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[ Dhamma Talk ]

The Ones

V: "The tamed, guarded, protected, controlled mind, Beggars, is indeed conducive to Great Gain"[1] — It seems that these 4 descriptives are very subtle. Could I ask what are the differences?

 


 

Vocabulary:

Dantaṃ: [Note: This is meaning 3 for danta in PED, the first and second relating to teeth; PED derives the word from Sanskrit dānta pp. dāmyati to make, or to be tame, and also gives Latin domitus > domesticated] to my mind the root word is "Tooth"; and the association is to teething, and the other processes of training that are going on at that time in the development of a child; also I hear the Italian expression "he has him by the teeth." Indicating a high degree of control.). Since one of the "teeth" meanings, (ivory) clearly indicates Elephant tusks, there is probably also an association there to the training of elephants) PED: "tamed, controlled, restrained". — And not to forget: Bhadante: Elder.

Guttaṃ: PED: "guarded, watchful, constrained; guarded in, watchful as regards
gutti: protection, defence, guard; watchfulness
The references are often of guarding a city.
go = a cow, ox = property; i.e. to be guarded
gopeti = to watch, guard,
gottā = protectress"

Rakkhitaṃ: PED: has "cross-bar. or bolt an obstruction: security for anything; fasten to, contrivance; Saxon aggala > Anglo references and temple; ealh alha="Ags." gothic protect; ealgian; AngloSaxon: strength; protect > Alexander; Greek: arceo; Latin: > to protect, shelter, save, preserve. 2. to observe, guard, take care of, control. 3. to keep, to put away, to guard against"

Saŋvutaṃ: PED: "1. closed. 2. tied up. 3. restrained, governed, controlled, guarded
> varati > vuṇāti: to hinder, obstruct; to conceal, protect > Latin "Volvo" [...hum...]. 2. to wish, desire > English: will" [I would say closer to Want > 'I vont to be alone']
I suggest also: varatta: harness, straps on a ships mast to hold the sails

 


 

Series in the Suttas are always progressive, so first you have the situation of the Untamed Common Man. He must be tamed, made to not argue about every point in accordance with his feelings and previously conditioned thoughts and also, probably his ability to use logic and reasoning. He must learn the terminology and the rules and the times for doing and not doing, and generally be brought to the condition of one who will listen. Grabbed by the teeth and brought under control.

Then this training must be guarded against external dangers. You have brought the people in from the countryside, but they are not yet strong or secure and have no barricades so you set the army on the outskirts to protect against attack. I see this as an active guarding, an outward-facing guarding.

Then you construct the barricades (the hall, the temple the refuge) so the people are no longer required to directly concern themselves with the external enemy and can set about the business of that for which they were trained.

Finally when all is secure they are set to do The Masters Work because the situation and their behavior is controlled and well directed, aimed at the goal.

Here today we largely have to imagine the vividness of the gradations of meaning these words would have had to Gotama's followers who were not long past the initial settling of the Indus Valley region and where most towns and cities were surrounded by dense forests. Today, for us, they all blend together and have no meaning to our utterly untamed, untrained, uneducated minds in our overly tamed, guarded, protected, controlled environment.

But today, for us who have no teacher but the books, the idea is just as vital: this world is a jungle of lies and out of control behavior based on unrestrained passions . . . and this our consciousness is bound up in that!

We must be our own trainer and bring ourselves under control in exactly this sort of a progression of steps. Training ourselves in this way will, we are assured, bring great fruit, bring great profit: The Tamed, Guarded, Protected, Controlled Mind, friends, is indeed conducive to Great Gain.

 


 

V: "With regard to the statement: 'Then this training must be guarded against external dangers...an active guarding, an outward-facing guarding.' You mean guard the mind from those who could pull you in the wrong direction, "Mara-types" who are not Streamwinners, until one becomes a Streamwinner?

Correct. Yes, but are you going to relax after achieving the state of Streamwinning? The barricades are not there for nothing, and even barricades can't help one who wanders out past their protection.

V: "With regard to the statement: 'Then you construct the barricades...so the people are no longer required to directly concern themselves with the external enemy...' is this the state of mind where you can no longer be affected by those "Mara-types" out there? Would you say that the protected mind is the mind of one who has become a Streamwinner? Can one be said to have a protected mind without yet having become a Streamwinner?

I believe this is an excellent example of how this teaching can be helpful in the beginning, helpful in the middle and helpful at the end: These ways of setting up a guard would be good for the ordinary person, but here you are giving this set of terms very deep meaning. This is good, but here, the work for which they were trained is the construction of further measures of safety!

We can definitely say that one does not have a protected mind without having yet become a Streamwinner. But even the protection of having become a Streamwinner is not something that should lead to letting down one's guard. This vigilance at keeping up the guard is the "control."

From the suttas we know that Mara attempts to harass even Arahants. And the case for Streamwinners and Once-Returners and Non-Returners is that within the bounds of their conditions they also are subject to harassment by Mara. The fact is that while still attached to the World in any way, any individual who is, in worldly terms more powerful, can harass one, or, in effect, is Mara.

So, for example, even "God" if he manages to convince a Streamwinner to go to heaven is playing the role of Mara in the Pali.

What Mara cannot do with the Streamwinner is to bring him to such a condition that he would make the kind of mistake that would lead to rebirth in Hell or as a Ghost or as an Animal or Daemon.

He cannot alter the ultimate course of the Non-Returner to turn back from straight-line progress towards the goal.

What you are describing is the case where Sucha Mara is tracking an individual and that individual retreats into Dhamma for Refuge.

Up past the barrier created by Views of Self (The Sakkayaditthi — the essential condition of the Streamwinner); Mara is not able to follow.

If an individual is tracked in that way and is followed past that barrier, he can know that whoever it is that is following him is a Streamwinner at the least, and he can consider him a friend. Otherwise (that is if he is tracked up to this point but not beyond but the "tracker" is still hanging around, at the gates of the city, so to speak) he must remain "on guard." If his attention becomes lax, as in say, the example of God convincing a Streamwinner to take birth in Heaven, we might have the case where God Tracked this Streamwinner, but only up to that point where that Streamwinner's vision as to the dangers of rebirth in any condition was not fully developed. If he were to sense no danger, not make use of the Dhamma to retreat, he would be vulnerable in that way.

 


 

V: "A while back we were discussing about the "guarded mind" and you spoke about guarding against external dangers. At first, I thought you were talking about external dangers, like those who could lead you off the path. But should the mind also be guarded from the senses? Or is this what you meant by 'external' dangers?"

This would be a matter of the situation of the individual. It's easy to say that one should be guarding the doors of the senses, (the faculty of sight for example), but the beginner is going to need to focus on the problem at a much more developed stage: long after an object of sight has fascinated his mind, and probably only just short of it's leading him by the . . . um . . . tongue to some disaster or another.

Again, this is what is intended by the statement that this is a system which has been devised to be helpful at the beginning, helpful in the middle and helpful at the end. If the translator has chosen his words carefully, it is really, thereafter, the job of the reader to determine how, exactly the words apply to his particular situation. For the beginner it might be that he must guard against certain corrupting individuals in his circle of friends, for the one in the middle it might be a matter of steering clear of those sights that his experience tells him have entrapped him in the past, for the more advanced it might be a matter of being aware that an object of sight was coming into view.

V: "We also spoke of View of Self and how it's eradication is a condition of a Streamwinner. Are there any practical examples of how to know if one is slowly whittling away Sakkayaditthi?"

To my mind this is Vipassana — Review. From time to time one examines the activities of the day progressing backwards from the present moment to the one previous to the time of rising up to the time of having gone to bed and backwards to birth and beyond.

This is Don Juan's "Recapitulation" (the review of every single one of one's past acquaintances with special focus on sexual/romantic relationships with the aim of seeing them as they really were).

This process has many more benefits than just simply identifying one's progress along the way, but this is one of the benefits.

In this process one will be able to see that "Here, a certain type of situation at one time provoked very strong feelings in me, and now I am indifferent and am able to handle the situation with . . . um . . . poise." To that degree one has broken down the identification with things that were the source of strong emotions. (This is, of course, the same phenomena that will identify one's progress in the diminution of Lust and Anger).

Again, with regard to the present moment one needs to be aware of one's reactions to things in terms of "possessiveness." Wherever that feeling is encountered you can be sure the idea of "My" with regard to things is lurking around somewhere.

This is not an issue which you should allow to obsess your mind. It is good to review so as to encourage yourself in progress, but you should not spend a lot of time concerned with making certain milestones. Keep at your Dhamma Research and Practice; that is the necessary thing no matter what stage you are at (short of Arahantship without grasping, where there is nothing more to be done).

If I used the term "eradication" in reference to "sakkayaditthi" as indicating an essential condition of being a Streamwinner, that needs to be corrected.

The view of self, or the view that one way or another of seeing the self or world is the only way of seeing the self or world (sakkayaditthi) must be "broken" (not necessarily "eradicated") as an essential ingredient in the formula for the Streamwinner under the most comprehensive view of that state.

Loose definitions of Streamwinner are as liberal as to include even those whose faith in the Buddha is strong enough to be held on to during the process of death and rebirth. In fact these "stages" are really only arbitrary lines drawn in a fuzzy spectrum from the common condition to that of SammasamBuddha.

The most common condition for the Streamwinner, almost by definition of his state of being subject to a number of further rebirths, is that although sakkayaditthi may have been broken, the individual is subject to mild relapse — that his self-view has been broken once decisively enough to insure that should identification with a "being" recur, it will not be with one whose activities are of such a nature as to lead one to hang on to this identity for so long as to result in a calamitous rebirth, as in rebirth as an animal or ghost, or in hell.

V: "You also mentioned the example of God trying to convince a Streamwinner to take birth in heaven. Is this Pajapati's problem? Or is this yet another problem?"

Well, you have to specify who it is you are talking about! If you are talking about Pajapati, it is definitely his problem. Strictly speaking, (and there is no such formal thing in the Pali as "Pajapati's Problem", it is simply a name I have put on a phenomena that occurs at a certain stage in one's progress) finding one's self listening to temptation is not yet Pajapati's problem. For it to reach the stage of Pajapati's problem, one has to find one's self in the condition not of joining Pajapati, but of being Pajapati.

 


 

V: "When one is being 'tempted by "God"' to enter heaven, is this a situation which is under one's control? ie. Can one actually say 'No'?"

In a word you have stated the problem. Only the problem isn't refusing God, it's having enough Objective Detachment to recognize the two parties in dialogue: God and himself. You have nothing to do with it. . . unless you believe you do. But to directly answer your question, conventionally speaking, yes you can refuse. You try to be diplomatic, but "Thank you very much, but no thank you: I am a follower of the Buddha and he suggests that nothing lasts, even rebirth in heaven."

V: "If this is something in which one has some "say", ie. Yes or No, then what are the alternatives? ie. What if one actually does say "No"? What could happen?"

There is an interesting sutta in which the Buddha is invited to join Baka Brahma and refuses[2]. There follows a little contest in which Baka attempts to demonstrate greater psychic power than the Buddha and is defeated. He is then made to remember his previous birth and by way of that recollection is able to understand the idea of rebirth and of the temporary nature of existence.

This is essentially the proposition as stated in Pajapati's problem. One does not need to have the psychic power of the Buddha to refuse to join God; all one needs is the knowledge of the Streamwinner concerning the idea of not-self. While with Baka The Buddha is able to make himself invisible to Baka. This is what is meant by being invisible: That there is no thing there: body, sense experience, perception, personal world, or consciousness which one holds onto as "The Self". Baka or God or Mara or The Devil; no being can see beyond that.

So you are asking: "When I go up to the Pearly Gates and meet God and he asks me to join and I ask if I can have a look around first and he says OK, and in the end I decide that this too is a place which will come to an end, and at that end I will be subject to all the same problems I have right now, I refuse; then God says: 'OK, pipsqueek, it's off to where the sun don't shine for you!' And he casts: what? The Body, or the Perceptions, or the Sense Experiences, or The Personal World, or Consciousness off into Hell or wherever else kamma deems fit'n. What do I do then?" And the answer to that is: Whether or not you go along is up to you.

But actually, If Memory Serves, what happens when you refuse God, is that a Greater God comes along and congratulates you on your Great Psychic Powers and Mental Acuity, and invites you to join Him. And so forth for quite a while.

V: "How would one find oneself in the condition of being Pajapati?"

I do believe I described the actual process in my discussion of Pajapati's Problem:
This situation is arrived at after Jhana practice or deep analysis. I can only describe it in terms of "logic" but it is not arrived at as a matter of logic and reasoning, but as a matter of seeing the logic as it is: In this case one perceives the changeable nature of the world while not perceiving the changeable nature of what one holds to be one's self. Thinking "I" continue while "these others" change, and, being subject to the phenomena that "creation" (the appearance of something in the personal world) and "conscious awareness" are indistinguishable perceptions, one concludes that "I am The Creator of the Created" i.e., Pajapati.

 


 

V: "If I understand this correctly, then what happens after death is all in the mind (a sort of "mind game" one plays with oneself) and that one's outcome can be anything one "believes"? If so, then what role does kamma play?"

Kamma works its ways on Body, Perceptions, Sense Experiences, The Personal World, or Consciousness.

One way of thinking of it is God in the role of Judgment here, is simply making the mistake of identifying with Kamma. If you had such good kamma that it was not possible to stop your momentum into a good rebirth, it would not occur to god to throw you into hell, that was just an example I made up.

V: "Is this why the actions of an Arahat have no kammic effect? Because he/she is beyond identifying with kamma? So even if he/she does good (or bad theoretically speaking) it would matter not because there is not a self to which the kamma would "cling" or "hang"?"

The way you put it is reasonable, but say: There is no thing there that is the self to which the kamma would cling — you want to avoid saying "there is not a self".

The Arahant's kamma is dead on arrival so to speak. Kamma requires intent. Intent is either the intent to create pleasant sensation (Good Kamma) or the intent to create unpleasant sensation (Bad Kamma) (or a mixture of those two) or the intent to end kamma (kamma that is dead on arrival).

A deed done with the intent to end kamma is a deed of abstention, for example. Walking in accordance with the Eightfold Path creates this dead kind of kamma.

The deeds of the Arahant are deeds of Unravelling or wearing out of old kamma.[3] I put it in terms of taking a "responsive" role toward the world. If you answer a question with the truth, only dead kamma results. It simply ends the question. If you take the body on it's Beggar's rounds out of duty to the old bag of bones, indifferent to the outcome, then you are avoiding the bad kamma of neglect of the body while avoiding the kamma of desiring some good thing for the body. (Remember! It's Intent that determines the outcome of Kamma.)

V: With regard to the statement: "If you had such good worldly kamma that it was not possible to stop your momentum into a good rebirth, it would not occur to god to throw you into hell..." Here it sounds as if one has no control over kamma, yet your first comment suggests that one does, simply by not identifying with kamma as "my kamma". Is this a correct assumption?"

Both of those situations can be true. Once kamma has been set rolling there is no control over the way it manifests itself, but one has control over how one identifies with the way that kamma manifests itself — by way of the degree to which you identify with body and so forth.

Even the common man, if he understood how it worked would have a certain amount of such control. For example: for a man highly identified with his mind, an injurious karmic effect to the body is of little importance. So making an effort here and now to store up good kamma and to so elevate the mind that it is flexible enough to ignore some place where bad kamma is manifesting itself and pay attention only to some area where only good kamma is manifesting itself would go a great distance for the common man in altering the way kamma effected him and yet he would have no control over the kamma.

In the death of Moggallana we have a very good example of how this works in an Arahant. Moggallana met his end after a series of narrow escapes from a group of rival ascetics. They would trap him, and he would work his magic powers to escape. He did this several times, but after a time he thought to himself (well, ok, my words): "This is some kinda karma! And he looked to see where it was coming from and saw he could not escape (it was the dreadful murder of his parents in a former life), so he let the bad guys have their way.

ball peen hammer

They took a ball-peen hammer and broke every single bone in his body. That would usually do it for someone. But Moggallana was very polite and did not want to die without having taken his leave of the Buddha so he picked up the body and took it to the Buddha to say goodbye and then died. You see, the body could not escape the kamma, but it had no effect on Moggallana. He just let the body go.

 


 

V: "So, one has no control over the "resultant" portion of kamma (bad things happen and good things happen). But one does have control over the "causal" portion of kamma."

Correct.

V: "By saying "Not my kamma" when those bad things (or good things) happen, one does not create more kamma, or creates "dead" kamma as you put it."

I don't know where this is coming from. Saying one thing or another won't do anything in terms of one's experience of kamma. In conventional terms it certainly is your kamma. Dead kamma is a special case created by deeds of abstention: For example: under circumstances where your normal inclination would be to lie, to abstain from the lie. It creates no new kamma and it brings the momentum that would normally have resulted in a lie to a halt. The escape from kamma is not in the observation that "this is not my kamma" it is in the observation that "this body, etc. is not me/mine". And this is not accomplished by saying it: it must be seen as it really is.

V: "I'm a little confused because i thought one was supposed to trace the origin of things back. And by doing so, isn't one discovering that it is in fact "my kamma" that has caused this "calamity" or this "good thing" to happen to a person?"

This is good technique for arriving at the position where it can be seen as it really is that "this body, etc. is not me." In tracing things back to their origins, you will trace things back to where they originated in acts (kamma) based on Tanha (thirst). The point of doing that is not so much to discover that the cause of your calamity or good fortune is your own fault, it is to discover (see it as it really is) that things have causes and that consequently, causes being modified or eliminated will change the outcomes of things.

One sees, in tracing back a Painful event to it's origin in an act based on lust that the final outcome of this lust was this pain and one's blindness has been cleared away to a certain degree and the propensity to do the same deed again is diminished.

When you can see clearly that by doing intentional good or bad deeds you set going kamma that is then out of your control you can arrive at a clear perception that the body (etc) is also out of your control and is therefore not really "yours" at all. Your task is then to figure out how to escape the identification that comes with doing intentional good or bad deeds and you see that it is by doing deeds which carry the intention of ending kamma: Not Doing, when Doing would be the natural inclination.

V: "Another question: How does all this relate back to the discussion of 'God'?"

You need to go back a few questions and read again. Trace things back to their origins!

V: "If one has a 'vision', upon death, of 'heaven' and one is being tempted by 'God' to join, then is this 'vision of heaven and God' the result of past good kamma?"

Yes. Of course for a Buddhist this would be a disappointing end.

V: "Is this 'vision' now the result of newly created kamma through the identification of good kamma as 'my kamma'?"

Again, I don't know where you got the idea that identifying kamma in one way or another creates kamma. It doesn't.

V: "I guess what I'm trying to determine here is whether one has control over the 'vision' itself at death. If one does not identify with one's "good deeds" at death, would one still have this 'vision'?"

There might be a certain amount of control. When you feel hungry, you can go to the store and buy food to satisfy the hunger if you have identified the fact that you have the mula. A person with only a dime isn't going to buy a steak no matter how much they concentrate on the dime; and the person with a million bucks might not get a steak either if there is no meat to be had in the market that day. Like the Old Medicine Man in O Lucky Man said: "Sometimes the Magic works and sometimes it doesn't." Certainly one would be better off trying.

Now all these cases relate to someone who is still Downbound to body or perceptions or sense experience or their personal world or consciousness. The Streamwinner is able to detach from identification with a body (or any part of a personality) that is headed to hell, for example. The Arahant is done with making identifications altogether. This is what we are trying to learn how to do here: not manipulate our good or bad kamma, but to escape kamma altogether.

 


 

V: When I asked: "or is this 'vision' now the result of newly created kamma through the identification of good kamma as 'my kamma'?" You responded: "I don't know where you got the idea that identifying kamma in one way or another creates kamma. It doesn't."
Concerning this, This statement is the one that's confusing me:
"One way of thinking of it is God in the role of Judgment here, is simply making the mistake of identifying with Kamma."
It seems to imply that the reason why one is having this "vision" of oneself as God is because he/she is identifying with Kamma. Instead, I should be understanding this statement as follows:
...that the reason why one is having this "vision" of oneself as God is because he/she is still identifying any of the 5 khandhas (or combination thereof) as being him/her"self". Correct?

This statement was made in response to your statement:
"If I understand this correctly, then what happens after death is all in the mind (a sort of 'mind game' one plays with oneself) and that one's outcome can be anything one 'believes'? If so, then what role does kamma play?"

I was describing how it could be that it might look like the will of God was at work, but really what was happening was just kamma. God making the mistake of believing that because he and kamma saw eye-to-eye, that it was his will at work. This has nothing to do with making kamma.

This was not in relation to the vision of one's self as God, it was in relation to the role of Kamma. I described the process involved in getting to the point where one believed one was god.

When you say: "I should be understanding this statement as follows:
...that the reason why one is having this "vision" of oneself as God is because he/she is still identifying one of the 5 khandhas (or a combination of them) as being him/her'self'. Correct?" ...
Actually that is the root cause, but that is not what I think you mean here. What I said is that because one (and when it comes to God it is he, not he/she[4]) thinks that one is, one's self (whatever one considers that to be) constant, while one sees that others are changeable, one concludes that one is, one's self, the Creator. Like: "I am the only real one. They are all illusions of mine."

 


 

V: With regard to the exchange: Q: "If one has a "vision" upon death of "heaven"...is this ... the result of past good kamma?"; A: "Yes. Of course for a Buddhist this would be a disappointing end." ... Last night I read from the "Nanatitthiyasavaka Sutta-Discourse[5] to Followers of Various Other Faiths":

"Then the wicked Mara possessed Vegabbhari and uttered this verse in the presence of the Bhagava:

"Those teachers strive earnestly in practising self-mortification through abhorence (of evil). They safeguard themselves against defilements. They are enamoured of sensual objects such as attractive visual objects and they long for the delights of deva world (which they believe can be obtained by such abstinences here and now). Indeed they admonished others to endeavour to reach a better future existence."

Then the Bhagava knew that it was the wicked Mara who was actually saying that and replied to him in the following verse:

"Whatever attractive visual objects there are in this world or in the celestial world, and whatever brilliantly shining objects there are in the sky, all those objects praised by you, Namuci, are in fact like fish-bait cast (into water) for the killing of fish."

 


[1]Pali: ../../dhamma-vinaya/pali/an/01_ones/an01.001-097.pali.bd.htm#p31
English: ../../dhamma-vinaya/bd/an/01_ones/an01.001-097.olds.bd.htm#IV6

[2] [MN 49] Majjhima Nikaya I, #49 Brahmanimantanika Sutta, PTS: Horner, A Challenge to a Brahma, pp391

[3]This is my understanding of this business of being Arahant with "residue": that is, that although the being that became Arahant can be said to be done with kamma, the old body (sensations, perceptions, personal world, and consciousness) with which he was previously associated, continues to experience the consequences of old kamma until those "factors" are warn out.

[4]This little sidenote brings up a curious issue with regard to Pajapati's problem: If the creator, God, is always a male, how do women experience Pajapati's Problem? My own personal observation of this phenomena as it happened to some female acquaintences of mine long ago is that they experience the inverse: they believe that a single other male is God. In other words, from the point of view of this being the break-through point for the Streamwinner, or the breakdown point of the Sakkyaditthi, they hold the view: 'I am an aspect of this", or "The Self of Me is Within That". This I have seen with my own eyes. In theory it should also be possible for women to experience this phenomena in a female body, recognizing themselves as essentially male.

[5]Samyutta Nikaya I: Sagathavagga: Devaputtasamyutta: III: Nanatitthiya, PTS I.56
PTS: The Book of the Kindred Sayings I: Kindred Sayings with Verses: The Sons of the Devas: The 'Divers Sectaries' Suttas, Mrs. Rhys Davids, trans., pp 80
WP: The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, I: The Book with Verses, III: Various Sectarians, Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans. pp152.

 


 

References:

See also the discussion: Pajapati's Problem


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