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Adhipaññā-sikkhā and bhāvanāpāripūrī

I have an important question for people deeply knowledgeable in Classical Theravāda view and in early Buddhist texts, real connoisseurs.

Would it be right to say from the classical point of view, that for a noble disciple (ariyasāvakassa) well-engaged in the practice of the training in higher wisdom (adhipaññā-sikkhā) (adhipaññā-anuyogam-anuyuttassa) the training in higher conduct (adhisīla-sikkhā) and the training in higher mind/contemplation (adhicitta-sikkhā) come to the fulfilment of development (bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti)?

Would it be correct to say that it is adhipaññā-sikkhā that brings/leads the Noble Eightfold Path, including the first two trainings, to the “fulfilment of cultivation”?

Or, as I assume, it is incorrect, and the adhipaññā-sikkhā comes to bhāvanāpāripūrī only on the basis of the perfectly fulfilled two first trainings?

Yes that’s correct. There is a causal sequence between sila and samadhi (AN 11.1, 2). This is also seen in the Buddha-to-be’s investigation leading to awakening, and the practitioner must similarly observe the results of thoughts/actions:

"And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with sensuality arose in me. I discerned that ‘Thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, pomotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.’

[…]

“And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with renunciation arose in me. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with renunciation has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, & leads to Unbinding.”

The relationship between samadhi and panna is more complex:

“The experience of absorption is one of intense pleasure and happiness, brought about by purely mental means, which thereby automatically eclipses any pleasure arising in dependence on material objects. Thus absorption functions as a powerful antidote to sensual desires by divesting them of their former attraction.”—-Analayo

Greed and hatred are emotional defilements which require tranquillity for their removal. However defeating ignorance requires the development of right view (AN 2.30). This accounts for there being two links in the wisdom component of the noble eightfold path, right view and right thought.

Tranquillity is essential to quieten the mind making it a suitable subject for observation with insight. In that state the action of the hindrances can be examined, exposed and removed. Concentration also gives the focussing power necessary to perform that operation.

“At the cognitive level, which is its most basic sphere of operation, ignorance infiltrates our perceptions, thoughts, and views, so that we come to misconstrue our experience, overlaying it with multiple strata of delusions. The most important of these delusions are three: the delusions of seeing permanence in the impermanent, of seeing satisfaction in the unsatisfactory, and of seeing a self in the selfless.[66] Thus we take ourselves and our world to be solid, stable, enduring entities, despite the ubiquitous reminders that everything is subject to change and destruction. We assume we have an innate right to pleasure, and direct our efforts to increasing and intensifying our enjoyment with an anticipatory fervor undaunted by repeated encounters with pain, disappointment, and frustration. And we perceive ourselves as self-contained egos, clinging to the various ideas and images we form of ourselves as the irrefragable truth of our identity.”

“Whereas ignorance obscures the true nature of things, wisdom removes the veils of distortion, enabling us to see phenomena in their fundamental mode of being with the vivacity of direct perception. The training in wisdom centers on the development of insight (vipassana-bhavana), a deep and comprehensive seeing into the nature of existence which fathoms the truth of our being in the only sphere where it is directly accessible to us, namely, in our own experience. Normally we are immersed in our experience, identified with it so completely that we do not comprehend it. We live it but fail to understand its nature. Due to this blindness experience comes to be misconstrued, worked upon by the delusions of permanence, pleasure, and self.”—Bikkhu Bodhi

Perceptions are the result of formed views. Changing views through investigation of thoughts/actions and their effects changes perceptions. In this delusion is supported by conventional reality, so independence needs to be cultivated.

Hi paul1, thank you very much for your reply!

My problem is that I don’t see how the pure paññā/adhipaññā/vipassanā practice, even that of sukkha-vipassanā-yāna, brings to fulfilment the adhisīla-sikkhā. It is possible to imagine that adhipaññā develops adhicitta, as in the post-Visuddhimagga ṭīkas insight practice is said to itself engender the khaṇika-samādhi. But I don’t see how insight develops the conduct (sīla) within a canonical framework.

It is always said that wisdom/insight practice is developed on the basis of purified conduct.

AN 4:136 (cp. AN 4:137) says that there exists one that is complete in neither training, one that is complete in sīla, one that is complete in sīla and samādhi, and one that is complete in all three trainings.

I don’t think that it is insight that develops/fulfils the sīla training here…

But I can see how that would be possible in the Mahāyāna framework, esp. in prajñāpāramitā practice.

Cp. in that regard too:

Aṅguttara Nikāya 4
14. Puggalavagga
137. Dutiyasīlasutta Variant: Dutiyasīlasutta → garupuggalasuttaṁ (bj)
“Cattārome, bhikkhave, puggalā santo saṁvijjamānā lokasmiṁ. Katame cattāro?

Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo na sīlagaru hoti na sīlādhipateyyo, na samādhigaru hoti na samādhādhipateyyo, na paññāgaru hoti na paññādhipateyyo.
Idha pana, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo sīlagaru hoti sīlādhipateyyo, na samādhigaru hoti na samādhādhipateyyo, na paññāgaru hoti na paññādhipateyyo.
Idha pana, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo sīlagaru hoti sīlādhipateyyo, samādhigaru hoti samādhādhipateyyo, na paññāgaru hoti na paññādhipateyyo.
Idha pana, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo sīlagaru hoti sīlādhipateyyo, samādhigaru hoti samādhādhipateyyo, paññāgaru hoti paññādhipateyyo.
Ime kho, bhikkhave, cattāro puggalā santo saṁvijjamānā lokasmin”ti.

  1. Ethics (2nd)
    “Mendicants, these four people are found in the world. What four?

One person doesn’t value or submit to ethics, immersion, or wisdom.
One person values and submits to ethics, but not to immersion or wisdom.
One person values and submits to ethics and immersion, but not wisdom.
One person values and submits to ethics, immersion, and wisdom.
These are the four people found in the world.”

That would mean that sīla is not fulifilled by paññā.

That’s because experience is separate from theory, words can only go so far. When there is the observation that developing sila results in a consequential increase in samadhi, piti, and viveka, it is a strong experiential motivation to develop and maintain sila.

The words in this sutta represent obtainable experiences:

""And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with renunciation arose in me. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with renunciation has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, & leads to Unbinding. "—MN 19

Development of panna becomes a matter of understanding the progressive development of right view and the necessary duality of calm and insight:

"Before we turn to the development of wisdom, it will be helpful to inquire why concentration is not adequate to the attainment of liberation. Concentration does not suffice to bring liberation because it fails to touch the defilements at their fundamental level. The Buddha teaches that the defilements are stratified into three layers: the stage of latent tendency, the stage of manifestation, and the stage of transgression. The most deeply grounded is the level of latent tendency (anusaya), where a defilement merely lies dormant without displaying any activity. The second level is the stage of manifestation (pariyutthana), where a defilement, through the impact of some stimulus, surges up in the form of unwholesome thoughts, emotions, and volitions. Then, at the third level, the defilement passes beyond a purely mental manifestation to motivate some unwholesome action of body or speech. Hence this level is called the stage of transgression (vitikkama).

The three divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path provide the check against this threefold layering of the defilements. The first, the training in moral discipline, restrains unwholesome bodily and verbal activity and thus prevents defilements from reaching the stage of transgression. The training in concentration provides the safeguard against the stage of manifestation. It removes already manifest defilements and protects the mind from their continued influx. But even though concentration may be pursued to the depths of full absorption, it cannot touch the basic source of affliction — the latent tendencies lying dormant in the mental continuum. Against these concentration is powerless, since to root them out calls for more than mental calm. What it calls for, beyond the composure and serenity of the unified mind, is wisdom (pañña), a penetrating vision of phenomena in their fundamental mode of being.

Wisdom alone can cut off the latent tendencies at their root because the most fundamental member of the set, the one which nurtures the others and holds them in place, is ignorance (avijja), and wisdom is the remedy for ignorance. Though verbally a negative, “unknowing,” ignorance is not a factual negative, a mere privation of right knowledge. It is, rather, an insidious and volatile mental factor incessantly at work inserting itself into every compartment of our inner life. It distorts cognition, dominates volition, and determines the entire tone of our existence."—Bikkhu Bodhi

"When tranquillity is developed, what purpose does it serve? The mind is developed. And when the mind is developed, what purpose does it serve? Passion is abandoned.

“When insight is developed, what purpose does it serve? Discernment is developed. And when discernment is developed, what purpose does it serve? Ignorance is abandoned.”—AN 2.30