Only way out...?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Only way out...?

Postby ashtanga » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:08 am

Hi everyone,

Hope you're all well and happy.

I paid a visit recently to see a friend who is ordained in the Tibetan Tradition. We discussed pretty much everything from music, traditions to the Dalai Lama (hmmmm that was interesting)! :thinking:

Regarding practice, I told him that I have been erring on the side of the Theravada for some months now. He was naturally concerned that I may be leaving the tradition that I was initially introduced to, but more concerned as to how I was practicing.

His stance regarding practices like Anapanasati was that they may well lead to some extremely sublime states of mind but he was doubtful if they can lead to a non-conceptual experience of Emptiness - I think an agreed goal for all traditions though not always described in the same way as the Prasangika's do.

His contention was that we can only achieve insight into the illusory nature of 'self' through a steadfast analysis of how 'I' appears to our mind.

Thoughts...?

Regards,

Tony...
ashtanga
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: Only way out...?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:13 am

Greetings Tony,

I dare guess that your friend has not read...

MN 118: Anapanasati Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

For what it's worth, I believe it is said that the Buddha was practicing anapanasati when he became the Buddha... if that's any indication of its potential for enlightening.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14609
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Only way out...?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:38 am

retrofuturist wrote:For what it's worth, I believe it is said that the Buddha was practicing anapanasati when he became the Buddha... if that's any indication of its potential for enlightening.

A common misconception, but ānāpānasati can surely lead to awakening.
Mindfulness of breathing can be used for both concentration (samatha) and insight (vipassanā). The Venerable Ledi Sayādaw explains in his Manual of Respiration how the meditator can switch to insight meditation at various stages of concentration.

The Bodhisatta practised ānāpānasati on the evening of his Enlightenment prior to attaining the knowledges of former existences, and destinations of other beings. In the latter part of the night before dawn, he turned his attention to contemplating the five aggregates and dependent origination, and it was this method that led to awakening.
From Questions and Answers
"Ko Hla Myint," the Sayādaw replied, "You have not studied the scriptures with the necessary attention to detail. It is true that the Buddha-to-be attained pubbenivasanussati-abhiñña (Knowledge of Former States of Being) and dibbacakkhu abhiñña (the Divine Eye of Omniscient Vision) in the first and second watches of the night through ānāpānasati. But in the third and last watch of the night, the Buddha-to-be was no longer absorbed in ānāpānasati, but had turned his great intellect to the doctrine of paticcasamuppāda, or Dependent Origination. ‘Through ignorance are conditioned the sankhāras, the rebirth producing volitions or kamma-formations, and so on.’ Then, just before the break of day, while meditating on the five khandhas, the physical and mental phenomena of existence, the Buddha-to-be attained arahatta-magga, arahatta-phala, and the Omniscience of the Buddha, the Supremely Enlightened. Thus, Buddhahood was won not through ānāpānasati, but through mindfulness on the physical and mental phenomena of the five khandhas."
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)
User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
 
Posts: 1921
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: Only way out...?

Postby baratgab » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:39 am

ashtanga wrote:His stance regarding practices like Anapanasati was that they may well lead to some extremely sublime states of mind but he was doubtful if they can lead to a non-conceptual experience of Emptiness. His contention was that we can only achieve insight into the illusory nature of 'self' through a steadfast analysis of how 'I' appears to our mind.


If you think about it, who does this analysis, and why...? ;) Those extremely sublime states of mind are precisely the experience of the breaking down of this "I", giving one direct insight afterwards into what is this "I" that was always there beforehand. And with the breaking down of the "I", one experiences the breaking down of suffering too. So there is direct experience regarding anicca, dukkha and anatta. But even if one wants to go with the so called "insight" practices, one needs sufficient calm and stillness to be able to have stable and strong mindfulness.

So there is a good reason why the Buddha taught the threefold training of sila, samadhi and panna. If a practice promises development or liberation without containing all of these qualities, one needs to be cautious, I would say. :embarassed:
"Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this Doctrine and Discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"
User avatar
baratgab
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:55 pm
Location: Hungary

Re: Only way out...?

Postby ashtanga » Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:00 pm

Hi, I guess i am not clear as to how meditation on the breath can bring about a knowledge of anything other than the breath - meditation on the 'self' and its illusory nature would surely familiarise my mind with this ultimately helping me gain a realisation of this, hence liberation? I can see his point that to understand and experience we have to analyse, break it down to understand it doesn't exist in the way it appears...

What do you think?

Tony...
ashtanga
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: Only way out...?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:11 pm

Greetings ashtanga,

Did you read the above sutta?

It wasn't just "breathe in, breathe out... concentrate just on that"

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14609
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Only way out...?

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Feb 20, 2010 8:23 am

I think I can relate to some of Ashtangas concerns. It is very difficult to someone to get rid of the self view (IMO and experience) using just the breath. We hardly relate to ourselves as the breath. So how would seeing the breath help- considering that the self view is very strong and that the symbolic nature of the breath as representing everything else may be difficult to perceive.

In my experience and knowledge people get rid of the self view (through meditation) commonly in these instances:
1) seeing that there is no self while doing walking meditation (no doer)
2) while doing 'foulness of the body' contemplation
3) while seeing that existence consists of packets of impermanent phenomena- bare awareness (ie- how can there by a continuous thing as a self)
4) when seeing that those packets of sensory stimuli are causally arisen and have no substance in themselves. for example the eye and the visual object give rise to the thought perceiving it, without the eye and the visual object there would be no such thought- hence everything that we consider the mind arise from something else prior to it)- hence no independantly existing 'self'

There are vipassana techniques aimed just at this in the Theravada tradition. I respect Anapanasati but I suspect that it is a good technique for those who are quite intelligent to see the parallels and have good samadhi and good sati to determine fine details while breathing. Different strokes for different folks. We dont have to be attached to any particular method- just do what gets the job done. Theravadin vipassana methods can get into non-conceptual emptiness just as well :tongue:
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Only way out...?

Postby appicchato » Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:13 am

...how meditation on the breath can bring about a knowledge of anything other than the breath...


According to my understanding (and always ready for (course) correction)...it's not about the breath...the breath is a stepping stone to other matters (discussed here, and elsewhere)...it's an aid to navigation in settling the mind, making it conducive to contemplating, and understanding, the way things are...the breath is used (partly, among other attributes) because it's always with us, everybody has it, it's observable, and it's free...
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1558
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: Only way out...?

Postby PeterB » Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:42 am

ashtanga wrote:Hi everyone,

Hope you're all well and happy.

I paid a visit recently to see a friend who is ordained in the Tibetan Tradition. We discussed pretty much everything from music, traditions to the Dalai Lama (hmmmm that was interesting)! :thinking:

Regarding practice, I told him that I have been erring on the side of the Theravada for some months now. He was naturally concerned that I may be leaving the tradition that I was initially introduced to, but more concerned as to how I was practicing.

His stance regarding practices like Anapanasati was that they may well lead to some extremely sublime states of mind but he was doubtful if they can lead to a non-conceptual experience of Emptiness - I think an agreed goal for all traditions though not always described in the same way as the Prasangika's do.

His contention was that we can only achieve insight into the illusory nature of 'self' through a steadfast analysis of how 'I' appears to our mind.

Thoughts...?

Regards,

Tony...

Others have addressed the issue of Anapanasati Tony. I will just add that for several decades I was a student of the Vajrayana. For reasons I wont go into I am now a student of the Theravada, with no regrets or feelings of loss. I am grateful for what I learned. But for me it was analogous to turning off a loud radio that had been blaring away for some time, and finding myself in an elegant and tranquil space.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm


Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Jon, Yahoo [Bot] and 21 guests