Tuesday, July 14, 2020

pali lesson: memory technique - acronyms, sati and smrti

Examples of acronyms I use to help memorize new pali vocabulary, and phrases of pali words:

Example #1: the 3 a.m. (akusala mula, raga, dosa, moha)

From AN 3.16, we know that the proper time to sleep and wake up, is typically 10pm - 2am, or 11pm through 3am.

Here's a little mantra (pali = manta) that I like to recite:
At 3 a.m., we wake up to do battle with the 3 a.m. (akusala mula, raga, dosa, moha)
3am 😈🌱= 3 a-kusala mulani = 3 un-skillful roots, The Unholy Trinity

Example #2: 5 ariya bhavita indriya

5👑abi️ = 5 ariya bhavita indriya = Noble one's developed faculties, 5 masteries of perception, ariya iddhi superpower.

The acronym "abi" (representing 3 pali words) looks like the english word "ability".
So the 5abi, are like 5 kind of important special abilities

Example #3: It ain't Sammā Samādhi unless it contains A PASS to Nirvana

The lesson is:

Sunday, July 12, 2020

SN 54.2 audtip release, and pali lesson - memory retention, Rule of Sautrantika

audtip = (aud)io (t)ales in (p)ali.

Originally, audtip.org used to represent "(aud)io (tip)itaka."
Then I researched more into abhidhamma pitaka (basket), and realized it was problematic. 

Lesson #1: Rule of Sautrantika

If newer Buddhist doctrine contradicts core EBT, then earlier core EBT has primacy and you reject heretical contradictions. This doesn't mean the entirety of the newer scriptures have to be rejected, but certainly the parts that contradict are invalid and must be emphatically denied. 

So now,  making lemonade,  audtip = (aud)io (t)ales in (p)ali.

SN 54.2  - 🔗🔊 16🌬️😤 (breath meditation) combined with 7sb☀️
 🔗🔊 = audio link to recording

Chanting the full sutta, with no peyyāla ( maghada-ism for 'pariyaya', ellisions of phrase repetitions), at fluent speed, takes about 2 minutes.

Chanting the abbreviated version, takes about 1 minute.

Lesson #2: Keep it warm! Always recite important suttas every day

This sutta has some super important ideas, so I chant a very abbreviated version of it every day, for the purpose of keeping it sharp in my memory, and since it contains wrapper material overlapping with SN 54.3 (another sutta I chant everyday), then it only takes me 20-30 seconds for my abbreviated SN 54.2 version.

If you don't use your Dharma weapons everyday, they get rusty and you even completely forget about them. So the super important ideas, you want to refresh your memory everyday, to keep it in prime real estate in your mind, like having your sword of samadhi always slung around your back ready to grab on a moment's notice. 

So learning how to create abbreviated suttas that only take half a minute to recite and keep it warm in your memory is a critical skill. 

Lesson #3: Every meditation method has this sutta SN 54.2 as the underlying basis and structure

This is especially clear in SN 46. 
✴️SN 46 Bojjh-aṅga Saṃyutta: Awakening-factors: (7sb) 1🐘 2💭 3🏹 4😁 5🌊 6🌄 7👁

These 20 suttas are all basically the same as SN 54.2, with 20 different meditation subjects substituted in for 'anapana sati sahagatam':

Ānāpāna Vagga 7

SN 46.57 Aṭṭhika: 💀☠️ Skeleton-(perception/sañña)
SN 46.58 Puḷavaka: 🐛🧟 worm-infested
SN 46.59 Vinīlaka: 🧟🏿 black-and-blue-[corpse]
SN 46.60 Vicchiddaka: 🕸️🧟 fissured-[corpse]
SN 46.61 Uddhumātaka: 🧟🏻‍♀️ bloated-[corpse]
SN 46.62 Mettā: 4☮️→1.🤝🤗 friendly-kindness
SN 46.63 Karuṇā: 4☮️→2.👐😊 compassion
SN 46.64 Muditā: 4☮️→3.😊 virtuous-mirth
SN 46.65 Upekhā: 4☮️→4.🛆👁️equanimous-observation
SN 46.66 Ānā-pāna-sati: 16APS🌬️😤 breath-remembering

Nirodha Vagga 8

SN 46.67 A-subha: 31asb 🧟non-beautiful [body parts]
SN 46.68 Maraṇa: 💀⚰️ death-(perception/sañña)
SN 46.69 Paṭikkūla: 🍲💩 loathesome: āhāre paṭikūla-saññā, food repulsiveness-perception
SN 46.70 Sabba-loke: 🌐😞 entire world: Sabba-loke an-abhi-rati-saññā, The-entire-world; non-delight-(in that)-perception
SN 46.71 A-nicca: ⏳ im-permanence (perception)
SN 46.72 Dukkha ⏳→💩: pain-&-suffering: A-nicce dukkha-saññā, (the)-im-permanent (as) pain-&-suffering-perception
SN 46.73 An-atta: 💩→🚫🏃 not-self: dukkhe an-atta-saññā, pain-&-suffering (as) not-self-perception
SN 46.74 Pahāna: abandonment (perception/sañña)
SN 46.75 Vi-rāga: 🚫💑 dis-passion (perception/sañña)
SN 46.76 Nirodha: cesssation (perception/sañña)

Lesson #4: Each of the 7sb awakening factors can be developed independently

The basic 7sb formula is not just a causal sequence that develops in a fixed order. They are completely independent factors you can adjust in any stage of meditation. 

Saturday, July 11, 2020

pali lesson: 4 meditations, 10 words that must be memorized, audio of passage reading

4 meditations = a-subha 🧟, ‍ 1.🤝🤗 metta, 16🌬️😤 breath meditation, a-nicca sañña.

You should memorize and recite at least this part of the passage (approximately 10 words) by heart.
At least once a day.
It only takes 🔊 20 seconds:
Or the full passage, about  🔊 40 seconds. The extra 20 seconds explains how anicca sanna leads to nirvana.  

These are 4 of the most important Dharma weapons in your arsenal, and if you don't familiarize yourself intimately with what they are, why and how to use them, you can easily waste a lot of time hacking in a wilderness without clear purpose.  

1) asubha 🧟 → remove lust and passion

a-subhā bhāvetabbā
Non-beautiful [foulness perceptions] (he) should-develop,
rāgassa pahānāya,
(for) [lustful] passion's removal,

2) metta ☮️ → remove ill will

mettā bhāvetabbā
Friendly-kindness (he) should-develop,
byāpādassa pahānāya,
(for) ill-will's removal,

3) 16 APS 🌬️😤 → remove vitakka/thinking

ānā-pānas-sati bhāvetabbā
Inhale-exhale-remembering (he) should-develop,
(for) [distractive] thinking's-cutting-off,

4) a-nicca-sañña ⌛💭 → uproot pride, conceit, self

a-nicca-saññā bhāvetabbā
im-permanence-perception (he) should-develop,
(for) pride-(and)-conceit's-uprooting.

Pali lesson notes

Notes on a few of the Vocabulary words:
subha = beautiful, most frequently in the sense of 5 cords of sensuality, attractive stimuli.
a-subha = non-beautiful - two pali words for the price of one! Usually  31 body parts practice is implied.
nicca = permanent
a-nicca = im-permanent - two pali words for the price of one!

pahānāya: abandon: You see the same word used in right effort, and right samadhi (4th jhana)
byāpādassa : ill-will: you see negated form of this word in right resolve (abyapada sankappo). abaypada is a 'slurp' word that can mean any of the four brahma viharas. 

Special focus on this important word


bhāveti: (verb) increases; cultivates; develops. (bhū+ e)
bhāvanā: increase; development by means of thought; meditation. (f.)
bhāvetabba: should be cultivated. (pt.p. of bhāveti)

Whenever you see the suffix "tabba", it's usually an imperative version of the verb that means "you should do this". 

This is why it's important to understand the difference between Long and short vowels, syllables

Here's a very similar word. If you're sloppy in pronunciation between long and short, 
it's a different word with different meaning.

bhavati: becomes; to be; exists. (bhu + a)
bhavana: becoming; a dwelling place. (nt.)

Friday, July 10, 2020

SN 45.8 👑8☸ noble eightfold path - pali lesson - memorize pali for this word for word

It's a mystery to me why this sutta is not regularly recited in monasteries everywhere (once a week minimum, once a day even better). It only takes 5 minutes at conversational speed to recite, about 3 minutes if you trim it down to essentials.

 If you're serious about the EBT and core buddhist principles, you want to know this sutta forwards and backwards, word for word. Once you have samma samadhi and samma sati memorized by heart, and understand the meaning of it word for word as you recite it, you'll never be fuzzy again on what you're supposed to be doing moment by moment in terms of "mindfulness" (sati, remembrance of Dharma), and what the 4 quality levels of samadhi for that "mindfulness" are. 

SN 45.8 👑8☸ (sutta text pali + english)
🔗🔊 audio broken down into individual sections

Other versions of SN 45.8

Meaning of glyph:
👑 = ariya (noble)
☸ = magga (path)
🔗 = web hyperlink 
🔊 = audio recording

Thursday, July 9, 2020

fun pali lesson: SN 8.4 ananda sutta on lust, prose and verse, audtip.org pali sutta release SN 8.4

Feed two birds with one scone. | Vegan animals, Vegan quotes ...

I'm going to feed two birds with one scone here:

1) Announcing a new pali sutta audio recording to add to our collection:
http://lucid24.org/sn/sn08/sn08-004/index.html (sutta text eng + pali)

🔗🔊  (audio, pali)

2) Fun pali lesson for the day, using the same sutta recording SN 8.4

2a) observe the difference in chanting style between the prose section at beginning, and the verse section (starts at around 1min mark).

I didn't read up on how it's officially done, I just listened to some of Ven. Jiv's pali recordings and reverse engineered what I think he's doing. And then my version is a simplified version of what I believe he's doing. My style tries to really minimize musicality, but without losing the tonal patterns that aid with memorization, and error detection. 

So for the prose section, it's just the way we normally chant suttas. I'll call it the baseline, and each phrase (arbitrary length of where we pause to catch our breath), the tone pitch tends to rise a little bit towards the middle, and then gradually drift back down towards the baseline.

For the verse section, I chant at a higher key/pitch than the prose verse baseline, and it stays relatively flat at that higher key. 
Each verse comes in couplets.
 For each odd numbered line (first line is odd), the verse baseline stays flat/constant all the way through.
For each even numbered line (second line is even), the verse baseline stays flat the first half of the phrase, but then the pitch drifts down. 
So that is done deliberately, so you can always tell if you're on an even or odd line, it differentiates lines within couplets, and that helps differentiates paragraphs.

If you haven't recited a sutta for a really long time, and then try to reconstruct parts you are forgetting or messing up, the verse meter, and the tonal patterns of chanting, are all really helpful to remembering the correct chanting.

Exercise for the pali student: 
Listen to the audio while reading the sutta text.
Notice the difference in style between prose and verse.

2b) observation about the prose/verse differentiation  in oral tradition.
If you read the prose section, you notice it doesn't really add anything of doctrinal substance, it just gives a setting and context showing Ven. Vangisa as the student of Ven. Ananda. 
* But in other suttas, the prose may really expand on the verse section and give some extensive commentary.
*  Or sometimes the verse just serves as a short summary of a long sutta. 
But if you think about how we learn, memorize, and transmit teachings via the oral tradition, most likely the verse is the only thing you memorize, and the prose is most likely the reciter's sponteanous, extemporaneous and customized for the audience commentary and explanation of what the verse means.

2c) should I memorize this sutta?
Remember, the pali gorilla fun primer series, I'm not going to suggest you memorize any new vocabulary or sutta passages unless they're critical. 
Now in my personal repertoire, I've memorized the verse and recite it regularly (only takes about 40 seconds), and didn't memorize the prose for SN 8.4 since it contains no doctrinal importance. Almost all of the words in the verse are worth learning and remembering, they come up often and are important. 

♦ “kāma-rāgena ḍayhāmi,
(with) sensuality-(and)-lust (I) burn,
cittaṃ me pari-ḍayhati.
Mind (of) mine completely-burns.
♦ sādhu nibbāpanaṃ brūhi,
[the] thorough Nirvana-[fire extinguishing]-process, [please] explain,
anu-kampāya gotamā”ti.
Out-of-compassion, Gotama.
(ānanda replies)
♦ “saññāya vipariyesā,
(your) perceptions (are) inverted,
cittaṃ te pari-ḍayhati.
[so the] mind (of) yours completely-burns,
♦ nimittaṃ pari-vajjehi,
(the) sign (to) completely-avoid:
subhaṃ rāg-ūpasaṃhitaṃ.
beauty connected-with-lust
♦ “saṅkhāre parato passa,
Co-doings; alien (they should be) seen (as),
dukkhato mā ca attato.
pain-&-suffering, not the self.
♦ nibbāpehi mahā-rāgaṃ,
Nirvanify [extinguish] (the) massive-lust,
mā ḍayhittho punap-punaṃ.
don’t burn again-(and)-again.
♦ “a-subhāya cittaṃ bhāvehi,
Non-beautiful [perceptions] (the) mind develops,
ek’-aggaṃ su-samāhitaṃ.
Singular-preoccupation, well-(developed)-undistractible-lucidity.
♦ sati kāya-gatā ty-atthu,
remembrance (of) body-condition,
nibbidā-bahulo bha.
disenchantment-(in)-abundance ***.
♦ “a-nimittañca bhāvehi,
Sign-less [meditation] (you) develop,
♦ tato mān-ābhisamayā,
thereupon (with) conceit-penetrated,
upasanto carissasī”ti.
(in) peace (you) abide.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

audio recording in pali for 10 precepts, 8 precepts. Pronunciation tip - keep tongue in neutral position

I updated this article to contain new audio recordings to go along with pali + english text:
10 precepts: 🔗skin in the game: why learn pali? memorize: 10 precepts

🔗🔊: (link to audio for 10 precepts at slow speed, 
8 precepts at 40 seconds normal conversation speed)

Great pronunciation strategy tip

Back in my early days learning pali, a Sri Lankan monk gave me this great tip.
Most westerners trying to pronounce pali tend to have their tongue in the wrong position. 
If I recall correctly,  he said the error being the tongue was either too labial (lips) or dental (teeth).
He suggested keeping the tongue in a more centered, neutral location.

I took that advice to heart, and between that tip, and listening to audio of Sri Lankan pali chanting experts, I found that was enough for me to get a decent pronunciation going, without practicing all the detailed nuances from the full blown pronunciation guide. Just listen to correct pronunciation, try to reproduce what you hear, and the tongue being in a more neutral position ensures whatever you make is not too far off. Ultimate gorilla (guerrilla) warfare for quick usable results in the jungle and real life application. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

☸🦍 fun pali pronunciation lesson: tapping with the fingers as a metronome to distinguish between long and short syllables.

audio for the lesson:

♦ buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.
(to the) Buddha (as a) refuge (I) go.

On the audio, when I recite this carefully select phrase, each finger tap on the table is equivalent to one long syllable in time.

Two short syllables = 1 long syllable in time. 
I selected this phrase because the number of short consecutive syllables are even (except for the 'i' in the last word gacchami). This is so the metronome tapping stays in sync.

The purpose of this exercise is to train you to get a feel of timing for 2 shorts = 1 long temporally. In practice, you don't have to get the timing perfect, but the more accurate you are, the more easily pali speakers can communicate with each other without ambiguity and confusion. Imagine during an arahant council and everyone is reciting the suttas they know in unison to verify the fidelity of transmission. You don't want to be the oddball out of sync that keeps interrupting the group chant. 

Breaking down the syllables word by word:
bud - long
dham - long
sa - short
ra - short
nam - long
gac - long
chā - long
mi - short

Remember the 4 simple rules of pronunciation? 
☸🦍 pali pronunciation, quick and easy, 4 simple ...

In the phrase above, pronounce every letter you see.
Note that a long syllable does not have to contain a 'long' vowel.
The long 'ā' vowel has a bar on top of the 'a'.
The short 'a' vowel does not.
Similarly: 'ī' is long, 'i' is short vowel.
Similarly: 'ū' is long, 'u' is short vowel.
The remaining two vowels are tricky: 'e' and 'o' are always long vowels, even though they have no bar on top of them. This is just a dumb rule we have to live with because the people who designed the romanized pali script decided that was the way it was going to be. Perhaps they thought saving ink on the printing presses from not having the extra bars on top of the 'o' and 'e' would save money? Who knows. 

So the basic of the 4 rules of pronunciation is, pronounce every letter you see, including the 'h', know the difference between long and short vowels, long and short syllables, treat multiple consonants like speed bumps, and listen to accurate pali audio to learn from.

My pronunciation is very competent on timing and fundamentals, but not up to par on the more subtle things that Americans have trouble discerning from native Indian or Sri Lankan vocals. Ideally use Ven. Jiv's audio samples whenever possible on lucid24.org. He's the gold standard. Other Sri Lankan bhikkhus and bhikkhunis are excellent, but sometimes they get a little carried away with musicality and it can be hard for a beginner to know what is being musical and what is the actual vowel supposed to sound like.