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I liked how it says "and taking a pin, I pulled out the wick like a flame's unbinding." It makea me think that while liberation is a gradual process it doesnt need to be too relaxed or lethargical practice. Instead, it seems to say that there is an acute way to become aware.
I echo the gradual and diligent comments. I think the first sutta could be interpreted as a poetic narrative of the gradual training. Thanissaro’s translation of MN 27 describes it beginning with the heading of "Virtue" and ending with the third to last paragraph. He gives it 6 headings: 1) Virtue; 2) Sense Restraint; 3) Mindfulness & Alertness; 4) Abandoning the Hindrances; 5) The Four Jhanas; and 6) The Three Knowledges. I speculate the elements in the poem could symbolize the elements of the training:
The steed in the poem could represent a mind purified by jhana and the lamp, that mind turning from jhana to insight. MN 27 describes it:
“With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to [the three knowledges].”
The poem opens likening the attainment of Nibbana/Unbinding to the acquisition of worldly wealth. The nun observes worldly efforts gain wealth and wonders why her equal efforts in the spiritual life hasn't reached its goal. But she closes the poem with the attainment of her goal. Likewise, the catechism of the training in MN 27 ends with this paragraph:
“His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the effluent of sensuality, released from the effluent of becoming, released from the effluent of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, ‘Released.’ He discerns that ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.’
The nun’s poem ends metaphorically similar:
And taking a pin, I pulled out the wick:
Like the flame's unbinding
was the liberation
The pin could symbolize knowing & seeing; the wick, release from the effluents; the simile of awareness’ unbinding as that of the flame’s, both the knowledge, 'Released’ and the discernment, ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.’
I like weekly better than daily.
Couple more observations.
First, the comparison in the beginning of the sutta could correspond to the threefold training:
Plowing = Ethical conduct
Sowing = Mental discipline
Supporting = Wisdom
Wealth would still correspond to Nibbana, the remainder more specifically to concentration and wisdom.
Second, she frames her opening question in the context of acquisition, but answers in closing with relinquishment.
"Formerly, when he was ignorant, he undertook and accepted acquisitions; now he has abandoned them, cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, done way with them so that they are no longer subject to future arising. Therefore a monk possessing [this relinquishment] possesses the supreme foundation of relinquishment. For this, monk, is the supreme noble relinquishment, namely, the relinquishing of all acquisitions.
- [The Majjhima Nikaya Commentary] mentions four kinds of acquisitions (upadhi) here: the five aggregates; defilements; volitional formations; and sensual pleasures.
- MN 140 from "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
@mushin, do I think past lives influence this one? Yes, I cultivate a belief that volitional actions from infinite past lives brings all this to be, but I have no direct knowledge of them, so I can’t comment on it outside of what I’ve heard.
What I’ve heard is that the Buddha saw this wandering. Understanding the complexity of its perpetuation, he understood how to direct it to cessation. Understanding that, he did that. That’s why he’s called Buddha. Then, he taught others how to do it. He called that Dhamma. Following his Dhamma, they began doing it too. That’s why they’re called Sanga. I have no direct knowledge myself, but I look to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha for guidance in directing this perpetuation to cessation.
I presently understand that as skillfully extinguishing a massive wildfire, here dowsing it with water, there containing it with a controlled burn. It might take a lifetime. Or a lot of them. Probably been at it a very long time already. But I've heard that was true of the Buddha too. Persistence. That’s how to put out a really big fire.
Thus have I heard:
We shouldn't read too much into it. Those things were written a long time ago. Neuroscience has confirmed that the brain automatically processes information using thought, imagination, etc. Control is possible, but only for a specific duration. It can't be sustained.
… we can accept his teachings insofar as it doesn't contradict neuroscience.
Thus have I also heard:
The Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One,
Directly visible, immediate,
Inviting one to come and see,
Worthy of application,
To be personally experienced by the wise.
By Buddhism’s standards we can accept the Buddha’s teachings only through personal verification, but scientific standards require peer review and personal experience can’t be peer reviewed, so his teachings are outside the scope of science.
I don't think that makes the two incompatible. They just cover different areas, sometimes intersecting. Ultimately, though, science aims to understand, as best we can, what the world is and how it works; whereas Buddhism guides us through various means to see for ourselves what it’s not.