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Pacchāpuresaññī - back and forth perception


#21

In Theravada both the specific and the contextual are important because Theravada is a middle way between the poles of dualities. For example the four Satipatthana refrains contain exercises which are both specific and contextual:

Specific> “he abides contemplating the nature of arising (of mind states) with regard to the mind, or he abides contemplating the nature of passing away with regard to the mind, or he abides contemplating the nature of both arising and passing away with regard to the mind”

Contextual> “mindfulness that “there is a mind” is established in him to the extent of knowledge and rememberance.”

"In this way, in regard to the mind he abides contemplating the mind internally, or he abides contemplating the mind externally, or he abides contemplating the mind both internally and externally. Or, he abides contemplating the nature of arising with regard to the mind, or he abides contemplating the nature of passing away with regard to the mind, or he abides contemplating the nature of both arising and passing away with regard to the mind. Or, mindfulness that “there is a mind” is established in him to the extent of knowledge and rememberance. And he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world.” DN 22

But you are correct to emphasize context, because the influence of science on the western mind has conditioned it to always veer towards the specific, making contextual thinking a historically neglected skill. This is evident in practitioners’ search to interpret suttas where they habitually turn inward to translations of certain words, or put the microscope on abhidhamma details, when in fact the meaning becomes apparent when the context of the sutta is examined. For example SN 51.12 cannot be understood unless the practitioner is familiar with SN 51.20 and the suttas around it, its external context. Apart from the Samyutta Nikaya (Connected Discourses), suttas from other collections can be understood by good knowledge of the system of the dhamma, for example the word “energy” always refers back to right effort.