Right/wrong thought

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Jeff H
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Re: Right/wrong thought

Post by Jeff H » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:24 pm

Rick wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:06 pm
Clear and helpful, thanks.

It seems from pretty much everyone's msgs here that Buddhism focuses on the content of thoughts and the consequences that arise from this content ... but isn't interested in the process of thinking and the consequences that arise from this process.

?
I don't think that is the case. Certainly on the sutrayana side there is a very rich body of work on the detailed workings of the mind, both psychologically and epistemologically. The training I received through Jamyang Centre under Geshe Tashi Tsering used a module on the two truths to introduce the idea that it is possible to arrive at the ultimate by thoroughly understanding the relative. That led directly into a module on the specifics of the processes of mind and the consequences of those processes.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Rick
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Re: Right/wrong thought

Post by Rick » Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:56 pm

Aha.

I have the Relative Truth, Ultimate Truth book by Geshe Tashi Tsering ... enjoyed what I read, found it illuminating, but didn't manage to slog all the way through it (yet). I took a look at the TOC of the Buddhist Psychology book you linked to and yes, it seems to dive deep into the thinking process.

I take it you recommend his set of six books?

When you studied under Tsering, did he encourage students to apply all three wisdoms to the teachings: hearing, contemplation, and meditation? The first two no doubt. But some of the topics seem very abstract and I wondered if he felt they also required direct experience via meditation.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

Jeff H
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Re: Right/wrong thought

Post by Jeff H » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:08 pm

Rick wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:56 pm
I take it you recommend his set of six books?
I found the entire course very helpful, partly because the modular texts present very clear teaching (so, "yes"), but also because the course itself is very well structured.
Rick wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:56 pm
When you studied under Tsering, did he encourage students to apply all three wisdoms to the teachings: hearing, contemplation, and meditation? The first two no doubt. But some of the topics seem very abstract and I wondered if he felt they also required direct experience via meditation.
Yes. Dzogchen, with ChNN, understands contemplation in a very specific way, while Gelugpas emphasize Listening, Reflecting, and Meditating for the learning process. Geshe Tashi uses the metaphor of going to a new place: first you need reliable directions (i.e. listening to someone with knowledge of how to get to the place); then you go there repeatedly on your own with the help of those directions and a map (i.e. conscious reflection); and finally, you internalize the route so you don't need the map or directions (i.e. meditation integrates the teachings in your mind, non-conceptually).

What you're reacting to is the gradual lam rim methodology (which Malcolm has referred to as algorithmic), as opposed to the sudden methodology (which Malcolm has referred to as dialectic). Both have their place for specific people at specific times.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Wayfarer
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Re: Right/wrong thought

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:25 pm

Rick wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:35 pm
What does Buddhism teach about right/wrong thinking? Not just the quality of the thoughts: virtuous, non-virtuous, etc. But the process of thinking itself.
Isn't that the main focus of abhidharma? Understanding the causal sequences which give rise to desire/attachment/aversion? 'Refrain from doing evil, Learn to do good, purify the mind - that is the teaching of the Buddhas' is how it's summarised.

There's a model in adult learning about the phases of learning. When you first try and do something - say, driving a car - you realise you can't to it: that is conscious incompetence. Then you start to learn and practice and after a while, you can do it but only by making an effort: conscious competence. Over time the behaviours and judgements become internalised and effortless - that is 'unconscious competence'. I think that also applies with learning Buddhism.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Rick
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Re: Right/wrong thought

Post by Rick » Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:48 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:08 pm
Geshe Tashi uses the metaphor of going to a new place: first you need reliable directions (i.e. listening to someone with knowledge of how to get to the place); then you go there repeatedly on your own with the help of those directions and a map (i.e. conscious reflection); and finally, you internalize the route so you don't need the map or directions (i.e. meditation integrates the teachings in your mind, non-conceptually).
Internalizing the route is a form of self-conditioning, right? And conditioning limits freedom. So does following the Buddhist route-path mean sacrificing freedom for happiness = non-suffering? (That's a question, not a veiled assertion.) Does training one's mind mean robbing it of its inherent freedom?

Note: I realize I'm poking at the boundary of what's permitted in this forum, because I'm questioning the foundation of the Buddhist path. It's an honest and sincere question, not a deprecating assertion ... but still, it's a core question. If this is a no-no for the forum, I apologize ... and moderators please feel free(!) to rein this thread in. If this should happen, I will pm a few people who've participated in the thread privately to continue the discussion.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Rick
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Re: Right/wrong thought

Post by Rick » Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:00 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:25 pm
Rick wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:35 pm
What does Buddhism teach about right/wrong thinking? Not just the quality of the thoughts: virtuous, non-virtuous, etc. But the process of thinking itself.
Isn't that the main focus of abhidharma? Understanding the causal sequences which give rise to desire/attachment/aversion?
I can't answer the question since I haven't studied the abhidharma (except in bits and pieces).

The kinds of topics I'm talking about are things like:

How does a thought originate?
What 'trajectory' does a thought follow?
Who or what thinks?
What is the role of memory/past in thinking?
What is the role of the ego-I-self construct in thinking?
What is the relationship between brain and mind?
What is the relationship between thinking and acting?
What is the relationship between awareness and thinking?
What IS thinking? Is there any form of mentation that is NOT thinking?
Etc.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

Jeff H
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Re: Right/wrong thought

Post by Jeff H » Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:50 pm

Rick wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:48 pm
Jeff H wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:08 pm
Geshe Tashi uses the metaphor of going to a new place: first you need reliable directions (i.e. listening to someone with knowledge of how to get to the place); then you go there repeatedly on your own with the help of those directions and a map (i.e. conscious reflection); and finally, you internalize the route so you don't need the map or directions (i.e. meditation integrates the teachings in your mind, non-conceptually).
Internalizing the route is a form of self-conditioning, right? And conditioning limits freedom. So does following the Buddhist route-path mean sacrificing freedom for happiness = non-suffering? (That's a question, not a veiled assertion.) Does training one's mind mean robbing it of its inherent freedom?

Note: I realize I'm poking at the boundary of what's permitted in this forum, because I'm questioning the foundation of the Buddhist path. It's an honest and sincere question, not a deprecating assertion ... but still, it's a core question. If this is a no-no for the forum, I apologize ... and moderators please feel free(!) to rein this thread in. If this should happen, I will pm a few people who've participated in the thread privately to continue the discussion.
Nothing wrong with your questions, Rick.

The premise, as I understand it, is this: We generate a world of experience by reacting to the stimuli of our perceptions. Buddha observed that all beings habitually react to the conditions they encounter in ways that are more likely to produce suffering than happiness. That is because, due to fundamental ignorance, we mistakenly think things truly exist as they appear to our senses: independently and permanently. In fact, nothing is independent and nothing lasts for two moments.

Everything is dependently originated and impermanent, but our thinking minds can’t grasp that. The lack of freedom is being trapped in our ignorant, cyclically reactive habits. The path is about identifying and then letting go of our ill-informed habits. In the conventional, relative world, the path takes the form of instilling new habits based on advice from realized masters who explain the kinds of thoughts and actions that reduce suffering in the long term and lead to happiness. Those new habits are called virtues. When they are thoroughly integrated into our minds and become spontaneous, that constitutes freedom transcending the relative, conceptual world.

Regarding your questions to Wayfarer, I'd suggest that Geshe Tashi's Buddhist Psychology would give you a good introduction to abhidharma and help you formulate your thoughts.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Wayfarer
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Re: Right/wrong thought

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:05 pm

I second Jeff H's suggestion. This is the subject matter of abhidharma, Buddhist philosophical psychology. Really it's an amazing system, considering its antiquity - there's nothing else in existence which offers the same conceptual framework.

Check out this title.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Vasana
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Re: Right/wrong thought

Post by Vasana » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:19 pm

Rick wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:00 pm
Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:25 pm
Rick wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:35 pm
What does Buddhism teach about right/wrong thinking? Not just the quality of the thoughts: virtuous, non-virtuous, etc. But the process of thinking itself.
Isn't that the main focus of abhidharma? Understanding the causal sequences which give rise to desire/attachment/aversion?
I can't answer the question since I haven't studied the abhidharma (except in bits and pieces).

The kinds of topics I'm talking about are things like:

1 How does a thought originate?
2 What 'trajectory' does a thought follow?
3 Who or what thinks?
4 What is the role of memory/past in thinking?
5 What is the role of the ego-I-self construct in thinking?
6 What is the relationship between brain and mind?
7 What is the relationship between thinking and acting?
8 What is the relationship between awareness and thinking?
9 What IS thinking? Is there any form of mentation that is NOT thinking?
Etc.
1 - dependently and circumstantially ( 12 links, 4 elements , space, light, sense faculties etc)
2 - depends on the above
Therein, consciousness is a cause by being of the nature of a seed. Karma is a cause by being of the nature of a field. Ignorance and desire are a cause by being of the nature of defilement. Karma-defilements cause the consciousness-seed to be born. Therein, karma performs the function of being the field of the consciousness-seed. Desire waters the consciousness-seed. Ignorance scatters the consciousness-seed. Without these conditions, the development of the consciousness-seed does not occur.

Rice Seedling Sutra - http://xuanfa.net/buddha-dharma/tripita ... mba-sutra/

3, 4 & 5:
Go back to basics and check the Pali Canon Sutta pitaka . So many of those questions are answered in various dialogues . Abidharma Pitaka for the more nitty gritty mechanics. Jump back and forth between the Sutta Pitaka and the Abhidarma Pitaka.

Sutta Pitaka: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sutta.html
Abhidhamma Pitaka (intro) : https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el322.html
The Abhidhamma deals with realities existing in an ultimate sense, called in Pali paramattha dhammaa. There are four such realities:

Citta, mind or consciousness, defined as that which knows or experiences an object. Citta occurs as distinct momentary states of consciousness.
Cetasikas, the mental factors that arise and occur along with the cittas.
Ruupa, physical phenomena, or material form.
Nibbaana.

6: Watch/ Listen to some Alan Wallace talks.
particularly;
Lecture 3 - A Radically Empirical Approach to the Exploration of Consciousness [youtube]

7-9: as with 4-5

Berzin's website is also useful.

https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... al-factors
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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