'joy -> samādhi -> nirvana' sequence map in MA 42 to MA 50

I’m reading through the some of the Madhyama Agamas, and I came across this well known causal sequence. Since I’m a bit of a nerd, I like putting things into diagrams, and causal sequences are good for diagrams. Anyway, just thought I’d share it

Edit: MA 42, MA 43, MA 44, MA 45, MA 46, MA 47, MA 48, MA 49, MA 50

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Much thanks, Erik! I find the MA45/6 column very intriguing - have to think about that one.

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@Erik_ODonnell. wow. love that diagram. How would the eight-fold path fit it into this? The final step (Step 8) on The Path is samadhi which leads to nirvana; but in your diagram there are 4 other steps after samadhi.

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I reckon the diagram below may be of help in answering the question:

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Nope That doesn’t help at all. I can see the eightfold path in that diagram, but I can’t see how it fits in to this diagram.

@Gabriel_L that is a wonderful but also mind-boggling diagram . It must have taken so long to create and so much thouht has obviously gone in to it. A labor of love I’m sure .

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Based on my own understanding, I’ve tried to match it up with the Noble Eightfold Path here. The causal sequences in white [that are the same as the previous map] are straight from the suttas, the noble eightfold path in green I have mapped according to how it makes sense to me personally.

It is likely possible to do it a bit more rigorously according to the suttas, in which case it would probably look a bit different. May it be food for thought at least

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@Erik_ODonnell. Woah. Thanks. It is certainly worthy of study!

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Hmmm… Let me try, the diagram shows different formulations in parallel.

This parallel framing is done having in mind showing how these formulations can be understood as different ways of pointing to the same thing. It is not wrong to think of that path as something can be seen from different perspectives or based on different reference points.

As you can see the eight factors of noble eightfold path are ordered in a specific way.
Right view is the basis for the virtue factors - right thought, right speech, right action and right livelihood.

With the “homework” done in terms of being a least harmless and “virtuos person” one finds himself/herself at ease with himself/herself with a greater clarity in terms of what he needs then to address with right effort.

As right effort is developed further, his wholesomeness approaches a critical point in which the freedom of remorse is such that the development of path factor of right mindfulness (or right presence as some may call it) can take place.

As the individual finds himself/herself at ease in regards to above all being a person of less harmful habits and choices, as well he is able to identify how the good things he has been cultivating with right effort lead to more and more beautiful inner states.

In the micro perspective, this virtue - right effort - right mindfulness linkage is what is behind the deep emotional experiences of joy, rapture, tranquility and happiness.

These positive states in turn serve as the foundation for the insight-conducive and right sort stillness the path factor of right samadhi is all about.

And it is from this powerful and wholesome stillness that insight and wisdom is “harvested” so to speak.

Here the usual formulation of the path as eightfold path may reach its end, but as the diagram shows the eightfold path is itself part of a wider set of factors or dhammas.

This wider group of factors are called in Pali boddhipakkhya dhamma (can anyone provide the Agama Chinese for this? ) and the elements pointed beyond the threshold of samadhi - vision and understanding of how things arise, disenchantment, dispassion, liberation and the eventual vision and knowledge of liberation itself - can be seen as a alternative outline of the linkage between the samadhi and both the wisdom and equanimity of one who has fulfilled all of the four ennobling tasks passed down to us by all Buddhas.

This is quite aligned with the Tenfold Path formulation found in in the MN117 of the Pali Nikayas and MA 189 of the Chinese Agamas.

You may notice that some features such as virtue, samadhi and wisdom are often repeated between the alternative lists. This means that such words represent powerful linkages of the spiritual path outlined by the Buddha.

It is similar to how the task of climbing a very tall mountain in the Himalayas or taking a journey across a long distance. Depending on which sherpa he hires or which caravan he joins the journey may be referred to at different levels of details. But some features of the journey will be always mentioned it does not matter how detailed or broad the description of the trip is.

If you are climbing a mountain all sherpas may agree that the only way to advance from a certain height is to take a specific pass, and the features of this pass are to be noted both when one is still at the base camp and later one as one approaches key turnpoints towards that pass. A similar thing would occur in the case of caravans. Key landscape transitions, passes and reference points both in the sky and over the horizons are to be noted and tracked.

Hope it helps!

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Yes, indeed it is a very well done job by a brilliant guy named Jayarava.

I am sure @jayarava would love to see the detailed map our friend @Erik_ODonnell came up with focused on the Agamas, and see how close it is to what he did based on the Pali Nikayas

From what I see on various internet forums, there is a lot of emphasis on meditation technique and not so much on this homework.

I’m tempted to think of “right intention” more like “right values”, in the sense that you actually have to transform yourself into someone for whom right intention is actually the core values of your personality.

Studies confirm that personality traits don’t persist over time, so it is possible make the skillful values recommended by the Buddha the core of one’s personality

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Not only internet forums but Meditation Centers as well.

The issue is that the crucial process of transformation you mention is time consuming and something that even at the time of the early Sangha would take years to mature.

Once people try to shape a Buddhism void of a Sangha and which does not acknowledge the key aspect of community, generosity and material support for such Sangha to survive, they force the path to be less gradual than it needs to be.

Once you shape a Buddhism based mostly on meditation retreats, anonymous internet debates, denial of the crucial role of the Vinaya, etc, you have something that can be sold, denies the validity of spontaneous and inspired generosity, and that does not bring people out of their comfort zone in terms of making evident how most of choices involved in a lay life only serve to move us to more suffering and away from awakening.

It does break my heart to see how even non-monastics with hundred (if not thousands) of cushion-hours of practice can lack the most basic sense of kindness and compassion when it comes to monastics who even after many years may still be sluggishly advancing in terms of development of mindfulness, stillness.

People like this are fierce and deeply interested in judging monk X, Y and Z’s practice, how many jhanas they have experienced or not, and even how fat or skinny they are getting. But at the same time they are totally blind to how much is left yet undone in their own cultivation of the path and how sustaining those thoughts only serve to stuck them further!

In my case, I can tell you that the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me was to witness is a functional group of monks in which it does not matter where individuals are in terms of their “inner homework” (of mindfulness, stillness and insight), all members treat each other in a kind, respectful and friendly way. Once you see this happening you get why the Buddha is recorded to have taught things like what is found in the AN10.2, AN11.2 and SN12.23.

In short, in my experience and in agreement with what you wrote, if this very basic set of values is not present and constantly cultivated there is no way the path can really flourish.

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Agreed, and I think those lay-sila aspects would go a long way to fill the void which causes people to move from path to path, yet never finding any peace or happiness.

I would love to see the knowledge about how generosity, kindness, supporting and helping others etc. leads to happiness and fulfillment - I would love to see this flourish in the west (and everywhere else, of course).

I think it’s the West that needs a Sangha to support more than anyone, honestly.

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