While I reference some non-Buddhist material most everything in the notes and podcasts for this series on The Iddhipāda-Vibhaṅga Sutta are solely my effort to relate considerations, questions, experiences, explorations, suggestions, interpretations and practices involved and associated with this sutta.
This series comes via seven categories/blog posts/podcasts:
- Introduction; the key encapsulation/encoding/summary paragraph of the whole sutta which includes and weaves in the four powers; and a reading of one of two translations for the sutta
- Unpacking of the hindrances and the other of two translations for the sutta
- A (type of) situational awareness
- 32 parts of the body
- Perceptions of night, daytime and light
- “Psychic Powers,” practice combinations and miscellany
- Summary, findings, observations and comparisons
In more detail, the four Iddhipāda — sometimes translated as bases of psychic power, bases of power, base of spiritual power, wings to success, or roads to power — are:
- chanda: desire; enthusiasm; purpose
- viriya: persistence; energy; effort; will
- citta: intent; consciousness; knowing mind; mental development; devoting mind to; heart-mind
- vīmaṃsā: investigation; inquiry; discernment; discrimination; interest; intelligent curiosity; [(perhaps a new contribution, or for chanda:) balanced and helpful enthrallment, fascination]; feedback and fine tuning, adjustment; learn from doing
Along with aiding our even mundane accomplishments and mastery, perhaps the Iddhipāda play a significant role in approaching will — the way one decides on and initiates action — and at the core of The Iddhipāda-Vibhaṅga Sutta is an analysis of will along with instructions for its training, development, and use.
This third part of the series addresses a type of situational awareness mentioned within the sutta. In the first portion I speak without notes while I reference the notes below in the other portion.
This type of situational awareness is in regards to the following portion:
“There is the case where a monk’s perception of what is in front & behind is well in hand, well-attended to, well-considered, well-tuned [‘penetrated’] by means of discernment.”
“And how does a mendicant meditate perceiving continuity: as before, so after; as after, so before? It’s when the perception of continuity is properly grasped, attended, borne in mind, and comprehended with wisdom by a mendicant. That’s how a mendicant meditates perceiving continuity: as before, so after; as after, so before.”
The first translation seems to emphasize space more while the latter emphasizes time.
I speak some to the second translation although I practiced mostly in regards to the first translation. Some comments cross-correlate to each other.
Can this include internal (physicality) as well? If so, this simplifies to include all as in a field, a dhamma field, with perhaps various specific fields within the dhamma field such as the bio-field and perceptual field.
Drilling further into “well in hand, well-attended to, well-considered, well-tuned [‘penetrated’] by means of discernment”:
- OK to admit to having little clue as to what these mean then asking what they mean and how to go about them
- Well in hand — What does “well in hand” mean? To take it literally for practice — since I don’t usually wear (a) ring(s) — I’ve used a tumbled, polished gemstone snugly between two fingers that seemed to bring more awareness to having something in hand on the physical level. How to do this without an actual hand? Perhaps contact with attention, mindfulness and awareness. Maybe even etheric or imagined hands when viable and called for.
- Well-attended to — if referencing how one would attend to someone in everyday life for how would one attend to “perception of what is in front & behind,” would one just say, “do it yourself, I can’t be bothered”? No. We find out what is needed, when and how.
- Well-considered — would it be possible to take a radical approach — especially to the internal organs very challenging to discern and continue being aware of — by assigning a temporary working ego to what needs practicing with and mastering and cranking it up to 11 so it’s dripping with neediness, entitlement, victimhood and co-dependency like so much we already encounter in life with the intent to transition into with worthiness as a replacement with the caveat of doing so only if this will not detrimentally affect speech and actions? [It occurred to me after writing and recording this that it seems more helpful to do this if still healing through neediness, entitlement, victimhood and co-dependency instead of rehashing or (re)creating these]
- Well-tuned [‘penetrated’] by means of discernment
- The Three Characteristics of Existent — inconstancy, stress and not-self — applied to all of these
Going back to the second translation, “…the perception of continuity is properly grasped, attended, borne in mind, and comprehended with wisdom.” How would one verify if one’s wisdom is in accordance with the truth of how this actually is, especially on various relative reality levels? Are there formal teachings for continuity? Who are the wise ones to consult on this? If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? How do you know? How does (various degrees of) presence, consciousness and the observer effect influence continuity? And could what’s in front and behind also be somehow related to what’s arising and passing; (perhaps a type of pivot point between) past and future?
Below is my scribble representing various techniques I mention in this episode for practicing with the sutta, especially the situational awareness part
After recording and publishing I came across this commentary:
“As before so after; as after so before.” This should be understood: (1) by way of the meditation subject; and (2) by way of the teaching.
(1) By virtue (vasena; abhinivesa) of the meditation subject is called “before,” and arhathood is “after.” A monk who, after interpreting the root of meditation subject, does not allow investigation to fall into the 4 undesirable conditions (overly lax, etc.) goes on to attain arhathood; he is called one who dwells “as before, so after.”
(2) By way of teaching, the head-hairs are “before” and the brain is “after” (among the solid parts in the contemplation of the body).
A bhikkhu who cultivates his meditation from beginning to end without sliding into the 4 undesirable conditions is called one who dwells “as before, so after.”Samyutta Commentary (SA 3:258) on: yathā pure tathā pacchā, yathā pacchā tathā pure “As before so after; as after so before.”