Beyond the Noble Eightfold Path

"And what is ignorance, what is the origin of ignorance, what is the cessation of ignorance and what is the way that leads to the cessation of ignorance? Not knowing about suffering, not knowing about the origin of suffering, not knowing about the cessation of suffering and not knowing about the path that leads to the cessation of suffering - this is called ignorance. With the emergence of corruption is the origin of ignorance. With the cessation of corruption there is the cessation of ignorance. The path that leads to the cessation of ignorance is no more than this Noble Eightfold Path; This is correct understanding … right concentration.

"When a noble disciple has thus understood ignorance, the origin of ignorance, the cessation of ignorance and the path leading to the cessation of ignorance … he, here and now, puts an end to suffering. In that way also a noble disciple is of right understanding … and has come to this true Dhamma. "

It is obvious that here “ignorance” is defined as the specific ignorance about the origin, the cessation and the way of the cessation of suffering. And notice, he says very clearly, “when a noble (enlightened) disciple has understood ignorance” (not otherwise, only of that specific form) ends the suffering. And it is logical, if he has succeeded by the noble octuple way to eradicate the suffering is because he has necessarily understood the mechanism.

That’s exactly what I’m saying. This “ignorance” is the “not knowing” about the mechanism of suffering, it is not the Ignorance that when removed makes Citta merges with Nibbāna, thus representing the end of conditionality.

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Thanks for your reply. May I ask, what do you take the latter form of ignorance to be ignorant of?

It is only the big questions that bother me. How did a mindless physical universe produce sentience ?!?! I try not to sweat the small stuff.:grin:

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In the same way, whenever the word ‘enlightenment’ is used in a Buddhist context it means a very specific form of enlightenment.

Actually, on second thoughts, y’all posts raise a number of issues.
The Buddha and Arahants with the superpowers. It is interesting how there seems to be two Buddhisms in the suttas. One which is purely ethical and psychological, dealing with dukkha and its cessation; and another that is decidedly more supernatural and includes endless rebirths, a cosmic moral law of kamma, and superpowers:
the six higher knowledges:

He wields manifold supranormal powers. Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one. He appears. He vanishes. He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, and mountains as if through space. He dives in and out of the earth as if it were water. He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land. Sitting cross-legged he flies through the air like a winged bird. With his hand he touches and strokes even the sun and moon, so mighty and powerful. He exercises influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds. DN.2

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Avijja in the texts means ignorance, and as ignorance permeates all the conditionality, all the Samsara have avijja for everything. The concepts are ignorance, paññati is avijja

I’m sorry, I do not understand. You can be more specific?

Yes, the avijja the Buddha is talking about is, as I understand it, not the basic lack of complete knowledge of everything there is that could be known. It is the fundamental confusion and deluded perception that clouds our vision, smears our perception of the world with defilement and prevents us from seeing the things we encounter as they are.

For example, we initially see various skin-bags of bones, fat, organs and excrement as beautiful and sexy. We see things that are falling apart as stable and secure refuges. We see the mortal as immortal, the painful as pleasant, and the foul as attractive. And we experience our true refuge of unconditioned peace and the way to it as boring or frightening. This deluded apprehension of things conditions all of our cravings and attachments. As we move toward liberation and purification, we increasingly see the things we experience as they are.

But that doesn’t mean that when we are fully liberated, we magically acquire knowledge of worldly things and beings we don’t experience. Knowledge of the world is still conditioned by our senses and human intellectual faculties, which are themselves conditioned things.

If people are pursuing bodhi because they think that when they get it they are finally going to know all of the ins and outs of quantum mechanics, or the origin of the cosmic background radiation, or what happened to grandma when she died, or what’s under the frozen surface of Europa, or who’s going to win the world cup, then I think they have confused worldly knowledge with the supramundane wisdom of the fully liberated being.

I was asking about what you called: “Ignorance that when removed makes Citta merges with Nibbāna”.

If this is not non-knowledge with respect to the four truths, then what is it non-knowledge of?

Yes, those big questions torment me too. But I don’t think the Buddha’s path leads to an answer to them. He promised a path to the end of the torment, not a path to the answer to the questions that are currently causing the torment.

I think it’s exactly like this: One might be tormented by sexual craving for various people of one’s acquaintance. The Buddha taught a path toward the complete and utter cessation of those, and other, cravings. He didn’t teach a path that ends with some orgy in which all of your sexual cravings are gratified.

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It seems, according to the suttas, that we will know that after attaining bodhi. We will possess the six higher knowledge. It certainly seems to be a super-natural claim.
It is interesting how there seems to be two Buddhisms in the suttas. One which is purely ethical and psychological, dealing with dukkha and its cessation; and another that is decidedly more supernatural and includes endless rebirths, a cosmic moral law of kamma, and superpowers.
The first of the six higher knowledges:

He wields manifold supranormal powers. Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one. He appears. He vanishes. He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, and mountains as if through space. He dives in and out of the earth as if it were water. He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land. Sitting cross-legged he flies through the air like a winged bird. With his hand he touches and strokes even the sun and moon, so mighty and powerful. He exercises influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds. DN.2

and

He sees — by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: ‘These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, and mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, and mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.’

This is not certain. Some arahanths do not have psychic powers (see sutta below). I think this has led to the two types of Buddhisms you are channeling. This is partially similar to the wisdom-release (panna vimutti) and released in both ways (ubhato vimutti) arahanths whose skill in jhana is likely to be different. This could be reflected in their psychic abilities though this isn’t stated clearly. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.070.than.html

I understand that these powers can be developed by those who have jhana, especially the fourth jhana and not limited to Buddhism. Only the knowledge of ending fermentations is exclusively Buddhist.

However if you develop these abilities you may well be able to see your past lives and the effects of kamma.

Future predictions are not part of these powers, please note. So it’s no good with the lottery!

A monk from the Sri Lankan forest tradition Ven Premasiri told me that the practice leading to full enlightenment is like is like laying down the wiring required for these abilities.

Rightly or wrongly, in meditation circles stories of such abilities are common but are heard rarely outside.

It’s not that one Buddhism is more spiritual (incidentally kamma and rebirth cannot be excluded from EBTs nor the other more fantastic material). It’s that when these things start manifesting the view of what is ‘reality’ changes to something which can accommodate that as well. There is no reason to change one’s view about it prematurely. Belief in these things is not essential for the path

With metta

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I will answer you in another way.
The first step in eradicating suffering is to understand the four noble truths, as you eradicate ignorance of the four noble truths.
That is achieved when you are only an apprentice, a sotapanna.
After understanding them, which is not very difficult for a sotapanna, comes to apply them. In three months of applying the noble octuple way eradicates attachment and aversion and therefore all suffering, both physical and mental.
So far everything is very easy. Now … what now? I have not suffered since October and there is no other way here. This is over, there is no more.
The Buddha renounced virtue to achieve enlightenment (MN 85) will have to do the same. It is clear that the worst attachment is attachment to virtue.

He did not teach, but he did not condemn them. If sexual cravings (or of any other type) appear only at the door of the mind, sensuality does not bind.

I’m not sure what it means to say a craving exists only at the door of the mind, but if it does not bind, then it is not a “craving”.

In any case, the Buddha’s attitude toward sexual intercourse is unremittingly disparaging.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.4.07.than.html

I have known manic patients not have mental and physical suffering for months on end, Four Noble Truths being optional. Of course all enlightened beings have physical suffering. The former have euphoria and joy. They overestimate their achievements and have a out of control libido. They also have little sleep. They have heightened energy and might write excessively.

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"In any case, the Buddha’s attitude towards sexual intercourse is unremittingly disparaging"
Do not.
I have not found any of that. Whenever he refers to “sex” he joins it to the word “wrong”, that is, the Buddha only speaks of “wrong sex”. From the other, “non-wrong sex” never says anything.
And there is mental love and mental pleasure and mental joy and mental happiness and mental drunkenness … and it was what he used to free himself. He gave up virtue to free himself. So what’s up?

(The sutta nipata is not canonical, I do not consider what is written by a medieval monk)

The Atthakavagga (from which the passage I cited is taken) and Parayanavagga are considered by most scholars to belong to the very oldest strata in the canon, since they are referred to internally by other texts in the four main nikayas, and also on the basis of stylistic considerations. Their settings and teachings seem to pertain to a time before there was an organized sangha with an elaborate formal discipline.

But there are many other places where we see the Buddha’s thoroughly negative attitude toward sexual intercourse on display. For example:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.050.than.html

The Buddha left his home to live a celibate, holy life. He enjoined that way of life on his followers who were earnest about seeking the same goal he had achieved. It is unclear whether he thought a lay householder could attain nibbana, but it seems quite clear that he did not think they could attain the higher stages of spiritual development on the path to nibbana without renouncing sexual activity. Sexual desire is in itself an anxious, mind-clouding and dissatisfied state. So it must be abandoned somehow in order to achieve the unperturbed peace of nibbana.

Anyone who takes the eight precepts knows that included among those precepts is the refraining from any intentional sexual activity. Of course, as unenlightened humans, sexual fantasies will enter our minds, and their usual bodily responses will often follow. To progress on the path, one should endeavor to counteract and let go of the fantasies, which will naturally pacify the body.

Of course, there is no moral law that says one must do this. The Buddha didn’t say we were morally required to end our own suffering. But he taught that a path toward that goal existed for one who wants to attain it. And if we don’t pursue that path, we will have more suffering. Mara will ensnare us, our minds will become clouded, and we’ll be dragged back into the whirlpool of craving and “wandering on” that constitute ordinary life.

There is no place where the Buddha taught about “right intercourse”. Nor did he teach sentimental nostrums along the lines of “Sex is good and wonderful, as long as the the two people love each other!” Nor did he teach that we had a duty to “be fruitful and multiply” in order to carry forth the divine creation.

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Not correct. In DN2, The Buddha clearly and unequivocally supports a life of celibacy:

“Having abandoned incelibacy, he leads the holy life of celibacy. He dwells aloof and abstains from the vulgar practice of sexual intercourse. This too pertains to his moral discipline.
https://suttacentral.net/en/dn2/87

Just read the sections on moral virtue in DN2 .

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Ah, you believe you’re an arahant. Explains a lot.

Not at all. I just do not suffer. Nothing else. And I have my own formula to do it (that and 108 other things) and the people who practice it are not difficult and it only takes three months.
What I still see is that the Buddha does not tell what he is …
So I continue exploring on my own, here is no way out.
Any ideas are appreciated …