enlightenment, when personalised, or as ‘That’ by whatever name, e.g., ‘The Absolute’, ‘The Deathless’, ‘Nibbāṇa’/ ‘Nirvāṇa’, ‘Dhamma’/ ‘Brahma’, and etcetera, when impersonalised) and thus, upon returning to normal, ‘I’, as ego, readily abandon any egoistic/ egotistical functions or pretensions in day-to-day life whilst traversing the ancient way, the ancient path, immortalised by the Ṛishis of yore.
Moreover, around two-and-a-half millennia or so ago, when this “dustless, stainless dhamma-vision”/ “pure and spotless Eye of Truth” occurred as an immediate result of hearing “dhamma-talk”/ “discourses relating to the Dhamma” first-hand, any-such ‘I’, as ego, was thus in utter awe of the sammāsambuddha precisely for being the very embodiment of ‘That’ – as in “who sees me sees dhamma; who sees dhamma sees me” [yo kho dhammaṃ passati so mam passati; yo mam passati so dhammaṃ passati] – and which numinous experience leaves ‘me’, as soul/ spirit, in a state of ‘mysterium tremendum et fascinans’ whereby that distinctive faith, that particularly buddhistic type of faith [saddhā], which accrues contingent upon sammādiṭṭhika, is indelibly impressed into the very core of ‘my’ being (which is ‘being’ itself).
Four years later (2009) I wrote about that impactive event on this ‘Yahoo Groups’ forum (Message No. 7731) with some added detail (take particular note of the terms “over-whelmed”, “in awe”, “absorption into” and “an awesomely manifest presence” in parenthesis).
All of which brings this exposition back to its starting-point ... to wit: why ‘self’ in its entirety remained intact for the ‘affers’ (and the considerable light it throws onto ‘samatha-vipassanā’ practice, in general, and “‘Mahāsī’-style noting”, in particular, because of the misconstrued/ misrepresented/ misused anatta aspect (i.e., the ‘no-self-at-all’ aspect) of its integral anicca-anatta-dukkha ‘three marks of the phenomenal world’ weltanschauung). The following email exchange between ‘Arahant-Tarin’ and a then-prolific poster to this ‘Yahoo-Groups’ forum, in January 2010, is very informative regarding this aspect insofar as the inner workings of that much-touted noting practice are revealed to be a matter of disidentification stemming from a fundamental realisation when first experiencing “the supramundane”.
For ease of reference I have numbered them, as follows, in the email itself further below:
In summary, the reason why ‘self’ in its entirety remained intact for the ‘affers’ stems from the obvious fact that disidentification from the ego/ ego-self does not bring about an end to the ego/ ego-self (i.e., an ego-death/ an egoic dissolution).
And especially so when that disidentification process stems from the realisation that, in the ‘supramundane’ world, subject-and-object are one and the same thing (i.e., the Vedantic Advaita; e.g., the ‘Pragmatic/ Hardcore Dharma’s non-duality).
So as to situate those particular events in a readily recognisable time-line: although the above was written on Jan 06, 2010, it was not posted on the ‘Yahoo Groups’ forum until Jan 20, 2010, eight days before ‘Arahant-Tarin’ arrived in Australia (and thus twelve days before declaring himself actually free, on Feb 01, 2010, whereupon ‘Arahant-Tarin’ transmogrified into ‘Affer-Tarin’). Thus I knew before he even arrived that ‘Pragmatic/ Hardcore Dharma’ arahants – not to mention those among them who declare themselves a sotāpatti, a sakadāgāmi, or an anāgāmi – were all befooling themselves mightily (and subsequent verbal conversations with ‘Arahant-Tarin’ and, later, with ‘Affer-Tarin’ served only to confirm this to be the case).
Incidentally, it stands to reason those befooling themselves when claiming a spiritual freedom are likely to be befooling themselves, thereafter, when claiming an actual freedom.
Needless is it to add that the same detachment-disidentification-dissociation process which served those detached-disidentified-dissociated identities ill in regards the ego/ ego-self (‘I’ as ego) served them equally unwell, when applied to the affective feelings (‘me’ as soul/ spirit), because an identity – essentially a feeling-being at root – fully-detached and/or disidentified and/or dissociated, from both its egoic aspect and its affections, is a pathematic ‘being’ in clinical denial of its own affective-cognitive existence.
What remains now is to establish the provenance of that particular aspect of modern-day ‘samatha-vipassanā’ practice known in ‘Pragmatic Dharma/ Hardcore’ circles as “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” (due to the technique first gaining its popularity when made available to lay peoples at the Mahāsī Monastery, at Seikkhun, in Upper Burma) so as to determine whether or not that heterodox practice has both the generative potential for fulfilling your [quote] “basic trust that there is a level of mind that can be penetrated” [endquote] and the transformative capacity to [quote] “cause permanent, irreversible change” [endquote].
According to Mr. Siegmund Feniger (1901-1994), in his 1954 handbook breathlessly entitled “The Heart of Buddhist Meditation”, it has its origins in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. An online article explains that handbook’s genesis quite succinctly:
And here is how he depicts the origin, of what has become known as “‘Mahāsī’-style noting”, in that best-known handbook/ that university text-book of his:
As nothing other than a few scanty allusions, as above, are to be found regarding the originator of “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” then the import of Mr. Siegmund Feniger’s depiction is that both “the principles” and “the details” of “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” were the “radical” brain-child of an unawakened/ unenlightened 19th-20th century bhikkhu – still in his early-to-mid-thirties and of a cultural lineage (Burmese) notorious for its abject absence of any tradition of sammā-samādhi (the 8th, and final stage of the octadic patrician way, epitomised by introversive self-absorption/ mystical trance-states) – and not “dhamma virtuous in its beginning, in its middle and in its ending” [viz.: “dhammaṃ deseti ādikalyāṇaṃ majjhekalyāṇaṃ pariyosānakalyāṇaṃ”], in “both its spirit and its letter” [viz.: sātthaṃ savyañjanaṃ], as expounded by the sammāsambuddha of yore. (source: https://suttacentral.net/pi/pi-tv-kd1#8-marakatha).
Therefore, as the word “principles” refers to a fundamental or general truth or law (as in, “first principles”, for instance) and the word “radical” (which stems from the Latin rādīx, rādīc-, meaning ‘root’) indicates a primary modification, a root change, to the “traditional exposition” – that is, as expounded by the sammāsambuddha (i.e., the “master of dhamma”, the “dispenser of immortality”; viz.: “amatassa dātā dhammassāmī”) – then that is petty well the end of the matter, there and then, regarding its provenance (and, thereby, the likelihood of both its generative and transformative capacity being anything other than null and void in regards the complete and utter end of dukkha, in any lifetime let alone the current one, and thus the attainment of amata, a.k.a. nibbāna).
Thus, whatever else which follows hereafter is but a cobbling-together of a few scattered details as a matter of related interest. For example: in an article published last year in the “Tricycle Magazine” (Spring Edition, 2014; Vol. 23, No. 3), Mr. Erik Braun sketches out a basic historical timeline for this pseudo-buddhistic scandal-of-a-century.
To summarise thus far: what has become known as “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” is an arguably non-canonical technique devised (circa 1900) to inventory all sensibilia presenting in the sentiency-field at every moment of percipience – in order for it all to instead be apprehended, by the affective-cognitive identity within a flesh-and-blood body, as an ever-changing flow of sensorial impressions – which later became categorised as “bare attention” by Mr. Siegmund Feniger.
‘Tis just as well he explains the technique known as “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” as being, basically, a passive witnessing of all sensibilia presenting in the sentiency-field at every moment of percipience, via a bare registering of all such sensorial impressions, because the distinction being drawn betwixt the regular experiencing of all sensibilia and this (supposedly) liberative experiencing of all sensibilia as “an ever-changing flow of sensorial impressions” simply by means of conducting an inventory of the regular experiencing of all sensibilia rather eluded me at first sight.
Essentially, then, “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” is predicated on the affective-cognitive identity within not being at all responsive – let alone reactive – to each and every instance of visual-aesthesis, audile-aesthesis, olfactorial-aesthesis, gustatorial-aesthesis, somataesthesis, and mentational-aesthesis.
I am reminded of an auspicious moment in my mid-twenties when attending an end-of-semester faculty-party, in my art-college days, whilst mooching around amongst the milling crowds of college-students and having my attention drawn to a particularly raucous conversation over in one corner wherein the quite-inebriated participants were discussing the pros and cons of decision-making. The general consensus of opinion was that having to be responsible all the time – i.e., making decisions and being accountable for same – sucked big-time (I was what was called a “mature-age student” and the vast majority of the art-students, being in their late teens and having never left school before entering tertiary-level education, were having to fend for themselves for the first time in their lives).
I had happened to stroll on by just as the oldest of the group, a lad of twenty years or thereabouts, was recounting an episode where he and his equally-intoxicated friends had resolved, late one Saturday night at a particularly dissolute party, to declare the next day – a Sunday and thus an obligation-free day – to be a decision-free day as well (and this resolution was to be binding upon all the resolvers). The humorous part of the tale he was recounting – and that auspicious moment signalled earlier – was when, upon awakening nigh-on noontime the next morning, and lazily luxuriating in lying abed at that late hour, it soon became obvious to him that if he were to get up, to get out of bed to answer the ‘calls of nature’ even, it would require a decision being made. So, he lay back abed once more, luxuriating again in lazing the day away (all the while trying to ignore the mounting pressure in his bladder from the indulgences of the night before) until it dawned upon him that he had, albeit inadvertently, just made a decision!
Yes, indeed, by virtue of staying abed, instead of getting up, he had broken the basic rule of their decision-free day inasmuch he had *decided* not to get up and, in fact when looked at more closely, had *decided* to lay back upon the pillows again. And with that he got up in the regular way, and went about his normal daily affairs, along with the sobering realisation that being alive, being here on this planet, meant decisions were, necessarily, part-and-parcel of life itself.
There has been many an occasion, throughout my life, wherein I have recalled overhearing that snippet of a raucous conversation as it is a fact of life that, each moment again, there is a mostly-automatic appraisal of the situation and circumstances such as to determine beneficial outcomes to the current course-of-events whether at leisure or when active. And, as the very word ‘appraisal’ implies judgement, it is actually impossible to be “without ... judgement“ .
Here are Mr. Siegmund Feniger’s words-of-wisdom once again:
The adage “full of pith and wind” cometh to mind, eh?
RESPONDENT: Also, I don’t know how this comes into play, but the results of the vipassana, really are helping me deal with bipolar-nos symptoms (in a remarkably better way than other types of meditation, positive thinking, self-help methods, psychotherapy, medication-regimens, etc).
RICHARD: As the criteria for “Bipolar Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified” (BP-NOS), as classified in DSM-IV (Text-Revision Edition), was readjusted in DSM-V so as to classify a large percentage of the sub-threshold cases under a different disorder, called Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD), it may very well be that, however it is you are experiencing yourself on a day-to-day basis, it need not necessarily be a clinical disorder.
(Then again, of course, it may very well be that it is indeed a clinical disorder, after all, once a revised edition of ‘DSM-V’ is foist upon an unwitting public).
You are aware, are you not, that the world-wide therapeutical business is a multi-trillion dollar industry?
If not, then a brief article published online in May, 2014, entitled “Which Mindfulness?” – in which authors Mr. Robert Buswell and Mr. Donald Lopez. make the point that “the modern understanding of mindfulness differs significantly from what the term has historically meant in Buddhism” – may very well be elucidative in this regard.
That last line of theirs could be paraphrased as – “Armed with this knowledge, Buddhists of the world can unite in the fight against either ‘Bipolar Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS)’ or ‘Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)’ but need not concede that the mindfulness taught by various medical professionals today was somehow taught by the Buddha” – without even missing a beat.
RESPONDENT: This would be okay/ acceptable to me, even if the results were completely
explainable as placebo or scripting. Does this sort of, legitimize my beliefs, in any way?
RICHARD: As the very definition of the placebo-effect specifically excludes the subject knowing it to be a placebo (an inert substance or form of therapy which nevertheless psychosomatically generates beneficial outcomes) – as is the case for the nocebo-effect to work its detrimental outcomes as well – then what you are saying, in effect, is you are gunna keep on believing in it no matter what facts you might be presented with (such as all of the above).
Now, I doubt that there be a official disorder of that nature, tucked-away somewhere in the ever-voluminous DSM (‘twas notebook-sized in the 1950s before pharmaceutical companies began to seriously grease the palms of some of its highly-influential authors), as it would mean something like 99% of the population could be diagnosable under the DSM’s multitudinous categories – instead of the current 50% (half the population) being classifiable – but perhaps you might be inclined to lobby for its inclusion as you do come across as being intent on receiving some kind of pay-off for all the effort you expend on ...um... on disorder maintenance.
What you may be right at home with, however, is affism practice as to be a successful affer is to have turned ‘self’-deceit into a high art-form.
‘Tis only a suggestion, though, as most DhO/ KFD practitioners appear to more at home with the level of ‘self’-deceit required to be a ‘Pragmatic/ Hardcore Dharma’ arahant.
The Third Alternative
(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)
Here is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, surpassing Spiritual Enlightenment and any other Altered State Of Consciousness, and challenging all philosophy, psychiatry, metaphysics (including quantum physics with its mystic cosmogony), anthropology, sociology ... and any religion along with its paranormal theology. Discarding all of the beliefs that have held humankind in thralldom for aeons, the way has now been discovered that cuts through the ‘Tried and True’ and enables anyone to be, for the first time, a fully free and autonomous individual living in utter peace and tranquillity, beholden to no-one.
Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.