By Paul J. Griffiths
Paperback booklet released by means of Open courtroom Publishers, 3rd Printing, 1991
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Additional info for On Being Mindless : Buddhist Meditation and the Mind-Body Problem
This is because of [the practitioner's] effort toward cessation, since this m onk's ascent through the eight attainm ents [viz: four jhana and four form less states] by yok in g together the qualities of tranquillity and insight is an effort toward su ccessive cessation [of all m ental events] and not tow ard the attainm ent of the sphere of neither conceptualization nor non-conceptualization. 51 D ham m apala's com m ents on this passage read: 'With tranquillity and insight' m ean s w ith th ose [qualities] y ok ed together, m utually help in g o n e another.
48 The problem for B uddhist theoreticians, the scholastic thinkers w ho produced the great system atic w orks of the Indian B uddhist tradition, th u s quickly becam e one of w hat to do w ith the elem ents of their tradition w hich clearly illustrate a very positive view of the attainm ent of cessation, com ing close at times to considering it as an in d ep en d en tly valid soteriological goal, identical with Nirvana. The complex historical an d philosophical process by which such theoreti cians did accom m odate such elem ents of their tradition cannot even be outlined here, since my m ain interest is in the philosophical q u es tions raised by the attain m en t of cessation and not in the develop m ent of B uddhist scholastic theory per se.
4 EVALUATIO N S OF THE ATTAINM ENT OF CESSATION I have tried to sh o w th at the attain m en t of cessation has a signifi cant place w ithin the Theravada tradition as an in dep en d en tly valid soteriological goal, a n d that there are im portant sets of m editational techniques designed to lead the practitioner to it. The question re mains, precisely how is this altered state of consciousness evaluated by the tradition? 28 The A ttainm ent oř C essation In The Thera vada Tradition In the early texts— specifically the discourses a n d serm ons p re served in the four Collections— there are extrem ely positive evalua tions of the attain m en t of cessation.