Samatha and Vipassana


rikpa21@...
 

Jonothan, this is a GREAT debate! This is some great stuff, and I
once again thank you for providing really useful grist for debate.

Jonothan: A general observation first. I am not sure how 'close' to
the Tibetan suttas, commentaries and abhidhamma the writing of Master
Shantideva is. Does he cite textual references for his statements?
I would also be interested to know in approximately what era he is
writing. I accept, however, for the purpose of this discussion that
he represents the Tibetan position or at least one school of it."

Erik: Master Shantideva is one of the most oft-quoted panditas in the
Tibetan tradition. He lived from 695-743 AD. His key work "A Guide to
the Bodhisattva's Way of Life" (Bodhicaryavatara) is a profound
treatise on developing the qualities of metta, karuna, mudita,
upekkha, as well as patience and Right View.

Jonothan: In the Theravadin tradition, samatha bhavana and vipassana
bhavana are separate and distinct forms of kusala, so the concept of
vipassana 'endowed with' or 'conjoined with' samatha at the moment of
eradication of defilements is not found.

Erik: I beg to differ. So, it appears, do the Suttas:

Yuganaddha Sutta

"Ven. Ananda said: "Friends, whoever -- monk or nun -- declares the
attainment of arahantship in my presence, they all do it by means of
one or another of four paths. Which four?
"There is the case where a monk has developed insight preceded by
tranquillity. As he develops insight preceded by tranquillity, the
path is born. He follows that path, develops it, pursues it. As he
follows the path, developing it & pursuing it -- his fetters are
abandoned, his latent tendencies abolished.

"Then there is the case where a monk has developed tranquillity
preceded by insight. As he develops tranquillity preceded by insight,
the path is born. He follows that path, develops it, pursues it. As
he follows the path, developing it & pursuing it -- his fetters are
abandoned, his latent tendencies abolished.

"Then there is the case where a monk has developed tranquillity in
tandem with insight. As he develops tranquillity in tandem with
insight, the path is born. He follows that path, develops it, pursues
it. As he follows the path, developing it & pursuing it -- his
fetters are abandoned, his latent tendencies abolished.

"Then there is the case where a monk's mind has its restlessness
concerning the Dhamma [Comm: the corruptions of insight] well under
control. There comes a time when his mind grows steady inwardly,
settles down, and becomes unified & concentrated. In him the path is
born. He follows that path, develops it, pursues it. As he follows
the path, developing it & pursuing it -- his fetters are abandoned,
his latent tendencies abolished.

"Whoever -- monk or nun -- declares the attainment of arahantship in
my presence, they all do it by means of one or another of these four
paths."

This provides support for sukkhavipassaka meditation, in the same way
the revered Indian commentator Master Asanga gives sukkhavipassaka
practice wiggle-room in the "debate" on this in my previous post.
Asanga also noted that there can be samatha arising after an instant
of insight. But nowhere is there any support for vipassana alone
leading to true insight. So, thanks to your asking the right
questions it confirms that the Tibetans have gotten it exatly right
here, just going by what Lord Buddha actually says in the suttas,
because what is quite unambiguous in these passages is that the
Buddha said the path cannot be actualized withouth samatha, given
they are always treated as a conjoined pair.

Also, Jonothan, why are they listed as the "yuganaddha" in the
Dammasangani if they can be separated? There is no monad
of "vipassana" or "samatha" there, but the "joined pair." To me this
leaves little doubt the two together are necessary. Going by the
Yuganaddha Sutta, it appears that samatha can act as a prenascent,
conascent, mutuality condition for vipassana. It also appears that
vipassana can act as a prenascent and mutuality condition for
samatha. But for the arising of lokuttara-panna, it appears they are
mutuality conditions. Indeed even the title of the Sutta suggests
that at some point these two come together when all the path factors
are fully developed, and that the two together are mutuality
conditions for lokuttara panna.

There are some more passages from the Suttas:

Kimsuka Sutta
"I have given you this simile, monk, to convey a message. The message
is this: The fortress stands for this body -- composed of four
elements, born of mother & father, nourished with rice & barley
gruel, subject to constant rubbing & abrasion, to breaking & falling
apart. The six gates stand for the six internal sense media. The
gatekeeper stands for mindfulness. The swift pair of messengers
stands for tranquillity (samatha) and insight (vipassana). The
commander of the fortress stands for consciousness. The central
square stands for the four great elements: the earth-property, the
liquid-property, the fire-property, & the wind-property. The accurate
report stands for Unbinding (nibbana). The route by which they had
come stands for the noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve,
right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right
mindfulness, right concentration."

***

Akankha Sutta

"If a monk would wish, 'May I -- with the ending of mental
fermentations -- remain in the fermentation-free release of awareness
& release of discernment, having directly known & realized them for
myself in the here-&-now,' then he should be one who brings the
precepts to perfection, who is committed to mental calm, WHO DOES NOT
NEGLECT JHANA, who is endowed with insight, and who frequents empty
dwellings."

Jonothan, again, this sutta makes it quite explicit that there is no
avoiding jhana in the practice of insight. This means that any
practice of insight not involving the jhanas will never yield the
fruits of the Noble Eightfoled Path. Lord Buddha is not saying "who
can skip jhana if they don't feel they have the capacity for it."
Lord Buddha is very clearly saying jhana is indispensible. Are there
any compelling counterarguments on this point you can present from
the Suttas? Going by how explicit the Suttas are on this I'm going to
need so very serious convincing to see exactly how the sort of
meditation practice you suggest can bring about release--if you are
indeed suggesting one can attain lokuttara-nana without samatha.

This is quite obviously a life-or-death point, not something to be
even the slightest bit wrong about, because it means the difference
between liberation and ceaseless rounds in cyclic existence. There is
a Zen saying: "to miss by as much as a hair is to miss by the
distance of Heaven and Earth." But forget Zen, because the Buddha is
explicitly saying this right in the Sutta Pitaka, the teachings every
practicing Buddhist, Theravadin, Zen, and Tibetan, accepts as
canonical!

The Samadhi Sutta adds:

"As for the individual who has attained insight into phenomena
through heightened discernment, but not internal tranquillity of
awareness, he should approach an individual who has attained internal
tranquillity of awareness...and ask him, 'How should the mind be
steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be
unified? How should it be concentrated?' The other will answer in
line with what he has seen & experienced: 'The mind should be
steadied in this way. The mind should be made to settle down in this
way. The mind should be unified in this way. The mind should be
concentrated in this way.' Then eventually he [the first] will become
one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness &
insight into phenomena through heightened discernment."

Jonothan: The apparent departures here are - (a) In the Theravadin
tradition, only a moment of vipassana can realize one of the lakkhana
(characteristics) of reality or the four noble truths (which are of
course truths about realities, not concepts). Such truths cannot be
realized at a moment of samatha.

Erik: There is no contradiction. Nowhere does what I quoted suggest
that anything other than vipassana can bring about direct insight
into the characteristics of dhammas. I thought this was clear to the
point of leaving no ambiguity.

Jonothan: (b) In the Theravadin tradition, jhana refers to cittas
which are one-pointed in an object to the point of absorption, and is
an attainment resulting from the development of samatha to an
extremely high degree. To talk about 'samatha included within a
first jhana' seems to imply a different relationship between the 2
terms.

Erik: Samatha is either a prenascent or mutuality condition for
attaining the jhanas, so there is no contradiction. One cannot speak
of jhana apart from samatha.

Jonothan: Since samatha and vipassana are different in function,
objective and result, the realization of a characteristic of reality
cannot be the outcome of the development of samatha (I am assuming
here that 'preparation for the first jhana' is a reference to samatha
bhavana).

Erik: No disagreement. The development of samatha ALONE cannot
overcome afflictions. Likewise, the development if vipassana ALONE
cannot overcome afflictions if one merely reads what tLord Buddha
said in the Suttas. When the two are brought together--as a
yuganaddha--then this creates the conditions for lokuttara panna.
There can be no lokuttara panna without the union of these two,
according again to the Suttas.

Erik: So it seems the upshot of this debate to me is that if you
assert one can come to lokuttara panna through vipassana alone then
there is no support in the Suttas. Again, this is obviously one of
THE life-or-death issues regarding samma samadhi and the development
of all the relevant path-factors necessary for lokuttara panna. It
would seem to me that now the shoe is on the other foot. Meaning,
that I believe I have clearly demonstrated, using the sources we both
accept as canonical, that there is no vipassana withouth samatha,
that the system of meditation I've been trained in more cloesely
represents the actual teachings of the Buddha found in the Sutta
Pitaka, whereas what I'm interpreting from your statements finds no
basis at all in the Suttas: "In the Theravadin tradition, samatha
bhavana and vipassana bhavana are separate and distinct forms of
kusala, so the concept of vipassana 'endowed with' or 'conjoined
with' samatha at the moment of eradication of defilements is not
found."

You say you there is no support in the Suttas, yet the passages I
quoted directly contradict this and in fact support my contention
explicitly. Is there anything in the Suttas you can find that might
change how these Suttas are interpreted, such that they will agree
with your assertion rather than mine or the teachings of Master
Shantideva or Asanga?

I look forward to your spirited defense of your tradition! :) :) :)

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