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[ Beginner's Questions ]

The Middle Way

V: You have on occasion mentioned that the Middle Way is not "moderation", but rather a midpoint between self indulgence (acknowledging self) and self mortification (denying self). Please correct me if i've misunderstood.

And we've also had discussion regarding the act of sleeping as an act of self indulgence. If so, then wouldn't denying one of sleep be the exact opposite, ie. self mortification, and therefore not according to the Middle Way?



You have not misunderstood me with regard to The Middle Way. This was the subject of the First Sutta, where the context was roughly:

These two paths should be avoided by a Beggar looking after his own best interests:
The Path of Self Indulgence
the Path of Self Torture
Abstaining from Either Path
I teach the Majjhima Magga — The Middle Way:
High Working Hypothesis,
High Principles,
High Talk,
High Works,
High Lifestyle,
High Self Control,
High Satisfaction Pastures,
High Getting High,.

"Moderation" in either Self Indulgence or Self Torture would be taking the path of Self Indulgence or Self Torture.
And there is no path down Moderation that is not either of the Path of Self Indulgence or of Self Torture.

What must be seen is the nature of the Majjhima Magga: it is constructed in terms of Abstentions; Not-Doings.

Walking the path of Not-doings is to abstain from manifesting self of any sort. How then could one manifest self in moderation and still be on this path?

So, coming to your second question: We do not stay awake: we abstain from sleep.

Those who value their time could not possibly see this as self torture. Those who love to indulge in sleep know what self-indulgence is...take it from a pro!



V: I would agree that oversleeping can be looked upon as a form of self-indulgence. But no sleep at all, seems a bit excessive, on the flip side. I see sleep in the same way as eating. You have to do a little, to maintain good health. Knowing where to draw the line with sleep though, seems more difficult than knowing where to draw the line regarding eating. With overeating, the results are obvious. One gains weight. With oversleeping, the effect is more subtle and therefore more difficult to know at what level good health is maintained.

If one did nothing all day long but meditate, then this meditative state could be viewed as a total replacement for sleep, I suppose. I could imagine that one would not be so tired at night because one was in a relaxed state all day long. But I don't think this is the case for most laypeople, including office workers. And like a little food, a little sleep becomes necessary.

Just as an aside, I can tell you what happened to me. The day after Uposatha, I was a total vegetable at work. Kept nodding off in front of the computer, couldn't concentrate. Since I'm self employed, it was no biggie to leave early, but boy, did I lose some very valuable time, billable time!



For laymen it is necessary to be reasonable with regard both to food and sleep. This does not make it the best thing to do.

If one were a layman, here today (May 9, 2000), and if one were very seriously concerned about the dangers of living in the world and if one trusted that the Buddha's solution was the likely best answer, then it would be reasonable to risk all one's worldly possessions to test the system.

You can imagine how this would begin at least: you would loose progressively more of your worldly contacts because of inefficiencies in the workplace, etc. (hopefully you would be polite and considerate about it and not argue about it when you were fired). Then you would lose what you had saved and collected and would sooner or later find yourself out on the street, totally dependent on your kamma. Then you would see. That would be the best thing and the most reasonable thing under these circumstances.

However there is a catch: should you give up on the system and your efforts part way before having achieved it's goals, you would be again subject to the conditions of the world. If then you continued in your sleep and eating regimin and it resulted in inefficiencies etc., you would be blameable for being unreasonable.

The factor which determines "reasonableness" is your intended goal.



V: Is it not true that whether you are striving towards the goal or not, one is still subject to the conditions of the world until Parinibbana?

Yes, strictly speaking "conditions of the world" impact one until parinibbana. My intent was to contrast the normal habit of the layman to react to perceived needs to act ("I have got to make a living."), versus one who relies on his kamma. Both are subject to the conditions of the world in the strictest sense.

V: Would you be so kind as to give an example? I am not clear on how one would be blameable for being unreasonable. (ie. unreasonable about what?)

Blameability is conditioned by the goal. In this case we have a person who has made the attempt for a while, focused on the final goal. Then they have abandoned the focus on the final goal but for some reason continue in the practice of no sleep and little food and that affects their ability to perform their job or do their duties in the world. They do not have the option given their new goal, of claiming that they are being reasonable in their eating and sleeping habits because this is the method for attaining the final goal. They are not heading for the final goal any longer. Thus they are blameable.

By blame here, I am simply speaking about being subject to the statement: "You are not behaving reasonably, you should eat and sleep enough to perform your job and do your duties," and the ability to justify, say, lack of success in the world, to one's self (self blame, or self-criticism).

I am not talking about kamma or one's progress in the system. In the case of kamma, I think you would have a mixed bag. On the one hand you would be producing good kamma by the practice of techniques that reduce wanting; on the other hand you would be producing bad kamma in so far as your eating and sleeping habits produced inefficiencies at the job and your derelictions of duty (i.e., you were being injurious to yourself and others as a result). And, additionally, you would be producing bad kamma if you heaped self-blame on yourself for lack of success or resented the reasonable efforts of others to put you right.

V: I am assuming that the reason the person is continuing the practice of no sleep and little food is something other than toward the final goal. Therefore, I can see how this practice would bear no "fruit". But what if the person, even though a layperson, would continue the practice of no sleep and little food for the right reason, ie. attaining the final goal. Or is it that once he/she has given up the monastic life, he/she automatically gives up the goal? Cannot one be a layperson, and still be heading toward the attainment of the final goal to the best of their ability, given the circumstances?

H: One isn't able to behave blamelessly until one has fully taken on the homeless life. In order to live blamelessly as a layperson one would have to run themselves ragged attending to every single chore and duty that arose within ones life. This impossibility is the reason behind the requirement of a beggar to be a beggar, no attachments or duties ever. In order to attempt the no sleep / little food exercise as a layperson one must also realize that this isn't as powerful as it would be to one who has no other obligations other than the final goal.

Upon giving up the homeless life, or not having totally given ones self in to it yet, one is no longer able to live blamelessly without the need to eat, sleep, shower, do homework, work at a job, etc... In this case, the layperson must realize that any attempts to eliminate sleep or eat very little within the framework of their world will be merely exercises training one in the eventual release of all other obligations. Sleeping and eating are the most basic of all the human requirements and in order to give them up one must have already given up all the other requirements above these. So, one can live the life of a layperson with the eventual goal in mind and still practice the letting go of the need to sleep and eat but they must understand that they have a long way to go before those can be given up without bad conditions arising from it.

H2apo told me a story once of a time when he was at a man's house that was learned in the Dhamma. One day the man told him to go and cut all the grass that had grown in the backyard of the property. This grass was very long and full of living things. H20 did this task and looked upon his clothing afterwards. There he saw the "blood" of all the living grass and insects he had killed and he felt sad. He then went to the man and told him he felt like a murderer, like he had been the destroyer of so much life and that its evidence was all over his body, permeating and suffusing him with bad kamma. The man told H20 that he was a murderer (and that he also was a murderer for having directed him to do the task), but that was their lot as a laymen. The neighbours would complain; there would be fire danger to the neighbourhood if the weeds were not cut. The attachments that still hold H20 to the world require him to earn money killing in order for him to further his learning. One day H20 will be able to give up such acts but today it is toward his goal to perform this act.

You are largely on target in your analysis: as laymen we live a "relative" life (pun partly intended). A great deal of what we do as part of our daily (necessary, reasonable within context) routine is just simply bad kamma. One thing it is not clear that you are clear on is that the eating habit being refered to is not of giving up of food altogether, it is the practice of eating one meal a day only.

We are not talking about layman vs. Bhikkhu. The Bhikkhu has no worldly responsibilities and the kamma that results from his eating and sleeping habits become measured against the highest standards for a Bhikkhu. What we are talking about is the condition of the reasonable layman versus what amounts to a Bhikkhu but is not yet a Bhikkhu. This is a mixed bag.

We have examples of this situation in the suttas. A layman has reached a high degree of trust in the Dhamma, but for one reason or another is not willing or able to enter the order. He gives up his wives, gives away all his possessions, lives on the charity of his own family and is ultimately willing to be thrown out on the street if it comes to that. He is seen to be reasonable in terms of extreme habits of sleep and eating because he is clearly focused on the goal.

This versus the ordinary layman who still has ambitions in the world: wants and wishes.

In the case being discussed, we are speaking about the lay individual who began with the first idea (the layman who immitates to the fullest the habits of the bhikkhu) and gave it up to go back to the second idea (the layman who's goals are worldly while still imitating the habits of the bhikkhu).

In both cases the idea of no sleep and little food is held for the purposes of accomplishing the final goal. And, as I described when I discussed this from the point of view of kamma, would produce good kammic fruit. But in the case of the second man it is unreasonable because he is not completely headed toward that goal — in so far as his ambitions, wishes, and wants are concerned, his goal is downbound to the world. Within the context of the downbound to the world his conduct is unreasonable (that is if it produces bad results in terms of his ambitions, wants and wishes. His behavior is counter productive to his wishes. Such behavior is unreasonable).



V: PS: As an aside to H, I know what H20 felt. Just yesterday (5/8/01) I was pulling out weeds in the garden and felt a huge wave of guilt. Having said that, I also feel fortunate that I am not ignorant of the fact that what I was doing was bad kamma.



What is the Middle Path?[1]

Tushita Johnny: Brothers and Sisters in the Dharma, I have come to understand the teachings of the Great Buddha for the past few years. However I still do not know the meaning of "middle path" and also do not know why right understanding must be at the first path in the Eightfold path. Could anyone can enlighten me regarding this?




Yick Keng Hang:
What Is The Middle Path?

One has to go back to Buddhist history for a closer look at what was practiced during Buddha's time in India.

It is observed that there are 2 dimensions to the Middle Path of the Dharma during Buddha's era: —

1) The philosophical aspect and
2) The practical aspect.

Both are mutually dependent and enunciated in the two discourses known as:

1) the Kaccayanagotta-sutta[2] and
2) the Dhammacakkapavattana-sutta.

1) Kaccayanagotta-sutta

This sutta deals with the philosophical aspect of the "Middle Path".

In Kaccayanagotta-sutta, Ven Kaccayana asked the Exalted one:

"Sir, people speak of "right view". To what extent is there a right view?"

Briefly, right view in this context was placed against the background of two absolute theories in Indian philosophy viz. Permanent existence (atthita) propounded in the early Upanisads of Brahmanism and the nihilistic non-existence (n'atthita) suggested by the Materialists. The middle position here is explained as "dependent rising" (paticcasamuppada) which appears in the form of a formula known as the 12 links of existence. In other words, death and birth arise from dependent origination which has 12 links as taught by the Buddha. Dependent origination complements the 1st and 2nd Noble Truths i.e. accumulated craving not only is the cause of suffering, suffering also causes accumulated craving. Suffering and accumulation craving thus attract and become entangled with one another, alternating as cause and effect.

The 12 links can be divided into 3 periods (past, present and future) and 2 sets of cause (past and present) and effects:[3]

1) Past causes (ignorance and actions) engender present effects, namely consciousness, name and form, the 6 sense organs, contact and sensation);
2) Present causes (desire, clinging, and existence) will engender future effects and
3) Future effects of birth, aging and death.

There were also lives before the previous life, and there will be lives after this one, unless one is liberated from samsara i.e. enlightened.

The continuity of causes and effects through the past, present, and future forms the whole picture of the continuing journey of endless births and deaths.

The survival of the middle position in philosophy can be attributed to reformers like Moggaliputta-tissa who played an important role in the so-called 3rd Buddhist Council held during the reign of Emperor Asoka (3nd century BCE). And subsequently Nagajurna in the 1st/2nd century CE.

'Right view' according to the Brahmajala-suttanta, it refers to 62 varieties of views prevalent during the Buddha's day (due to a proliferation of the 2 basic views of 'Permanent existence and Non-existence'). After his enlightenment, the Buddha realized that none of these 62 views were satisfactory. He was not willing to subscribe to any one of them. The Buddha propounded the view of a Middle Path as the right view for sentient beings to follow.

2) Dhammacakkapavattana-sutta.

Dhammacakkapavattana-sutta deals with the practical aspect of the Middle Path delivered to the world by the Buddha. Here the Middle Path is between the two extremes of self-indulgence (kamasukhallikanuyoga) and self- mortification (attakilamathanyoga). It consists of the Noble Eightfold Path leading to 'freedom and happiness'.

It is by following this Middle Path and avoiding the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-destruction that the disciples of the Buddha attained the state of freedom called "the appeasement of dispositions" (sankhara-samatha) and continued to work for the welfare and happiness of mankind till this day.




V: I thought I'd forward this message on to you for further discussion. It seems to indicate an understanding that the Middle Path is taken to mean "moderation". Am I understanding this correctly? Do you concur with this individual's interpretation of the Middle Path?




RP: The Middle path means the path that does not extend to the extreme ends. Let us take an example. Imagine that there is a person who feel very hungry during his meditation. He will be OK to suppress the hunger for sometime while concentrating on the meditation object. However, if he tried to continue meditation several hours without taking any food, he will spend most of the time tackling the signal of the 'hunger' rather than concentrating on his meditation subject.

On the other hand, if someone eats abnormally large quantities thinking to remain in meditation for a long time. I am sure we all know that, the person will not be able to continue his meditation for a long duration without interruptions.

Now just imagine the case of having the normal amount of food before meditation. This situation is very likely to help the person on his concentration. Now we know extreme ends would not help. This truth applies in all situations.

Maintaining the mind in extreme end does not allow one to maintain it in an "open" state. That is why the middle path where it is "not too much" and "not too little" is better than the other two extreme ends.

In Dhamma language, the extreme ends force one to hold on to wrong ideas and does not allow to see things as they truly are. Middle path allows the flexibility required to analyse things and comprehend them that agree with his logic and the current knowledge.

In our daily lives, we must do things that make sense to us. If not, the outcome is usually undesirable. We perform activities based on the understanding we have and the desire governed by that understanding. If the understanding is not in the right direction, the actions we take will not have good results.

Remember, the action is only the result of the desire we had based on the understanding.

Therefore we must have the right understanding first to control the action to avoid undesirable results where we have no control over.




In the case of this latter, the questioner did not get either of his questions answered according to dhamma. He did get both of his questions answered according to the normal interpretation of the words in the question, but that was not, I suspect, what he wanted.

The responder is describing moderation and the advantages of understanding ones intentions in a reasonable way.

This description of the "Middle Path" as moderation is exactly in accordance with the error that is the reason that I occasionally make the point that the Middle Path is not moderation.

Again, you must first know what the Buddha said to know what was meant by the Middle Way. It is always a reference to the Aristocratic Multi-Dimensional Way (The Noble Eightfold Path, The Magga).

Looking at the Magga it is not possible to say that this is a path of moderation. Therefore it is necessary to examine what was intended by the term "Middle" (Pali: Majjhima).

Majjhima does mean middle (and it also means "Magic") and it also means "between". I think all these terms apply to the Magga, but here it is the idea of "between" or "middle" that is of concern.

In the first sutta, where the term "middle" is used in direct relationship to the Magga and the two extremes to be avoided, the two extremes are "hedonistic self indulgence" and "self mortification". It is, for sure, easy enough to go from the ideas of those two terms to the idea of moderation if one is not paying attention to what follows which is the Magga (or the equivalent), and, as I said, it is not possible to characterize the Eightfold path by the term "moderation".

The Eightfold Path and it's equivalents in the Four Truths or in Downbound Confounded Rebounding Conjuration (paṭicca-samuppaada), or simply the statement: "This being, that is, from the ending of this, the ending of that". is always in reference to the two extremes of holding things or the self to exist or not exist.

What is being spoken of, however, is not just having the view, but following (acting in accordance with) the view. What one needs to see here is that any form of acting on desire reflects self. It always either reflects the idea that the self exists forever and ever, or it reflects the view that the self ends at death, or it reflects a combination of two or more of these views.

The Magga, and such, are ways of avoiding either of these two extreme forms of behavior and the views they reflect by a behavior characterized by not-doing, or abstention, or letting go, thus it is a behavior that passes "between" the two extremes — it reflects no view or, while it is being practiced without understanding, it reflects Samma Ditthi.

Now, as for why "Samma Ditthi" or High view comes first. It is necessary to understand that this term is both a description of the working hypothesis one should adopt before one has a clue as to what it is that this system is all about, and it is also the view one will consider the highest when one has final understanding.

In the presentation of the "Eightfold Path" found on BuddhaDust it is usually given with 10 "Folds". With 10 folds, the 9th fold is Samma Vijja or High Vision. This is the state of actually "seeing" (understanding) the Four Truths (or Samma Ditthi). I think this manner of putting the concept at the beginning and at the end makes the situation clearer[4]: In the beginning one "adopts" High View as a working hypothesis even though it might not be understood. Consequent to adopting High View, it is possible to form one's course of behavior in accordance with this hypothetical. It is not possible to correctly set one's principles, forms of speech, ways of doing deeds, lifestyle, or effort without having first set up the goal towards which those activities are to be directed. Thus it comes first. Should those activities not be set up in accordance with ones intended outcome there will be no satisfaction from those activities, unsatisfied one will not get high, see the truth of the goal or find detachment. Thus, for satisfaction, getting high, and detachment too, it is necessary to first set up one's view of the method and goal.



Tkm: I once read words attributed to Buddha that were such:
Eat when you are hungry,
Drink when you are thirsty,
Sleep when you are tired,
And wake up when you stop dreaming.
Maybe it is the case that, dreams are important to point out attachments. When the mind is free of attachments, then there is less need to sleep. Perhaps this is a fair 'gauge' for the 'layperson' to determine whether they are able to 'wake up' from the 'dream' - ie. hold to the ritual 'til it's goal is met
or just get 'lost in the sauce'.
i dunno.

I don't think you will find those words in the suttas. This sounds to me very much like zen. What you will find in the suttas will be something more like:

Eat at the proper time, sufficient to sustain the body, to end hunger pains (that is different than eating when you are hungry).
Endure fatigue
Remain conscious when you are resting, keeping your mind on the time for getting up again.
Dreams are disparaged as being a useless waste of time

What is well said here is: "When the mind is free of attachments, then there is less need to sleep."

As for "gauges" we have this one:
"Judge for your self, from your own experience:
If good conditions increased and bad conditions decreased, go on This Way a little further.
If bad conditions increased and good conditions decreased, don't go that way again.

Holding "faith" in rituals of any sort is one of the yokes to rebirth let go of by the Streamwinner.




V: Could you elaborate on the statement: "Holding 'faith' in rituals of any sort is one of the yokes to rebirth let go of by the Streamwinner"? I ask this in light of what we are attempting to do this evening (5/14/01), ie. Uposatha. How can it be that on the one hand, the ritual is a yoke and yet here we are ready to attempt to practice it?

This is why, in my announcements about Uposatha, I stress that this should be practiced as a matter of self discipline.

The idea, with regard to it's relevance to the Sotapati, is that rituals, rites, or even good deeds are not to be understood to be the way to Detachment, Nibbana. The "yoke" is the trust in the effacacy of these things to do that. It does not mean that rites should not be performed, some rituals observed or good deeds done. Just that it is not by these things that one's progress in this system is accomplished or to be judged.

The idea of developing self-discipline, self-control, is to train one's self in letting go, giving up.
Wrong way: sit down to get Nibbana.
Right Way: sit down to let go of grasping after the world.
Wrong way: Stay Up All Night.
Right way: Abstain from Sleep.
It'sa matta a attitú.
Should one be clinging to a ritual, even one of self discipline, that would be counter-productive, going the wrong way.

Look at High Effort (Samma Vayama):

Make an effort, exert energy to:

Let go of low ways currently found in the here and now.
Restrain low ways not yet found in the here and now.
Retain high ways in the here and now.
Obtain high ways not yet in the here an now.

The only one of those that even looks like "trying to get" is the last; but looking into the matter more deeply, we see that "High Ways" are things that are put in terms of letting go, giving up, not-doing: Abstain from False Speech, Harm, etc.

It's always the same here, bottom to top.




Tkm: Humble words:
Ritual, is in the 'exoteric sense' for the strengthening of the willpower so that the letting go of attachment — freeing of the mind — can be.
Ritual in the 'esoteric' is for providing faith to others (as bodhisatvas) or for 'description of the code'. If 'one' is untethered by the mind, then attachments are no more, and karma has
no effect, yes?

As a bodhisattva, ritual gives faith to the individuals grappling with the 'liberation'. This following of ritual is a 'correct' path, that harnesses naught to samskara yet allows the 'striving one' to ascertain from within that (like a koan), which would tie up the mind and 'energies' of the liberated one to karma if assistance was given in any other way.




In the suttas we will very often see, when the Buddha is speaking with some person of some other discipline, or is contrasting his Dhamma with some other belief system, he will begin with the word: "Here" (In this system). I, in immitation of this caution against declaring as an absolute that which is a relative, have tried to use the same expression where I thought it appropriate. Today, I believe it is appropriate to use this kind of caution even when speaking about schools of Buddhism other than those teaching materials directly from the suttas. So here, I begin by saying "Here..."

Here, there is no teaching to be found with regard to the practice of rituals as other than practical ways of dealing with ordinary reality. To be sure there are innumerable rituals to be found in the practice: sweeping the cell, manners of greeting, manners of departure, manners of walking, standing still, sittting down, lying down and getting up, ways of observing the Uposatha and even the recitation of the Patimokkha. The distinction that is made is that these "good" habits are not taught as a matter of salvation; they are not matters involving faith; and faith in them in terms of their ability to end kamma or bring about freedom is explicitly refuted. Giving and good works are taught to the lay followers as a matter of creating good kamma, not as a matter of bringing about freedom from kamma. The purpose in teaching the lay followers mechanisms for creating good kamma is to help them help themselves in the creation of a "platform" of confidence and to ease fear of the future: in such conditions they are more receptive to higher instruction.

"Silabbataparamaso", one of the three conditions to be abandoned by the individual crossing over to the First level of attainment in this system[5] is the seeing for one's self the inability to end kamma or to bring about freedom of sila (ethical culture), labba works or deeds; silabbata faith in good works and ceremonies, rites and rituals, paramassa attachment to them as of use for something other than that which is indicated by their face value.

Water runs down hill according to the path of least resistance, and the example of the Bhikkhu is a powerful one; here, therefore, one must be extraordinarily cautious about what habits one sets going and what examples one sets. There is none of the so called "crazy wisdom" or "controlled folly" or lies or harm for the sake of truth, that is found elsewhere. Here we behave as though the last thing we said or did might be the last thing we say or do and the last thing others will know of us, and, having trust in our leadership, will follow (or, if we screw up and make a mistake, we admit it as such, so that over time at least our intentions are understood even if our actions fall short). So here there is no teaching rights and rituals to learn that rights and rituals are usless in our endeavor to attain freedom.

You have brought up the term "bodhisattva". In Pali buddhism the ordinary man and the followers do not aspire towards Buddhahood and do not take the "bodhisattva vows". "Do not aspire to be Buddhas, Beggars, even the Buddhas experience setbacks and reversals. . ."

Here, should one aspire to become a Buddha, taking the bodhisattva vow must be done at the feet of a living Buddha,[6] and involves no such resolve as to wait until all beings attain Nibbana before attaining it one's self. It involves training through thousands upon thousands of rebirths in every sort of form of life so as to have developed sufficient understanding and compassion to be able to teach to and lead a large following. If you are familiar with other teachings of the Buddha you will have heard that we already have experienced virtually every form of rebirth possible, so further rebirths are not necessary for the understanding of the truth. This new set of rebirths is specific to the development of a Buddha, and the vow is taken at the feet of a living Buddha because this is Big Medicine, the act can not be forgotten in one's subsequent rebirths and the incentive to carry on is not easily abandoned. Most ordinary individuals of middle age will understand the importance of this if they simply honestly look at the number of reversals and miraculous salvations they themselves have undergone in this short, one life. This is not something that is to be undertaken without thought as a matter of ritual introduction to this system.

And, within the context of this system, the "bodhisattva vow" as is taught by other systems is an absurd vow: there will never come a time when all beings attain Nibbana, and, getting into the practice one finds that one is to rise to a level short of attaining Nibbana and then renounce the final steps, but here the first level of attainment, that of being Streamwinner, has so set things rolling that within a finite period of time Nibbana is inevitable. (The mechanics of how this can be can be shown.) So, again, here, the proposition that one become a streamwinner, once returner, and non-returner, and then renounce Nibbana is impossible. To follow the instructions properly one would have to stop short of being a Streamwinner and prior to that level one can only be said to be following this system by trust and cannot be said to know anything about it's real workings: so whoever is teaching such a doctrine as this bodhisattva doctrine can only be said to be ignorant of this system by self-declaration (or to be deliberately misleading his followers).

So here, we say one is at liberty to follow any system of beliefs and practice any number of rites and rituals without criticism from this side; but it is not possible to allow the implication that these beliefs are acceptable here to go uncommented on here.

Tkm: Hey now,
Apoligies for speaking outside of the Pali here. I knew as I typed it that the forum was not that of bodhisattva and so on. I just got carried away.

"A parable, O monks, I here give you, that ye may understand the meaning of the matter"
Majjhima Nikaya, i. 117, 155

It has been nearly fifteen years since i have spent much time in pali texts. I spent a year or two with the Hinayana as my 'way'. Spent some time in texts over the past few days. . . It seems that what may seem to be amulika saddha to some may be akaravati saddha to others and vice/versa (Although the Vimamsaka Sutta[7] and Canki Sutta[8] seem to clarify the hows and whys of faith). I say this 'cause it seems that one with akaravati saddhi is saddha-vimutta, open to saccanubodha (after aveccappasada).

It seems that the beginning of the words that evolved into teachings, became the downfall of the earliest tradition. After only a couple of days in the texts again and the intense intellect required for all this I 'feel' a little pretentious sticking input here. Thanx for the patience.
The boddhisattva issue
is absurd. The early Mahayana work in China that met with the Taoistic energy seemed to buck the bodhidharma, bodhisattvas, bodhi, Tripitika, merits, stages, and all that in the initial synthesis stage. The likable part of this is that it seemed to be closest to the earliest teachings, breaking from dogma, and encouraging rationality again. Of course, after that. . .
Once again, pardon my invasion of space and time here. i'll not post any more unless i have spent more time and energy in the texts, and then only if moved so.
The Hinayana was 'truest' of 'paths' this body delved into. The idea of layperson was the most difficult of contradictions to cope with. . . Willpower to be active/passive seems to be a yes or a no in the scheme of things. . .

There is no need for apologies for posting from another point of view as long as it is understood that what is not acceptable here will be remarked upon and the distinctions between this and other systems pointed out.




Ok, I have had time to review the two suttas cited:

Both suttas you mention have broader applications than just that raised by this discussion — they are both true "suttas" in that they are lessons which could take one who has studied them all the way to the goal — but for the sake of the discussion here:

Vīmaŋsaka Sutta

This Sutta asks, approximately, "How can we know when it is OK to Trust a teacher?"

The response is that one examines the individual in a progressively deeper way until one finds satisfaction, or trust:
One examines external behavior (what can bee seen and heard) in terms of bad behavior (if it is there, forget him, if not, go on to the next stage — a remarkable precursor to "programmed learning"),
questionable behavior, and good behavior (if it is absent forget him, if it is present go on to the next step);
is this new in this teacher, or has this been the case for a long time;
does the man have fame, and if so how does he handle the dangers?
Does he behave with objective detachment out of fear or fearlessness and the destruction of attachment?
Is this behavior consistent whether he is by himself or in company, whether his students progress or not, whether his students become leaders or not?
In what way does this teacher state his own accomplishments? Does he claim all of these conditions to be in himself (from having got rid of external bad behavior to indifference through fearlessness)?
Then finally one should question the man directly about these same conditions.
Being satisfied this far one should seek instruction from such a teacher and notice if one is being lead from good conditions to better conditions until such point as one has accomplished the goal.
Sucha one is worthy of trust.

Caṇkī Sutta

In this sutta we get the famous teaching:
"Do not go by saddhāya: faith, trust
How come?
Because something may be believed that may be wrong, and something may not be believed that may be correct;

Ruci: inclination, > light (my inclination being to say "from appearances"), bias, what pleases one
How come?
because something may be pleasing to the mind and may be wrong, and something may be unpleasing to the mind and may be correct;

Anussavo: hear-say, say-so, report ("studies prove"); tradition ('The Custom of My People");
How come?
because something may be reported that is not true, and something may not be reported that is true.

Ākāraparivitakko: a = to; kara = make; pari = pali = pass-around, all-round-a vitakko (think in talk); by way of logical reasoning.
How come?
because conclusions can be reached using logic and reasoning that are incorrect, and something can be correct that cannot be concluded from logic and reasoning

Diṭṭhinijjhānakhanti; knowledge and acceptance of a theoretical position
How come?
because a theoretical position may appear to be correct and not be correct, and a theoretical position can appear to be incorrect and be correct.

One can understand a thing (The Truth) in all these ways and yet one should not just based on that conclude: "This is the Truth;" "I have awakened (or This Teacher is Awakened) to the Truth." One must examine further: One must examine for the presence or absence of wanting, dislike, and blindness that might incline one towards acceptance or disapproval or the false conclusion "I know, I see" and then, observing the absence of these states he may "Trust" sufficiently to:

Draw near
Sit Down
Test The Meaning
Accept and reject according to the testing
Allow enthusiasm
Make effort
Weigh up the pluses and minuses
Resolve to attain
Know and see for himself.

This far he has "Known and Seen" but not yet has he "attained" which is got by following, practicing, developing.

In this way is one: Saddha-Vimutta: Freed-through-Trust


Saddhā: Trust. PED says from <Saddhāyita: Someone you can trust. (I go back this way: Saddha < Sadda: study of meaning of sounds = nirutti <Sattha: Teacher; sa = one; attha who has attained > sa adda one-over dha that)

Vimutta: Freed-through; = nibbana, akalika, upekkha

Saccanubodha: sacca = truth anu = over/after/around bodha = awakening; awakening to the truth

Aveccappasada acecca = perfectly, absolutely, definitely, certainly; pasada = with faith; perfected in faith

But, although I can guess at the meaning of, I cannot find these two terms.

Akaravati Faith through productive rituals?

Amūlika; rootless faith, faith without foundation? baseless faith?

Whatever the meaning of these two terms, I believe the correct response is that it is only within the specific Buddhist meaning of the term (as outlined in the two suttas you cite) that one could be said to attain Freedom through Trust (faith); I do not see anywhere where one could say that there is attaining Trust (faith) through ritual.

I do not understand the meaning of your statement: "Willpower to be active/passive seems to be a yes or a no in the scheme of things. . . ."

Tkm: Hey now,
First, the method and delievery of the reply about the 'other buddhist stuff' was correct, precise, and encouraging.
The two words that were used above:

Akaravati saddha (rational faith) is referenced by K.N. Upadhyaya. i do not have a copy here. It is referenced as from the Samyutta Nikaya and two phrases about are such;
"Saddha becomes a friend of man when it is controlled by wisdom" (
Saddha dutiya purisassa hoti panna c'enam pasasati, Samyutta I. 38)
"It is this well established faith which is characterised as 'good' (saddha sadhu patitthita, S. I.36)
It seems that this in early Buddhism was a faith in which 'one has the partial but personal realisation of truth through his own higher knowledge'. This follows the initial faith, that even though commended in early Buddhism is intended to be critical.

Amulika saddha (baseless faith) is from the Majjhima Nikaya II.170 (Canki Sutta). It is the uncritical faith of the Brahmins that Buddha spoke of. It seems that having a faith that 'it is the truth' without examining critically at the saccanurakkhana (safeguarding of the truth) stage, is considered to be as the Brahnims -amulika saddha.

Saccanurakkhana, being from my understanding - the first stage in the development of knowledge.
It seems that
akaravati saddha is that faith that goes along with the second stage saccanubodha (M II.173 & M I.480) — the stage where the first glimpse of the highest truth ('paramasaccam) matures into saccanupatti or the abiding attainment of the truth when the same mental stages are fully developed. Near bout there ... near bout there ...
It also seems that the word
aveccappasada can be the affective aspect at the sccanubodha that goes with the intellectual aspect known as akararavati (rational faith). The meaning in this case seems 'rational or intellectual joy'. In the Suttanipata 40, aveccappasada seems to mean 'faith based on understanding' — to arise after the mind is free from defilements. It seems another word for Cetaso-Pasada since 'avecca' means 'having understood' (e.g., yo ariyasaccani avecca passati i.e. he having understood sees the noble truth, Suttanipata 40).

"Saddha has been recognized in a few places in the Nikayas as a third path for the attainment Nibbana in spite of the fact that it does not go well with the rationalistic principles of which Buddhist are avowed champions"
this was a phrase used by a professor Baruda who was trying to say that the
aveccappasada path was important to the laity. Of course, he was trying hard to give faith a place in Buddhism. His main basis of conjecture is the Vatthupama Sutta.[9]
One, certain defilements of the mind were to be eliminated before
aveccappasad is said to arise (Majjhima Nikaya I.37).
Two, the Sutta is addressed to the monks, not the laity (Majjhima Nikaya I.36).

I wasn't alluding to gaining faith due to ritual. I do think that the passages point to the fact that this method of 'getting' faith is a ritual in and of itself (however loosely). The statement about willpower was a personal tangent that could become a book itself, or not. Some need rituals or exoteric 'stuff' to build 'willpower' to exercise faith. It seems that many gain the ability to 'see' the esoteric and gain the ability to follow it by the strengthening of their will via ritual.

I appreciate the forum. May not be back for a few days however.

OK, Thank you very much for these clarifications.

Give peas a chance!

But Tkm was not heard from again.


[1] The following dialog reproduced with the permission of the participants. Links and footnotes inserted by mo.

[2] PTS: The Kaccayana, II.12
WP: Kaccanagotta, I.544

[3] This is one view of the Paticca Samuppada, known as the "Three Lives View"; for the other view, the "Akalika" or "Outside of Time" view, see the works of Ven. Punnaji and Ven Nanavira

[4] This is not an attempt to one-up the Buddha: The Buddha used both ways of presenting the path. Given that I feel I am free to use either one depending on the way I see it being best understood by today's audience.

[5] The Sotapati, or Streamwinner. For these see: The Four Pairs of Very Powerful Individuals

[6] See: Warren, Buddhism in Translations, The Story of Sumedha for a description of the process.

[7] Majjhima I, 317; Middle Length Sayings, I, Discourse on Inquiring, #47 PTS pp379

[8] MN 95: Canki Sutta; and see DhammaTalk: Outline of the Canki Sutta

[9] See: Majjhima Nikaya 7, Vatthupama Sutta The Simile of the Cloth

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