Sunday, March 29, 2020

AN 5.55 lust contrasted against first jhana's blameless pleasure

5kg = panca kāma-guṇā = 5 sensuality strings

While first jhana is not explicitly specified this sutta, it's consonant with the same theme. That VRJ (vism. redefinition of jhana) which emphasizes samatha kung fu of 5 body senses being shut down, an impressive feat in its own right, has nothing to do with the superpower of first jhana, which is to deeply understand that the pleasure of being free of lust and desire for 5kg, is far superior.

example of expert meditator teacher who could to VRJ with 5 senses shut down. Turns out he was cheating on his wife, had something like 10 mistresses over many years, some of them were paid sex workers, and likely money was coming from Dhamma teaching donations from his students. He is just one recent example among many throughout the history of meditators who could do VRJ.

He could do VRJ jhanas and arupa samadhi, but he couldn't do a proper EBT first jhana where 'secluded from sensual pleasure' doesn't mean the 5 senses are shut off, it means exactly what the words look like, the ability to abide in spiritual pleasures which are free of worldly sensual pleasures and sexual desire.

Comprehensive gloss of vivicc’eva kāmehi from STED...

The function of vitakka and vicara in first jhana, is not to shut off the 5 sense faculties, but to think, ponder, and:
Ye ca kāme pariññāya,
... completely understand sensual pleasures

AN 5.55 excerpt

Yañhi taṃ, bhikkhave, sammā vadamāno vadeyya:
For if anyone should be rightly called ‘an all-round snare of Māra’, it’s females.
‘samantapāso mārassā’ti mātugāmaṃyeva sammā vadamāno vadeyya:
‘samantapāso mārassā’ti.
Sallape asihatthena,
You might chat with someone who has knife in hand.
pisācenāpi sallape;
You might even chat with a goblin.
Āsīvisampi āsīde,
You might sit close by a viper,
yena daṭṭho na jīvati;
whose bite would take your life.
Na tveva eko ekāya,
But never should you chat
mātugāmena sallape.
one on one with a female.
Muṭṭhassatiṃ tā bandhanti,
They captivate the unrememberful
pekkhitena sitena ca;
with a glance and a smile.
Athopi dunnivatthena,
Or scantily clad,
mañjunā bhaṇitena ca;
they speak charming words.
Neso jano svāsīsado,
It’s not good to sit with such a person,
api ugghātito mato.
even if she’s injured or dead.
Pañca kāmaguṇā ete,
These five kinds of sensual stimulation
itthirūpasmiṃ dissare;
are apparent in a woman’s body:
Rūpā saddā rasā gandhā,
sights, sounds, tastes, smells,
phoṭṭhabbā ca manoramā.
and touches so delightful.
Tesaṃ kāmoghavūḷhānaṃ,
Those swept away by the flood of sensual pleasures,
kāme aparijānataṃ;
not comprehending them,
Kālaṃ gati bhavābhavaṃ,
make their priority transmigration—
saṃsārasmiṃ purakkhatā.
time and destination, life after life.
Ye ca kāme pariññāya,
But those who completely understand sensual pleasures
caranti akutobhayā;
live fearing nothing from any quarter.
Te ve pāraṅgatā loke,
They are those in the world who’ve crossed over,
ye pattā āsavakkhayan”ti.
having reached the ending of defilements.”

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Comprehensive gloss of vivicc’eva kāmehi from STED 1st Jhāna

 'vivicc’eva kāmehi' of first jhana = seclusion from sensuality, 

seclusion from desire for sensual pleasure,
seclusion from desire for sensual pleasure objects.

Surveying every reference  of first jhana formula in the suttas, you can verify it yourself. Whenever first jhana occurs in a gradual samadhi training sequence, the kama/kamehi being referenced will also be explicitly explained prior to first jhana formula in the form of:
1. kāma sankappo or kāma vitakka, desire of sensual pleasure in opposition to nekkhamma sankappo/vitakka (renunciations thoughts and resolves).  (AN 6.73AN 6.74AN 6.75).
2. 5kg = panca kāma-guṇā = 5 sensuality strings
3. kāmacchanda, the first of the 5niv⛅ = pañca nīvaraṇā = 5 hindrances
4. kāma, raga, or lobha of the 3am 😈🌱= 3 a-kusala mulani = 3 un-skillful roots, The Unholy Trinity, aka 3 aggi 🔥(fire)

 Athough kāma in some contexts in Theravada scripture (not sure if it occurs in EBT?) can mean objects of the 5 senses, rather than desire for sensual pleasure objects, in first jhana context, this is never the case. Even in Abhidhamma Vibhanga.

AN 6.63 explains that in EBT, kāmā specifically means #1 and #2 from above

 kāma (sensual pleasures) is slurped from AN 6.63Standard EBT Definitions. EBT = Early Buddhist Texts.
and equated with STED  → 5kg kāma-guṇā  
and this most important explicit explanation of that in the context of EBT and first jhana
...kāyaviññeyyā phoṭṭhabbā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṃhitā rajanīyā.
...Touches known by the body that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing.
Api ca kho, bhikkhave, nete kāmā kāmaguṇā nāmete ariyassa vinaye vuccanti—
However, these are not sensual pleasures. In the training of the noble one they’re called ‘kinds of sensual stimulation’.
Saṅkappa-rāgo purisassa kāmo,
Greedy intention is a person’s sensual pleasure.
Nete kāmā yāni citrāni loke;
The world’s pretty things aren’t sensual pleasures.
Saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo,
Greedy intention is a person’s sensual pleasure.
Tiṭṭhanti citrāni tatheva loke;
The world’s pretty things stay just as they are,
Athettha dhīrā vinayanti chandanti.
but a wise one removes desire for them.

Viveka, vivicc'eva means:

Secluded. Specifically in this context, secluded from sensuality, sensual pleasure and desire for them. There can be both mental and physical seclusion, but by far the only one that matters in the end, is mental seclusion from sensuality based on wisdom.

Where physical seclusion may be implied in the EBT, would be in passages such as MN 150, where the physical seclusion is meant as a preliminary training aid to develop the samadhi and practice.

 It absolutely never means the 5 senses of the body are shut off, that one has entered an arupa/formless attainment as late Theravada Abhidhamma such as Vism. claims (in contradiction to EBT and even early Abhidhamma).

(MN 150):

te āyasmanto araññavanapatthāni pantāni senāsanāni paṭisevanti. Natthi kho pana tattha tathārūpā cakkhuviññeyyā rūpā ye disvā disvā abhirameyyuṃ, natthi kho pana tattha tathārūpā sotaviññeyyā saddā ye sutvā sutvā abhirameyyuṃ, natthi kho pana tattha tathārūpā ghānaviññeyyā gandhā ye ghāyitvā ghāyitvā abhirameyyuṃ, natthi kho pana tattha tathārūpā jivhāviññeyyā rasā ye sāyitvā sāyitvā abhirameyyuṃ, natthi kho pana tattha tathārūpā kāyaviññeyyā phoṭṭhabbā ye phusitvā phusitvā abhirameyyuṃ.

[T]hose venerable ones resort to remote jungle-thicket resting places in the forest. For there are no forms cognizable by the eye there of a kind that they could look at and delight in. There are no sounds cognizable by the ear there of a kind that they could listen to and delight in. There are no odors cognizable by the nose there of a kind that they could smell and delight in. There are no flavors cognizable by the tongue there of a kind that they could taste and delight in. There are no tactual objects cognizable by the body there of a kind that they could touch and delight in.

(whenever you see nekkhamma, especially in jhāna context, it's being contrasted against its akusala/unskillful opposite, kāma, sensuality)

People often forget the 👑-8fold-☸ noble-eightfold-path

is a causal sequence, where thoughts of renunciation based on samma sankappo's nekkhama-sankappo, feed directly into samma samadhi's first jhana formula's "with directed thought and evaluation". For example, in first jhana, you may have the thought, "wow, I'm free of lust and 5 hindrances, and it feels GREAT!", so long as the excitement and intensity of that thought does not block kaya-passadhi (bodily pacification of 7 awakening factor sequence). 

正見 zhèng jiàn
1👁 sammā-diṭṭhi
正思惟 Zhèng sīwéi
2💭 sammā-saṅkappo
正語 Zhèng yǔ
3💬 sammā-vācā
正業 zhèng yè
4🏃 sammā-kammanto
正命 zhèng mìng
5👑 sammā-ājīvo
正精進 zhèng jīngjìn
6🏹 sammā-vāyāmo
正念 zhèngniàn
7🐘 sammā-sati
正定 zhèngdìng
8🌄 sammā-samādhi

From studyinevery reference to STED 4j🌕 formula, and examining what happens right before first jhāna, we can see the pattern. Whenever first jhana occurs in a gradual training context, almost always what comes right before the first jhana formula is a contrast with 5kg, or 5niv (full STED above). 

There are only 2 suttas in the canon titled "first jhana"

So it's worth taking a close look at what it has to say regarding 'vivicceva kamehi'.

You can click the links above to carefully study the full suttas (they're short), but in summary, the 3 wrong and right samma sankappos are contrasted against each other, and the 5 hindrances are listed. Here is a particularly important part of AN 6.73 that most people will miss. Most people will just look at it quickly and go, "ok, 5 hindrances, let's move on...", and miss this very important point:

(item #6 is method 2 of MN 20, i.e. first jhana purifying itself to qualify for 2nd jhana)

Cha, bhikkhave, dhamme pahāya bhabbo paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharituṃ.
But after giving up these six [bad] dharmas you can enter and remain in the first jhāna.
Katame cha?
What six?
1. Desire for sensual pleasures,
2. ill will,
3. dullness and drowsiness,
4. restlessness and remorse,
5. doubt,
kāmesu kho panassa ādīnavo
6. And the drawbacks of sensual pleasures
na yathā-bhūtaṃ samma-p-paññāya su-diṭṭho hoti.
have not been {well-seen}, as-they-actually-are, (with) right-discernment.
Ime kho, bhikkhave, cha dhamme pahāya bhabbo
After giving up these six [bad] dharmas
paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharitun”ti.
you can enter and remain in the first jhāna.”

The sixth item is method #2 from MN 20, the type of skillful thoughts we think to purify our mind, our view, to properly learn to notice, acknowledge, and gain an intuitive understanding that lust, passion, sensual thoughts are dangerous, lead directly to dukkha. And their skillful kusala opposite, 'nekkhama' thoughts of renunciation, lead to and feed the fire of first jhana. Vitakka thoughts have a crucial role in first jhana. They're like the kindling  used to stoke and build up a fire before it's a big blaze and can sustain itself.  It's a critical part of gradual samadhi training, before one has learned the skill of entering into samadhi directly by pacification (passaddhi-sam-bojjhanga). 

So to destroy the meaning of vitakka (thinking) in first jhana, as Vism. and Ajahn Brahm do, is doing great harm to Buddhism. In the EBT, samatha and vipassana in jhana are conjoined, not separate entities to be practiced at different stages independently of each other, as the passage above clearly shows. 

KN Pe 7.72: word cmy on four jhānas

is the earliest Theravada 4 jhana formula gloss. It agrees completely with the pure EBT passages quoted above. (first paragraph 72. talks about tīṇi akusala-mūlāni (3 unskillful roots) and 5niv (hindrances) removal.
♦ tattha a-lobhassa pāripūriyā nekkhamma-vitakkaṃ vitakketi.
576. Here, for non-greed fulfillment, renunciation-thoughts (he) thinks.
tattha a-dosassa pāripūriyā abyāpāda-vitakkaṃ vitakketi.
for non-hatred fulfillment, non-ill-will-thoughts (he) thinks.
tattha a-mohassa pāripūriyā avihiṃsā-vitakkaṃ vitakketi.
for non-delusion fulfillment, non-harm-thoughts (he) thinks.
tattha a-lobhassa pāripūriyā vivitto hoti kāmehi.
577. “Here, for fulfilling non-passion he is secluded from sensual pleasures.
tattha a-dosassa pāripūriyā
Here, for fulfilling non-aggression and
a-mohassa pāripūriyā ca vivitto hoti pāpakehi akusalehi dhammehi,
fulfilling non-delusion he is secluded from unskillful phenomena.
savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ
And so he enters and remains in the first jhāna,
paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.
which includes directed thought and evaluation, as well as joy and pleasure born of seclusion.
♦ vitakkāti tayo vitakkā —
578. Directed thought: There are three kinds of directed thought, namely
the thought of renunciation,
the thought of non-aversion,
and the thought of harmlessness.
tattha paṭham-ābhinipāto vitakko,
579. Here, directed thought is the first instance
paṭiladdhassa vicaraṇaṃ vicāro.
while evaluation is the evaluation of what is thereby received.

B. Thanissaro commentary from his sutta footnotes, circa 2000 C.E.

... the Buddha defined sensuality not as the objects of the senses, but as the passion and delight that one feels for ones intentions toward such objects [ AN 6.63 ]. Although the objects of the senses are neither good nor evil per se, the act of passion and delight forms a bond on the mind, disturbing its immediate peace and ensuring its continued entrapment in the round of rebirth and redeath. Only by separating the desire from its object can one directly perceive the truth of these teachings.

Lets look at some Theravada Non EBT glosses

Te Ab Vb 10: Bojjhaṅga
Te Ab Vb 12: Jhana
Vimt. Vimutti-magga
Vism. Vi-suddhi-magga

“Vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehī”ti tattha katame kāmā? Chando kāmo, rāgo kāmo, chandarāgo kāmo, saṅkappo kāmo, rāgo kāmo, saṅkapparāgo kāmo— ime vuccanti “kāmā”.
“Aloof from sense pleasures, aloof from unskilful dhammas” means: Therein what are sense pleasures? Wish is sense pleasure, lust is sense pleasure, lustful wish is sense pleasure, thought is sense pleasure, lust is sense pleasure, lustful thought is sense pleasure. These are called sense pleasures.
Tattha katame akusalā dhammā? Kāmacchando, byāpādo, thinaṃ, middhaṃ, uddhaccaṃ, kukkuccaṃ, vicikicchā—ime vuccanti “akusalā dhammā”.
Therein what are unskilful dhammas? Wish for sense pleasure, ill-will, sloth, torpor, distraction, remorse, doubt. These are called unskilful dhammas.
Iti imehi ca kāmehi imehi ca akusalehi dhammehi vivitto hoti. Tena vuccati “vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehī”ti.
Thus from these sense pleasures and from these unskilful dhammas he is aloof. Therefore this is called “aloof from sense pleasures, aloof from unskilful dhammas”.

conclusion: Abhidhamma agrees with EBT on what kamehi means in first jhana: lust, passion, sensual desire, etc., and not "5 sense faculties shutting off"

Q. Since separation from demeritorious states is preached and lust as a demeritorious state is already within it, why should separation from lust be separately preached?
A. Lust is conquered through emancipation. Every Buddha's teaching can remove the defilements well. “The separation from lust is renunciation'. This is the teaching of the Buddha. It is like the attainment of the first meditation, jhāna. The thought connected with the perception of lust partakes of the state of deterioration.
Thereby lust is connected with the defilements. With the dispersion of lust all defilements disperse. Therefore, separately, the separation from lust is preached.
And again, thus is separation from lust: After gaining emancipation, a man accomplishes the separation from lust.

conclusion: vimt., which is based on canonical abhdhamma, also agrees with EBT and does not contradict it. No mention of "5 body senses shut off" here.


Their gloss is quite long, so will not be reproduced in this article. The latter portion of the first jhana gloss, seems to quote Abhidhamma gloss above. Prior to that, they seem to support the idea of kamehi referring to objects of sensual pleasure rather than 'desire for sensual pleasures' as the Earlier Buddhist texts, and Abhidhamma and Vimt. states. But note that it's an ADDITIONAL meaning of kamehi, not REPLACING the existing incontrovertible meaning of 'desire for sensual pleasures'.

From the Nyanatiloka's dictionary: (summarize Theravada including Vism. understanding of seclusion)
  • viveka

'detachment', seclusion, is according to Niddesa, of 3 kinds:
  • (1) bodily detachment (kāya-viveka), i.e. abiding in solitude free from alluring sensuous objects;
  • (2) mental detachment (citta-viveka), i.e. the inner detachment from sensuous things;
  • (3) detachment from the substrata of existence (upadhi-viveka).
In the description of the 1st absorption,
  • the words "detached from sensuous things" (vivicc' eva kāmehi) refer, according to Vis.M. IV, to 'bodily detachment';
  • the words "detached from karmically unwholesome things" (vivicca akusalehi dhammehi) refer to 'mental detachment';
  • the words "born of detachment" (vivekaja), to the absence of the 5 hindrances.

Rupert Gethin glosses vivicc’ eva kāmehi of first jhāna

vivicc’ eva kāmehi must mean ‘quite separated / secluded from kāma-s’; so the question is what are kāma-s exactly. I don’t think kāma means ’sense pleasures’. Early on (e.g. already in Peṭ and in NiddI) the exegetical tradition explains kāma-s as twofold: (1) ‘desires' as affliction/defilement (kilesa-kāma), namely taṇhā for the objects of the five senses, and (2) ‘desires’ as the objects of those desires (vatthu-kāma), namely  the objects of the five senses themselves (visible forms, sounds, smells, tastes, the objects of touch). So I take vivicc’ eva kāmehi to mean ‘quite separate/secluded from desires for the objects of the senses / from the objects of sense-desires. That certain words in Pali/Sanskrit can mean both the action and the object that action is directed towards is quite common. In fact this happens in all languages. So in English ’thought’ can mean both ’thinking’ and the object of thinking (what is thought about); ‘attachment’ can mean both being attached and then thing one is attached to; kāma in Pali is exactly like this, even though the English word ‘desire’, which is often used to translate kāma, is not so.

That jhāna is separate or secluded from the objects of the five sense is, of course, why it is rūpāvacara as opposed to kāmāvacara. The attainment of jhāna marks a radical transformation of mind.

gloss of avacara (spheres of consciousness)

  • the sensuous sphere (kāmāvacara),
  • the fine-material sphere (rūpāvacara),
  • the immaterial sphere (arūpāvacara).

B. Thanissaro notes that:

I was curious about your statement that kāma in some contexts can mean objects of the senses. What are those contexts? Is it unequivocal that that’s what the word kāma means in those contexts? Margaret Cone’s Pali dictionary does not give the meaning “sense object” under the entry for kāma at all.

Rupert Gethin responds:

As for Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s query, one of the contexts in which Buddhaghosa explains that kāma-s refer to the objects of sense-desire is precisely the phrase vivicc’ eva kāmehi introducing the first jhāna. At Vism IV.83 he cites the authority of the Niddesa (a late canonical text, but nonetheless likely to predate the Peṭakopadesa) where kāma-s are explained as objects (vatthu) and as referring to “agreeable visible forms, etc.” and concludes (in Ñāṇamoli’s translation):

[T]he words “quite secluded from sense desires” properly mean “quite secluded from sense desires as object,” and express bodily seclusion, while the words “secluded from unprofitable things” properly mean “secluded from sense desires as defilement or from all unprofitable things,” and express mental seclusion.

He elaborates on this in IV.84, before going on to say (IV.85) that kāma-s here can also be taken as referring to defilements (kilesa).

B.  Thanissaro notes that:

I don’t see how kāma in kāmāvacara has to mean sense object. Don’t the Brahmas who live in the rūpāvacara realm see sights, hears sounds, etc.? if they didn’t, how would Brahma Sahampati make requests of the Buddha?

my comment:

Even if Vism. is glossing kamehi to mean 'object', it seems to be adding that meaning as an addition to the main meaning of kamehi as 'defilement', rather than replacing it. In other words, for first jhana one being in an empty hut or wilderness has physical seclusion from sensual 'objects', as a bonus meaning, not a replacement meaning for kamehi as 'defilement'. 

In the Chinese EBT Agamas,  'kāmehi" translated as 5kg, agreeing with Pali EBT

Dr. William Chu says: 
Five strands of sensuality is almost invariably translated as wuyu (lit. "five desires"). In other words, the Chinese makes it clear that it is the "desire" that is renounced, and not the "sensual stimulation" (i.e. the sensory experience itself, as Sujato would have it) that is renounced.

other Relevant articles

MN 111, jhana 'lite', and simile of spaceship to mars:

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Śarīra (cremated relics) of Mahā Moggallāna and Sāriputta, multiplied

(from wikipedia)
Śarīra is a generic term referring to Buddhist relics, although in common usage it usually refers to pearl or crystal-like bead-shaped objects that are purportedly found among the cremated ashes of Buddhist spiritual masters. Relics of the Buddha after cremation are termed dhātu in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta.[1] Śarīra are held to emanate or incite 'blessings' and 'grace' (Sanskrit: adhiṣṭhāna) within the mindstream and experience of those connected to them.[2] Sarira are also believed to ward off evil in the Himalayan Buddhist tradition.

Śarīraḥ (pronounced sharirah) means "body" in Sanskrit. When used in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit texts to mean "relics", it is always used in the plural: śarīrāḥ. The term ringsel is a loanword from the Tibetan language. Both of these terms are ambiguous in English; they are generally used as synonyms, although according to some interpretations, ringsels are a subset of śarīras.

Relics of Sariputta and Moggallana

A quick bit of background information about me so you understand my attitude about relics, superstition, blind faith, and devotional aspects of spiritual practice (of any religion).  I'm focused on the bare essentials of core Dharma principles and instructions on liberation, and have no interest in spiritual practices that don't directly address that goal, nor have interest in collecting any religious paraphernalia or material possessions beyond the barest essentials for survival. My idea of the perfect house, is a small empty hut, a yoga mat, fresh clean air, big trees and big rocks near by. That's it. No Buddha statue, no amulets, no cumbersome material possessions to look after. I came into the world with nothing, I'm going to leave with nothing, and see no reason for things to be any different in between.

About 10 years ago, my friend gave a gift to our family of two sarira (bone relics from cremation). One from each of the Buddha's chief disciples, Sariputta and Maha-Moggallana. The 2 relics were contained in a miniature crystal container, and placed next to the statue of the Buddha in our meditation room.

When I first got the relics, I was excited for about 5 minutes. Then I thought, "even if these are the real thing, genuine relics of the 2 chief disciples, so what? Is that going to make me attain arahantship any faster?" So mostly I forgot about it. Maybe over the 10 years, 2 or 3 times I vaguely recalled that I possessed relics from the two Chief Arahants. But otherwise, I never looked at them, never worshipped them, never thought about them.

1. Strange sound with only 1 drop, no followup bounces

Yesterday morning, as I as sitting in my family's meditation room meditating, I heard what sounded like a tiny object dropping and hitting something hard. I thought, "is that a bird or chipmunk on the roof?"

2. A thought pops into my mind that doesn't feel like something I would think

Then I thoguht, "did one of the sarira just multiply and make that dropping sound?"

If it was a pebble dropping on the roof, the eerie thing is there was no followup sound of the pebble bouncing a few times. It was a single drop sound, and completely silent before and after that. And it was not the sound of birds or chipmunks running across the roof which happens at times.

After my meditation, I went up to the altar to check. My parents have all kinds of tibetan and mahayana religious artifacts up there. I couldn't tell what was what, and couldn't tell if any artifacts were the Arahant sarira. I didn't even remember exactly what was given to us originally. Was it the Buddha and Sariputta's sarira? Or the Buddha and both disciples?

As I stated earlier about my views on the purpose of spiritual practice and religious artifacts, even though I was curious to look at the relics, I wasn't even motivated enough to mention this incident to my parents and find out from them which artifact was the sarira, to check and see if they multiplied.

This should have been the end of my story.

3. My mom has a thought pop into her mind that she rarely ever thought

Later that day or the next morning, after my parents did their meditation,  my mom suddenly had a thought to look at the Arahant sarira and show them to my dad.

When she looked, she was surprised to see there was an extra relic. My dad took a look, then noticed there was not just one extra relic, but two.

4. Teleportation of extra guest relics by devas (Guardian angels, Dharma protectors)

That would be the devotional Buddhist explanation.
Skeptics would say, the 2 extra relics are just the result of natural crystalline growth.  I don't know much about rock and mineral science, but you can see from video clip and pictures, the two extra ones were in ambient room temperature for 10 years with no exposure to volatile chemical catalysts, they don't have shared crystal surface walls that look like fractured pieces grown from the original.

30 second video showing the sarira that are there now (4 of them)

cel phone cameras don't seem to be able to take detailed pictures of very small items

A note from my friend describing what was originally given to me 10 years ago (2 items: 1 sarira belonging to sariputta, and 1 belonging to moggallana).

Email response from my friend confirming note above, that they gifted me with just 2 relics, not 4:

Congratulations to you and your family.  Yep, we heard similar story before that relic would grow when people practice diligently (and relic may disappear if people do not practice hard).  Seems like we also had 1 relic increased long time ago.  I think the relic that we got nowadays are not the origin and are probably “duplicated”.
Yep, the note was written by me, it describes the white yellowish one is Sariputta and the brown one is Moggallana.

the crystal container in which the sarira are stored in, 

placed next to a buddha statue in a meditation room.

Packaging material of the crystal container,  

and small silk bag that held the 2 original sarira.

crystal container opened, showing contents with 4 sarira today.

4 sarira removed from container

1. The first one on left, is Sariputta. You can't see the detail from the picture, but it's kind of white yellowish bony color.
2. next one, brown, is moggallana
3. 3rd one, is white, and it's not a broken fragment of #1.
4. The last one is translucent, maybe just slightly green tint, not quite a perfect sphere shape but pretty close. This one doesn't resemble any of the original two at all.

Just out of curiosity, I sniffed each of the sarira to see if at had any odor. One of them smelled a little of what you would expect earth or gravel to smell like. My mom said it was very disrespectful to the Buddha and arahants for me to sniff. I disagreed.

So the question is, what is the meaning of this? 

Is there a coded message by Dharma protectors and devas, giving our family encouragement to continue practice diligently?

(to be continued)


A skeptic responds with an explanation of how my 2...

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

SN 7.9 lucid24: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, always in jhāna and samādhi 🌄, equated with metaphor of fire 🔥

Jhāna also means 'burning', and samādahati is putting together the kindling to a fire.
Two important points to make in this short article:

1. jhana and samadhi both often use a metaphor of a fire. Based on passages like this, 'jhana' being a fire that burns away defilements seems to be what the Buddha intended, and not just a fanciful commentary explanation as I originally thought.

2. the Buddha expects his disciples to be in jhana and samadhi all the time. Several passages in the EBT, such as this one, make that point explicitly. 'nicca' = permanent, constant. Noble silence means second jhana, and 'pleasant abiding' (dittha dhamma sukha vihara) is a code phrase for 3rd jhana.

2b. always in jhana and samadhi means all postures, all activities, not just formal sitting practice.

excerpt from SN 7.9

SN 7 all suttas
Atha kho sundarikabhāradvājo brāhmaṇo saṃviggo lomahaṭṭhajāto yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā ekamantaṃ aṭṭhāsi.
Then Sundarika the brahmin, shocked and awestruck, went up to the Buddha, and stood to one side.
Ekamantaṃ ṭhitaṃ kho sundarikabhāradvājaṃ brāhmaṇaṃ bhagavā gāthāhi ajjhabhāsi:
The Buddha addressed him in verse:
“Mā brāhmaṇa dāru samādahāno,
“When you’re kindling the wood, brahmin,
Suddhiṃ amaññi bahiddhā hi etaṃ;
don’t imagine this is purity, for it’s just an external.
Na hi tena suddhiṃ kusalā vadanti,
Experts say that those who wish for purity
Yo bāhirena parisuddhimicche.
through externals will not find it.
Hitvā ahaṃ brāhmaṇa dārudāhaṃ,
I’ve given up kindling firewood, brahmin,
Ajjhattamevujjalayāmi jotiṃ;
now I just light the inner flame.
Nicc-agginī nicca-samāhitatto,
Always blazing, always undistractify-&-lucidifyd,
Arahaṃ ahaṃ brahmacariyaṃ carāmi.
I am a perfected one living the spiritual life.
Māno hi te brāhmaṇa khāribhāro,
Conceit, brahmin, is the burden of your possessions,
Kodho dhumo bhasmani mosavajjaṃ;
anger your smoke, and lies your ashes.
Jivhā sujā hadayaṃ jotiṭhānaṃ,
The tongue is the ladle and the heart the fire altar;
Attā sudanto purisassa joti.
a well-tamed self is a person’s light.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

SJS six day meditation self retreat - schedule, starting now

Sautrantika Jhana Society

Self meditation retreat.
A few friends and I are doing a virtual cyber retreat together the next 6 days.
At 7pm we video conference to chat about Dhamma for  about 30min.
The rest of the day, no internet or non Dharma media consumption or activity.
Follow a schedule similar to this, honor system.
Feel feel to join, and write it about daily or share your experiences afterwards.
Have a great retreat!

3/17 – 3/23

6 AM – 7:30 AM Meditation
7:30 – 8:30 AM Exercise/Walking Meditation/Taichi
8:30 – 9:30 AM Breakfast
9:30 - 10:30 AM Walking Meditation/Taichi
10:30 AM – 12 PM Meditation
12 – 1 PM Nap / Chore
1 PM – 2:00 PM Lunch Break
2 PM – 3:30 PM Walking Meditation/Taichi
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM Meditation
4:30 PM – 6 PM Relax/read/snack
6 PM -7 PM Chore Time
7 PM – 8:30 PM Reading / Dhamma Discussions
8:30 PM – 10 PM Meditation