Tonight, One Mindful Breath will be running the second of an eight part secular dharma study course titled What is this? and it focuses on the talk Confusion – reflections on moha, given by Stephen Batchelor at Gaia House, Devon, on 19 July 2016.
We won’t be listening to the talk on the night, so we ask that you listen to it before you come along, and recommend that you take notes as you listen. During each session, a facilitator will put questions to the group of participants; these questions will be found on this page in due course.
Ending on 26 September 2018, each part of the study course will take place during the One Mindful Breath session on the fourth Wednesday of the month and the evenings will start with a 30-minute meditation.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
We’ll start our conversation by looking at these questions:
- Ethics and ontology
What is to be gained in understanding the distinction between ‘knowing that’ and ‘knowing how’? From your own experience, give an example that illustrates the distinction.
- Ontology and ethics
Batchelor defines ontology as ‘the attempt to know what things are’ while the question of what to do and how to live is one of ethics. What point does he establish by making this distinction?
- Ethics and nirvana
Drawing from a sutta in which a person who realises nirvana is presented as displaying an ethical position, Batchelor cites the following:
A person who clearly sees nirvana, for whom nirvana is immediate, and inviting and uplifting, such a person neither plans for his own harm nor for the harm of others, nor for the harm of both. In this way, Brahmin, nirvana is clearly visible, inviting, uplifting.
What characteristics does such an accomplished person possess? What characteristics are absent.
- Nirvana as an ethical space
What is the basis for Batchelor’s claim that nirvana is a non-reactive ethical space as opposed to being the goal of the path, or the end of the path, or a metaphor of final transcendent liberation?
- Moha and nirvana
Batchelor begins this talk by referencing the various translations of moha as confusion, delusion and ignorance, while nirvana is defined as the absence of confusion, greed and hatred. Is there a discord for you too, as there is for Batchelor, in confusion being included with and comparable to greed and hatred? If so, why? If not, why not?
- Nirvana and samadhi
What is the difference between nirvana as defined above and samadhi or collectedness, which is similarly defined as seclusion from the five hindrances?
- Moha or blindness
Consider the defining characteristic of moha as a blindness. What is not seen?
If you’re coming on the 28th, you can download the complete set of questions along with useful background material here.
WHAT DOES THIS COURSE COST?
One Mindful Breath offers this course to all participants without a fixed fee, and thanks to the generosity of many is pleased to be able to make the resources freely available. We seek your support to enable the community to continue operating in this way, and you can offer your support by making a charitable donation through Aotearoa Buddhist Education Trust by bank transfer to 38 9019 0064662 03.
Stephen Batchelor does not charge for his teaching, and depends for his livelihood on the generosity of students. In New Zealand, you can make a charitable donation to support Steven’s work through Aotearoa Buddhist Education by bank transfer to 38 9019 0064662 01. Donations by debit and credit card can be made through PayPal on his website here.
To get a tax receipt for your donations, please let our treasurer know a) the amount you donated, b) the date, and c) the account number into which it went, in an email.
We are tremendously grateful to Christine Johnson of Upaya Sangha of Tucson for putting together this series of talks, and sharing her participant questions with us. We further developed her work to ensure it fits the shorter timeframe available to us.