Thread: Becoming and unbecoming

  1. #1
    Forums Member DMR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    15

    Becoming and unbecoming

    Greetings to everyone!

    I've got a very strange question, but it's very interesting for me to know other people opinions, to refine my understanding of concepts of buddhism.

    I've faced a very profound quote in the book "The four Noble Truths" by Ajahn Sumedho:

    What you become, you can only become temporarily because becoming is a changing thing. It is not a
    permanent condition. So whatever you become, you will un-become.
    My question is this:
    We usually tend to say that Buddha has become enlightened, but if we follow this thought of the quote above, we can say that one will eventually un-become enlightened if he has become such. Is it correct? What does it mean, if so?

    I tend to think that this is a language issue, because enlightenement is not something you gain by becoming, but rather by observing what you already have in yourself. But what shall we then call becoming, what does this term mean? Please, share your views, they will be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you in advance,
    and may all of you have peace and happiness!

    P.S. Maybe I've chosen a wrong section for topic, but this is because I don't think this question is a profound one, but rather a very naive and ridiculous

  2. #2
    Hi Dmitry,

    I've moved your topic to our "Discovering Buddha's Teachings Forum". I'm also adding a link to the book for the benefit of others reading your post and if you could provide a page number for your quote it would be beneficial, thanks.

    http://www.amaravati.org/dhamma-book...-noble-truths/

    With kind regards,

    Aloka

  3. #3
    Forums Member DMR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    15
    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Hi Dmitry,

    I've moved your topic to our "Discovering Buddha's Teachings Forum". I'm also adding a link to the book for the benefit of others reading your post and if you could provide a page number for your quote it would be beneficial, thanks.

    http://www.amaravati.org/dhamma-book...-noble-truths/

    With kind regards,

    Aloka
    Hello, Aloka!

    Thank you very much for providing the link, I forgot about that - my appologies.
    The quote I've posted one can find on the page 41 (in the pdf version), almost in the beginning of the section "Aspects of Meditation".

  4. #4
    Just for further clarity, I think its worthwhile for others to look at that whole section which follows on from "Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration", in order to see the (highlighted & in italics) quote in context :


    Aspects of Meditation


    This reflectiveness of mind or emotional balance is developed as a result of practising concentration and mindfulness meditation. For instance, you can experiment during a retreat and spend one hour doing samatha meditation where you are just concentrating your mind on one object, say the sensation of breathing. Keep bringing it into consciousness and sustain it so that it actually has a continuity of presence in the mind.

    In this way, you are moving towards what is going on in your own body rather than being pulled out into objects of the senses. If you do not have any refuge within, then you are constantly going out, being absorbed into books, food and all sorts of distractions. But this endless movement of the mind is very exhausting. So instead, the practice becomes one of observing the breath – which means that you have to withdraw or not follow the tendency to find something outside of yourself. You have to bring your attention to the breathing of your own body and concentrate the mind on that sensation.

    As you let go of gross form, you actually become that feeling, that very sign itself. Whatever you absorb into, you become that for a period of time. When you really concentrate, you have become that very tranquilised condition. You have become tranquil. This is what we call becoming. Samatha meditation is a becoming process.

    But that tranquility, if you investigate it, is not satisfactory tranquility. There is something missing in it because it is dependent on a technique, on being attached and holding on, on something that still begins and ends. What you become, you can only become temporarily because becoming is a changing thing. It is not a permanent condition. So whatever you become, you will un-become. It is not ultimate reality. No matter how high you might go in concentration, it will always be an unsatisfactory condition. Samatha meditation takes you to some very high and radiant experiences in your mind – but they all end.

    Then, if you practise vipassanā meditation for another hour by just being mindful and letting go of everything and accepting the uncertainty, the silence and the cessation of conditions, the result is that you will feel peaceful rather than tranquil. And that peacefulness is a perfect peacefulness. It is complete. It is not the tranquility from samatha, which has something imperfect or unsatisfactory about it even at its best.

    The realisation of cessation, as you develop that and understand that more and more, brings you to true peacefulness, non-attachment, Nibbāna.

    Thus samatha and vipassanā are the two divisions in meditation. One is developing concentrated states of mind on refined objects in which your consciousness becomes refined through that concentration. But being terribly refined, having a great intellect and a taste for great beauty, makes anything coarse unbearable because of the attachment to what is refined. People who have devoted their lives to refinement only find life terribly frustrating and frightening when they can no longer maintain such high standards.


  5. #5
    Moderator Element's Avatar
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    4,294
    Quote Originally Posted by DMR View Post
    We usually tend to say that Buddha has become enlightened, but if we follow this thought of the quote above, we can say that one will eventually un-become enlightened if he has become such. Is it correct? What does it mean, if so?

    I tend to think that this is a language issue, because enlightenement is not something you gain by becoming, but rather by observing what you already have in yourself. But what shall we then call becoming, what does this term mean? Please, share your views, they will be greatly appreciated!
    Correct, Dmitry. This is a language issue.

    "Becoming" ("bhava") is a state of attachment & egoism therefore it is not accurate to say: "The Buddha has become enlightened".

    We can more correctly say the Buddha "reached" or "attained" enlightenment.

    Regards

    Then, monks, being subject myself to birth, seeing the drawbacks of birth, seeking the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke, Unbinding, I reached the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Nibbana... This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise.. MN 26
    My mind has reached the Unconditioned; I have attained the destruction of craving. Dhammapada 154
    One neither fabricates nor mentally fashions for the sake of becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, one does not cling to anything in this world. When one does not cling, one is not agitated. When one is not agitated, one personally attains Nibbāna. MN 140

  6. #6
    Moderator Element's Avatar
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    4,294
    Another word is "realised" enlightenment:

    At one time the Lord was staying at Uruvela, beside the river Neraņjara at the foot of the Bodhi Tree, having just realized full enlightenment. At that time the Lord sat cross-legged for seven days experiencing the bliss of liberation. Ud 1.1

  7. #7
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    101
    Everything is change, so we change continually. That's not to say we can ever change back to what we were. You can't un-become being enlightened since enlightenment is an experience where you see things as they are for the first time. Like Plato's cave allegory, once you see the truth you can't un-see it, although you may not be able to do anything about it, or even want to do do anything about it. After all, the Buddha had to be persuaded to follow it up by teaching.

    It may be that if you went through some process that wiped every memory of enlightenment, then that would be 'un-enlightening', but I think that would be the only way it could happen. Perhaps through some medical condition, such as dementia. But it's not something you can willfully change your mind about, or forget. I suppose it has Catch 22 overtones- if you could forget it then you haven't been through it. If you can un-see it then enlightenment wasn't what you saw.

  8. #8
    its possible that this 20 minute guided meditation with the title of "Becoming" from Ajahn Amaro, might be helpful. (I can't comment on it as I only had time to listen to the first 5 minutes, sorry.)



  9. #9
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Posts
    97
    DMR,
    Do you know about how the word "becoming" is used in dependent origination? It has a special meaning there and it might be that the reference you mention is using that definition and not the usual one. I'm not sure if the discussion is considering it this way or not so I thought I'd mention it.
    chownah

Los Angeles Mexico City London Colombo Kuala Lumpur Sydney
Sat, 4:01 AM Sat, 6:01 AM Sat, 12:01 PM Sat, 4:31 PM Sat, 7:01 PM Sat, 9:01 PM