Meditation alone will not do the job

Hi Rudite

I don’t have a clear definition of what “seeing things as they really are” really means except may be that everything is impermanent, dukkha and anatta.
Yes this “seeing” will be very useful for some fetters such as:

  • doubt in the Dhamma
  • belief in a Self
  • ignorance
    and may be others.

Will “seeing” be enough for sensual desires, ill-will, conceit, restlessness, I doubt. These need transformative efforts.
With Metta

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seeing is in itself transformative, realization of anicca makes many defilements and predilections devoid of attractiveness and meaningless

not the analytic intellectual kind of seeing, but seeing stemming from an insight, opening of the Dhamma eye, i would call it revelation in Christian terms, which changes the entire worldview, personal perspective and value scale, after which much less effort is required in cultivating the path


In the book “Uncommon Wisdom” - which provide an introduction to the Dhamma teachings of Ajaan Paññāvaḍḍho, a former master from the Thai Forest Tradition - there is a chapter that discusses somehow the point of this discussion topic. From this I quote (sorry if it is too long):

The Path proceeds from a lower state of purity to a higher one. It culminates at very specific path moments, when all the path factors coalesce at a certain level of perfection. Until those path moments arise, the work of a practitioner is only preparation for the Path.
The Noble Eightfold Path is, in effect, the path to Nibbāna. This means that it culminates in perfection at a very deep level within the mind.
It’s not simply a journey from one stage to the next; its fruition requires a practice of meditation that has gone very deep, to the point where all these factors coalesce with equal strength and purpose.
Only when the time and conditions are right does the path moment take place. That being said, the Noble Eightfold Path is not simple textbook Buddhism. That is something which has been misunderstood.
Rather, the Path is set up as a mode of transcendence. When we have done the work to set the Path up correctly, it acts like a channel for transcendent states of mind to arise—Sotāpanna, Sakadāgāmī, Anāgāmī and Arahant.
Because of that, all the path factors arise simultaneously. It is a difficult feat to accomplish because we must get all of those factors just right at the same moment. Having done the work, when the right conditions arise, they will all come together and bring forth the path moment.
In order to accomplish this, we must gradually develop all of the conditions which are necessary for that moment to take place. It involves not only formal meditation practice but all of our activities throughout the day. Effort and wisdom must be present at all times in order to turn every situation into Dhamma.
To begin with, we should first develop the path factors individually.
That’s necessary. When those factors are well developed, then our practice will be strong. When it is strong enough, the factors can join together to act as a bridge crossing to the other side—for example, from the path moment of Sotāpanna to its fruition.
Although it is necessary to develop the factors of the Path individually, we mustn’t think that those factors themselves are the Path. The Path only arises when all eight factors have been perfected. Emphasizing that all the factors are “Right” in effect means they are perfect. Once they are in perfect harmony, the path moment takes place.
So in order to fully realize the Path, we must train ourselves in all of the path factors until they are strong enough to go beyond. But the Path is a lot more than just a way of training, for it is through the Path that the goal is directly experienced.

Actually, the goal is not something we reach by striving to go higher and higher. It’s not like that. In truth, the goal is there all the time.
What we must do is get rid of the things hiding it from view; not gain something, but relinquish everything.

So we must get rid of all our wanting, all our attachments, all our wrong views and all our delusion.
Developing the path factors eventually gets rid of all attachment to anything connected with the world. When we do that until we let go of everything, the goal—Nibbāna—is there. Then nothing is left for us to do.
Therefore, Buddhism is not a path of gaining so much as a pathof relinquishing.


I don’t think this is a good idea. As you keep monitor your progress and keep on refining your spreadsheet you will find yourself putting expectation into your daily activities, measuring this and that, this is especially bad for meditation. I personally find it easier to “feel” your way into the practice rather than tracking everything to enlightenment.


If you really want to “deal” with the fetters, then all you need to do is start really letting go and get into the jhanas.

Personally I don’t find speaking in such terms very useful. To “start letting go” implies volitional decision and doing something to make yourself let go. In my (very, very limited) experience letting go happens all by itself, without volitional decision to do it, you only can create right conditions for it to happen.



Dear @Tuvok,

To convey my thoughts, I have to use what is normally used. Even the Buddha used language to point and guide. Honestly, we will always used conventions. How else can we communicate? When someone asks you for a direction you are familiar with, would you just point your finger without expressing where exactly to go? The questioner would not benefit at all. Just my thoughts though.

May you have a great vassa.

in metta,



Dear @alaber,

You’ve lost me. Then why did the Buddha encouraged everyone to practice the jhanas if they didn’t have any kind of benefit or correlation to awakening? So why are four jhanas referred to then as the footprints of the Buddha? :confused:

Please I intend no offense, but what I see is that you’re thinking too much and using your intellect rather than feeling your way through. The Buddha didn’t think his way into nibbana. You could try though and see what happens for yourself :wink: .

I wish you well on your journey on the path. May you be well.

in metta,


Of course, words will always only point to the experience, that’s why I wanted to share my thoughts on this. Because I heard many people, also monastics using such wording - and to me it proved to be a bit imprecise - I thought that sharing it might help someone.



Dear tuvok,

When it comes to the practice, using language will always be imprecise and limited. They will not capture the actual experience :smile: . But it’s all we’ve got and it’s good enough :wink: Just my thoughts.

May you have a great vassa!

in metta,


Dear Russ,

I’m hopeful that one point everyone can agree on fairly easily is that the Buddha recognised verbal actions can be harmful and non-harmful, and that we have the capacity (and good cause) to train ourselves to take ever greater care in our speech.

Of course, his primary focus is on the intentionality behind speech (rather than on how it ends up being interpreted), but I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to broaden out reflection on skilful speech to consideration of language that might include and exclude, alienate and resonate , or sit heavily and lightly and such.

The key trouble is we tend to have absolutely no clue about the particular linguistic landmines folk tend to carry around with them! :laughing: We’ve typically got little way of knowing where our imprecision in expression may prove eg. isolating. The beauty of discussion is that it can (although doesn’t necessarily) draw out points from various perspectives that round off the edges certain descriptions might have for some people.

I reckon you’re quite right to suggest that however we end up handling the cumbersome tool of language is good enough. It’s just that if we can figure out how to use it in a way that encourages ease, all the better.

With metta.

P.S. I have reasoned that the above is not too grossly off-topic as it fits fair-and-square into that part of ‘the job’ that is primarily outside of the domain of meditation. :wink:

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Well put LXNDR, it is important to bear in mind that effort needs be always present.

This is what Ajahn Paññavadho is telling us in the quote I shared above.

I really find useful the way he frames the perfect convergence needed in terms of all the factors of the path for the actual path moments to arise:

… we must gradually develop all of the conditions which are necessary for that moment to take place

When it is strong enough, the factors can join together to act as a bridge crossing to the other side.

The Path only arises when all eight factors have been perfected.

Many thanks for the link to Ajaan Pannavaddho biography.
I totally agree with what he says in the extract above.

The whole point of this discussion is how to progress/develop the 8fold Path and in particular progressively get rid of all our attachments, etc.
As he says “effort and wisdom must be present at all times”. My spreadsheet system is all about maintaining constant effort and having the wisdom not to forget any important component of the dhamma.

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Sure it is! However, as a skillful mean, it is one of many other possible “models” or “modes” of getting the work done.

I think this is what, one way or the other, people here are saying when they do not embrace/react to the thing you brought them. I trust however, few ones will get curious and request you a copy to test it by themselves (like me! :slight_smile:)

I truly think that the task of getting to know the mental creatures that inhabit ones mind is what the Buddha was referring to when he talks about the powerful practice he followed as a Buddha-to-be in the Discourse on the Two Kinds of Thoughts MN19.

“Bhikkhus, before my enlightenment, while I was still only an unenlightened Bodhisatta, it occurred to me: ‘Suppose that I divide my thoughts into two classes. Then I set on one side thoughts of sensual desire, thoughts of ill will, and thoughts of cruelty, and I set on the other side thoughts of renunciation, thoughts of non-ill will, and thoughts of non-cruelty.

I believe the three broad classifications he used were as close as possible to a “catch all” framework for not only discursive thoughts but as well mindsets, emotions, etc.

Mind that the concept of emotion and the classification of mental phenomena in distinct classes such as thoughts, emotions, states, etc is something quite recent.

Very much likely, what in Pali is nowadays translated as thought (vitakka) could mean more than just discursive thoughts. I risk saying it could be understood as active mind occupation, abiding…

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Please to see that the Buddha was also keen to put some organisation into his practice.
When I started with the dhamma I was a bit bewildered by all the dhamma lists:

  • 3 characteristics
  • 3 pillars
  • 3 poisons
  • 3 refuges
  • 3 types of dukkha
  • 4 truths inc. the 8fold path
  • 4 brahma viharas
  • 4 satipatthanas
  • 4 asavas
  • 4 jhanas
  • 5 kandhas
  • 5 faculties
  • 5 powers
  • 5 hindrances
  • 5 precepts
  • 5 things that lead to awakening
  • 8 wordly dhammas
  • 7 factors of awakening
  • 10 fetters
  • 10 perfections
  • 12 links (twice)
  • 37 wings of awakening

I have now embraced them, including putting them into the spreadsheet together with some 92 emotions that I have discovered are associated with aversion (and associated desire), and more categories (my sensual desires, my fears, my delusions, etc.).
By colour coding each individual item I know where I stand with each one of them and what work needs to be done (an emotional work not an intellectual one).

Of course my system may only work for me.

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A fair point, but we shouldn’t forget the Buddha was very concerned with the preservation of the Dhamma in an oral Ancient Indic culture that was completely nuts about mattikas and number-based lists of all kinds. They are useful as they allow for internalizing the teaching easily and facilitate learning the Suttas by heart - and the culturally conditioned attraction to all things numerical surely played a huge role in it. Today, we have no choice but to study the Dhamma as it was bequeathed to us, but my personal take on it is that the focus on numbers and lists has naturally become somewhat less important since the task of the preservation of the Dhamma is temporarily solved. Of course, this lack of focus can ultimately lead to ‘feel-good’ Buddhism of popular ‘guides to positive thinking’. The opposite position can, however, generate the second Abhidhamma-like attitude claiming an Excel spreadhseet can reflect the Ultimate Reality.

All that said, if your method works just fine for you, great, why not? :slight_smile: Best of luck in your practice! :anjal:

Language is all about objectify and personify the world, I suppose “start to let go” means something like “start to put effort in doing things that will eventually help to let go of everything including the effort itself”. Perhaps in this post we assume many know the concept and need not to elaborate on it?

Some sacred spreadsheet you got there :anjal: Maybe you can share your experience after trying that for some time.

But what if, what if you got the spreadsheet in your mind? At anytime you can recall and list the points from start to end and from end to start. What if on reviewing a particular factor, you know where you’re at without referring to a spreadsheet? Furthermore without drawing progress graph from your spreadsheet, you can feel, yes feel :relieved: the progress because it’s all in your mind. Not only keeping everything in your mind convenient, it also increases your mindfulness.

Maybe you’re already doing that together with your spreadsheet as well? In that case you might be able to find a balance between being analytical (spreadsheet) and intuitive (feeling).

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I now have the dhamma lists more or less in my mind but not the 90 items associated with aversion and other specific lists (e.g. fears, desires, etc.). In total the spreadsheet have some 400 items. Knowing them is one issue, the other is to know how I am faring/relating/understanding/progressing/etc with them and that’s where the colour coding comes into place. Each item is either an issue that needs addressing (e.g. irritation, anger, etc.) or a dhamma item that needs developing (e.g. equanimity). I use five colours that represent progress or state.
I revisit the spreadsheet roughly once a month and store in my mind the most important items I’m going to focus for the coming month.
I have been doing this for few years with some good results. One important result is that this technique removes a lot of confusion.

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Good for you, but I think it’ll confuse me even more :smiley:

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i like to imagine we live at the times of the Buddha when there barely is writing let alone spreadsheets

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I’ve done something similar, created a “mind map” a while back with the intention that it would help organize the internal representation of the structure of the teachings.

Open to any comments or criticisms.