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Book of Eights: Chapter 2

federicafederica seeker of the clear blue skyIts better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

Here beginneth the Second Lesson....

Comments

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited July 18

    Sn 4.2 PTS: Sn 772-779
    Guhatthaka Sutta: The Cave of the Body

    Staying attached to the cave,
    covered heavily over,[1]
    a person sunk in confusion
    is far from seclusion —
    for sensual pleasures
    sensual desires[2]
    in the world
    are not lightly let go.

    Those chained by desire,
    bound by becoming's allure,
    aren't easily released
    for there's no liberation by others.
    Intent, in front or behind,[3]
    on hunger for sensual pleasures
    here or before —
    greedy
    for sensual pleasures,
    busy, deluded, ungenerous,
    entrenched in the out-of-tune way,[4]
    they — impelled into pain — lament:
    "What will we be
    when we pass on from here?"

    So a person should train
    right here & now.
    Whatever you know
    as out-of-tune in the world,
    don't, for its sake, act out-of-tune,
    for that life, the enlightened say,
    is short.

    I see them,
    in the world, floundering around,
    people immersed in craving
    for states of becoming.
    Base people moan in the mouth of death,
    their craving, for states of becoming & not-,[5]
    unallayed.

    See them,
    floundering in their sense of mine,
    like fish in the puddles
    of a dried-up stream —
    and, seeing this,
    live with no mine,
    not forming attachment
    for states of becoming.
    Subdue desire
    for both sides,[6]
    comprehending[7] sensory contact,
    with no greed.

    Doing nothing for which
    he himself
    would rebuke himself,
    the enlightened person doesn't adhere
    to what's seen,
    to what's heard.
    Comprehending perception,
    he'd cross over the flood —
    the sage not stuck
    on possessions.
    Then, with arrow removed,
    living heedfully, he longs for neither —
    this world,
    the next.

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    ^ this is a different translation to the book. The introduction to the book sets out how the author carefully selected words that he felt were most appropriate for the situation and it alters the text significantly. I much prefer the book version to this one.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited July 18

    Yes. It's a different one. See the general comments thread. Im posting it for inclusion reasons....and for general study of the Sutta, itself. You're more than welcome to discuss how certain words change the context and meaning for you. ;)

    Lazy_eye
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Love my morning contemplative time with my online sangha :)
    I still have a hard time keep straight "becoming" and I have to stop and refer back to things I highlighted to keep it straight. It's interesting to me that the same terms are used throughout the book but mean different things in the context of the exact discourse. On a more creepy note, this reminds me of one of the Silence of the Lambs films...not the main one but perhaps it was the prequel, Red Dragon, there is a quote in one of them anyways that is something about becoming that was always super creepy to me, and every time I read that word, that's what I think of, :lol:

    With regards to the current lifetime, is it simply intended wishing/desiring to be someone other than we are? It made me wonder how all the different masks we usually wear every day play into that idea. Most of us can't get through life just being ourselves, we wear different masks depending who we are with. I behave differently around my family than my inlaws. I was different at work than I was at home. Do you think this falls under the same idea of "becoming"? What came to mind when you read the author commentary about clinging to becoming/existence? I know the commentary discusses selfishness and what belongs to us, but wouldn't our identity be the crown of that in a way? Especially the various identities we switch between that we think we need to navigate our world and the people we share it with? I wasn't quite sure how to put it together with the focus on selfishness because that is what came to mind for me - our various identities. But I suppose in a sense living that way is selfishness, because we are trying to "protect" ourselves from living with conflict or any consequences of not conforming to other people's expectations.

    I did like that the author points out that seclusion and hiding from temptations isn't a solution when you are still ridden with desires and just trying to run away from them.

    My favorite section of this chapter is:
    Therefore you should train right here:
    Don't do what you know
    is out of harmony in the world

    lobster
  • upekkaupekka Veteran
    edited July 18

    **Doing nothing for which
    he himself
    would rebuke himself,
    the enlightened person doesn't adhere
    to what's seen,
    to what's heard.

    Comprehending perception,

    he'd cross over the flood —
    the sage not stuck
    on possessions.

    Then, with arrow removed,
    living heedfully, he longs for neither —
    this world,
    the next.**

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Have read the commentary and the poem once but I really want to read them another time to gain some depth. The desire to "become" seems to me hidden behind many smaller desires like status while at work or the desire for wealth and authority. Each of those contains an element of wanting to become more than you are, though I am not sure if that is precisely what is meant by "becoming" and avoiding the desire for it.

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    I really enjoy the poem in Chapter 2. I've read it a few times now and could read it a hundred times more. There is a poetic beauty about it that resonates with me. Though if I could never read it again I would simply be happy to have experienced it.

    I think desire is to want to 'have' something whereas becoming is to want to 'be' something or someone that you are not. In many instances they are intertwined.

    You can desire money but not necessarily want to be rich or successful or popular. Perhaps you desire the money because you desire other material objects. Or perhaps you desire money because you desire security.

    I'm not quite clear what things you might want to become but I think it may relate to immaterial things or maybe things that are unachievable for a particular person (beauty, youth, health). You may not want anything in particular but may not be happy just to be who you are.

    I've not come across the term sage before but like how the idea of what it is is developing in my mind. What is the background to the term or role of a sage?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    The word 'Sage' comes, via a circuitous route, from the original latin word Sapere (or the 'vulgar' Latin, Sapius), to know, to have knowledge. In Italian, there is the word 'Saggio' and this is also taken to mean that something is whole, solid, reliable.

    Lee82lobsterDhammika
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    I was relating more to the opposite notion of non-becoming. I'm someone who has the inclination to desire oblivion, like many addicts do.

    If I think about becoming/non-becoming in terms of after death then try and relate that to our current life, I think non-becoming makes sense in that way. Then becoming might be the desire for any or all of the activity of life. So we don't seek either, the goal as is usual for Buddhism would be some sort of groundless living.

    In regards to becoming as trying to be something other than yourself, to my mind I think that would apply. I also think though that trying to be yourself could also be thought as a kind of attachment to becoming. I imagine someone who is authentically themselves isn't trying to be themselves, they just are that way.

    I like the first stanza of the poem:
    For someone sunk in confusion,
    -Even if well concealed in a hiding place-
    Seclusion is far away.
    In this world, it's not easy to let go of desires!

    It reminded me of the saying "Wherever you go, there you are!" You can't escape your own mind.

    lobsterkarastiLazy_eyeVastmind
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited July 19

    It's interesting to me that the passages speak to us all in different ways, and I enjoy contemplating it all during my quiet mornings to see what it has to offer me. I love to hear the differences in what it offers others at different points in their lives and paths. So many different possible interpretations depending on our understanding and experience at the time.

    Also @person with regards to "being ourselves" I agree. I think we get stuck in an idea of who we think we are and forcefully try to consistently present that to the world. I think we need to be able to discern the proper response for the person and situation involved. Not from a place of wanting to get the answer right, or wanting to put forth something that will be accepted (ie telling them what they want to hear) but truly being in a place to listen and offer the best possible skillful response/reaction. It kind of requires NOT operating out of who we believe we are, because what is skillful and needed by the other person may not be what we would need. Which is why I have an issue with the details behind "treat others as you want to be treated." It's a good general foundation, but if I treat my son the way I want to be treated, things will not go well! I have to listen and respond in a skillful way that it isn't out of my "self" but not necessarily catering to what he wants to hear, either.

    personKeromeLazy_eye
  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    As teachings were delivered orally it would have been intended for these poems to be spoken. I'm interested to know how many of you are reading them aloud? It would be great to listen to different readings of the same poem to see where people place emphasis and silence.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Lee82 said:
    As teachings were delivered orally it would have been intended for these poems to be spoken. I'm interested to know how many of you are reading them aloud? It would be great to listen to different readings of the same poem to see where people place emphasis and silence.

    Given that everyone's interpretations are mildly different and people are affected in different ways, I'm not sure the reading aloud would be the same for everyone. either....?

    Besides, as these poems are instructive and not primarily designed to be 'entertaining', the recitation would in all probability have sounded quite monotonous.
    Monks were not interested in inflection, emphasis, pause or resonance. Recitation is monotonous to make memorising easier.

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran
    edited July 19

    @federica said:

    @Lee82 said:
    As teachings were delivered orally it would have been intended for these poems to be spoken. I'm interested to know how many of you are reading them aloud? It would be great to listen to different readings of the same poem to see where people place emphasis and silence.

    Given that everyone's interpretations are mildly different and people are affected in different ways, I'm not sure the reading aloud would be the same for everyone. either....?

    Besides, as these poems are instructive and not primarily designed to be 'entertaining', the recitation would in all probability have sounded quite monotonous.
    Monks were not interested in inflection, emphasis, pause or resonance. Recitation is monotonous to make memorising easier.

    They may have spoken and read monotone back then but I didn't when I read this. It wasnt overly expressive but there were pauses for reflection, some changes in tone and some emphasised words. I'm guessing we're all reading the same text in a different way and the differences would show themselves more when read aloud.

    [edited as may have come across the wrong way]

    upekka
  • Lazy_eyeLazy_eye Veteran

    @person said:
    I was relating more to the opposite notion of non-becoming. I'm someone who has the inclination to desire oblivion, like many addicts do.

    If I think about becoming/non-becoming in terms of after death then try and relate that to our current life, I think non-becoming makes sense in that way. Then becoming might be the desire for any or all of the activity of life. So we don't seek either, the goal as is usual for Buddhism would be some sort of groundless living.

    In regards to becoming as trying to be something other than yourself, to my mind I think that would apply. I also think though that trying to be yourself could also be thought as a kind of attachment to becoming. I imagine someone who is authentically themselves isn't trying to be themselves, they just are that way.

    I'm interested in how becoming and non-becoming are presented as, seemingly, two sides of the same coin. The way I understand this, FWIW, is that they are both types of "me"-view. Becoming: I want to be rich, I want to be nineteen again, I want a vacation in Andalusia, I want promotion at work and a fancy title....Not-becoming: if I throw myself off the roof or drug myself into oblivion, I will be gone along with all of my troubles. The common denominator is me-my-mine, whether this is something being built up or something annihilated.

    personVastmind
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @Lazy_eye said:

    @person said:
    I was relating more to the opposite notion of non-becoming. I'm someone who has the inclination to desire oblivion, like many addicts do.

    If I think about becoming/non-becoming in terms of after death then try and relate that to our current life, I think non-becoming makes sense in that way. Then becoming might be the desire for any or all of the activity of life. So we don't seek either, the goal as is usual for Buddhism would be some sort of groundless living.

    In regards to becoming as trying to be something other than yourself, to my mind I think that would apply. I also think though that trying to be yourself could also be thought as a kind of attachment to becoming. I imagine someone who is authentically themselves isn't trying to be themselves, they just are that way.

    I'm interested in how becoming and non-becoming are presented as, seemingly, two sides of the same coin. The way I understand this, FWIW, is that they are both types of "me"-view. Becoming: I want to be rich, I want to be nineteen again, I want a vacation in Andalusia, I want promotion at work and a fancy title....Not-becoming: if I throw myself off the roof or drug myself into oblivion, I will be gone along with all of my troubles. The common denominator is me-my-mine, whether this is something being built up or something annihilated.

    I like that, thinking of it in terms of our view of self. The whole thing makes a lot more sense to me that way.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited July 21

    '...See them,
    floundering in their sense of mine,
    like fish in the puddles
    of a dried-up stream —'

    Like my Nana used to say ... "About as calm as a fish out of water"

    The part that sticks out for me on this one is the referring to " is far from seclusion/Even if well concealed in a hiding place".

    Reminds me of the Bob Marley song....."Running away".

    "Ya running and ya running
    But ya can't run away from yourself."

    yet...at the end of the song....

    I'm not (running away), no, don't say that - don't say that,
    'Cause I'm not running away
    I've got to protect my life
    And I don't want to live with no strife.
    It is better to live on the housetop
    Than to live in a house full of confusion.
    So, I made my decision and I left ya;
    Now you comin' to tell me
    That I'm runnin' away.
    But it's not true,
    I am not runnin' away. (running away) /fadeout/

    to correlate the two....sensual pleasures/desires cause a lot of people strife.

    Deal with the strife? Or avoid it all together?

    Then...

    ' .. they — impelled into pain — lament:
    "What will we be
    when we pass on from here?'

    Yep...sounds like an imponderable to me.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    Hello, All. Joining in a bit late--I got busy elsewhere.

    The teaching on "becoming" was especially interesting for me, because it maintained the focus of one's Dharma practice on the present lifetime. I read it as saying that, in the same way that questions about the existence of a god or gods is irrelevant to Dharma, so is the question about future lives. We should do our practice to become more liberated people in this lifetime, rather than out of a more abstract goal of evolving over future lifetimes.

    That is very interesting, in light of the fact that these are among the Buddha's earliest teachings.

    Kerome
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