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Ajahn Sumedho's quote about the Unconditioned


#61

The Atthakavagga is my favourite read. I would ask is this one of the earliest texts?


#62

I think your Q is quite a bit off topic, but very quickly, to the best of my knowledge, yes (and also, yes, my favourite, too, I think). You might find Bhante Sujato & Ajahn Brahmali’s The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts of use if you want to follow the point further, or perhaps start another thread. :slight_smile:


#63

Could you please list the 4 Great Standards


#64
  1. "Bhikkhus, whatever I have not objected to, saying, ‘This is not allowable,’ if it fits in with what is not allowable, if it goes against what is allowable, that is not allowable for you.

  2. "Whatever I have not objected to, saying, ‘This is not allowable,’ if it fits in with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not allowable, that is allowable for you.

  3. "And whatever I have not permitted, saying, ‘This is allowable,’ if it fits in with what is not allowable, if it goes against what is allowable, that is not allowable for you.

  4. “And whatever I have not permitted, saying, ‘This is allowable,’ if it fits in with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not allowable, that is allowable for you.”

These are Vinaya rulings, but as far as I remember from Suttas, they are also applicable to new teachings.


#65

Thank you :smile:


#66

Could you explain this 4 great standards in terms of OP?


#67

Okay, so I found the Four Great Standards as applied to the Dhamma in DN 16 (it can also be interesting for @mpac )

Four Great Standards for Dhammic Teachings

There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus (monks) and said, “I will teach you, bhikkhus, these four Great Standards. -Listen! Pay attention! I will speak.”

Yes, Bhante (Venerable Sir),” replied the bhikkhus. The -Blessed One said:

  1. “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu may say, ‘In the presence of the Blessed One himself have I heard this, in his presence have I learned this. This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya (Monastic Discipline), this is the teaching of the Master.’

The word spoken, bhikkhus, by that bhikkhu should neither be rejoiced at nor scorned. Without rejoicing and without scorn the words and syllables should be carefully learned and checked to see if they are included in the sutta (discourse) or seen in the Vinaya. If when so doing they are not included in the sutta, and are not seen in the Vinaya, then you may come to the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly learned by that bhikkhu.’ So, bhikkhus, you should reject it.

“But if they are included in the sutta, and are seen in the Vinaya, then you may come to the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well learned by that bhikkhu.’ This, bhikkhus, you should bear in mind as the first Great Standard.

  1. “Here again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu may say, ‘In such and such a monastery there is a Sangha with its theras (elders) and leaders. In the presence of that Sangha have I heard this, in its presence have I learned this. This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the teaching of the Master.’

The word spoken, bhikkhus, by that bhikkhu should neither be rejoiced at nor scorned. Without praise and without scorn the words and syllables should be carefully learned and checked to see if they are included in the sutta or seen in the Vinaya. If when so doing they are not included in the sutta, and are not seen in the Vinaya, then you may come to the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly learned by that Sangha.’ So, bhikkhus, you should reject it.

“But if they are included in the sutta, and are seen in the -Vinaya, then you may come to the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well learned by that Sangha.’ This, bhikkhus, you should bear in mind as the second Great Standard.

  1. “Here again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu may say, ‘In such and such a monastery there are dwelling many theras, learned, holders of the traditional teachings, bearers of the Dhamma, bearers of the Vinaya, bearers of the summaries. In the presence of those theras have I heard this, in their presence have I learned this. This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the teaching of the Master.’

“The word spoken, bhikkhus, by that bhikkhu should neither be rejoiced at nor scorned. Without rejoicing and without scorn the words and syllables should be carefully learned and checked to see if they are included in the sutta or seen in the Vinaya. If when so doing they are not included in the sutta, and are not seen in the Vinaya, then you may come to the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly learned by those theras.’ So, bhikkhus, you should reject it.

“But if they are included in the sutta, and are seen in the -Vinaya, then you may come to the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well learned by those theras.’ This, bhikkhus, you should bear in mind as the third Great Standard.

  1. “Here again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu may say, ‘In such and such a monastery there dwells a thera, learned, holder of the traditional teachings, bearer of the Dhamma, bearer of the Vinaya, bearer of the summaries. In the presence of that thera have I heard this, in his presence have I learned this. This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the teaching of the Master.’

“The word spoken, bhikkhus, by that bhikkhu should neither be rejoiced at nor scorned. Without rejoicing and without scorn the words and syllables should be carefully learned and checked to see if they are included in the sutta or seen in the Vinaya. If when so doing they are not included in the sutta, and are not seen in the Vinaya, then you may come to the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly learned by that thera.’ So, bhikkhus, you should reject it.

“But if they are included in the Sutta, and are seen in the Vinaya, then you may come to the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well learned by that thera.’ This, bhikkhus, you should bear in mind as the fourth Great Standard. These, bhikkhus, are the Four Great Standards.”

I think in that particular case Standard 4 applies.


#68

Good reference but it does not support the claims of Ajahn Sumedho’s quote.
I have read Pali, English and Sinhala translations all three.


#69

To apply those to the teachings may be a stretch as the four standards are presented in the very specific context of minor rules.


#70

I provided the formulation of the Four Great Standards in a later comment that can be pretty unambiguously applied to Dhamma talks =-)


#71

Yep, the four standards of the mahavagga apply to what is allowable (kappiya) or not.

The four standards of DN16 are the right ones to refer to and can be better understood by looking at the qualities of the true Dhamma-Vinaya taught to Gotami in AN8.53:

“As for the qualities of which you may know,
‘These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion;
to being unfettered, not to being fettered;
to shedding, not to accumulating;
to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement;
to contentment, not to discontent;
to seclusion, not to entanglement;
to aroused persistence, not to laziness;
to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome’: You may categorically hold,
‘This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’”

I am sure that in the context of the Dhamma talk Luangpor Sumedho had in mind inspiring if not all at least some of those qualities in others.

Interestingly, it is not rare to find defiled individuals quoting and referring to Buddha’s words in ways that inspires exact opposite qualities of for example discontent, self-aggrandizement and even accumulation in both them and others! :tired_face:


#72

This is taken from the introduction to “Frames of Reference” by Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/frames.html

This book on the frames of reference is based to some extent on my own thoughts and opinions. In some spots it may not be directly in line with the original texts, because my primary aim has been to get to the heart of the matter so that it can be conveniently put into practice. Those who hold zealously to the texts may feel that what I have written is wrong; but as for me, I feel that whoever is able to practice in line with what is written here will find that it can be taken as a guide to the true principles of concentration, discernment, and release. To hold to the texts isn’t wrong, but they should be held to discerningly, just as in medicine: A doctor who thinks that the only way to cure a fever is to drink a concoction of boiled neem and quinine leaves is wrong. Some doctors may add the leaves of other trees and make it into a powder; some may make a concentrated extract; others may vary the dosage. In the same way, when practicing the Dhamma, to go no further than the texts may in some cases be wrong. Actually, any path that abandons defilement and brings relief from suffering is right. The value of medicine lies in its ability to cure disease; the value of a method of practice lies in its ability to abandon defilement. As far as I can see, there is nothing wrong with any method that has been found to work. In the end, all such methods must follow the basic principles of virtue, concentration, and discernment, and differ only as to whether they are crude or sophisticated, direct or indirect, fast or slow.

I guess some would not agree with the this. In my opinion the above could be applied to much of the teaching that was/is given by Ajahns of the Thai forest tradition. Ajahn Sumedho is not teaching a theory. He is teaching a way of practice.


#73

Apply the Four Great Standards from DN 16 to this quote, and you will see that they don’t really work well together. If we believe them to be the Buddha’s word, it is then his word against that of Ven. Dhammadharo.

I have two objections to this. First, imagine you came to a driving school and your teacher tells you: ‘Now you should drive on the boardwalk at 50 mph’, and when you are trying to say it is actually against the traffic laws, he smiles at you knowingly and says in a trust inspiring voice, ‘I am not teaching a theory, I am teaching a way of practice.’ Second, it is fine to practice in a way that is not described by Suttas word for word, as long as this practice is rooted in the Right View. However, when someone says something that doesn’t align well with the Right View, i.e. makes a theoretical statement that sounds odd, it makes sense to compare it to the existing body of theory and throw it away of it if it doesn’t fit in. I think Ven. Sumedho’s words discussed in this thread can hardly be described as referring to practice :grinning:


#74

Well said!


#75

To me some of the Thai Forest teachers sound more Zen than Theravada.


#76

Yes, that makes sense, emptiness in the sense of the absence of things ( ie sunna ). I recall that Ajahn Sumedho gave a talk on noticing ( physical ) space, which is analogous to the “space” of the mind.


#77

Hi @Vstakan

I can accept both The Buddha’s word’s & Ajahn Lee’s words as having value. :slightly_smiling_face:

And in my opinion Ajahn Sumedho’s words are very much about the style of practice that he teaches. The talk was given during a monastic meditation retreat (I believe). Ajahn Sumedho’s style of teaching is very much about offering ideas for reflection/contemplation (practice) rather than explanation of Sutta and technical quandaries (to study). A common theme for Ajahn Sumedho’s teaching is paying attention to the space in which objects appear. Rather than the object.

In my opinion a capital U, for unconditioned, should not have been used. :smile:


#78

Do you know what he hopes to achieve with this?

This reminds me of the zen koans which direct the mind to emptiness (rather than nibbana). Having a vacant mind is given value, beyond what the Buddha intended- he might as well have ended his search with Alarakalama his first teacher.

with metta


#79

Only if Ajahn Lee referred to practice, not theory. Then I am totally fine with it and actually think this is valuable advice. If he meant theory as well, then well, his words are directly contradicting these of the Buddha, and the Ajahn loses out.

I don’t know, I think they were not referring to practice itself but were rather used as a concluding remark for the discourse taken from the theoretical framework. I find the Dhamma talk itself quite good and I don’t really have any objections to the practical part, but I think this concluded remark is unskilful and rather poorly formulated, that’s it.


#80

I think a couple of possibilities would be to create a different perspective and allow the possibility for observation/reflection. Also to create stillness of the mind and concentration.