SuttaCentral

Clear and Defined Path To Nibbana


#1

Hello friends and Monastics,

I am wondering if someone can help me deepen my knowldge of how to travel the path. I have heard from Goenka and Daniel Ingram that it is of utmost importance to feel sensation and be equanamous to these pleasant and unpleasant sensations.

Goenka says that thoughts should be ignored. I see this perspective but I also see that Right Effort is an active doing of abandoning unwholesome and cultivating wholesome mind states.

Bhante Vimalaramsi says that in the 7th and 8th jhanas that vibration becomes very subtle and eventually stops.

So my question is, what level of importance does sensation play in the path? I know that feeling is after contact and before craving in dependent origination and so it is surely important, but is physical sensation feeling more important than mental feeling tone and mental formations?

I am just looking for a clear explanation and step by step description of how to navigate the path to nibbana. Maybe there is a dhamma book or article anyone can recommend.

I know the jhanas are super important as Right Samadhi is defined as the 4 jhanas.

Is physical feeling and knowing anicca the cats meow or is seeing dependent origination where the focus should be placed. Are they intertwined or independent?

The teaching to Bahiya seems to be a different method to me. Just guarding the sense doors and staying with the seeing in the seen, for example. When I do this and stay with the bare seeing with wide vision much peace is realized.

The Metta Sutta seems to elucidate that spreading Loving Kindness in all directions in all postures indiscriminately leads to complete unbinding.

Are these ostensibly different methods or part of the same path?

Any advice and teaching would be most welcomed.

Metta,

Ami


#2

Instead of walking a step here and a step there on the many paths described above, one might instead simply choose the direct path as outlined in a single sutta, the Satipatthana Sutta:

Let alone seven years, … anyone who develops these four kinds of mindfulness meditation in this way for seven days can expect one of two results: enlightenment in the present life, or if there’s something left over, non-return.

:pray:


#3

A Mitta on this site gave me an understanding of feeling that I found helpful. Previously, I believed feeling was mainly about the emotions. I believed the practice of the ‘mindfulness of feeling’ was about attending to our emotions.

I believed sensations were the feelings we have through the body and emotions are part of our mental world. I believed that physical feelings were of-the-body so they were included in the first foundation of mindfulness.

The Mitta said: what is important in the mindfulness of ‘feeling’ is the hedonic tone.

Various feelings come and go and some are pleasant and some are unpleasant, some are neither pleasant or unpleasant.

Awareness of the tone of the feelings is important - whether they are physical or emotional - because it is this tone that can be the basis for the next link in the chain of dependent origination.

If it’s a pleasant feeling we may delight in the feeling and attach to it and, vice versa. We may feel sad or a bit flat when the pleasant passes and, vice versa.

If something completely unexpected and unwelcome happens in our life we may argue with the thoughts and feelings that arise and amplify the suffering.

We don’t come out of the difficulties and uncontrollable nature of existence through denial, suppression or, wishful thinking. If something ‘unexpected’ happens we should actually expect it. This can help us to stop an argument with life before it happens.

We may make the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of the unpleasant - in every shape and form - the rationale of our existence. This is unskilful if we aspire to see things clearly and wake up to the way it is.

It’s only through clear knowledge and vision, unconditional love and compassion that we can unknot the knot. The Buddha taught two things: suffering and the hearts sure release.

Anything that moves us towards this freedom - the :heartbeat: released is the Dhamma. If it’s wholesome and beneficial, know that and be sure of that. You can test it through living in accord with it - see what happens.

If your discovery is the Dhamma it will be your own heart-treasure. If anyone - even the Buddha - were to say this is a mistake, it’s better that you be true to your own knowledge and vision.

If you are sincere and honest in your inquiry you will learn as you go along. It’s OK making mistakes it’s natural and unavoidable. That’s how we learn - isn’t it?

Nobody else can set you free by any technique, formula or blessing.

There’s no need for a set step-by-step formula for practice - it doesn’t work that way. How can we learn from our open minded inquiry if we are just following a formula, conforming blindly to a routine. If somebody has given you this impression and, said you just need to follow their instructions then, that’s unfortunate.

The Sutta on the four foundations of mindfulness (available on this site) might be of value to you in your journey of discovery. In that text it widens the practice beyond feelings and sensations and their hedonic tone. The Buddha did not focus on the feeling-khanda exclusively in his teachings or his methods of training.

It’s good to learn a lot about what the Buddha taught. These teachings are contained in the EBT’s - the earliest texts - and they are available on this site. Then, you can compare what Goenkaji and other teachers have shared with others and ‘find out’ if what they teach is consistent with the insights and methods taught by the Buddha.

It’s best not to follow blindly. The Buddha was a good-friend. When we relate to friends we help each other. We don’t dictate terms and conditions to our friends in the Dhamma.

A good friend who is wise and kind may be able to help us see the Dhamma more clearly. We always know when we are in good company. Know and trust your own good heart - you are bound to be successful. Start again with a kind and clear mind. :slight_smile:


#4

I think you have the right question, but also if there was such a nice and clear explanation most people on the forums wouldn’t bother discussing details, arguing about texts, comparing interpretations etc. Meaning: there is no clear agreed path.

Different teachers have their different approaches, as you know. And that’s basically it. Some of them bother to harmonize it with the suttas, some not so much. But I think most teachers trust their own teacher the most and then also present their understanding of the suttas.

Somehow of course the different approaches are based on sutta material (eightfold path, jhanas, satipatthana, vipassana, anicca, anatta, … …) But it’s not that you have suttas telling you in detail (nor in English :slight_smile: ) which of your sensations and experiences to prioritize and which to neglect.

Within the tasty buffet and colorful bouquet of teachings you’d have to find your own journey, and/or follow the path of a trusted teacher and put the other approaches aside.


#5

How about:

Right release (Samma vimutti) -the experience of Nibbana
<-- requires Right insight (Samma nana), which means seeing 4 noble truths, DO, 5 aggregates, 6 sense bases, 4 elements, three characteristics, etc. through a meditation.
<-- requires Right unification (Samma samadhi) considered as the 4 rupa jhana.
<-- requires Right mindfulness on the four foundations. This also includes overcome the 5 hindrances, and is the start of the practices that allow tranquillity and insight to develop.
<-- requires Right effort, that is the effort to seek out places to meditate, or practice even for a second or a minute, to develop wholesome mental qualities and remove unwholesome mental qualities
<–requires Right livelihood- avoid habitually doing unwholesome acts
<–requires Right speech
<–requires Right intention, to let go, to develop loving-kindness, to stop being cruel even in the subtlest way.
<–requires Right view, of the depth of the problem of suffering (not just failed exams), the cause of suffering (not just not meditating enough), understanding of the Goal, understanding of the Path to the Goal. Understanding the problem of the three poisons- craving, aversion and delusion.
Faith, finding kalyanamittas who can help, practicing generosity and other divine abodes all come into the picture.
Take it easy, read the suttas so that you know intuitively what the Buddha said too.

with metta


#6

vedana, as the 2nd of 4 establishings of sati, has both a mental and physical component, but never forget it originates from the physical body,
(3-fold vedana explicitly said to arise from anatomical body)

evameva kho, bhikkhave,
just like that, monks,
imasmiṃ kāyasmiṃ vividhā vedanā uppajjanti.
(in) this body, various feelings arise.
sukhāpi vedanā uppajjati,
pleasant feeling arises,
dukkhāpi vedanā uppajjati,
painful feeling arises,
a-dukkham-a-sukhāpi vedanā uppajjati.
neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling arises;

easy way to remember vedana anupassana from 4sp (satipatthana)

1. kāya is the anatomical body, as MN 119 makes exceedingly clear. 3. citta is the mind. #2, vedana, sandwiched between the two, straddles both anatomical body and mind. I don't think "hedonic tone" is quite accurate, so I prefer to go by the sutta definition:

SN 48.37 dutiya-vibhaṅga-suttaṃ

SN 48.37 dutiya-vibhaṅga-suttaṃ
SN 48.37 second-analysis [of 5 faculties] -discourse
“pañc'-imāni, bhikkhave, indriyāni.
“[There are] five-(of)-these, ***********, faculties.
katamāni pañca?
which five?
sukh'-indriyaṃ,
(the) pleasure-faculty.
dukkh'-indriyaṃ,
(the) pain-faculty.
so-manass'-indriyaṃ,
(the) good-mental-[state]-faculty.
do-manass'-indriyaṃ,
(the) bad-mental-[state]-faculty.
upekkh'-indriyaṃ —
(the) equanimity-faculty.

(sukha indriya = physical pleasure)

“katamañca, bhikkhave, sukh'-indriyaṃ?
“what, ************, (is the) pleasure-faculty?
yaṃ kho, bhikkhave,
Whatever ***, ************,
kāyikaṃ sukhaṃ,
bodily pleasure,
kāyikaṃ sātaṃ,
bodily satisfaction,
kāya-samphassajaṃ sukhaṃ sātaṃ vedayitaṃ —
Bodily-contact-produced pleasurable satisfying feeling –
idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sukh'-indriyaṃ.
that (is) called, *********, pleasure-faculty.

(dukkha indriya = physical pain)

“katamañca, bhikkhave, dukkh'-indriyaṃ?
“what, ************, (is the) pain-faculty?
yaṃ kho, bhikkhave,
Whatever ***, ************,
kāyikaṃ dukkhaṃ,
bodily pain,
kāyikaṃ a-sātaṃ,
bodily dis-satisfaction,
kāya-samphassajaṃ dukkhaṃ a-sātaṃ vedayitaṃ —
Bodily-contact-produced painful un-satisfying feeling –
idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, dukkh'-indriyaṃ.
that (is) called, *********, pain-faculty.

(so-manssa indriya = mental happiness)

“katamañca, bhikkhave, so-manass-indriyaṃ?
“what, ************, (is the) good-mental-[state]-faculty?
yaṃ kho, bhikkhave,
Whatever ***, ************,
cetasikaṃ sukhaṃ,
mental pleasure,
cetasikaṃ sātaṃ,
mental satisfaction,
mano-samphassajaṃ sukhaṃ sātaṃ vedayitaṃ —
mind-contact-produced pleasurable satisfying feeling –
idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, so-manass-indriyaṃ.
that (is) called, *********, good-mental-[state]-faculty.

(do-manssa indriya = mental un-happiness)

“katamañca, bhikkhave, do-manass-indriyaṃ?
“what, ************, (is the) bad-mental-[state]-faculty?
yaṃ kho, bhikkhave,
Whatever ***, ************,
cetasikaṃ dukkhaṃ,
mental pain,
cetasikaṃ a-sātaṃ,
mental dis-satisfaction,
mano-samphassajaṃ dukkhaṃ a-sātaṃ vedayitaṃ —
mind-contact-produced painful dis-satisfying feeling –
idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, do-manass-indriyaṃ.
that (is) called, *********, bad-mental-[state]-faculty.

(upekkha indriya = both physical and mental equanimity)

“katamañca, bhikkhave, upekkh’-indriyaṃ?
“what, ************, (is the) equanimity-faculty?
yaṃ kho, bhikkhave,
Whatever ***, ************,
kāyikaṃ vā cetasikaṃ vā
bodily or mental **
n’eva-sātaṃ n’ā-sātaṃ vedayitaṃ —
Neither-satisfying nor-non-satisfying-feeling –
idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, upekkh'-indriyaṃ.
that (is) called, *********, equanimity-faculty.

(sukha vedana = sukha indriya + so-manssa indriya,. Similar for dukkha)

(this sutta exactly the same as previous sutta SN 48.36, replacing last line with this ending)
“tatra, bhikkhave,
“Therein, monks,
yañca sukh-indriyaṃ yañca so-manass-indriyaṃ,
the pleasure-faculty and-the good-mental-[state]-faculty,
sukhā sā vedanā daṭṭhabbā.
{should be seen as} pleasant ** feeling
tatra, bhikkhave,
“Therein, monks,
yañca dukkh-indriyaṃ yañca do-manass-indriyaṃ,
The pain-faculty and-the bad-mental-[state]-faculty,
dukkhā sā vedanā daṭṭhabbā.
{should be seen as} painful ** feeling.
tatra, bhikkhave,
“Therein, monks,
yadidaṃ upekkh-indriyaṃ,
the equanimity-faculty,
A-dukkham-a-sukhā sā vedanā daṭṭhabbā.
{should be seen as} neither-painful-nor-pleasant ** feeling.
imāni kho, bhikkhave, pañc’-indriyānī”ti.
these indeed, ***********, [are the] five-faculties.”

#7

I highly recommend that route as well. Even if you theoretically have many teachers on the internet and from various books teaching a valid interpretation of Dhamma, it’s likely to cause problems when you mix and match.


#8

Good teachers point out how a student can make their own discoveries. There’s no set formula for bringing this about. It varies according to the individual practitioner.

An ungifted teacher will simply tell a student what they need to do and, warn against the dangers of open inquiry and experimentation.

They encourage their students to rigidly conform to the methods they teach and they instill fear in their students and, tell them, if they stray from their technique they will be lost and confused. Something terrible will happen!

In this sorry state of affairs the Dhamma is reduced to a form of mimicry and blind conformity.

From what I have learned about the Buddha’s teachings and, as a consequence of practicing a few different set techniques and approaches taught by different teachers and lineages, it would be unwise to encourage anyone to simply submit to a teachers instructions and interpretation of the Dhamma.

I have encountered cult-like groups who claim they have received a special dispensation, a special technique and understanding that makes them the true heirs of the Dhamma.

A mystique is created around a teacher, a teacher may have a belief in their own self-importance. This unfortunate state of affairs is far removed from the kind of open and critical inquiry taught by the Buddha.

Teachers like this may say to their gullible and credulous students that they should listen to them exclusively and avoid mixing their special technique with others.

On further investigation, it turns out that their special technique is commonplace. It’s used in conjunction with other methods without producing negative side effects.

On further inquiry, it’s found that their awesome and powerful technique has no special significance or prominence in the actual teachings of the historical Buddha.

A simple search and/or familiarity with the EBT’s will reveal this fact even though a teacher may claim their technique was the backbone of the Buddha’s teachings.

There are teachers who control their students and discourage free and open inquiry. They say, you should dig deep into the teachings offered by me. Then you will find what you seek. I am the keeper of the keys that can unlock your chains and set you free.

They say, don’t mix my teachings with those of others as this will lead you astray and make you confused. Don’t trust yourself - trust me - I’m onto a sure thing.

Wherever we find this kind of dynamic we have encountered a cult-like situation - plain and simple. With careful inquiry it’s not hard to discover the spin and the P.R. exercise that has been created to attract and retain followers.

There may be a pretence of open-mindedness and nonsectarianism within an exclusive and insular so-called Dhamma organisation.

This so-called ‘open minded’ P.R. exercise is created to ‘appeal’ to people from various religious and nonreligious backgrounds. It’s a intentional ploy that is used to attract and retain newcomers - it’s spin.

People can be trapped by confidence-tricks especially when they lack a good working knowledge of the early teachings.

Some Dhamma teachers can have a missionary zeal that has come about as a consequence of a strong experience, perhaps the reversal of a health condition or, a new way of seeing things.

Newcomers practice the same technique under tightly controlled conditions and they also have strong experiences and become converts to the cause. The Dhamma isn’t experience mongery!

This is an unhealthy situation that is best avoided.


#9

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” - The World English Bible

A wise and kind teacher will try to get rid of their students as quickly as possible. They are not interested in having followers or being figure-heads. They don’t have a sense of their own historical importance. In fact, they are nobody’s going nowhere.

When it came to the Buddha, he had to roar like a :lion: as he was the founding teacher. The Buddha was the locus of an unstoppable awakening.

May the Dhamma last long! May it be of great benefit to present and future generations.


#10

Thank you all for your input and direction. Anyone who has anything else to add or direction to share with me and all of us is most welcomed. I really love being a part of this community where I can ask an honest question and get a wide range of experiential views to consider and help me find my way in the path.

Metta to you all.

:pray:


#11

For me it is the Buddha we should seek as the teacher. Some/the majority seem to believe you must have a living teacher. For me the Buddha lives in the Suttas, but there seems to be no to little guidance from Buddhist teachers on how to study them properly. I compiled all instructions i could find from the Buddha on studying his teaching and it seems very clear: The Method of Studying Buddha-Dhamma | Brother Joe Smith - Academia.edu

To me, by following it, i can take the Buddha as the teacher and take myself as a refuge, as he instructed.

Even in the stories of the First Buddhist Council, relevant instruction from the Buddha was not known or overlooked, e.g. there is a place the Buddha instructs monks to hold council to recite and compare his teachings in order to keep them pure. The First Buddhist Council story attributes the idea to Mahakassapa and there is no mention of comparing!

I have found at least one example of what I think the Buddha meant by comparing, that’s in the Anapanasati Sutta, where, if we think two dimensionally, he puts the 16 steps on one side and the 4 Foundations on the other and shows how they match. This way, suttas elaborate on or fill in the gaps of other suttas and we see how suttas are threads, that have to work together to become a rope we use to pull ourselves out of suffering. And we can see how his teaching is not like a patchwork quilt, but rather an integrated whole.


#12

The central focus of this site is the EBT’s. The purpose is to discover the wisdom of the Buddha recorded in the early strata of the teachings so as to understand how to practice.

The views and methods promoted by contemporary teachers need to be evaluated in the light of what the Buddha taught. We need to be circumspect and exercise due caution.

There are good teachers with the best of intentions and profound insight. In the Buddha’s lifetime, those who were able and competent in the training would teach those who wished to learn.

There are some who are so attuned to the Dhamma that everything is a teaching - an opportunity to wake up.


#13

I think I agree with your first three statements.

The message I’m getting from you is, we should take others as teachers. I take others a possible good friends. One quality of them is, they point to the Buddha as the teacher and expert.

The last is a beautiful theory and point of view.

It doesn’t seem like the EBTs show the Buddha as someone so attuned to the Dhamma that everything was a teaching - an opportunity to wake up, unless you want to stretch ‘wake up’ to mean, learning what is NOT the way. For me, he started to wake up at the point of the third item below, but even if I applied the extended meaning, I would not want others to reinvent the wheel and put themselves through the suffering.

He tried the two extremes - not the path, gave them up, determined them to be avoided

He tried the yogic deep meditations (‘arupas’) - not the path, gave them up, determined they were unnecessary

He relflected on his childhood and remembered developing Jhana and immediately realised: this pleasure not associated with the 5 sense pleasures, is the way!

No comment on any facts I present, such as the damming one about the First Council: giving more honour to a disciple than the Buddha?


#14

3 out of 4 sounds good, I seem to be in the neighbourhood but haven’t arrived at the destination - wherever that is?

Ajahn Brahm tells the story of the one bad brick. He brick-layed when they built the meditation hall at Bodhinyana Monastery. He was always disatisfied when he saw one crooked brick he had layed among thousands. Someone helped him to appreciate the straight ones instead.

I don’t believe a formal teacher/student relationship is necessary. However, my children have been great teachers in my life so I suppose it depends on how we define ‘teacher’.

I use the terms ‘teacher/teaching’ in a broad sense. I am not thinking about pedagogues when I reflect on teachers. Aches and pains, heart aches, barking dogs, crying babies and biting mosquitoes are some of my Dhamma teachers - the list is endless.

They teach me patience, kindness, gentleness, forbearance, faithfulness, understanding etc.

As you pointed out, good friends are a great blessing. We learn a lot from them as they support and encourage us in important ways.

In my own inquiry and practice I have been inspired by many and varied people who have given me hope and encouragement.

I am grateful to others for their living examples of goodness, wisdom and, kindness that have helped me in this life in so many ways. :slight_smile:


#15

I read the Satipatthana Sutta and it said I could get enlightened in a week by practicing the four foundations. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. :yum:

“O monks, let alone half a month. Should any person practice these four foundations of mindfulness in this manner for a week, then one of these two fruits may be expected by him: highest knowledge here and now, or if some remainder of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.”


#16

Was the reflection maybe like: With this present minds maturity, a beginners mind state recollected from childhood is suitable for moving between the two extremes …


#17

With unbroken and continuous practice the wonders never cease.


#18

:desert_island:


#19

I don’t call the things or people you mention, ‘teachers’ because teaching, for me is an intentional thing. So unless it’s intentional, I don’t ascribe and attribute to them teaching you, but rather see that it has been your wise reflection on the situation that enabled you to learn something. Wise reflection is part of the Path to SE, as I have seen it taught.

I also FEEL gratitude to those who set good examples and our predecessors who have built a good foundation for a fairly safe and just society.


#20

Not at all like I have read it!

Even the last point, I don’t believe it’s about moving BETWEEN the two extremes, which could mean half time in one and half in the other, but totally avoiding them, thru integration rather than polarities.