A Comprehensive practice
I have decided to write about what i consider to be a comprehensive practice for the attainment of the yet un-attained and for the further development of the attained path, complete with a few Sutta references and comments. Even though similar guides have been made available before, i don't know of any such work being aimed at outlining a set of practical guidelines in a most concise yet comprehensive manner.
I will be describe only the latter of the four paths explained in the Yuganaddha Sutta ;
I think this is a good of a place to start as any but before we begin the unpacking of terminology and explaining the practical application, let's go back to the start to set the tone by remind ourselves of the intention that promted the search to begin with;
Nowadays lest we work in particular occupations, we rarely see the dead, nor do we see the sick and old people, as these are hidden away in hospitals and nursing homes. Most people pay little to no attention until directly confronted with the loss of youth, the loss of health, the loss of relatives and ultimately the loss of life and when confronted it is incredibly difficult to deal with and quite often results in trauma. Those who do concern themselves with these realities (at least in the West) quite often find it quite depressing and life to be rather meaningless. As if old age, sickness and death was not enough there are more than enough causes for despair such as; immorality, betrayal, violence, oppression, stinginess and ignorance and these are all well established in the population.
A person might come to a conclusion that It is not the fact that people are getting depressed that is surprising but the fact that some people don't.
When we consider the story of the Bodhisatta however we can see that neither ignoring nor getting depressed about these realities is the correct response. We can thus understand that the meaninglessness of existence is not to be ignored but is to be fully appreciated and given much attention to because these realities serve as the very foundation in the search for the liberation from their oppression to be achieved by manly effort.
Let's now move on to another Discourse which further explains the various modes of practice, as before we will limit our examination to only two of the four paths, namely the Painful practice with quick&slow intuition;
Here the attainment of the immediacy that leads to the ending of the effluents is to be understood to be referring to the line from Yuganaddha Sutta;
According to the Commentary, this means the concentration forming the Path. This is apparently a reference to this passage in Sn 2.1:
Furthemore the SN55.5 lists four additional factors to be fulfilled for the attainment of Stream-Entry;
a) Association with people of integrity is a factor for stream-entry.
a) Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
a) Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry.
a) Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
Thus from these two discourses we can infer the training guidelines for the in due time attainment of the unification&concentration of mind that leads to the attainment of the immediacy leading to the ending of the effluents.
Let's list the requisite conditions for such attainment as is explained by these discourses;
b) restlessness concerning the Dhamma [Comm: the corruptions of insight] well under control
b) remains focused on unattractiveness with regard to the body
b) percipient of loathsomeness with regard to food
b) percipient of non-delight with regard to the entire world
b) focused on inconstancy with regard to all fabrications
b) dwells in dependence on these five strengths of a learner — strength of conviction, strength of conscience, strength of concern, strength of persistence, & strength of discernment
b) these five faculties of his — the faculty of conviction, the faculty of persistence, the faculty of mindfulness, the faculty of concentration, the faculty of discernment — appear intensely or weakly
These 11 items will be taken as the basis for the development and further examined in consecutive parts of this post.
Association with people of integrity
I think this point is self-explanatory and association with virtuous friends and admirable companionship can make or break our practice. Furthermore it is noteworthy that the qualities of integrity are found in a person endowed with five spiritual faculties and strengths of a learner;
Therefore we can infer that we should look to associate ourselves with people who are also intent on spiritual practice.
Listening to the true Dhamma
Thus we can infer that listening to the Dhamma is for the purpose of learning, clarification, getting rid of doubt and straightening of one's views. Threfore one should listen to, read and think about the Dhamma as much as possible.
Since the counterfeit Dhamma has arisen in the world one should do one's best to avoid it. Therefore it is best to limit oneself to the study of texts and ideas developed by the early monastic Sangha during the first 500 years in order to avoid dealing with counterfeits because that is how long the true Dhamma was said to last by the Buddha
This does not mean that it will altogether disappear after 500 years but rather that the counterfeit Dhamma would arise in the world. In general the advice given is that the teachings are to be cross referenced and used if they are in line with the teachings known to be true.
Appropriate attention is the single most important internal quality in the training of the noble ones. It refers to properly attending and selecting themes for the mind, thoughts to entertain and investigating the perils of themes as well as not paying attention to themes that are detrimental to the practice.
The function of appropriate attention is to starve the detrimental qualities and to foster the beneficial qualities;
As a side note; The meaning of Awakening therein is just that attainment of immediacy to be experienced by the wise, here is an excerpt explaining just that;
Here are particular examples of application of appropriate attention and inappropriate attention;
The last paragraph is particularly interesting and needs explaining
In the doctrine of the Buddha, whatever phenomena are subject to change are seen to have the property of stress in as far as inconstancy can be seen to be stressful.
Our experience changes constantly as well, therefore it is important that we regard our very existence in the same manner. As a matter of fact we never experience non-existence and all of our existence is subject to constant change and can be seen as a incessible series of arising and ceasing sensory impressions.
Even tho the inherently stressful phenomena constantly cease the cessation of the inherently stressful is not discerned because discerning the complete cessation of stress would require the discernment of what is not stress.
If you only know two things and they are both stressful - then all you know is stress.
If a person was born in a prison and all his life went from one prison to another, he would never know freedom from prison.
This is very important to understand.
Experience of being alive can be viewed as a mode of conditioned reality and it's cessation is to be discerned in light of a categorically different mode of unconditioned reality.
Whether one stressful state arises and perishes at the same time is not a valid question because time can only be discerned in as much as one state is replaced by another. If no change can be discerned then there is no time to speak of either but if there is change then there is the before and the after state and the before state has already ceased.
Practice in Accordance with the Dhamma
In brief one is focused on inconstancy with regard to the six classes of internal media and the six classes of external media;
one is focused on the inconstancy with regard to the six classes of perception;
... with regard to the six classes of consciousness;
...with regard to the six classes of feeling;
... with regard to the six classes of fabrications;
Additionally Contact should because it explains the origination of the classes of consciousness
The relationship between consciousness, feeling and perception should be understood as well;
Thus practicing for the disenchantment with these phenomena is what accords to practicing in accordance with the Dhamma
The appeal of determinism is that it points out the conditional nature in behavior and thought, pointing to the fact that you can think random thoughts no more than you can see random color or hear random sounds on a whim. Seeing the evidence for the apparent behavioral conditioning can lead one to get on the determinism train with no brakes. I say with no brakes because the proposition of determinism may exceed the threshold of the implications of the evidence as well as reasonable assumption and in it's more extreme forms can be explained to be making extraordinary statements requiring extraordinary proof as well as being irrational.
Here are some examples or beliefs which can be packed together with the notions of determinism and the extent to which future is pre-determined
1) Past has a beginning and the future is volitionally formed, to that extent everything is pre-determined
2) Past has no beginning and the future is volitionally formed, to that extent everything is pre-determined
Now these are two very different beliefs.
Number 1 can be criticized for assuming that there is a beginning point which apart from contradicting the Sutta and being unfounded can be explained to be irrational thus;
Further one can make a logical deduction of this kind;
Assumption 1: Universe is all that is
Assumption 2: Universe is expanding
What follows is that Universe itself contracts before expansion because;
The universe is not expanding in relation to something else but only relative to it's previous states. Space can not expand into not-space, if space was to expand into not-space the not-space would be proportionally contracting and would have the qualities of and be indistinguishable from space itself. Thus All can not expand into the not-all per definition. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that space itself must be of the nature to contract proportionally to it's expansion.
Neither expansion nor contraction can be infinite because both are a possibility and given that we know of nothing which has this property of infinite expansion assuming it about the universe would be making an extraordinary assumption.
Therefore the natural assumption is that before expansion of the Universe there was Contraction of the Universe and beginning point is not evident.
Anything else is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence.
Which brings one to the second proposition;
2) Past has no beginning and the future is volitionally formed, to that extent everything is pre-determined
Which begets the simple question of when exactly did everything become pre-determined if there is no beginning?
I think you will stop people in their tracks right there.
Evidently there is such thing as volitional formation of will and determination but the exact nature of these Dhamma is unknown to those preaching determinism.
Knowing that which is not experienced thru allness of the all
directly, as it is, the timeless bliss beyond objectification,
when having gone to the end of the world
one comes to know the world and it's cessation,
becoming thus absorbed the Ariyan is
independently of form, the form derived from form and forms of preparation
He is not there, nor is it his, it is the sorrowless, the singleness beyond conjecture