Samvega for everyone

Rebirth generates a strong motivation to practice in some and not others. Are there reasons other than rebirth that moves people to practice?

The Ratthapala sutta (MN82) is one example of this. Are there others you know of?

"Great king, there are four Dhamma summaries stated by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened. Having known & seen & heard them, I went forth from the home life into homelessness. Which four?
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"‘The world is swept away. It does not endure’: This is the first Dhamma summary stated by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened. Having known & seen & heard it, I went forth from the home life into homelessness.

:anjal:

With metta

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(8) “Bhikkhus, of the speculative views held by outsiders, this is the foremost, namely: ‘I might not be and it might not be mine; I shall not be, and it will not be mine.’ For it can be expected that one who holds such a view will not be unrepelled by existence and will not be repelled by the cessation of existence. There are beings who hold such a view. But even for beings who hold such a view there is alteration; there is change. Seeing this thus, the instructed noble disciple becomes disenchanted with it; being disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate toward the foremost, not to speak of what is inferior.

Alteration and change and impermanence: troubles which lead to motivations for practice that do not require reference to rebirth at all.

(not even noble attainment requires rebirth ideation of any kind: https://suttacentral.net/en/sn35.31; a subtle shift in how the annihilationist view, above, is understood is enough for non-return: https://suttacentral.net/en/sn22.55)

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I think the matter raised in OP is covered in Safe Bet sutta.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.060.than.html

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For me, death also a strong motivating factor.
When I compare any situation with the death they all become unimportant.
I think the fear of death is the biggest hindrance for realising Nibbana.

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Thus invited, Sakka, the ruler of the gods, asked this first question of the Exalted One—‘By what fetters, sir, are they bound—gods, men, Asūras, Nāgas, Gandhabbas, and whatever other great classes of beings there be—in that they, wishing thus—“Would that, without hatred, injury, enmity, or malignity, we might live in amity!”—do nevertheless live in enmity, hating, injuring, hostile, malign?’

(DN21)

Seeing creatures flopping around,
Like fish in water too shallow,
So hostile to one another!
— Seeing this, I became afraid.

(Snp4.15)

It is an unbearable pain in the heart to see how hurtful we are to each other (and ourselves). Unbearable pain can be a compelling motivator.

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The weariness of running from one thing to the next without satisfaction is both a single and multilife thing.

The Rohitassa Sutta covers this weariness well.

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You mean whether rebirth exists or not we need to practice, right? Yes, that is the carrot- samvega is the stick motivation for the path! Some people respond better to the stick while others do better with the carrot (hmm or does everyone need a bit of both- psychology papers?).

with metta

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It could be the biggest hindrance to Nibbana- I also know some people find it a great motivator (samvega) as well:

“What do you think, great king? Suppose a man, trustworthy and reliable, were to come to you from the east and on arrival would say: ‘If it please your majesty, you should know that I come from the east. There I saw a great mountain, as high as the clouds, coming this way, crushing all living beings [in its path]. Do whatever you think should be done.’ Then a second man were to come to you from the west… Then a third man were to come to you from the north… Then a fourth man were to come to you from the south and on arrival would say: ‘If it please your majesty, you should know that I come from the south. There I saw a great mountain, as high as the clouds, coming this way, crushing all living beings. Do whatever you think should be done.’ If, great king, such a great peril should arise, such a terrible destruction of human life — the human state being so hard to obtain — what should be done?”
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"If, lord, such a great peril should arise, such a terrible destruction of human life — the human state being so hard to obtain — what else should be done but Dhamma-conduct, right conduct, skillful deeds [the practice of the N8FP], meritorious deeds?"SN3.25

with metta

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There are positive ways to motivate people and negative ways. The carrot or the stick. Modern psychology has found that the carrot works better and with many more people. While some people respond to threats, punishment, anxiety, or a sense of urgency (Samvega) research and clinical wisdom has shown that it shuts other people down, beats other people down.

Buddhist meditation tends to get presented and taught as one size fits all, but in the Pali Canon there is a lot of mention about the Buddha tailoring his teachings to fit the individual.

One thing I have never liked about Thanisarro Bhikkhu’s teachings ( despite the quality of his writing and it being freely available ) is his emphasis on the negative.

A number of years ago I went to see a talk by a young Burmese nun that people in my sutta study group were really into. Q & A came. I told her I really like the idea of doing The Five Daily Recollections, but when I would take it up after a few weeks it would make me anxious. Her answer, both in content and tone shocked me. She basically said “then that isn’t the right meditation for you”.

I’ve found that people who really push Samvega tend to be people who were mistreated, who don’t like themselves, who don’t like their human nature, and who tend to be smug about prescribing Samvega.

I think motivating people with the stick, negative motivation, is part of the animal default in human brains. I think it takes more emotional development and intelligence to see and apply the superior value in using positive sources of motivation.

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For saṃvega to be an effective drive to practice, it must be accompanied by another emotion called pasada, a “clarity and serene confidence.” Pasada is what keeps saṃvega from turning into nihilistic despair by providing a sense of confidence that there is a way out, namely nibbana.[4]

:anjal:

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DN 29 - Pāsādikasutta

(That translation is kinda wonky, though.)

Kinda looks like the “clarity and serene confidence” of pasada is more of a unifying force for a religion about to lose its Founder; the despair people feel that naturally brings them to the contemplative path is here being paired with a serene and confident assessment of the fledgling Buddhist religion, one seen as perfect only when it is the “foremost place in public fame and support”.

I get a different feel out of the term’s context here. Any other ways it’s used in the EBTs?

Here is a more readable translation by Ven. Thanissaro: DN 29

And here are a few suttas dealing with samvega and pasada that Ven. Dhammanando pointed out in another thread:

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Basically, pasada means “faith in the Triple Gem”.

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Maṭṭha­kuṇḍa­lī­vatthu

Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā,
manoseṭṭhā manomayā;
Manasā ce pasannena,
bhāsati vā karoti vā;
Tato naṃ sukhamanveti,
chāyāva anapāyinī.

Manasa ce Pasannena: clear mental state with calm confidence. Pasannena / Pasada is a mental and emotional attitude that comprises a deep feeling encompassing the same time and intellectual appreciation, a satisfaction, a clarity of thoughts, a serenity and a confidence.

http://www.acessoaoinsight.net/dhp/dhp1.1.php

:anjal:

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Well, it seems to carry that connotation, but check the citations given above, and then search for the Pali term on your own; you’ll see the Triple Gem context - or one like it - much more often.

I think the term reflects the idea that, for the Buddhist, the answer to samvega was a calming faith in Buddhism. It seems obvious.

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I think it’s not just faith.

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(SN 46.57 is about developing the awakening factors with skeleton-perception. This is a unique take on things, I think.)

AN 4.245
AN 4.34
AN 4.52

These all use it as confidence/faith in Triple Gem stuffs.

SN 11.14
AN 5.47

These have the word in the final stanzas in relatively explicit contexts of faith.

AN 5.162 does have it translated as ‘mental clarity & calm’. It’s in an interesting context, where it’s connected with im/pure bodily & verbal behavior. It could almost stand in as a general “pure mental behavior” term. This could have been translated either way, given the overall EBT context of valuing faith for many perceived benefits, i.e. every other EBT text so far.

Iti90 has it bluntly as ‘faith’… I mean, I could go on, but…

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if it were only faith we would have no interest in Buddhism.

:anjal:

There is a description of saṃvega-vatthu in the Visuddhimagga.

Birth, old age, disease, death, the suffering in the lower states of existence, the misery of the past rooted in the cycle of rebirth, the misery of the future rooted in the cycle of rebirth, the misery of the present rooted in the search after food.
— Visuddhimagga, Ch. III

There are also the Divine Messengers (deva-dūta) of birth, old age, disease, consequences of evil actions and death (MN 130).

“Then King Yama presses and questions and cross-questions him about the first divine messenger: ‘Good man, did you not see the first divine messenger to appear in the world?’1207 He says: ‘I did not, venerable sir.’ Then King Yama says: ‘Good man, have you never seen in the world a young tender infant lying prone, fouled in his own excrement and urine?’ He says: ‘I have, venerable sir.’

“Then King Yama says: ‘Good man, did it never occur to you — an intelligent and mature man — “I too am subject to birth, I am not exempt from birth: surely I had better do good by body, speech, and mind”?’

[…]

“Then, after pressing and questioning and cross-questioning him about the first divine messenger, King Yama presses and questions and cross-questions him about the second divine messenger: ‘Good man, did you not see the second divine messenger to appear in the world?’ He says: ‘I did not, venerable sir.’ Then King Yama says: ‘Good man, have you never seen in the world a man — or a woman — at eighty, ninety, or a hundred years, aged, as crooked as a roof bracket, doubled up, supported by a walking stick, tottering, frail, youth gone, teeth broken, grey-haired, scanty-haired, bald, wrinkled, with limbs all blotchy?’ He says: ‘I have, venerable sir.’

“Then King Yama says: ‘Good man, did it never occur to you — an intelligent and mature man — “I too am subject to ageing, I am not exempt from ageing: surely I had better do good by body, speech, and mind”?’

[…]

“Then, after pressing and questioning and cross-questioning him about the second divine messenger, King Yama presses and questions and cross-questions him about the third divine messenger: [181] ‘Good man, did you not see the third divine messenger to appear in the world?’ He says: ‘I did not, venerable sir.’ Then King Yama says: ‘Good man, have you never seen in the world a man — or a woman — afflicted, suffering, and gravely ill, lying fouled in his own excrement and urine, lifted up by some and set down by others?’ He says: ‘I have, venerable sir.’

“Then King Yama says: ‘Good man, did it never occur to you — an intelligent and mature man — “I too am subject to sickness, I am not exempt from sickness: surely I had better do good by body, speech, and mind”?’

[…]

“Then, after pressing and questioning and cross-questioning him about the third divine messenger, King Yama presses and questions and cross-questions him about the fourth divine messenger: ‘Good man, did you not see the fourth divine messenger to appear in the world?’ He says: ‘I did not, venerable sir.’ Then King Yama says: ‘Good man, have you never seen in the world, when a robber culprit is caught, kings having many kinds of tortures inflicted on him: having him flogged with whips… (as Sutta 129, §4)… and having his head cut off with a sword?’ He says: ‘I have, venerable sir.’

“Then King Yama says: ‘Good man, did it never occur to you — an intelligent and mature man — “Those who do evil actions have such tortures of various kinds inflicted on them here and now; [182] so what in the hereafter? Surely I had better do good by body, speech, and mind”?’

[…]

"Then, after pressing and questioning and cross-questioning him about the fourth divine messenger, King Yama presses and questions and cross-questions him about the fifth divine messenger: ‘Good man, did you not see the fifth divine messenger to appear in the world?’ He says: ‘I did not, venerable sir.’ Then King Yama says: ‘Good man, have you never seen in the world a man — or a woman — one-day dead, two-days dead, three-days dead, bloated, livid, and oozing with matter?’ He says: ‘I have, venerable sir.’

“Then King Yama says: ‘Good man, did it never occur to you — an intelligent and mature man — “I too am subject to death, I am not exempt from death: surely I had better do good by body, speech, and mind”?’

[…]

— MN 130, Devadūta Sutta — The Divine Messengers (transl. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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In regards to pasada and pasanna it is something I have been investigating a fair bit :wink: people often want to know the meaning.

As I understand it it’s not just gladness, delight or faith, it has an aspect of ‘seeing’ (pas) clearly for oneself. Especially in the case of sampasada, which appears more often. Mainly in cases discussing having seen for oneself the noble-truths.

From Ayya Tathaaloka’s essay ‘lasting inspiration’

Pasāda is a close relative of pasanna, in which the qualities of “seeing” and “knowing” that serve as essential aspects of the insight knowledge of vipassanā are a fundamental part of the meaning.
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There is a major shift that occurs with this seeing: a clearing and brightening of the heart and mind which gives rise to mental purity of a kind in which faith and trust grow and becomes established, together with happiness, joy, devotion, pious and virtuous dedication, calmness, and peacefulness. These are linking qualities between tranquility (samatha) and insight (vipassanā), a fertile ground for the deepening of both. All of these qualities spring forth in a way that may be religiously characterized as an experience of grace, reconciliation, and even sanctification, that is, a primary first step in entering into the path of holiness.

:pray:
May all beings have clear and bright minds.

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