The human realm affords the best position to practice the dhamma, but if the mind is located in another realm they may be excluded. For example level 22 of the 31 planes of existence is inhabited by beings possessing bodies but no consciousness.
Indeed. And overnight the lead weight has changed into, in Bhante Gunaratana’s words, ‘grist for the mill.’ Something to turn towards and explore.
Interesting and something to follow up. How is the human realm determined? By sense sphere? Their disconnection or dysfunction? Consciousness may be ‘swimming’ about in the universal ether, in the higher realms, the Devi worlds, what some may suggest is hallucination. The way back to the human realm is surely by initially grasping at some tiny fragment of the path. The repeated focus of attention no matter how small onto the tiniest fragment of any part of the path will increase the power of attention.
Yes, and the same process applies to development of the path in the normal mind where allegiance to conventional reality is almost total- consciousness is not in the control of the individual. Gradually right view should be developed and a great help to that is the establishment of the category ‘ultimate reality,’ because every step turns the mind in an alternative direction (towards nibbana). The consciousness that forms each morning is the result of a personal narrative which is constantly being updated. Yet many Buddhists baulk at the idea of including a second reality, and that indicates the degree conventional reality has a hold over them:
"There are, Ānanda, these two elements: the conditioned element and the unconditioned element. When he knows and sees these two elements, a bhikkhu can be called skilled in the elements.”—MN 115
What are the factors that determine conditioned and unconditioned?
Note that the Buddha includes the unconditioned as an element, it is comparable with the conditioned, but the opposite of it (Iti. 43), just as everything in nature like light and shade, is composed of opposites. The conditioned is everything (the ‘All’) bound by the cycle of birth and death, also known as samsara in the context of human lifespan. The factors that determine conditioning are moral. Through necessity progression on the path itself is accomplished by skillful use of conditioned phenomena, but they do not produce the unconditioned element (nibbana), only lead to it. The unconditioned has no cause, but due to the Buddha’s showing the way, can be reached through the path.
The conditioned cycle like its physical counterpart the turning world, it has a momentum which requires effort to escape, and requires isolating conventional and ultimate realities as separate elements:
“And who is the individual who goes against the flow? There is the case where an individual doesn’t indulge in sensual passions and doesn’t do evil deeds. Even though it may be with pain, even though it may be with sorrow, even though he may be crying, his face in tears, he lives the holy life that is perfect & pure. This is called the individual who goes against the flow.”—AN 4.5
Please forgive me here, I am quite new to Buddhism and I am obviously missing the point.
The journey on the path is therefore a moral journey, but;
If the conditioned is moral then the unconditioned is amoral. The rule of opposites. Surely this is not the case.
May be light and shade are not opposites at all. Red is still red if it is in the light or in the shade. If red turned to green in the shade then maybe it would be seen as opposite.
There is something that I am not grasping in the Buddhas message, I do not think in Buddhist terms and miss the meaning.
All that has to be done at first is to accept on faith that the unconditioned exists, and the noble eightfold path leads there.
"This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: “There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is thus discerned.”
The born, become, produced,
made, fabricated, impermanent,
composed of aging & death,
a nest of illnesses, perishing,
come from nourishment
and the guide [that is craving] —
is unfit for delight.
The escape from that
the sorrowless, stainless state,
the cessation of stressful qualities,
the stilling of fabrications,
bliss." Itivuttaka 42
The second passage refers to impermanence and that should be the focus of investigation and understanding as a starting point.
The topic of conditioned v unconditioned.
Bhante Gunaratana in ‘The four foundations of mindfulness in plain English’ refers to a Sutta on page 100.
‘When (meditators) hear a pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral sound, they understand that it is conditioned, gross, and dependently arisen.’
The first stage of dependent arising is ignorance.
Here again is the question of ‘moral’
Does this mean these Are Moral or does it mean it is a question of Morality in the way the conditioned is addressed.
This poses another thought. Nirvana can be seen as an unconditioned state
From the unconditioned (nirvana) comes rebirth dependent on ignorance.
But, thinking out loud, the attainment of nirvana does not lead to rebirth, it is the point of cessation of rebirth. The conclusion may be that rebirth is dependent on ignorance which conditions and with morals it is possible with the Path, the teachings of the Buddha, to navigate towards the unconditioned.
The ultimate reality is the unconditioned state.
But again if everything is impermanent then the unconditioned is also in a state of flux with the conditioned and therefore Nirvana cannot be an escape from the wheel!
And like a wheel everything goes round in circles!
Please read the reference sutta Iti. 42 carefully.
The first verse contrasts the unconditioned with the conditioned.
The second describes the conditioned.
The final verse describes the unconditioned, including that it is permanent.
These conclusions are correct: Nirvana can be seen as an unconditioned state. (The only unconditioned state.)
The ultimate reality is the unconditioned state.
the attainment of nirvana does not lead to rebirth, it is the point of cessation of rebirth. The conclusion may be that rebirth is dependent on ignorance which conditions and with morals it is possible with the Path, the teachings of the Buddha, to navigate towards the unconditioned.
The next study topic is the causal sequence in the noble eightfold path:
“This is the noble eightfold path, friend Visakha: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.”
“Is the noble eightfold path fabricated or unfabricated?”
“The noble eightfold path is fabricated.”
“And are the three aggregates [of virtue, concentration, & discernment] included under the noble eightfold path, lady, or is the noble eightfold path included under the three aggregates?”
“The three aggregates are not included under the noble eightfold path, friend Visakha, but the noble eightfold path is included under the three aggregates. Right speech, right action, & right livelihood come under the aggregate of virtue. Right effort, right mindfulness, & right concentration come under the aggregate of concentration. Right view & right resolve come under the aggregate of discernment.”—MN 44
I must now look closer at the sense spheres. From subjective rupa elements via the 5 passive spheres and the corresponding feeling tones prior to mental object in the active sphere and the cascading emotional effect that follows.
My interest is in dysfunctional spheres and their effect on following the path and whether there is a mechanism within the path to ‘correct’ corrupted information from subject to mental object. Everything beyond this,( the sixth link in dependent origination?), is untrustworthy.
The path requires an act of will to exercise its corrective function on input. Mindfulness utilizes memory to draw on right view to direct or not to direct attention. When developed this results in the practice of sense restraint.
"And how does a monk guard the doors to his sense faculties? There is the case where a monk, on seeing a form with the eye, does not grasp at any theme or variations by which — if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him. He practices with restraint. He guards the faculty of the eye. He achieves restraint with regard to the faculty of the eye.
"On hearing a sound with the ear…
"On smelling an aroma with the nose…
"On tasting a flavor with the tongue…
"On feeling a tactile sensation with the body…
“On cognizing an idea with the intellect, he does not grasp at any theme or variations by which — if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the intellect — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him. He practices with restraint. He guards the faculty of the intellect. He achieves restraint with regard to the faculty of the intellect. This is how a monk guards the doors to his sense faculties.” Anguttara Nikaya 4.37
Sati (mindfulness), memory, and sense restraint:
This highly likely to hold much of the solution. I will need time to read through and take in Anguttara Nikaya 4.37
What if one’s memory is damaged or corrupted, how does one ‘retrain’ this memory. If memory is dysfunctional, the mental formation of an object is also corrupt.
I found repetitive focus of attention on objects and activities a way of rebuilding memory.
Is there a skillful way, an order maybe, to rebuild the ‘scaffolding’ of the mind. It’s the Nobel Eightfold Path in my view. But there are specific elements, in a specific order, on the path that will be the key.
This is a really interesting discussion, thank you so much for taking the time to share the wisdom of the Buddha.
I had to take a moment thinking about this, I was thinking about how many people could be helped with a mindful journey along the Path. People thought to be ‘excluded’. I became full of a heart felt feeling. By the act of doing and following a thread of an idea and by the act of practicing it a seed may be starting to germinate.
On a personal level I am beginning to grow.
The act of doing is the practice itself. The cultivation.
Hopefully there may be a flourishing one day.
Again I thank you.
In my later life I’ve become acutely aware of my limitations and delusion about my mental capacities. The older I get, I’ve come to the realization that I’m not nearly a smart as I thought I was. But then I forget and think I’m smart until I walk in the weeds again. Like yesterday. I dug up and moved a sprinkler line, congratulating myself on how skillful I am. Until I realized that I forgot to test it before I filled in the trench with dirt. Perhaps a fool doesn’t know he’s a fool.
I was knocked in the head unconscious three times before I turned 12 years old. I wonder what that did to me. I was a heavy marijuana smoker from 12 years old until my early 20’s, the crucial time of frontal lobe development. That had to do some damage.
I love the dhamma. I have 100% confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. As I’ve inched my way down the path, I have great confidence in my path and then I collide with my shortcomings. I know I’m a lay person falling way short, but I’m not giving up. I can’t give up because the Dhamma resonates with me as the truth, the only way for me. Am I excluded from the path? My intention is to move towards awakening even if it’s beyond my reach. I am so grateful to the Buddha and I can’t walk away from his gift. I imagine that the Buddha would encourage me, even if I am a fool or a brain damaged idiot.
I think not. You have good capacity -
Is this self judgment or doubt, you are mindful enough to ‘see’ shortcomings. I would see it as discernment, ‘ah there are shortcomings, I am aware of them’. If this question was posed on this forum there would be a multitude of responses with a suitable sutta to refer to.
I write like I know what I’m talking about but in reality I know nothing. I am aware of this.
My brain injury mantra was ‘keep fighting, never give up.’ If you can make one step turn into two you can make a million steps. Resilient attitudes.
These testimonies illustrate how knowledge of suffering is the element unlocking progress on the path. The four noble truths are accompanied by duties appropriate to each, and the requirement of the first noble truth is that suffering must be known. (Samyutta Nikaya 56.11)
Knowledge of suffering is a breakthrough:
“Monks, if anyone were to say, ‘Without having broken through to the noble truth of stress as it actually is present, […] I will bring about the right ending of stress,’ that would be an impossibility. […] Just as if someone were to say, ‘Without having built the lower story of a gabled building, I will put up the upper story,’ that would be an impossibility;…” —SN 56.44
Hehe. The older I get, the more I see that I’m not as smart as I think I am, and also that I’m not as smart now as I was once and that I wasn’t as smart then as I thought I was then.
It’s like the famous Mark Twain quote: “When I was a teenager and left home, my parents knew nothing. When I returned in my twenties, I was amazed at how much they had learned.”
quote is from memory and may not be accurate
Below is a resource that may be of value to you in understanding the framework of meditation. Even just the first few minutes of this audio recording will be of value in grounding any application of Mindfulness training. It is an excellent resource for a summary of the way the Path works.
I only found this when looking at another resource given here.
Note that this teaching was given in 1981 It makes me contemplate that In our unrelenting fever for new things, it is easy to overlook some absolute treasures… lol same goes for general development of Buddhism (and the modern mindfulness movements), the EBT’s are the gold,. The quest for ever new, somehow thinking that just because it is new it is better, has the capacity to lead people down the wrong track. Just because it is newer, doesn’t mean that it is an improvement.