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 Question On Spontaneous Calm Abiding, its effects on emotions
fatherjhon
post Mar 29 2011, 05:06 PM
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I have a small question on a very minor point of Buddhist philosophical minutia.

When one is able to attain the last of the 9 refuges (abodes?) of the mind it is said the person is able to maintain calm abiding spontaneously. When that happens the emotions – and a lot else besides – are “ruled” by the true mind. This is supposed to also retroactively effect the emotions so that all emotions where always seen in a state of calm abiding. I take that to mean memories no longer have the emotions attached to them. My question is: will achieving Spontaneous Calm Abiding prevent the experience of emotions both past and future or merely the tendency for the emotions to rule the mind?

By the way I keep hearing people talk about this part of enlightenment, practicably the beings of the higher realms you’re emulating, emotions of any kind are lost as one ascends further towards enlightenment.


--------------------
Cosmic consciousness is devoid of diversity; yet the universe of diversity exists in notion....
We contemplate that reality in which everything exists, to which everything belongs,
from which everything has emerged, which is the cause of everything and which is everything....
The light of [this] self-knowledge alone illumines all experiences. It shines by its own light.
This inner light appears to be outside and to illumine external objects.

-Sage Vasishtha

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Vagrant Dreamer
post Mar 29 2011, 08:17 PM
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QUOTE(fatherjhon @ Mar 29 2011, 07:06 PM) *

I have a small question on a very minor point of Buddhist philosophical minutia.

When one is able to attain the last of the 9 refuges (abodes?) of the mind it is said the person is able to maintain calm abiding spontaneously. When that happens the emotions – and a lot else besides – are “ruled” by the true mind. This is supposed to also retroactively effect the emotions so that all emotions where always seen in a state of calm abiding. I take that to mean memories no longer have the emotions attached to them. My question is: will achieving Spontaneous Calm Abiding prevent the experience of emotions both past and future or merely the tendency for the emotions to rule the mind?

By the way I keep hearing people talk about this part of enlightenment, practicably the beings of the higher realms you’re emulating, emotions of any kind are lost as one ascends further towards enlightenment.


This is a very familiar state of mind to me, I will have to read up on the 9 refuges/abodes.

Being not as well versed in the intricacies of the philosophy as I would like, I cannot say from a strictly buddhist perspective; however, I would say that it grants the clarity to see with the true mind what part of a memory is based on emotional content rather than rational experience. I suppose if, in the present, one is able to look back on memories absent the lens of emotional irrationality, then according to that present state it was always so. Thus, the quality of the memories themselves have changed. As our past is, in many respects, simply our collection of memories, I believe this is internally consistent, although it does not change the external expressions of those emotional irrationalities: that such and such happened, and there was an emotional response followed by emotionally driven action.

Rather, upon reviewing a memory, one may look at this memory of an event and recognize with the true mind what parts were rational, what parts were driven by emotion, and how one could have maintained right thoughts and actions in the absence of that emotional influence.

For me a state of mind perhaps similar to this - Calm Abiding is a good descriptor but I won't say it is the same thing necessarily - is one in which the emotion may be present, but has no sway over actions or thoughts. I am not in the habit of reviewing my memories with such an eye, but where it seems my emotions want to take over I 'step back' from them and maintain a calm center while making decisions, etc. Where I diverge from buddhism for myself, I think, is the purposeful immersion in emotion when either it will be fun, or when rationality and a calm center are not necessary.

During meditation, this state is useful for observing the content of the mind in conjunction with the emotions attached to it.

Mmmm, so I would say that perhaps it does not prevent the experience, but rather as you say removes the tendency for emotions to rule. If also the true mind can then rule the emotions, one can presumably experience any past, present, or future event/memory through different emotions. Imagine the transformational power of experiencing all of one's 'hurtful' memories through the emotion of love, peace, compassion, etc., rather than anger, fear, sadness.

As for beings on higher planes, I have generally found that entities might communicate through emotion, but are not necessarily ruled or affected by it. That is only my own experience, and recognizing and categorizing exactly where some entity or another stands on the 'scale' as it were, is something I believe I am not always capable of doing with any reliability. Lower entities, however, by contrast, do seem to be increasingly more ruled by emotions, and are more likely to become angry, resentful, etc., as well as being more easily affected by emotional communication. So, that may very well be, and raises questions about the true nature of emotion. Which, i suppose, the buddhists have written about at length.

peace


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Vagrant Dreamer
post Mar 30 2011, 11:37 AM
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I was only able to find reference to 4 divine abodes, Maitri, Karuna, Mudita, and Upeksha - Loving Kindness, Compassion, Altruistic Joy, and Equanimity. Is this the same concept, or are you indicating a different element of buddhism? I wasn't able to find anything on 9 abodes or refuges of the mind. It is probably referenced in a book I don't have access to immediately, but I would love to know!

peace


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fatherjhon
post Mar 30 2011, 04:48 PM
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Thank you. Informative as always Vagrant.
I was rather hoping that was the case. I am hoping to incorporate some of these practices and would not have enjoyed something that lead to lacking emotion.


QUOTE(Vagrant Dreamer @ Mar 30 2011, 12:37 PM) *

I was only able to find reference to 4 divine abodes, Maitri, Karuna, Mudita, and Upeksha - Loving Kindness, Compassion, Altruistic Joy, and Equanimity. Is this the same concept, or are you indicating a different element of buddhism? I wasn't able to find anything on 9 abodes or refuges of the mind. It is probably referenced in a book I don't have access to immediately, but I would love to know!



You may well have the right book, I just was unsure what to call them because they are spoken of several different ways, and the book is from the 80's so translation might have changed too. The Nine Mental Abidings, sometimes spoken of as abodes, or a mental states where one can find "refuge" from meditative faults (slightly ambiguous I know) relate to the "formless absorptions" and are considered to be mental states, the attainment of which is required for the development of the six powers "familiarity, effort, introspection, thinking (about the Dharma), hearing (about the Dharma) and mindfulness". The powers have to be developed before meditation on the "formless absorptions" which are considered the first real step to enlightenment.

"During the cultivation of calm abiding, a mediator passes through nine mental abidings (serm gnas dgu, navdkdrd cittasthitl)-nine states of mind. The first is called setting the mind (sems jog pa, cittasthdpana). The second is called continuous setting ( rgyun du jog pa, sansthiipana). The third is called resetting (sian tr jog pa, avasthdpana) . The fourth is called close setting (nye bar Jog pa. upasthiipana). The fifth is called disciplining (dul bar byrd pa. damana). The sixth is called pacifying (zhi bar byed pa, famana). The seventh
is called thorough pacifying (nye bar zhi bar byrd pa, vyupafamana). The eight is called making one-pointed (rtsr gcig Nl byrd pa, ekotikara􀁵a) . The ninth is called setting in equipoise (mnyam par Jog pa. samiidhiina)." - Rinbochay, Hopkins & Zahler, (1983) MEDITATIVE STATES in Tibetan Buddhism, pp 54-56.

I had the good fortune to find a copy of this book not to long ago. It contains a number of very helpful practices for meditation including a taxonomy of many of the things that cause a meditation to fail and lists the proper antidote.

Hope this helps.


--------------------
Cosmic consciousness is devoid of diversity; yet the universe of diversity exists in notion....
We contemplate that reality in which everything exists, to which everything belongs,
from which everything has emerged, which is the cause of everything and which is everything....
The light of [this] self-knowledge alone illumines all experiences. It shines by its own light.
This inner light appears to be outside and to illumine external objects.

-Sage Vasishtha

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Vagrant Dreamer
post Mar 31 2011, 04:05 PM
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QUOTE(fatherjhon @ Mar 30 2011, 06:48 PM) *

"During the cultivation of calm abiding, a mediator passes through nine mental abidings (serm gnas dgu, navdkdrd cittasthitl)-nine states of mind. The first is called setting the mind (sems jog pa, cittasthdpana). The second is called continuous setting ( rgyun du jog pa, sansthiipana). The third is called resetting (sian tr jog pa, avasthdpana) . The fourth is called close setting (nye bar Jog pa. upasthiipana). The fifth is called disciplining (dul bar byrd pa. damana). The sixth is called pacifying (zhi bar byed pa, famana). The seventh
is called thorough pacifying (nye bar zhi bar byrd pa, vyupafamana). The eight is called making one-pointed (rtsr gcig Nl byrd pa, ekotikara􀁵a) . The ninth is called setting in equipoise (mnyam par Jog pa. samiidhiina)." - Rinbochay, Hopkins & Zahler, (1983) MEDITATIVE STATES in Tibetan Buddhism, pp 54-56.


Aha, I see. I know these states by a different tradition. To me these sound like steps towards a goal, but I can see how and why they are called abidings, as though they were resting places along the path to being able to meditate on the formless.

So, my interpretation then, and you may be here already, would be that one is to first set the mind, then set the mind continuously - and, I imagine that setting the mind is akin to settling, or quieting thoughts? This seems sensible to me as the first step in deep meditation is to learn to allow the mind to be quiet for short periods, and then allow those periods to be extended. Resetting the mind I am not clear on, perhaps the state of being able to do this settling exercise at will? Close setting is a bit more confusing.

This could also refer to strata of consciousness - resetting might indicate a point at which the mind is 'reset', as literal as that is, such that the mind is more often quiet than loud. Close setting might be referencing a deeper part of the conscious mind - that part that is 'closer' to the true mind, where judgments and biases reside. Disciplining is the first word that reminds me of a sanskrit equivalent (although it does look like it is a sanskrit word) dharana, I can't see how the etymology might have changed it to damana, but perhaps the discipline of the mind to prevent new judgments or biases from arising?

Pacifying may be the state of, again deeper into the conscious mind, pacifying that part of the mind such that judgment and bias no longer attempt to arise instinctively. Thorough pacifying might have to do with removing the instinct itself, pacifying that psychological mechanism entirely.

Making one pointed seems the next logical place, where one is now quiet and without biases, and therefore able to hang one's attention unwaveringly on a single thought-object, and equipoise seems the precursor to being "neither this, nor that" if following a formlessness ideal or even being "both this, and that" in the desire to become one with formlessness.

This is my layman's interpretation, not drawn from any deep knowledge of tibetan buddhism. But the progression seems similar to other traditions. I can, though, see how upon attaining to these 9 abodes of the mind one is able to then reach this equipoise with formlessness and be both oneself as well as the formless, thence being free of the emotional content inherent in form while still observant of the past, present, and future.

It is not, upon consideration, the same as the state that I am more personally familiar with, as that state for me is not a balance between form and formlessness, nor an absorption into formlessness; it is rather a mental discipline. I believe along this particular interpretation of that path I am seeking that fifth abode, as it is not yet a constant discipline. Seeing this delineation though does give a great deal to consider on 'what comes next' - though in the interest of looking at the flagstones of the path that are under my feet, perhaps you have just inadvertently distracted me with the future!

Still, it is fascinating and worth considering. I do not think it will lead to lacking emotion, but rather a conscious participation in emotion, willfully instead of willy-nilly as your brain pleases.

Thanks very much for sharing this!

peace


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