Wednesday, November 24, 2021

MN 23 unleash the hidden dragon - there's a lot more to this sutta than the Buddha says


(sutta text link) ● MN 23 - 🔗🔊 16m, Vammika: Ant hill
summary of the sutta:

A deva gives a riddle to a monk: “Sir, what is the ant-hill? What is the fuming by night and flaming by day? Who is the brahmin, and who the sage? What are the sword, the digging, the bar, the bullfrog, the forked path, the box, the tortoise, the axe and block, and the piece of flesh? And what is the dragon (nāga)?”

The Buddha answers the question for the monk later, and two major items of interest are the sword of noble wisdom/discernment (pañña), and the dragon (nāga).

‘Satthan’ti kho, bhikkhu, ariyāyetaṃ paññāya adhivacanaṃ.
‘Sword’ is a term for noble wisdom.

About the dragon, the Buddha said:

‘Nāgo’ti kho, bhikkhu, khīṇāsavassetaṃ bhikkhuno adhivacanaṃ.
‘Dragon’ is a term for a monk who has ended the defilements.
Tiṭṭhatu nāgo, mā nāgaṃ ghaṭṭesi; namo karohi nāgassāti ayametassa attho”ti. (15)
This is the meaning of: ‘Leave the dragon! Do not disturb the dragon! Worship the dragon.’”
Idamavoca bhagavā.
That is what the Buddha said.
Attamano āyasmā kumārakassapo bhagavato bhāsitaṃ abhinandīti.
Satisfied, Venerable Kassapa the Prince was happy with what the Buddha said.

And the sutta ends like that, prematurely without further explanation.


Here's my opinion.

The commentary shares that the deva who speaks to the monk Kassapa, was a monk buddy of his in a previous life when both were Buddhist monks striving diligently. That deva is now a nonreturner.  Clearly his advice is going to be something worth paying attention to. Advice that helps the monk overcome a current obstacle and get closer to nirvana.

Why do devas give strange riddles instead of speaking plainly?

1. who can you trust?

 Some devas do give plain simple advice in plain language, in a dream, in a vision, or just a voice in either dream or waking consciousness. But here's the problem. Whenever you get advice from beings in higher dimensions, how do you know if you can trust them? How do you know it's not a malevolent being with intent to harm or trick you? You might get a vision of a Buddha, an Arahant, or Jesus Christ, or the Virgin Mary, how do you know they're real? You don't. 

2. help you learn to think critically

Something that wise beings do, human or devas, is they will just give a hint or help you think through a problem without telling you the answer. They want you to develop dhamma-vicaya samobojjhanga, vimamsa, etc., the ability to think critically and come to the right answer on your own.  

3. plausible deniability

Also, another great benefit of that is they have plausible deniability in case you can't come to the right answer yourself, it's not their fault you chose wrong and now have to learn from your mistake.

4. haunting, memorable, validation

The strange riddle tends to stick your mind for days, weeks, even months as you continue to ponder it, and even after you think you've come to a solution, there's still some element of uncertainty and you continue to ponder and look for tangible ways to validate your solution. 

If the deva had given you simple plain commands to follow,  you don't learn to solve problems yourself, you don't learn to check, double check, critically examine the Dharma to ascertain whether it's genuine Dharma. 

Here's what the sutta left out, intentionally.

Again, my opinion. 
The sutta uses vivid and interesting imagery for how one uses the noble sword of wisdom to remove 9  things. Those 9 similes are meant to haunt your memory over a long time (you'd much more quickly forget plain advice) and draw out nuances of the nature of those 9 things and why you'd want to remove them. 

The tenth item, the dragon (nāga), is the arahant. And unlike the first 9 things which are to be removed, for the dragon, the exact instruction is: (B. Sujato translation)
‘Nāgo’ti kho, bhikkhu, khīṇāsavassetaṃ bhikkhuno adhivacanaṃ.
‘Dragon’ is a term for a monk who has ended the defilements.
Tiṭṭhatu nāgo, mā nāgaṃ ghaṭṭesi; namo karohi nāgassāti ayametassa attho”ti. (15)
This is the meaning of: ‘Leave the dragon! Do not disturb the dragon! Worship the dragon.’”

 The Pali verb for “spite” (ghaṭṭesi; 3rd sg ghaṭteti) is interesting and has two main senses, the literal and the figurative. 
Literally, ghaṭṭeti means “he strikes, beats, knocks against, touch”; 
figuratively, “he offends, mocks, objects to.” 

So the sutta, IMO, ends on a cliff hanger. The deva gave a fascinating, haunting riddle, the Buddha explains the basic elements, but still leaves much to ponder, especially how do you not disturb the dragon, and what is the dragon experientially in your spiritual practice, since the other 9 elements are very concrete entities and specific? 

A cursory reading of the sutta, one would just think, "OK, the dragon is the arahant, we should remove 9 types of defilements and worship the arahant. Got it."

But if that's all you came away with, how does that improve specifics of your meditation and understanding right now? What did the deva and Buddha tell you that you didn't already know? 

The big question that left you hanging,  How does one become the dragon (arahant)?

(I'll wait a few days before sharing my ideas on the answer )

Forum discussion

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The jhān-o-meter: why should you use the force? because it's tangible proof of passadhi sambojjhanga


This article is part of a series:

🔗📝 notes on passadhi (pacification) and force

Wouldn't it be nice if jhana was so easy to ascertain as the health bar meters on a video game? 

Do you have enough piti, enough sukha, enough ekaggata to qualify as jhana? 

Is it too much piti, too much vitakka and vicara to disqualify you from first jhana? 

Piti drops in in 3rd jhana, sukha drops out in 4th, so how do you really know if you're in 2nd, 3rd, 4th when there's a subtle sensation of pleasant comfort but it pervades every cell in your body?

I'm going to let you in on a secret. 

Use the force. 

I'm playing with words referring to a popular modern mythical epic story, but what I'm referring to is as  tangible as a mosquito biting you, the difference in force sensation in your body between holding a 5lb weight, 4lb weight, etc. The force difference between wearing a winter coat and not wearing one, the difference in force and pressure you can feel between wearing a tshirt and jeans versus walking around completely naked. The difference between internal force have having a full bladder and needing to pee, and what the force feels like after you pee. That's the force you're using, the force you should learn to become sensitive to, and the sensitivity training that's described in steps 3 and 4 of the 16 steps of breath meditation. 

All 4 jhanas have passadhi-sambojjhanga, and 'the force' is directly proportional to passadhi. 

Passaddhi, pacification, is deep relaxation. When the taiji grandmaster tells the student, "you're not relaxed", and the student objects, "I AM relaxed!",  what the teacher really means is the student does not have jhanic level of relaxation. If you're relaxed (passadhi) in the jhanic sense, you will feel the force. Not an abstract intellectual concept, but a tangible, physical force that drives a current of energy in the body. When you have blockages, what I call jhana constipation, the body will shake when the force pushes the current of energy, and the energy rebounds off the blockage. When all the blockages are cleared, then the force drives the current and flows freely. In first and second jhana, this will feel hydraulic, like heat and water flowing everywhere. In 3rd jhana, the current feels like a dam filled up and saturated, and you no longer have the sensation of a fire hydrant hose vibrating and flowing inside, but you still feel force pushing on the parts of your body, usually the extremities like the skin, fingers, toes, where the energy channels are the slowest to completely open up. 

Conclusion: If you have genuine passadhi (pacification, relaxation), you will feel a tangible force

If you have genuine passadhi (pacification, relaxation), you will feel a tangible force pushing a current of energy (can be heat, fluid, electricity, or just visible light that gets brighter as your jhana battery is more fully charged).

If you don't feel the force, you're not as relaxed as you think, or you are in the jhana impotence state.

Even in jhana constipation state, you feel force pushing a current against your blockages. In jhana impotence state, this means you've expended too much of your PIE (precious internal energy) from too much indulgence in sensual pleasures (or even too much virtuous heavy thinking and studying of Dharma which is energy intensive). 

So the only way to end the jhana impotence state, is to keep noble silence and pure celibacy (even strong thoughts of lust can drain vast amounts of internal energy, for example reading/watching emotionally charged lust inducing romantic epic stories). 

This article is part of a series:

🔗📝 notes on passadhi (pacification) and force

Friday, November 19, 2021

🔗📝 collection of notes on 'nibbāna', nirvana


4👑☸ → EBpedia📚 → 
nibbāna 🚫🔥: nirvāṇa (sanskrit) Nirvana (english): see ☸4nt → §3. Dukkha-nirodhaṃ for detailed treatment.
    1. awakening, enlightenment, realization of arahant, defilements destroyed, no longer subject to rebirth.
    2. ordinary daily life usage: extinguishment of a fire, quenching of thirst, cooling.

External notes

B. Thanissaro gives nice concise definition of nibbāna

Now, the Buddha says that nibbāna is something indescribable, but he will talk about it to some extent so that we’ll desire to go there.

To begin with, he says that it exists. This is unlike the case of the arahant, where he refuses to answer the question as to whether the arahant exists as a being. In fact, his refusal there is so thorough that he rules out all the possible answers to the question: that the arahant exists, doesn’t exist, both exists and doesn’t exist, or neither exists nor doesn’t exist.

That’s because beings are defined by their attachments, whereas arahants have no attachments, so you can’t define them. If you can’t define them, then you can’t describe them.

Nibbāna, though, is a state. States are not defined by attachments. They’re defined by whether they’re realities. The Buddha says that nibbāna is very much a reality—a reality with five main attributes.

• One, it is a type of consciousness. It’s not a blanking-out. It’s not consciousness in the aggregates, though. And because it’s beyond name and form, it’s not the consciousness found in the formless jhānas. It’s called consciousness without surface, a consciousness that, unlike the consciousness in the aggregates or in the jhānas, isn’t known through the six senses, including the sense of the mind.

The image is of a light beam that doesn’t land anywhere. If you had a light beam going through space and it didn’t land on any material object, you wouldn’t be able to see it because it wouldn’t be reflected. It’s through the reflections coming off of surfaces that we see light. But if it doesn’t land on anything—and that’s how the Buddha talks about it; he calls it consciousness that’s unestablished, a consciousness that doesn’t land—it’s bright in and of itself. But [because] it doesn’t appear as brightness to anything else, it can’t be located.

• Two, it is freedom. This is why the Buddha calls it nibbāna, or unbinding. As I said, it’s like a flame that’s been freed from its fuel.

• Three, it’s something true, unchanging, and undeceptive. Because it’s not conditioned, it’s just there. It doesn’t change at all.

• Four, for this reason, it’s a state of security and happiness. As the Buddha said, it’s the ultimate happiness.

• And five, it’s excellent, the ultimate, beyond anything else that could be found.

This reflection by Ajaan Geoff is from the 2021 Miscellaneous Essay, “The Three Perceptions.”:

Thursday, November 18, 2021

🔗📝 🐉 Unleash the hidden dragon

Internal notes

External notes

🔗unleashing the hidden dragon

Use the force to unleash the Dragon

IMO, the key to the success of unleashing the hidden dragon, the naga of SN 46.1 and MN 23, is understanding the role of jhanic force and passaddhi in the 7sb formula, and feeding it constantly.

MN 23 unleash the hidden dragon - there's a lot more to this sutta than the Buddha says

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

EA 12.1 satipatthana sutra from a different school, 4 Jhānas ≈ 4 Satipaṭṭhāna, Jhana factors are the 7sb awakening factors ... l#flink-15

Link there to EA 12.1 in Chinese + English, based on Analayo translation,
the 4 jhanas section gone through with Dr. William Chu to correct some of Analayo's errors.

Eventually, people will start catching on to the idea that 4 Jhānas ≈ 4 Satipaṭṭhāna ... index.html

It's not just in the other EBT schools. Within Theravada, you'll see the same idea play out in kayagata sutta MN 119, SN 47.4 most prominently,
and MN 125 is explicit in equating the 4satipatthana with first jhana. Meaning you can do first jhana, and satipatthana in all 4 postures. ... uated.html

One other big issue that people don't understand, due to LBT propaganda in redefining the 4 jhanas as a disembodied frozen stupor done as a pure samatha exercise with "5 jhana factors" that intentionally murder the vipassana factors of upekkha and sampajano, and redefine vitakka and vicara to be non-vipassana factors to freeze the mind in stupor instead of exercising full vipassana capabilities as defined in the EBT.

forum discussion

SarathW wrote: Mon Nov 15, 2021 4:15 pmI did not read the links you provided.
But I do not personally believe that four Jhana = four Satipathana
Jhana leads to Jhananga = Vitakka, Vicara, Pithy,Sukha,Ekatgata
Satipathana lead to Bojjanga = Sati,viriya,vimamsa,pithi,pasaddhi, samadhi etc

However first Satipathana can be equate to first Jhana with some exceptions.

Note the difference between the equal sign "=" and "≈" approximately, (The ≈ is used mostly in terms of numerical approximations, meaning that the values in questions are "close" to each other in whatever context one is)
4 Jhānas ≈ 4 Satipaṭṭhāna

You didn't read the links because of what? So you can continue holding on to misguided views on jhana and bojjhanga based on LBT?

You admit that first jhana = satipatthana done with samadhi of certain quality.
And you can't help but notice the phrase "sati and sampajano", explicitly part of 3rd jhana formula, elsewhere such as SN 47.2 define S&S as the 4 satipatthana.
So if 1st jhana is doing satipathana, as as 3rd jhana, why is hard to believe 2nd and 4th jhana can as well?
4th jhana's formula "upekkha sati pari suddhim" means that all 7 awakening factors have been sufficiently completed in order for 4th jhana to be possible.
upekkha = bojjhanga #7, sati is #1, parisuddhim is purified or completion of #1-#7

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

🔗📝 notes on "You can 👂 hear sounds in the 4 jhānas."

 internal notes

• You can 👂 hear sounds in the 4 jhānas.: Which samādhis are silent?

external notes

AN 10.72 real example of loudest thunder I've ever heard

AN 2.58- AN 2.59
“These two, mendicants, are not startled by a crack of thunder. What two? A mendicant who has ended defilements; and a thoroughbred elephant. These are the two who are not startled by a crack of thunder.” ... ript=latin

AN 10.72 real example of loudest thunder I've ever heard


On what it means for sound to be thorn WHILE IN the 4 jhanas:

BrokenBones wrote: Tue Nov 09, 2021 5:01 pm...
If I'm wearing a simple coat and someone prods me with a stick it's a 'thorn'.

If I'm wearing a super thick coat and they prod me then I'm still aware of it going on but it no longer bothers me.

Entering first jhana and the early stages of settling into it is the simple coat... becoming established in first jhana is the super thick coat.

That's exactly how it is. If people were serious meditators and had personal experience, they would come to a fascinating discovery that the suttas mean what they say, in plain simple terms.

I once was in Asia meditating in a group in the large meditation hall. A loud thunderstorm snuck up on us, where you never knew it came, no sound of rain, no visual of lightning, the first moment we knew of the storm, was the loudest thunder I've ever heard.

Large meditation hall, lots of people in it, I opened my eyes when the thunder struck, I was completely calm and unperturbed. I heard it, understood it was loud, but was not startled in the least. Exactly like the simile above with muted response with progressively thicker coat. All around me I can see and feel people jump out of their seats and visibly startled by the thunder, loudest I've ever heard that suddenly came out of nowhere with no warning.

Lots of meditation charges up your jhana battery, and it's like you get air bags that cushion you from large shocks,

That's why those war elephant similes work in MN 125, how they train in jhanas 1-4 to be resilient and imperturbable to the physical trauma of war.

When the suttas talk about imperturbability where they wouldn't have heard that loud thunder, those meditators would have been in an arupa samadhi at the time, or the 9th attainment. But if they were IN THE PROCESS OF TRYING TO ATTAIN those formless states, then they would hear the thunder, and that's the distinction made in AN 10.72 that almost no one seems to notice.

also, another real example my story of my taiji teacher colliding with a speeding vehicle. ... rt-vs.html

Someone on the thread claiming that AN 10.72 is talking about perception and feeling arising in the 9th attainment being thorns and interrupting that attainment (which isn't possible)

I"ve made this point many times, I don't understand why people don't remember or just can't grok it.

from my article on hearing sounds in all 4 jhanas comments on AN 10.72

but why is samādhi attainment 9 on the list?
(9) saññā-vedayita-nirodha-samāpattiyā
(9) (for) perception-(and)-feelings'-cessation-attainment,
saññā ca vedanā ca kaṇṭako
perception and feeling (is a) thorn,
for cessation of perception and feeling, it’s the ”attainment of” (samāpattiyā), not the activity within that samadhi itself that is a thorn.

in this case, sounds are thorns while one is in the process of trying to attain. Note that same qualifer of “attainment” is not applied to the 4 jhanas, and note once again the 4 formless attainments are missing.

if the 4 jhanas were uninterruptible frozen states like the 9th attainment, then they would also need that qualifier of the ”attainment of” (samāpattiyā) to indicate that the thorn is happening before the freeze, not during.