(Accidentally hit the create topic button earlier before I could finish so had to delete the thread and recreate it)
As a fan of both groups, I’ve been thinking of what makes them different. Feel free to share your thoughts as well.
In general, Buddhadasa is more about interrupting paticcasamuppada from unfolding whereas Hillside is more about understanding the dependency of things, idappaccayatā, which results in viewing experiential phenomena properly (in the proper context).
Buddhadasa is about catching intentions (and by extension actions) arise at the moment of contact, and this is considered mindfulness and seeing paticcasamuppada and no-self. Acting and reacting automatically without seeing causation is a product of attavada view and habit and is heedlessness.
Buddhadasa uses MN 38 often to support his interpretation
When they know a thought with their mind, if it’s pleasant they desire it, but if it’s unpleasant they dislike it. They live with mindfulness of the body unestablished and their heart restricted.
No mindfulness = feeling > hindrance instant reaction
Mindfulness stops instant reaction, which breaks the cycle of paticcasamuppada
When they see a sight with their eyes, if it’s pleasant they don’t desire it, and if it’s unpleasant they don’t dislike it. They live with mindfulness of the body established and a limitless heart. And they truly understand the freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom where those arisen bad, unskillful qualities cease without anything left over.
Having given up favoring and opposing, when they experience any kind of feeling—pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral—they don’t approve, welcome, or keep clinging to it. As a result, relishing of feelings ceases. When their relishing ceases, grasping ceases
In contrast Hillside’s interpretation has nothing to do with interrupting paticcasamuppada but about understanding dependency (idappaccayatā) via peripheral attention (yoniso manasikara). Seeing actions in the context of body/mind is peripheral attention (yoniso manasikara) and seeing how things depend on other things and that the things that are caused/the result have no say or control on what caused them. If A caused B, then B has no say over A, thus it is Improper attention and ritualistic thinking to try control A by controlling B. i.e. Thinking your attitude/view can change things as they are (like pain arising in the body) is akin to the tail trying to wag the dog. Seeing that the “body comes first” and not “views” uproots attavada.
Two suttas that support this interpretation is
- Anathapindika correcting outsiders in AN 10.93
When this had been said, Anathapindika the householder said to the wanderers, “As for the venerable one who says, ‘The cosmos is eternal. Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless. This is the sort of view I have,’ his view arises from his own inappropriate attention or in dependence on the words of another. Now this view has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently originated. Whatever has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently originated, that is inconstant. Whatever is inconstant is stress. This venerable one thus adheres to that very stress, submits himself to that very stress.” (Similarly for the other positions.)
i.e. This view is not known directly thus it is born of improper attention. Proper Attention would be to know the body directly and seeing that anything that arises, like views, depends on the body. The body comes first, not views.
- The simile of the 6 animals SN 35.247
Suppose, bhikkhus, a man would catch six animals—with different domains and different feeding grounds—and tie them by a strong rope. He would catch a snake, a crocodile, a bird, a dog, a jackal, and a monkey, and tie each by a strong rope. Having done so, he would tie the ropes together with a knot in the middle and release them. Then those six animals with different domains and different feeding grounds would each pull in the direction of its own feeding ground and domain. The snake would pull one way, thinking, ‘Let me enter an anthill.’ The crocodile would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter the water.’ The bird would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me fly up into the sky.’ The dog would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter a village.’ The jackal would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter a charnel ground.’ The monkey would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter a forest.’
“Now when these six animals become worn out and fatigued, they would be dominated by the one among them that was strongest; they would submit to it and come under its control. So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has not developed and cultivated mindfulness directed to the body, the eye pulls in the direction of agreeable forms and disagreeable forms are repulsive
i.e. when one doesn’t have “peripheral attention” (yoniso manasikara), they’re unaware (unmindful) of the sense organs pulling one towards sense objects, thus they are strapped to the rollercoaster ride that they mistake for themselves (attavada) and suffering must ensue because in reality they are not the sense organs and thus there will be a conflict between “things as they really are” and their attitude. Dukkha is a result of this conflict because one craves what one has no say over and cannot control and thus the only result is suffering.
A metaphor is a prisoner on death row demanding that the prison guards do as he say. Just because they comply doesn’t mean that the prisoner is in control, only that circumstances are favourable, but once the guards receive the order from the judge to execute the prisoner, then it doesn’t matter how much the prisoner yells. Likewise when disease and death overtakes the body, it doesn’t matter how much the attavada yells at the body, the body is the master and always has been.
So what are your thoughts? To me it seems like the Buddhadasa interpretation is more empowering and a bit oversimplified, and the Hillside interpretation is rather frightening and waking up to a harsh reality that people refuse to accept. To me the Hillside interpretation seems to align more with the notion that the dhamma is subtle and hard to see, and “goes against the grain of existence”. However the Buddhadasa interpretation does align more with the “treatment” metaphor described in the suttas, so all one has to do is apply the treatment at the right moment and they can thwart off suffering, whereas the Hillside interpretation requires one to be dragged through Hell enough times to build the mental fortitude to turn away from the aggregates.
Maybe Buddhadasa’s interpretation is more suitable for lay people, and Hillside’s for hardcore practioners.