Monday, June 12, 2017

Free Live Streaming of 10th Global Conference on Buddhism

Live Streaming of 10th Global Conference on Buddhism
Due to the high demand of tickets we have decided to live stream the event to benefit many people across the globe. This will be a free, high quality webcast service with a live question box to interact with the speakers in the panels. However, we can answer only a very limited number of questions as we have to give priority to the audience at the site who have already bought tickets. We have limited number of spots available for live streaming audience and it is by registration only. Please click on the live stream button below today to register. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Further Examination of the Third Noble Truth



The third noble ruth is the cessation from suffering.  This is how it is said in Maha-Satipatthana Sutta.

"And what is the noble truth of the cessation of stress? The remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.

"And where, when being abandoned, is this craving abandoned? And where, when ceasing, does it cease? Whatever seems endearing and agreeable in terms of the world: that is where, when being abandoned, this craving is abandoned. That is where, when ceasing, it ceases.

"And what seems endearing and agreeable in terms of the world? The eye seems endearing and agreeable in terms of the world. That is where, when being abandoned, this craving is abandoned. That is where, when ceasing, it ceases.

"The ear... The nose... The tongue... The body... The intellect...

"Forms... Sounds... Smells... Tastes... Tactile sensations... Ideas...

"Eye-consciousness... Ear-consciousness... Nose-consciousness... Tongue-consciousness... Body-consciousness... Intellect-consciousness...

"Eye-contact... Ear-contact... Nose-contact... Tongue-contact... Body-contact... Intellect-contact...
"Feeling born of eye-contact... Feeling born of ear-contact... Feeling born of nose-contact... Feeling born of tongue-contact... Feeling born of body-contact... Feeling born of intellect-contact...
"Perception of forms... Perception of sounds... Perception of smells... Perception of tastes... Perception of tactile sensations... Perception of ideas...
"Intention for forms... Intention for sounds... Intention for smells... Intention for tastes... Intention for tactile sensations... Intention for ideas...
"Craving for forms... Craving for sounds... Craving for smells... Craving for tastes... Craving for tactile sensations... Craving for ideas...
"Thought directed at forms... Thought directed at sounds... Thought directed at smells... Thought directed at tastes... Thought directed at tactile sensations... Thought directed at ideas...
"Evaluation of forms... Evaluation of sounds... Evaluation of smells... Evaluation of tastes... Evaluation of tactile sensations... Evaluation of ideas seems endearing and agreeable in terms of the world. That is where, when being abandoned, this craving is abandoned. That is where, when ceasing, it ceases.
"This is called the noble truth of the cessation of stress.
" Maha-satipatthana Sutta: The Great Frames of Reference" (DN 22), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 15 October 2011,http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.22.0.than.html . Retrieved on 7 May 2013.


So the third noble truth cessation of suffering is basically cessation of craving.  In the passage above in Maha-Satipatthana sutta Buddha explains the craving that results from the cognitive function of the six senses. This is our "world."  The world of six senses. This is basically how we perceive our world around us. Now we will briefly revisit the basic mind works model (shown below).

You can see from the figure above how the cognitive pathways flow from the senses and how contact plays a central role in making this a reentry circuit of thoughts. It is important to note that only one consciousness arises at a given time resulting in one contact.  This will be the corresponding contact of the sense base that is firing (one sense is on "fire") in that moment.  However in the model above it is shown as one common contact to keep the model simple. Therefore only one sense base is born (and die) at a given time.  This the momentary birth and death sometimes we talk about in Buddhism. We have discussed in great detail how we can apply this model to dependent origination and rebirth in our other posts like the mind work model, rebirth and the youtube channel videos.

From dependent origination we know that contact causes feeling and feeling causes our craving.  This then causes our clinging (feeding). Please see the diagram below.  Here only five steps are shown out of the twelve for the purpose of this post.

 If we can get rid of our contact we will have no more feeling and no more craving. However it is impossible to get rid of the first contact.  It is a process dependently arisen as a result of an interaction between a sense and a sensory object. We will call the first contact as the primary contact.  The subsequent contacts that arise as a result of reentry of thoughts we will call here as the secondary contacts. The generation of secondary contacts we are entirely responsible and it is a result of our craving. The caving generates directed thoughts and evaluation of the sensory object perceived through the sense organ (as said in the above passage from the sutta).   The idea of training the mind through the noble eight fold path is to gradually get rid of the secondary contacts that occur as a result of our craving as we cling to the object.  As we become disenchanted and dispassionate (less craving to the same object), less and less contacts will form from the same sensory encounter. When one reaches cessation only the primary contact will  remain with a given sensory encounter.  There is no more craving and clinging.  This is "when one sees, one only sees (brief instructions Buddha gave to Bahiya)." No more delight and evaluation of sights as before.  There are no more taints (previous memories of the encounters) automatically flowing through the mind as there is no more craving.  However if he intends to have more contact he can do so if necessary without clinging. The only way to confirm this hypothesis is to directly experience this ourselves, developing the noble eight fold path to its culmination and gain insight knowledge, vision and the final release.

If this hypothesis is correct then there should be a sutta that explains the cessation of contact (secondary) leading to cessation of feeling  and cessation of craving.  Nibbedhika sutta is an good example for this. 

It says:

"And what is the cessation of feeling? From the cessation of contact is the cessation of feeling.. 

Here what is meant by the cessation of contact is the cessation of the secondary contact or multiple secondary contacts as a result of reentry thoughts. Please see below the extract of a passage on feeling from this sutta.

"'Feeling should be known. The cause by which feeling comes into play... The diversity in feeling... The result of feeling... The cessation of feeling... The path of practice for the cessation of feeling should be known.' Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said?

"There are these three kinds of feeling: a feeling of pleasure, a feeling of pain, & feeling of neither pleasure nor pain.

"And what is the cause by which feeling comes into play? Contact is the cause by which feeling comes into play.

"And what is the diversity in feeling? There is the feeling of pleasure connected with the baits of the world. There is the feeling of pleasure not connected with the baits of the world. There is the feeling of pain connected with the baits of the world. There is the feeling of pain not connected with the baits of the world. There is the feeling of neither pleasure nor pain connected with the baits of the world. There is the feeling of neither pleasure nor pain not connected with the baits of the world. This is called the diversity in feeling.

"And what is the result of feeling? One who feels a feeling produces a corresponding state of existence, on the side of merit or demerit. This is called the result of feeling.

"And what is the cessation of feeling? From the cessation of contact is the cessation of feeling; and just this noble eightfold path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — is the way leading to the cessation of feeling.
"Now when a disciple of the noble ones discerns feeling in this way, the cause by which feeling comes into play in this way, the diversity of feeling in this way, the result of feeling in this way, the cessation of feeling in this way, & the path of practice leading to the cessation of feeling in this way, then he discerns this penetrative holy life as the cessation of feeling.
"'Feeling should be known. The cause by which feeling comes into play... The diversity in feeling... The result of feeling... The cessation of feeling... The path of practice for the cessation of feeling should be known.' Thus it has been said, and in reference to this was it said.

"Nibbedhika Sutta: Penetrative" (AN 6.63), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 4 July 2010,http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.063.than.html . Retrieved on 7 May 2013.  

So in summary with the cessation of contact (secondary) there comes the cessation of feeling, craving and clinging. This means no more becoming and no more birth.  The end of birth means no more old age, sickness, death.  This is end of suffering in life. The key is to follow the noble eightfold path as Buddha once said "the right technique will give you the right result." 

Friday, May 3, 2013

REVIEW OF FREE THE MIND: A documentary film by Phie Ambo


The movie will be in theaters on June 7th, 2013 (Toronto)
 Playdates in US 2013
VENUESCITYDATE
May
USA Film FestivalDallasTX4/24 - 4/28
Rubin Museum of ArtNew YorkNYStarts 5/3 +
The ScreenSanta FeNMStarts 5/10 +
Sundance CinemasMadisonWIStarts 5/15 +
Stanford UniversityPalo AltoCA5/17
Laemmle Music HallLos AngelesCAStarts 5/17 +
Laemmle MonicaSanta MonicaCA5/18 - 5/19
Laemmle Playhouse 7PasadenaCA5/18 - 5/19
Laemmle ClaremontClaremontCA5/18 - 5/19
Kimball TheaterWilliamsburgVA5/31 - 6/5
Real Art WaysHartfordCTJuly tba
Northwest Film ForumSeattleWAStarts 7/26 +
To watch the trailer click on the link below

Huff Post Live:

https://s.embed.live.huffingtonpost.com/HPLEmbedPlayer/?segmentId=517fca2e02a7601798000026

Synopsis

In 1992 Professor Richard Davidson, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, met the Dalai Lama, who encouraged him to apply the same rigorous methods he used to study depression and anxiety to the study of compassion and kindness, those qualities cultivated by Tibetan meditation practice. The results of Davidson’s studies at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, are portrayed in FREE THE MIND as they are applied to treating PTSD in returning Iraqi vets and children with ADHD. The film poses two fundamental questions: What really is consciousness, and how does it manifest in the brain and body? And is it possible to physically change the brain solely through mental practices?

Review
This movie clearly shows us the power of the mind - how we can let go of the unhealthy and unskillful feeding patterns of our mind towards a more healthy and skillful feeding, just by being mindful in the present, for example being aware of the breath. This shows that Mindfulness can be used by anyone, irrespective of the age, their personal experiences or belief systems. Although we have not yet uncovered all the mysteries of the brain and how the consciousness  works, it is reassuring to know that we can help ourselves by being our own therapists using mindfulness as the tool. The movie Free The Mind gives us a powerful message that we can unlock our preoccupations with unskillful habits of the mind with mindfulness. This movie also gives us a glimpse of hope that true happiness is still possible and it is not too far beyond our reach.
-Piyal Walpola, MD, PhD

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Work of consciousness: A magic trick




It all starts here. What ever is associated with consciousness is an illusion. It is another clever trick of the magician. We need to get friendly with the magician and learn all his tricks. This is the work of insight. Then it's all over. No more magic. They are only different tricks. Now we see them clearly. Just watch the tricks as they are being played. Then you smile.


"Now suppose that a magician or magician's apprentice were to display a magic trick at a major intersection, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a magic trick? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any consciousness that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in consciousness?-Buddha


*Viññana [vi~n~naa.na]:
Consciousness; cognizance; the act of taking note of sense data and ideas as they occur. See khandha.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Five Spiritual Faculties

"Monks, there are these five faculties. Which five? The faculty of faith, the faculty of energy, the faculty of mindfulness, the faculty of concentration, the faculty of wisdom.  These are the five faculties.

"One who has completed and fulfilled these five faculties is an arahant. If they are weaker than that, one is practicing for the realization of the fruit of arahantship; if still weaker, one is a nonreturner; if still weaker, one is practicing for the path for the realization of the fruit of nonreturning; if still weaker, one is a once-returner; if still weaker, one is practicing for the realization of the fruit of once-returning; if still weaker, one is a stream-enterer; if still weaker, one is practicing for the realization of the fruit of stream-entry.

"But monks, I say that one in whom these faculties are completely and totally absent is' an outsider, one standing amid the worldlings"

(SN 48:18; V202), Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi: In the Buddhas' Words, An Anthology of the Discourses from Pali Canon, 2005, Wisdom Publications, Inc., Page 385.

(Also read Indriya-vibhanga Sutta: Analysis of the Mental Faculties.)

The five spiritual faculties  are faith (conviction), effort (vigor/energy), mindfulness, concentration and wisdom.   Here we use a simile of a hand (see the figure above) and the strongest digit is the thumb and that it should be like the faith in the ptactice. The role of mindfulness in the center as the middle finger balancing the other four factors. It is important to have some amount of faith about the path to arrive at  wisdom one day.  Therefore the first goal of the Buddhist partitioner is to develop faith (on Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha) through investigation of the path. There are two different forms of faith. Investigative faith (Akarawathi saddha) and blind faith/without proper beginning (Amulika saddha).  In Buddhism we use the investigative faith (Akarawathi saddha).

There are two who are practicing for the realization of stream entry. They are the Faith follower and Dhamma follower The faith follower has strong faith on the path and its results.  He is the one who knows the arising and falling away of the five aggregates. The Dhamma follower has developed more wisdom than the faith follower.  He sees the arising and passing away of the five aggregates.  One who  both knows and sees the arising and passing away of the five aggregates is a stream enterer.  The stream enterer  also has all the components of all the five faculties developed to some degree.  The higher the degree of development of these faculties, the higher the stage of enlightenment. (see the above passage form the sutta).  Buddha has discussed many advantages of being a stream entererPlease read the links below (Click on the title).

Who is a stream-winner ?

The stream-winner...three fetters are abandoned in him

The suffering that is remaining for a stream-winner is like ...the water drawn out with the tip of the blade of grass

For the stream-winner... suffering remaining is just like a little bit of dust on a fingernail


Stream Winner.. a great mass of merit that is unreckonable, immeasurable

More rewards...for the stream winner



The fruit of stream-entry excels...Sole dominion over the earth


More rewards of stream-winner, here-and-now...


Suffering remaining for a stream-winner is just like... two or three remaining drops of water


Stream-winner is fearless at death

The five groups of clinging

The number of rebirths remaining for the stream-winner...


Also read :

The four stages of enlightenment

Seven types of individuals ...

The five rewards of conviction (faith)



Friday, February 8, 2013

The four kinds of kamma...


 (Please click on the figure to enlarge)

Kamma is the result of our will or intention.  We discussed before that we have no absolute free will. But we have a will. Therefore we can change our kamma.

Lets take an illustration and see how we make our kamma.

When a person sees an object the person can react or respond in four different ways (See the illustration in the figure above). In this example here it is the identical object comes to their visual field ("A", "B" and "C").

1. The person "A" may react in an unskilful way making "dark kamma" resulting in "dark results."
2. Person "B"  may react with "bright kamma" resulting in "bright result."
3. Their could be a person ("A" or "B" or both) with mix of "dark and bright kamma" resulting in mixed results ("dark and bright results").
4. Their is the person "C" is awakened (fully enlightened). This person may respond with kamma that ends kamma (extinguish kamma). This person knows this is a mere flow of Nama Dhamma arising and passing away in the individual's own mind. This is also will be last mental action at death resulting in no future births.  All the previous kamma dark or bright does not come to fruit. They end all their kamma with  the last kamma that ends kamma.  

The above illustration is for eye and object only. The exact same mechanism applies to other senses too, including mind and mind objects. At the time of death mostly mind and mind objects (memories retrieved) as discussed in the mind works model come into play. The awaked has no more taints and therefore flow of thoughts from the mind does not happen.  We have discussed this in detail a previous post on taints.

(Please click on the hyperlinked words or phrases to read the previous posts related to this topic if you wish).



Further reading from previous posts.
"... there are four kinds of kamma proclaimed by me after realization myself with direct knowledge.

What are the four?

1.There is dark kamma with dark ripening,
2. There is bright kamma with bright ripening,
3. There is dark-and-bright kamma with dark-and-bright ripening,
4. There is kamma that is not dark and not bright with neither-dark-nor-bright ripening that conduces to the exhaustion of kamma.

Kukkuravatika Sutta: The Dog-duty Ascetic


translated from the Pali by Ñanamoli Thera

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Four skillful ways of answering questions




In this post I will examine the different methods of answering questions skilfully based on Buddhist wisdom. As I was searching for this in the Buddhist literature, I came across a very short but a fascinating disclosure by the Buddha. This was called Pañha Sutta.


This sutta explains four skillful ways of answering questions:


1. There are questions that should be answered categorically, for example, yes or no answer.


2. There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer. You explain the answer in detail defining and redefining the terms.


3. There are questions that should be answered with a counter questions.


4. There are questions that should be put aside.


Buddha went on to say that "any persons who is practicing Dhamma (Buddha's teachings) will be skilled in the four types of questions: hard to overcome, hard to beat, profound, hard to defeat. He will know what is worthwhile and what is not, and will be proficient in recognizing both. He will reject what is worthless, and will grasps what is worthwhile. He is called who is prudent and wise"

Could we apply this to our daily lives? It will not be easy, but we can try. Let me share with you some of my personal experience. A common mistake I make is trying to answer questions analytically when the answer should be a simple yes or no. This was an old habit of my mine that came with my training. This has got me in to lot of trouble in the past. Now I am a little more mindful on this. The other problem was I often failed to recognize the questions that should be put a side. This still happens and I have to be more mindful on this.

Now how can we use the above outlined methods of answering questions practically? Most people ask question genuinely because they don't no the answer. You can choose method one or two outlined above to answer them according to the knowledge you already have. Some people ask questions when they already know the answers. The reason is they want to test you. If you mindfully listen (see previous posting below) you may be be able to catch this early enough. In this case you may want to use method number three or four. Yet another group of people asks questions to get you to start an argument. Be very mindful with these questions. You definitely want to use the method number four here. Where else could you use the method number three? This could be used when you want to avoid answering a question. A simple example is when somebody ask a question like; how old are you? You may want to ask a counter question like, how old you think I am? But the real question may be more complex than this.



If you are mindful enough you will soon realize whenever we get in trouble trying to answer questions it is because we are not skilled in the above methods. You may not be able to see this or practice this at once as your mind has already been conditioned over time. As we know humans are creatures of habit and it will take a some practice and effort before we become fully skillful in answering questions wisely. Therefore don't be afraid to make mistakes. Always try to contemplate on the mistakes you have just made. Please don't dwell on it. Acknowledge the mistake, forgive yourself and lean from it. There isn't always a "perfect answer". It is how we approach the question which more important than the answer itself.



1. Pañha Sutta 
2. Also read: "Pañha Sutta: Questions" (AN 4.42), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 3 July 2010,http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.042.than.html . Retrieved on 27 January 2013.