how important is meditation?

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how important is meditation?

Postby Babadhari » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:13 pm

how important is meditation to following the Dhamma as taught by the Buddha?
for all a persons study and intellectual knowledge can we really understand dukkha, anicca and annata without meditating? following the precepts is great for not generating anymore unwholesome kammas but without meditating using one of the Buddha's techniques can we really have any experiential insights into the aggregates or mental states?

there are people with regular meditation practice,who have a technique to follow and practice every day or as often as they can.
some people have irregular meditations and practice when they feel like it, while others attend occasional meditation retreats. then i guess there are people who cant be bothered to meditate and there are also people who are unable to meditate out of fear and aversion.

i understand people can become too attached to meditation to the neglect of other things but with all the health benefits like relaxation, lowering blood pressure, stress reduction etc. is it not a small sacrifice to give just 10 minutes of one's day to?

can a person truly understand the Dhamma on an intellectual basis without cultivating mindfullness? can one said to be folllowing the Buddhas teaching just by living by the precepts and studying the Suttas.

some people talk about not being able to meditate but i feel if they didn't cling to this view and persevered their lives would be enhanced. in meditation ive found myself dealing with recurring thoughts and aches and pains that i wasn't aware of previously on a conscious level but feel as though a weight has been lifted since developing a regular meditation practice
in no way do i mean to offend anyone by this ,i'm interested to hear opinions
:namaste:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby binocular » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:34 pm

I think you're proposing a false problem.
Who ever argued that a person can truly understand the Dhamma on an intellectual basis without cultivating mindfulness?
And why would formal meditation be the only way to cultivate mindfulness?

There are preliminary requirements that must be met before a person can consistently devote themselves to formal meditation. What exactly these are will depend on the individual. They have to do with some practical considerations, like where and when, then dealing with doubts about the Dhamma, doubts about Buddhists, etc., as those who have made the effort could see for themselves.
Some people take to the cushion immediately, some see that they first need to sort out a few other things.


/../
There's a tendency called spiritual bypassing, where people don't want to face the big issues in their lives, so they use the meditation as an escape, an avoidance strategy, claiming that if they can solve the subtle issues of insight, that'll solve their issues when they're off the cushion. But you can't really deal honestly with the subtle issues of inconstancy, stress, and not-self when you haven't sorted through the blatant problems you cause in daily life.
/.../
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... kingathome
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby culaavuso » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:42 pm

Pondering the teachings without practice only leads as far as the arising of desire to practice.

MN 70
MN 70: Kitagiri Sutta wrote:"Monks, I do not say that the attainment of gnosis is all at once. Rather, the attainment of gnosis is after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice. And how is there the attainment of gnosis after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice? There is the case where, when conviction has arisen, one visits [a teacher]. Having visited, one grows close. Having grown close, one lends ear. Having lent ear, one hears the Dhamma. Having heard the Dhamma, one remembers it. Remembering, one penetrates the meaning of the teachings. Penetrating the meaning, one comes to an agreement through pondering the teachings. There being an agreement through pondering the teachings, desire arises. When desire has arisen, one is willing. When one is willing, one contemplates. Having contemplated, one makes an exertion. Having made an exertion, one realizes with the body the ultimate truth and, having penetrated it with discernment, sees it.


AN 9.36
AN 9.36: Jhana Sutta wrote:I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana


Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration are indispensable parts of the path.

SN 45.8
SN 45.8: Magga-vibhanga Sutta wrote:"And what, monks, is right mindfulness? (i) There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. (ii) He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. (iii) He remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. (iv) He remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. This, monks, is called right mindfulness.

"And what, monks, is right concentration? (i) There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. (ii) With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. (iii) With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' (iv) With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This, monks, is called right concentration."


A Taste of Freedom
Ajahn Chah wrote:So the Buddha told us to meditate. This practice of meditation is very important. Merely to know with the intellect is not enough. The knowledge which arises from practice with a peaceful mind and the knowledge which comes from study are really far apart. The knowledge which comes from study is not real knowledge of our mind. The mind tries to hold onto and keep this knowledge. Why do we try to keep it? Just lose it! And then when it's lost we cry!

If we really know, then there's letting go, leaving things be. We know how things are and don't forget ourselves. If it happens that we are sick we don't get lost in that. Some people think, "This year I was sick the whole time, I couldn't meditate at all." These are the words of a really foolish person. Someone who's sick and dying should really be diligent in his practice. One may say he doesn't trust his body, and so he feels that he can't meditate. If we think like this then things are difficult. The Buddha didn't teach like that. He said that right here is the place to meditate. When we're sick or almost dying that's when we can really know and see reality.

Other people say they don't have the chance to meditate because they're too busy. Sometimes school teachers come to see me. They say they have many responsibilities so there's no time to meditate. I ask them, "When you're teaching do you have time to breathe?" They answer, "Yes." "So how can you have time to breathe if the work is so hectic and confusing? Here you are far from Dhamma."
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby Babadhari » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:52 pm

thanks for the quotes Culaavuso

:namaste:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:59 pm

Its the heart of the path. Meditation experience is what brings the texts to life.
If you took away all the text of every tradition, yet left the practice, the dharma would be safe and could be written from scratch again.
The buddha meditated for six years, bodhidharma for nine, various teachers have various stories of dedication and hardship and realization all based on a meditation practice.
Yet there are people who seem to have a serious expectation of getting somewhere by just walking around paying attention :D
Or worse yet i suppose is those who beleive intellectual study will get them somewhere. If reading got you enlightened, the world would be full of enlightened proofreaders.

Assuming somewhat normal mental and physical health, people need to just get over themselves, bite the bullet and start a regular meditation practice.
Joshu was asked,
"When a man comes to you with nothing,
what would you say to him ?"
Joshu replied, "Throw it away!"
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:07 pm

binocular wrote:There are preliminary requirements that must be met before a person can consistently devote themselves to formal meditation. What exactly these are will depend on the individual. They have to do with some practical considerations, like where and when, then dealing with doubts about the Dhamma, doubts about Buddhists, etc., as those who have made the effort could see for themselves.




Just about everyone i would guess has those doubts and to some degree they never go away. Just pick a method, preferably with the guidance of a teacher with whom you can consult at least periodically and do it. You dont need to think about any of that stuff while actually practicing, just do the method to the best of your ability.
If you wait till everything is perfect, you will never start.
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what would you say to him ?"
Joshu replied, "Throw it away!"
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:10 pm

I think establishing mindfulness of ordinary daily activity to the point where it is continuous is what's transformative but I'm not sure it's possible to establish that without having a formal meditation practice to back it up or at least get the momentum going.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby binocular » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:14 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Just about everyone i would guess has those doubts and to some degree they never go away. Just pick a method, preferably with the guidance of a teacher with whom you can consult at least periodically and do it. You dont need to think about any of that stuff while actually practicing, just do the method to the best of your ability.
If you wait till everything is perfect, you will never start.

Do copy-paste where I have requested you to be my teacher or advisor.
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:36 pm

binocular wrote:Do copy-paste where I have requested you to be my teacher or advisor.



Just some friendly advice from one seeker to another. By all means contact a teacher and get his/her recommendation :bow:
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby Babadhari » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:44 pm

Goofaholix wrote:I think establishing mindfulness of ordinary daily activity to the point where it is continuous is what's transformative but I'm not sure it's possible to establish that without having a formal meditation practice to back it up or at least get the momentum going.
:goodpost:

indeed Goofaholix, the continuity would seem to be the purpose, every time i sit down its like starting from scratch , all the defilements flood back in during the day without me even noticing, thats not mindfullness :tongue:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby Mkoll » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:22 pm

culaavuso wrote:Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration are indispensable parts of the path.


I think that answer about sums it up. For those few exceptions in the suttas who attain states of enlightenment while simply hearing a discourse, it's reasonable to assume that they had cultivated these Path factors prior to their attainment and/or developed enormously powerful mindfulness and concentration during/after the discourse itself. They had strong paramis.

That's not to say one has to meditate to be a Buddhist lay follower. The only requirement for that is that one goes for refuge in the Triple Gem. But to expect to attain the stages of enlightenment without meditation seems foolhardy at best.

Although who can say what happens when one is dying? Perhaps, and this is rampant speculation here, even one who has not meditated at all in this life but has taken refuge and lived a virtuous life could attain stream-entry at death. Who knows.

:anjali:
Peace,
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby seeker242 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:39 pm

kitztack wrote:how important is meditation to following the Dhamma as taught by the Buddha?
for all a persons study and intellectual knowledge can we really understand dukkha, anicca and annata without meditating?


"To understand Anatta, you have to meditate. If you only intellectualize, your head will explode.

Once you understand not-self in your heart, the burden of life will be lifted. Your family life, your work, everything will be much easier.

When you see beyond self, you no longer cling to happiness, and when you no longer cling to happiness, you can begin to be truly happy."

~Ajahn Chah: A Still Forest Pool.
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:27 am

Heed the Buddhas words:

These are the feet of trees, bhikkhus, these are empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not be negligent, lest you regret it later. This is our instruction to you.'
- SN 43.1, trans. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi


:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby chownah » Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:21 am

The mind is like a stormy sea.

If you want to understand waves it is easier to learn by observing a still pond with a few ripples rather than a wind tossed sea.
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby Myotai » Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:43 am

robertk...jumping in?

:smile:
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby Zom » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:25 am

for all a persons study and intellectual knowledge can we really understand dukkha, anicca and annata without meditating?


It depends on what you understand under "meditation". If you take modern "sitting samatha-vipassana" sessions, then this is not necessary to understand and see dukkha, anicca and annata, because these things can be seen and understood apart from that formal meditation. In most cases reaching stream entry happens during listening to Dhamma, not during practising meditation. You hear, you understand, you penetrate it with wisdom, and so you see. That is why Buddha said there are 2 conditions for stream-entry: "voice of another" and "wise attention". But to understreand three characteristics deeply, on the very profound level, you need jhana, and so yes, you need to meditate here.
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby Myotai » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:28 pm

Zom wrote:
for all a persons study and intellectual knowledge can we really understand dukkha, anicca and annata without meditating?


It depends on what you understand under "meditation". If you take modern "sitting samatha-vipassana" sessions, then this is not necessary to understand and see dukkha, anicca and annata, because these things can be seen and understood apart from that formal meditation. In most cases reaching stream entry happens during listening to Dhamma, not during practising meditation. You hear, you understand, you penetrate it with wisdom, and so you see. That is why Buddha said there are 2 conditions for stream-entry: "voice of another" and "wise attention". But to understreand three characteristics deeply, on the very profound level, you need jhana, and so yes, you need to meditate here.


:goodpost:
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:27 pm

Goofaholix wrote:I think establishing mindfulness of ordinary daily activity to the point where it is continuous is what's transformative but I'm not sure it's possible to establish that without having a formal meditation practice to back it up or at least get the momentum going.


I've found that it's very difficult to practice mindfulness effectively off the cushion without regular time on the cushion.
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:28 pm

seeker242 wrote:"To understand Anatta, you have to meditate. If you only intellectualize, your head will explode.


Yes, thinking about this stuff usually makes my brain hurt. ;)
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Re: how important is meditation?

Postby Babadhari » Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:46 pm

thanks for your replies


Spiny Norman wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:I think establishing mindfulness of ordinary daily activity to the point where it is continuous is what's transformative but I'm not sure it's possible to establish that without having a formal meditation practice to back it up or at least get the momentum going.


I've found that it's very difficult to practice mindfulness effectively off the cushion without regular time on the cushion.


without a sitting practice i find my consciousness caught up in the world with more intensity and edginess to it. stress, anger, lust and other unwholesome emotions seem to be more likely to arise without even realising.

i think i will try adding a walking meditation practice after sitting meditation to see if it helps in establishing mindfullnes through out the day.
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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