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I read a parable once, a long time ago:

  • The Buddha meets someone else, some kind of yogi, who is maybe a supernatural being or has supernatural powers.
  • They have a duel, involving swords.
  • The yogi is proud, perhaps gleeful, because his body is invulnerable, hard, like diamond.
  • When the Buddha is struck with a sword, it passes through him without resistance and without effect, as if the Buddha were made of insubstantial smoke.
  • The yogi decides that the Buddha's way is superior, and becomes regretful: regretful that they had spent their effort on making their self more durable.

So, two questions:

  • Do you know this parable, is it famous, can you give a reference to it and/or to a commentary which explains its context?
  • In this article, Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes,

    You should be very clear on one point: The purpose of meditation is to find happiness and well-being within the mind, independent of the body or other things going on outside. Your aim is to find something solid within that you can depend on no matter what happens to the body.

    So an important function of meditation — in giving you a solid center that provides you a vantage point from which to view life in its true colors — is that it keeps you from feeling threatened or surprised when the body begins to reassert its independence.

    Can you reconcile the sentences, quoted above, with the parable? Are they saying the same thing, saying opposite things, saying different things?

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When the Ven Thanissaro Bhikkhu says "solid center" he's not talking about literally having something inside your body that is physically solid, and he's definitely not saying about some sort of true self (His other writings make it clear that he accepts the orthodox position that there is no ultimately real true self). What he means is that the goal of meditation is to find happiness which isn't dependent on causes and conditions, and therefore cannot be disturbed, so metaphorically you can say that it is solid or unbreakable.

I've never heard of this particular parable, but it sounds to me like it is a parable about the pointlessness of developing any kind of view of self.

  • Re. the parable, I wondered whether the diamond was meant to represent the Vajra, or something like that. Re. the purpose of meditation, "a solid ... vantage point from which to view life" sounds like talking about "right view". Leaving aside whether "view" implies that there's a "viewer", does attempting to establish a "solid view" seem unskillful or futile in in the face of "impermanence"? Perhaps I'm wondering whether it makes sense to try to establish a solid view, using dhamma as a mantra. Perhaps the answer is that I'm misconstruing what "right view" is, that my view of it is too narrow. – ChrisW Oct 16 '14 at 14:56
  • @ChrisW The Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu never said anything about a 'solid view' but 'solid center' which as I said seems to be a metaphor for the happiness that is free from attachment. I think you are reading too much into the language of what he said. – Bakmoon Oct 16 '14 at 16:55
  • @ChrisW View can exist without a viewer. Think of a landscape with no one perceiving it. Taken properly, this is nonduality. Seeing goes on, without an explicit distinction between 'see-er' and seen, it is en entire event, not two separate things. Is there a difference between you seeing a landscape, and you not being there? What is the difference? When you are like smoke instead of a stone, then there is no difference. Silly words! – user2341 Dec 4 '15 at 13:11

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