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On "Not Patting the Iguana's Behind"

Discussion of Theravada Buddhism in the light of Zen.

On "Not Patting the Iguana's Behind"

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:44 pm

Jack Kornfield, LIVING DHARMA: TEACHINGS OF TWELVE BUDDHIST MASTERS, 1977, 1996, Shambhala, p. 96, writes a transcription of a talk by Rangoon Buddhist Master, Sunlun Sayadaw. The Sayadaw speaks of several developments along the way of practice, and then comes to the onset of a sort of calm and tranquility, which he warns the yogi to be careful with, as it is in no way "the final fruit of practice".

This recognition and caution reminds me of the Chan masters who warned against the practice of those who sit in "the cave of blankness of mind", the practice of mere quietism, which is not a practice in the Buddhadharma, and is thus an "outer-path".

We may recall, too, that in any case, the Buddha Shakyamuni did not sit for "peace of mind". He sat to awaken, and did not rise from his seat under the Bo tree until he DID awaken, having made his vow and having commissioned the Great Earth as his Witness. And, with all thanks to the apparition of the Morning Star, the straw which evidently broke the camel's back, or spark that lit Shakyamuni's dharma candle.

- oooOooo -

"...after a period of practice, when the yogi has cleansed the mind somewhat,
he will begin to experience a measure of calm and tranquility. Since he has
never before experienced such peace of mind he thinks that this is the best
fruit of the practice. Because of this appreciation of the experience and
because the measure of calm and tranquility attained is attractive in itself,
the yogi begins to dwell in it, to savor the calmness to the full. He likes
to sink in the sense of peace and hates to put forth the necessary effort to
get back again onto the right path.

Sunlun Sayadaw illustrated this with a local simile:

Myingyan River beach is a stretch of sand a mile wide. A traveller to the
river finds the sand exceedingly hot beneath his feet under the raging noonday
sun. On the way he comes to a tree. He decides to rest in its shade for a
moment. But when that moment has passed he finds that he cannot urge himself
to get up to move out of that cool shade into the heat which rages above and
beneath him. So he continues to dwell in the shade. But will this ever help
him to reach the riverside? The destination can be reached only if he steps
out again into the heat and urges his body forward. That is why the meditation
masters warn the yogi not to let himself be drawn by the minor calm and
tranquility he finds along the way.

There was once a yogi who habitually drifted into this area of tranquility and
would not budge out of it. The Sunlun Sayadaw said of him: 'This man keeps
lifting up the tail and patting the behind of the little iguana he has caught.'

I hope the distinguished yogis will not be satisfied with a mere iguana."


-Sunlun Sayadaw
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

- oooOooo -

--Joe
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On "Not Patting the Iguana's Behind"

Postby Linda Anderson on Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:42 pm

great story Joe. I like to think of it as dropping the props... I've had a few. :PP:
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
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Re: On "Not Patting the Iguana's Behind"

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Jan 29, 2016 7:17 pm

Linda Anderson wrote:great story Joe. I like to think of it as dropping the props... I've had a few. :PP:

Thanks.

I tell you, I'm having SUCH a good time reading some of the Vippasana teachers, lately (the past 6 months). Mostly, I respect their minutely detailed teachings on practice, particularly on each of the jhanas. And I have the giant VISSUDDHIMAGGA in English, now, so I can also delve back to the original teachings, and see how recent teachers echo them.

I also find Richard Shankman's THE EXPERIENCE OF SAMADHI to be incredibly rich, and well-communicated. Great interviews with some Vippasana teachers, too, telling about how they teach, and what they emphasize. I hope you have this book.

--Joe
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Re: On "Not Patting the Iguana's Behind"

Postby lobster on Sat Jan 30, 2016 12:11 pm

Always good to find peace and calm is no more the goal than the far shore. Just a place to leave the latest raft. :dance:

Though I rarely read anything not on the net, knowledge/wisdom/resources from any source is welcome. Many thanks :hugs:

My plan for want of a better word on reaching the near shore, is to train iguanas to pull rafts :lool:

Mush, mush you iguanas! :hide:
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