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Insight deals with defilements (SN12.23)

Insight works on subtle impurities of the mind:

At Sāvatthī. “Mendicants, I say that the ending of defilements is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know or see. For one who knows and sees what? ‘Such is form, such is the origin of form, such is the ending of form. Such is feeling … Such is perception … Such are choices … Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness, such is the ending of consciousness.’ The ending of the defilements is for one who knows and sees this.

I say that this knowledge of ending has a vital condition, it doesn’t lack a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Freedom.’ I say that freedom has a vital condition, it doesn’t lack a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Dispassion.’ I say that dispassion has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Disillusionment.’ I say that disillusionment has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Truly knowing and seeing. SuttaCentral

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Mind that in this very sutta insight is actually the knowledge of the destruction of the āsava (khayeñāṇa), which in its turn is placed at the very end of the the dependent origination of liberation, as consequence of the sort of liberation of the mind brought about by development of immersion (samadhi).

So, this means that the place of insight lies beyond the full development of stillness and it is not just an bare insight process but instead a very powerful understanding of what was completely left behind as awakening takes place.

So this is more about an insight into liberation than a liberating insight.

:anjal:

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I hope i don’t appear as disagreeable, It’s all in good fun.

I think Mat is referring to this

“evaṃ passato āsavānaṃ khayo hoti”

‘Khaya’ has the sense of rubbing away or wasting away.

Yes, that’s the retrospective knowledge of what has been attained, the assurance of fullfilling the four ennobling tasks.

I highlight below the relevant part of Bhikkhu Bodhi’s exegesis of this beautiful sutta:

The Knowledge of Destruction (Khaya Ñana)

“Emancipation is the supporting condition for the knowledge of destruction”: Following each of the four paths and fruits there arises a retrospective cognition or “reviewing knowledge” (paccavekkhana ñana) which reviews the defilements that have been abandoned by the particular path and the defilements remaining to be eliminated. In the case of the last path and fruition, the path and fruition of arahatship, the reviewing knowledge ascertains that all defilements have been eradicated and that there are none left to be destroyed. This knowledge certifying the abandonment of the defilements arises immediately after the mind has been liberated from their grip by the full penetration of the four noble truths:

He understands as it really is: “This is suffering, this is the origin of suffering, this is the cessation of suffering, this is the path to the cessation of suffering. These are the cankers, this is the origin of the cankers, this is the cessation of the cankers. This is the path to the cessation of the cankers.” As he is knowing and seeing thus, his mind is liberated from the canker of sensuality, from the canker of existence, and from the canker of ignorance. When it is liberated, the knowledge arises in him: “It is liberated.”
— MN 39

As the text indicates, this cognizance of the mind’s liberation is direct and personal, without dependence on others. Just as a keen sighted man can look into a pool of clear, limpid water and see for himself the shells, pebbles, gravel and shoals of fish. The liberated person can look into himself and see that his mind has been set free from the cankers.[36]

The retrospective cognition of release involves two acts of ascertainment. The first, called the “knowledge of destruction” (khaya ñana), ascertains that all defilements have been abandoned at the root; the second, the “knowledge of non-arising” (anuppade ñana), ascertains that no defilement can ever arise again. The two together are also called the “knowledge and vision of emancipation” (vimutti ñanadassana), the use of the word “vision” again underscoring the perceptual immediacy of the cognition by which the mind verifies its own release from the defilements. By possessing this knowledge, one who has destroyed the defilements not only experiences the freedom that results from their destruction, but acquires as well an inner certitude with respect to their destruction. If a liberated individual only enjoyed liberation from the defilements without also enjoying indubitable knowledge that he is liberated, his attainment would always be haunted by an inner suspicion that perhaps, after all, some area of vulnerability remains. Even though no defilement ever came to manifestation, the shadow of uncertainty would itself mar the attainment’s claim to completeness. However, because the attainment of arahatship automatically generates a retrospective cognition ascertaining the final abandonment of all defilements, there is no room for such a suspicion to arise. Like a deer in a remote forest far from the reach of hunters, the one who has crossed over attachment to the world walks in confidence, stands in confidence, sits down in confidence, and sleeps in confidence.[37] He is out of reach of the defilements, and knows he is out of their reach.

Though the knowledge of the destruction of the cankers is not always set up in the arahant’s awareness, it is permanently available to him, and awaits only his advertence to make itself present. Since the cankers have been eradicated, whenever the arahant looks into his mind he can see at once that they have been cut off. The suttas illustrate this with a bold simile:

Sandaka, it is like a man whose hands and feet have been cut off; whether he is walking or standing still or asleep or awake, constantly and perpetually are his hands and feet as though cut off; and moreover while he is reflecting on it, he knows: “My hands and feet have been cut off.” Even so, Sandaka, whatever monk is a perfected one, the cankers destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained his own goal, the fetters of becoming utterly destroyed, freed by perfect profound knowledge, for him whether he is walking or standing still or asleep or awake, the cankers are as though destroyed; and moreover while he is reflecting on it, he knows: “My cankers are destroyed.”

— MN 76 (trans, I.B.Horner)

The arahant understands that the defilements he has eradicated brought bondage to the round of existence. He sees them as “defiling, conducive to renewed existence, afflictive, resulting in suffering, leading to future birth, aging, and death.”[38] Thence, by witnessing their utter eradication in himself, he gains certainty of his emancipation from the round: “Unshakable is my emancipation. This is my last birth. There is now no renewal of existence.”[39] Such knowledge remains an inalienable part of the arahant’s spiritual inheritance. It is the basis for his assurance of immunity from future becoming. By reason of this knowledge he sounds the lion’s roar with which he seals his triumph over the cycle of repeated births: “Destroyed is birth, lived is the holy life, the task has been completed, there is no returning to this state.”

Source: Transcendental Dependent Arising: A Translation and Exposition of the Upanisa Sutta

:anjal:

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we’ll have to wait until Mat wakes up to see what he meant by insight. I dont think it’s ‘Khaya Ñana’

But what i meant was this:

Kiñca, bhikkhave, jānato kiṃ passato āsavānaṃ khayo hoti?

Iti rūpaṃ iti rūpassa samudayo iti rūpassa atthaṅgamo,
iti vedanā …
iti saññā …
iti saṅkhārā …
iti viññāṇaṃ iti viññāṇassa samudayo iti viññāṇassa atthaṅgamoti.

Mendicants, I say that the ending of defilements is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know or see. For one who knows and sees what? ‘Such is form, such is the origin of form, such is the ending of form. Such is feeling … Such is perception … Such are choices … Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness, such is the ending of consciousness.’

or more in the spirit of this:

Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a great tree. Then a man would come along bringing a shovel and a basket. He would cut down the tree at its foot, dig it up, and pull out the roots, even the fine rootlets and root-fibre. He would cut the tree into pieces, split the pieces, and reduce them to slivers. Then he would dry the slivers in the wind and sun, burn them in a fire, and collect the ashes. Having done so, he would winnow the ashes in a strong wind or let them be carried away by the swift current of a river. Thus that great tree would be cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to future arising.

“So too, bhikkhus, when one dwells contemplating danger in things that can be clung to, craving ceases…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”
SN12.55

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This is what I meant:

“He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in contemplating impermanence’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out contemplating impermanence. ’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in contemplating fading away’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out contemplating fading away.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in contemplating cessation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out contemplating cessation.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in contemplating relinquishment’ [paṭinissaggā]; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out contemplating relinquishment [paṭinissaggā]. ’

“Householder, through the destruction, fading away, cessation, giving up, and relinquishment of desire, lust, delight, craving, engagement and clinging, mental standpoints, adherences, and underlying tendencies towards the form element, the mind is said to be well liberated.

yo chando yo rāgo yā nandī yā taṇhā ye upayupādānā cetaso adhiṭṭhānābhinivesānusayā, tesaṃ khayā virāgā nirodhā cāgā paṭinissaggā ‘cittaṃ suvimuttanti’ vuccati.SuttaCentral

It seems that insight processes lead to reduced defilements. The usual idea is that insight leads to overcoming latent tendencies and the ten fetters.

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Attainments are said to arise after the practice of insight. The Buddha shows how overcoming craving is part of the path to being a non-returner.

“Abandon one thing, bhikkhus, and I guarantee you non-returning. What is that one thing? Greed is that one thing, bhikkhus. Abandon that and I guarantee you non-returning.” https://suttacentral.net/iti1/en/ireland

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“Friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, still, in relation to the five aggregates subject to clinging, there lingers in him a residual conceit ‘I am,’ a desire ‘I am,’ an underlying tendency ‘I am’ that has not yet been uprooted. Sometime later he dwells contemplating rise and fall in the five aggregates subject to clinging: ‘Such is form, such its origin, such its passing away; such is feeling … such is perception … such are volitional formations … such is consciousness, such its origin, such its passing away.’ As he dwells thus contemplating rise and fall in the five aggregates subject to clinging, the residual conceit ‘I am,’ the desire ‘I am,’ the underlying tendency ‘I am’ that had not yet been uprooted—this comes to be uprooted.SN 22.89: Khemaka (English) - Khandha Saṃyutta - SuttaCentral

Ego, desire and underlying tendencies are controlled.

“What do you think, bhikkhus, is the eye … the mind permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, venerable sir.”…

“But without clinging to what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, could the thought occur: ‘I am superior’ or ‘I am equal’ or ‘I am inferior’?”

“No, venerable sir.” SuttaCentral

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The truly hilarious and wonderful thing about SN12.23 is that one has to admit that Right Freedom is basically the end of choices. One’s behavior becomes driven by ethics and not by craving. In this way, “we” totally disappear.

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I loved this short thread. :slight_smile:

Each post has something worthwhile to think about.

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“Monks, there are these four perversions of perception, perversions of mind, perversions of view. Which four? ‘Constant’ with regard to the inconstant is a perversion of perception, a perversion of mind, a perversion of view. ‘Pleasant’ with regard to the stressful… ‘Self’ with regard to not-self… ‘Attractive’ with regard to the unattractive is a perversion of perception, a perversion of mind, a perversion of view. These are the four perversions of perception, perversions of mind, perversions of view. SuttaCentral

This has multiple interpretations, some of which work for me. However, some interpretations of this admonition are a bit problematic for me:

  1. This works for me with regard to makeup. I find makeup off-putting.
  2. This does not work for me when looking at people who are considered unattractive. Instead, I try to perceive deeper, good qualities in such people beyond the shape of their skin.

Because of #2, I can’t really engage with with the admonition of perversion because #2 doesn’t feel like a perversion to me.

I believe this is about seeing the body as attractive without insight into the insides!

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I very much agree. And I also know myself to be a bit clever at mis-understanding rules to suit my own delusions. :laughing:

For that reason, I tend focus on suttas that I can practice as a whole. This sutta would start me picking and choosing and interpreting a bit too much for my own delusions. :see_no_evil: Thank goodness for the variety of suttas!

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Treat them as guidelines! No one can be suddenly enlightened, and it allows us not to disregard them completely. The Cook sutta SuttaCentral shows is how we should practice only what is suitable.

This sutta shows how sensuality is projected on to the world and we enjoy that projection.

Truly, mendicants, it’s not possible to perform sensual acts without sensual pleasures, sensual perceptions, and sensual thoughts. SuttaCentral

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Overcoming doubt

“When form exists, because of grasping form and insisting on form, the view arises: ‘The self and the cosmos are one and the same. After passing away I will be permanent, everlasting, eternal, and imperishable.’ When feeling … perception … choices … consciousness exists, because of grasping consciousness and insisting on consciousness, the view arises: ‘The self and the cosmos are one and the same. After passing away I will be permanent, everlasting, eternal, and imperishable.’

What do you think, mendicants? Is form permanent or impermanent?” “Impermanent, sir.” … “Is feeling … perception … choices … consciousness permanent or impermanent?” “Impermanent, sir.” … “That which is seen, heard, thought, cognized, searched, and explored by the mind: is that permanent or impermanent?” “Impermanent, sir.” … “But by not grasping what’s impermanent, suffering, and perishable, would such a view arise?” “No, sir.”

“When a noble disciple has given up doubt in these six cases, and has given up doubt in suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the practice that leads to its cessation, they’re called a noble disciple who is a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the underworld, bound for awakening.” SuttaCentral

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More than insight is required for getting over lust.

“Bhikkhus, for direct knowledge of lust, five things are to be developed. What five? The power of faith, the power of energy, the power of mindfulness, the power of concentration, and the power of wisdom. For direct knowledge of lust, these five things are to be developed. SuttaCentralPreformatted text

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Yes. Interestingly, the key for me was “delight is the root of suffering.” Without that, no amount of faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration helped since I lacked those six words of wisdom.

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A bit of teaching (or self learning) clicks and works to unlock the puzzle of each defilement.

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