Seperate forums for Jhana and Insight

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Seperate forums for Jhana and Insight

Postby twelph » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:11 am

It seems to me that having separate forums for these two supposedly different aspects of the teachings enforces the idea that there needs to be a distinction between them. Is the separation healthy for this online Sangha and the Dhamma as a whole? It seems like it enforces an idea that is in direct conflict with the suttas. This question came to me after contemplating this passage:

The true Dhamma does not disappear all at once in the way a ship sinks. There are, Kassapa, five detrimental things that lead to the decay and disappearance of the true Dhamma. What are the five? Here the bhikkhus, the bhikkhunis, the male lay followers, and the female lay followers dwell without reverence and deference towards the Teacher ... towards the Dhamma ... towards the Sangha ... towards the training ... towards concentration [samādhi]. These are the five detrimental things that lead to the decay and disappearance of the true Dhamma."


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Re: Seperate forums for Jhana and Insight

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:39 am

Greetings twelph

The separate forums for samadhi & jhana meditation and insight/vipassana meditation is in keeping with theory and (for very many people) practice. There are two streams of meditation in the theravada. They are samadhi/samatha/jhana, and vipassana. Samadhi has as its goal the development of the jhanas, and vipassana has as its goal the destruction of the mental defilements. They go together but for many people they are practiced separately. Issues relating to samadhi/samatha are different from vipassana/insight. Hence, there are two different meditation fora to accommodate discussions on vipassana and jhana, and one 'general' meditation forum.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Seperate forums for Jhana and Insight

Postby manas » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:34 am

Greetings twelph,

I agree with you, and I suspect we are not alone. But sadly we are in the minority; as Ben has pointed out, in mainstream Theravada a distinction is made between 'insight' and 'calm' meditations that, as you have pointed out, does not exist in the actual suttas.

I have found that you can quote evidences from the suttas till the cows come home on this one, but all this will do is bring you vexation. Traditions are very hard to change. Best just to accept that this is a great forum, can be very supportive and instructive, but like all human creations, isn't perfect. I've actually learned alot about patience with views that conflict with my own here. It's a good training ground for patience, a forum where many Buddhists come together, with many different views but all bound by the injunction to speak with courtesy! Very good training... :thumbsup:

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Re: Seperate forums for Jhana and Insight

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:09 am

manas wrote:I agree with you, and I suspect we are not alone. But sadly we are in the minority; as Ben has pointed out, in mainstream Theravada a distinction is made between 'insight' and 'calm' meditations that, as you have pointed out, does not exist in the actual suttas.

And, as some of us have pointed out repeatedly, so-called "vipassana" techniques such as taught by Mahasi Sayadaw and his students, many of Ajahn Chah's western students, and many other teachers, don't make much of this distinction when it comes down to actual practice:
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=14476&start=20#p211669
One uses breath/abdomen/walking to build up mindfulness and concentration, and uses that mindfulness and concentration for investigation. It's all mixed together...

And teachers who are teaching "samatha" practices (such as some other of Ajahn Chah's student, like Ajahn Brahm) note that one needs some insight and "problem solving" to get to deep concentration states...

So it's really a matter of emphasis, and where the individual is at the particular time.

But I don't think that it is accurate to say that the Buddha did not distinguish the development of these different aspect. See, for example:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"There is the case where a monk has developed insight [vipassana] preceded by tranquillity [samatha]. As he develops insight preceded by tranquillity, the path is born. He follows that path, develops it, pursues it. As he follows the path, developing it & pursuing it — his fetters are abandoned, his obsessions destroyed.
[and so on for other orderings]

And:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"There is the case of the individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment. Then there is the case of the individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, but not internal tranquillity of awareness. Then there is the case of the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment. And then there is the case of the individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.

"The individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, should approach an individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment and ask him: 'How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.

"As for the individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, but not internal tranquillity of awareness, he should approach an individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness... and ask him, 'How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced:
...

So clearly the Buddha taught that we need to develop samatha and vipassana, they can be developed in different orders, or together, and one should seek advice on these various aspects.

I think many practitioners, in practice, develop skills in a cyclic way (not only samatha and vipassana, but also other aspects of the path), putting effort into developing various qualities in turn.

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Re: Seperate forums for Jhana and Insight

Postby twelph » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:17 pm

mikenz66 wrote:So clearly the Buddha taught that we need to develop samatha and vipassana, they can be developed in different orders, or together, and one should seek advice on these various aspects.

I think many practitioners, in practice, develop skills in a cyclic way (not only samatha and vipassana, but also other aspects of the path), putting effort into developing various qualities in turn.

:anjali:
Mike


I acknowledge the fact that people develop tranquility and insight at different rates, but there is no practice laid out in the suttas that focuses on one to the exclusion of the other. Anapanasati was clearly meant to address both, so the issue is still the idea that there are two separate paths.
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Re: Seperate forums for Jhana and Insight

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:04 am

twelph wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:So clearly the Buddha taught that we need to develop samatha and vipassana, they can be developed in different orders, or together, and one should seek advice on these various aspects.

I think many practitioners, in practice, develop skills in a cyclic way (not only samatha and vipassana, but also other aspects of the path), putting effort into developing various qualities in turn.

:anjali:
Mike


I acknowledge the fact that people develop tranquility and insight at different rates, but there is no practice laid out in the suttas that focuses on one to the exclusion of the other. Anapanasati was clearly meant to address both, so the issue is still the idea that there are two separate paths.

How about:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Having abandoned these five hindrances — imperfections of awareness that weaken discernment — then, quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation.
...
"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, the monk directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. He discerns, as it has come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are mental fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.'

I don't actually practise this way, but it seems that there are many suttas, like the above, which involve cultivation of samatha then vipassana.

:anjali:
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Re: Seperate forums for Jhana and Insight

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:06 am

Greetings,

The very simple answer seems to be that if you want to discuss them jointly, you can do so in the "Theravada Meditation" section.

If you wish to address either separately, you can do so in the "Samatha Meditation and Jhana" and "Insight Meditation" sections, as appropriate.

The current structure allows you the flexibility to raise topics in which samatha and vipassana may be discussed jointly or in isolation, as per your personal preference.

Metta,
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