More on Pali tradition /2009/11/20/more-on-pali-tradition/

More on Pali tradition

Another James comment on Pali tradition

James said,
19.11.09 at 7:53 pm ·
I don’t mean to give the idea that the Pali tradition is a monolithic entity as a lot of variation can exist within that fold. Personally, I’m not really a fan of the Abhidhamma (not to say that it isn’t interesting) or the meditation traditions that spring from it (i.e. Mahasi), but the link is useful enough. I usually use the Pali tradition as a reference point because it doesn’t view view samadhi states as anything more than mundane unlike other spiritual traditions and it has a theory of meditative states that you don’t find in other traditions (even the Upanishadic). For instance, you can easily discern that Ramana Maharishi is probably hitting what the Pali suttas refer to as the “base of infinite consciousness.” He said that his experience was non-dual but there is a very subtle perception of “I am” with regard to it:

“Jnana is given neither from outside nor from another person. It can be realised by each and everyone in his own Heart. The jnana Guru of everyone is only the Supreme Self that is always revealing its own truth in every Heart through the being-conciousness ‘I am, I am.’ The granting of true knowledge by him is initiation into jnana. The grace of the Guru is only that Self-awareness that is one’s own true nature. It is the inner conciousness by which he is unceasingly revealing his existence. This divine upadesa is always going on naturally in everyone.”

“Not even an iota of Prarabdha exists for those who uninterruptedly attend to space of consciousness, which always shines as ‘I am’, which is not confined in the vast physical space, and which pervades everywhere without limitations.”

“The four levels of rupa jhana and the four levels of arupa jhana, taken together, are called the eight attainments (samapatti), all of which come down to two sorts: mundane and transcendent. In mundane jhana, the person who has attained jhana assumes that, ‘This is my self,’ or ‘I am that,’ and holds fast to these assumptions, not giving rise to the knowledge that can let go of those things in line with their true nature.”

“The formless acquisition can result from any of the formless states of concentration — such as an experience of infinite space, infinite consciousness, or nothingness. Although meditators, on experiencing these states, might assume that they have encountered their “true self,” the Buddha is careful to note that these are acquisitions, and that they are no more one’s true self than the body is.”

“Finally, although the Deathless is sometimes called consciousness without feature, without end, it is not to be confused with the formless stage of concentration called the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. One of the main differences between the two is that the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness is fabricated and willed (see MN 140). The element of will, though, can be very attenuated while one is in that dimension, and only discernment at an extremely subtle level can ferret it out. One way of testing for it is to see if there is any sense of identification with the knowing. If there is, then there is still the conceit of I-making and my-making applied to that state. Another test is to see if there is any sense that the knowing contains all things or is their source.”

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