Thread: Suttas for laypeople including advanced practice

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    Suttas for laypeople including advanced practice

    Dear forum

    In our last zoom meeting, we discussed suttas for laypeople including more advanced practice beyond the five precepts.

    I said I would start a topic on this we can contribute to.


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    mjaviem referred to the two suttas about Mindfulness of Death AN 6.19 and AN 6.20.

    I referred to AN 5.57 Upajjhatthana Sutta: Subjects for Contemplation, which is applicable to laypeople and says:
    Quote Originally Posted by AN 5.57
    "There are these five facts that one should reflect on (paccavekkhati) often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained. Which five?

    1. 'I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond [have not overcome; anatīta) aging.' This is the first fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    2. 'I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness.' ...

    3. 'I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death.' ...

    4. 'I will grow different, separate from all that is dear and appealing to me.' ...

    5. 'I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.' ...

    "These are the five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained
    Mindfulness of Death is similar to Perception of Impermanence found in the AN 10.60 Girimananda Sutta, which says:
    Quote Originally Posted by AN 10.60
    And what is the perception (saññā) of inconstancy? There is the case where a monk — having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building — reflects (paṭisañcikkhati) thus: 'Form is inconstant, feeling is inconstant, perception is inconstant, fabrications are inconstant, consciousness is inconstant.' Thus he remains focused (contemplates; observes; anupassi) on inconstancy with regard to the five clinging-aggregates. This, Ananda, is called the perception of inconstancy.
    The word 'paṭisañcikkhati' above means to 'think about', such as when Ajahn Chah taught about reflecting upon his drinking glass, how it is already broken; which also results in being more careful towards the drinking glass, so to not break it.

    The word 'anupassi' above means 'to watch carefully' or 'to observe directly', such directly observing the impermanence of each in & out breath or observing the impermanence of leaves falling from a tree or a sunset.

    Therefore, even though the layperson may not develop jhana or concentration sufficient for deep direct seeing (anupassi), the layperson is encouraged to analytically think about (paṭisañcikkhati) death & impermanence; which provides at least two benefits: (i) preparing the mind to accept loss & death; and (ii) making the mind more careful or heedful about practising good kamma so to prevent loss of things within one's control, such as money, job, material possessions, relationship, marriage, etc.


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    Another practice that generates joy for the layperson is the reflection upon blamelessness.

    Therefore, itself of following the five precepts in an 'obligatory' manner, one actively reflects how following the five precepts brings non-harm to oneself & others.

    Quote Originally Posted by AN 4.62
    And what is the bliss of blamelessness? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones is endowed with blameless bodily kamma, blameless verbal kamma, blameless mental kamma. When he thinks, 'I am endowed with blameless bodily kamma, blameless verbal kamma, blameless mental kamma,' he experiences bliss, he experiences joy. This is called the bliss of blamelessness.

    Knowing the bliss of debtlessness,
    & recollecting the bliss of having,
    enjoying the bliss of wealth, the mortal
    then sees clearly with discernment.
    Seeing clearly — the wise one —
    he knows both sides:
    that these are not worth one sixteenth-sixteenth
    of the bliss of blamelessness.

    AN 4.62 Anana Sutta

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    Excellent summary and extension of what we've been discussing live!

    On mindfulness of death I often like to quote:

    SN 3.25 The Simile of the Mountains
    ...
    “I inform you, great king, I announce to you, great king: aging & death are rolling in on you. When aging & death are rolling in on you, what should be done?”

    “As aging & death are rolling in on me, lord, what else should be done but Dhamma-conduct, right conduct, skillful deeds, meritorious deeds?
    ...
    And on the live meeting what I tried to express was that "mindfulness of death" as defined in AN 6.19 and AN 6.20 is not the same as "perception of death" as defined in AN 7.49. To develop mindfulness of death (maraṇassati) seems to be more about wishing to practise without delay while there's still time. Developing the perception of death (maraṇasaññā) is more about getting disenchanted with life. Both have in common that death is in mind and both eventually lead to the same result but don't seem to be the same.

    Perception of death seems to be more about wisdom and seeing life properly. Mindfulness of death seems to be more about desiring to practise and remembering one can die. You remember you could die and at the same time you want and remember to practise. This is not the same as to see with wisdom that there is death and that life won't give us our highest aspirations. That you want to practise carefully and hastily because you are mindful of death is not the same as you are disappointed because you have perceived death and don't want to cling anymore, enough of all this for you because of this perception.

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