A different sort of meditation

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

A different sort of meditation

Postby JWR » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:14 am

I'll briefly describe a rather different sort of meditation, with the goal of discovering whether Theravadins ever practice anything similar; or if it's even compatible with Theravada.

Some of the best mediaeval Samurais had a preternatural ability to sense danger before any of their five senses could alert them. Even to the point where others thought they had mind-reading magical abilities. But in reality, it was the opposite. It was a primal ability, which most animals have, but which most humans have become blunted to. Here's a type of meditation that cultivates it. Twenty minutes a day (or less), if done consistently, can lead to amazing situational awareness.

1. Be in a completely familiar place (for me, it's the master bathroom); keep your eyes open and feel free to look around.

2. Completely still all thoughts, as you would in other types of meditation (i.e. block out what happened at the office today, your weekend plans, etc...).

3. Focus only on the sights and sounds around you. Since you're in a very mundane, totally familiar place, this will be initially very annoying. Is the towel hung totally straight, or is it a bit tilted to the left? Memorize it. How much of the toilet paper roll remains? Is the bar of soap halfway finished, almost new, or what? As for sounds, what do you hear? If the window is open, there's plenty to hear, from car engines to birds.

4. The above subjects (only that which is immediately in your view and hearing) are the only things you can think about. Like I said, it's really annoying for a while.

5. If you continue this way for at least ten minutes, you'll be living solely in the moment, in your direct environment. This is much more akin to how dogs and cats 'think' than to how gods think.

6. Your sense of hearing and sight will soon dramatically increase. For example, the voices coming from the house across the park. Instead of just voices, you begin to identify specifics: "A woman, probably in her 40s." "An older man." "And a boy, probably in his mid teens." Same with other sounds. Instead of just generally hearing a car drive by it becomes specific: "A diesel Hindustan Ambassador, probably about ten years old." And etc...

7. After having done this for a week or so, take it outside with you the next time you walk down a city street. Don't walk around with a billion thoughts and worries swarming through your head. And don't use your iPod. Instead, focus only on who/what you see, hear and smell immediately around you; in the exact moment.

This leads to a heightened sense of awareness. People can learn to sense danger before it comes, and act accordingly; or to sense safety. After a while, you might even begin to feel the intentions of those you're with, whether good or bad. (But if you're naturally paranoid it won't work, because you'll always assume the bad). And, if you take this sort of mindfulness with you into a karate or Muay Thai match, remaining totally relaxed yet highly alert, you gain a huge edge over your opponent. If you're in the military, it might enable you to save your own life and the lives of your squad.

(Dogs have this ability naturally, since their minds aren't swarming with a zillion ideas and worries. They're constantly living in the moment, which enables them to constantly feel their environment.)

Since it was the Samurai who perfected this art, it's most likely more related to Zen. Do Theravada monks ever do anything similar?
"You're a poor farmer, mind of mine!
You've let the precious field of human life sit fallow too long.
If only you had planted right, a golden crop would be yours by now!"

-Ramprasad Sen
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby David2 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:45 am

In the Satipatthāna sutta there are four foundations of mindfulness:

1. Body
2. Feelings
3. Mind
4. Mind objects

I think the meditation you described would be an example for the 4th foundation, mind objects, right?
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby JWR » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:56 am

Perhaps, but I don't know exactly what is meant by "mind objects." (I'm still more of an outsider looking in. My knowledge of Theravada is less than rudimentary.)
"You're a poor farmer, mind of mine!
You've let the precious field of human life sit fallow too long.
If only you had planted right, a golden crop would be yours by now!"

-Ramprasad Sen
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby chownah » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:50 pm

Some of the best mediaeval Samurais had a preternatural ability to sense danger before any of their five senses could alert them.

I really doubt that this is true for many reasons. Can you provide some evidence for this? The Buddha taught that the sixth sense was the mind and I suppose that a person's mind could inform them what might be about to happen by inferring from the present data....maybe that is what this is all about....I don't know.....hard for me to consider "sensing danger" in that it seems to imply that there is a thing called "danger" and that it can be sensed....I've never heard of any credible discussion along those lines so it would be great if you could give us some references or talks about it......it would be great if it was true....although frankly I have never had any serious problems with danger in my life so far so I don't see that I have much use for sensing it.....maybe I unconsciously sense danger and subconscously steer myself clear of it....I don't know......do many people have problems with danger?
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby befriend » Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:13 pm

the siddhi of reading the minds of others was taught by buddha and is a common teaching in buddhism. animals can sense when there is a storm coming and my dog knows when someone he loves is about to leave, and he knows when hes going to the vet etc...
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:44 pm

JWR wrote:After having done this for a week or so, take it outside with you the next time you walk down a city street. Don't walk around with a billion thoughts and worries swarming through your head. And don't use your iPod. Instead, focus only on who/what you see, hear and smell immediately around you; in the exact moment.


It sounds similar to Life meditation which I briefly mention about in my book (Buddha's Lists), but see it rarely discussed by most teachers and at Dhamma centers (so that meditators don't ignore the core practices of breath, sensations, etc.).

The goal is to eventually have mindfulness and awareness all the time, so I think Life meditation is a good practice as much as possible. And it can be very useful in guarding speech and cravings.
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:23 pm

chownah wrote:
Some of the best mediaeval Samurais had a preternatural ability to sense danger before any of their five senses could alert them.

I really doubt that this is true for many reasons. Can you provide some evidence for this? The Buddha taught that the sixth sense was the mind and I suppose that a person's mind could inform them what might be about to happen by inferring from the present data ...

Hi, JWR,
I'm with chownah this far but for slightly different reasons. I would say something more like "before any of their five senses could normally alert them" and ask about hyper-acuity of those same five senses. In fact, the meditation you describe would enhance the connection between the five senses and the mind, and maybe that's all that's needed for 'supernormal' sensitivity to the immediate environment. But perhaps some enhancement of acuity comes with it or can be learned.
:coffee:
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:41 pm

Greetings JWR,

JWR wrote:Perhaps, but I don't know exactly what is meant by "mind objects." (I'm still more of an outsider looking in. My knowledge of Theravada is less than rudimentary.)


Extract from MN 10: Satipatthana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves?

[1] "There is the case where a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances. And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances? There is the case where, there being sensual desire present within, a monk discerns that 'There is sensual desire present within me.' Or, there being no sensual desire present within, he discerns that 'There is no sensual desire present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen sensual desire. And he discerns how there is the abandoning of sensual desire once it has arisen. And he discerns how there is no future arising of sensual desire that has been abandoned. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining hindrances: ill will, sloth & drowsiness, restlessness & anxiety, and uncertainty.)

"In this way he remains focused internally on mental qualities in & of themselves, or externally on mental qualities in & of themselves, or both internally & externally on mental qualities in & of themselves. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to mental qualities, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to mental qualities, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to mental qualities. Or his mindfulness that 'There are mental qualities' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances.

[2] "Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five clinging-aggregates. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five clinging-aggregates? There is the case where a monk [discerns]: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance. Such is feeling... Such is perception... Such are fabrications... Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on the mental qualities in & of themselves, or focused externally... unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five clinging-aggregates.

[3] "Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the sixfold internal & external sense media. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the sixfold internal & external sense media? There is the case where he discerns the eye, he discerns forms, he discerns the fetter that arises dependent on both. He discerns how there is the arising of an unarisen fetter. And he discerns how there is the abandoning of a fetter once it has arisen. And he discerns how there is no future arising of a fetter that has been abandoned. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining sense media: ear, nose, tongue, body, & intellect.)

"In this way he remains focused internally on the mental qualities in & of themselves, or focused externally... unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the sixfold internal & external sense media.

[4] "Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the seven factors for Awakening. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the seven factors for Awakening? There is the case where, there being mindfulness as a factor for Awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor for Awakening is present within me.' Or, there being no mindfulness as a factor for Awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor for Awakening is not present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen mindfulness as a factor for Awakening. And he discerns how there is the culmination of the development of mindfulness as a factor for Awakening once it has arisen. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining factors for Awakening: analysis of qualities, persistence, rapture, serenity, concentration, & equanimity.)

"In this way he remains focused internally on mental qualities in & of themselves, or externally... unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the seven factors for Awakening.

[5] "Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the four noble truths. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the four noble truths? There is the case where he discerns, as it has come to be, that 'This is stress.' He discerns, as it has come to be, that 'This is the origination of stress.' He discerns, as it has come to be, that 'This is the cessation of stress.' He discerns, as it has come to be, that 'This is the way leading to the cessation of stress.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on mental qualities in & of themselves, or externally on mental qualities in & of themselves, or both internally & externally on mental qualities in & of themselves. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to mental qualities, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to mental qualities, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to mental qualities. Or his mindfulness that 'There are mental qualities' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the four noble truths...

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


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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby JWR » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:32 am

chownah wrote:
Some of the best mediaeval Samurais had a preternatural ability to sense danger before any of their five senses could alert them.

I really doubt that this is true for many reasons. Can you provide some evidence for this? The Buddha taught that the sixth sense was the mind and I suppose that a person's mind could inform them what might be about to happen by inferring from the present data....maybe that is what this is all about....I don't know.....hard for me to consider "sensing danger" in that it seems to imply that there is a thing called "danger" and that it can be sensed....I've never heard of any credible discussion along those lines so it would be great if you could give us some references or talks about it......it would be great if it was true....although frankly I have never had any serious problems with danger in my life so far so I don't see that I have much use for sensing it.....maybe I unconsciously sense danger and subconscously steer myself clear of it....I don't know......do many people have problems with danger?
chownah


Hi Chownah,

Yes, I'll give you a reference. But first, please note that I never said it was magical; rather that the ability is primal like animals, and that it's "much more akin to how dogs 'think' than how gods think." Someone else on the thread mentioned siddhis, but I'm not speaking of those either. This sort of ability is observed more from the animal kingdom than from scriptures and traditions. One of many examples is the Andaman Islands during the Dec 2004 tsunami. The animals all ran away from the coast to high ground and survived. The people didn't. They were baffled by the strange behavior of the animals, and while they pondered it, the tsunami came and drowned them. Those who spend much time around dogs or horses often see this sort of ability. Did the animals of the Andaman Islands see, touch, or hear anything to alert them? I doubt it, because there was nothing to observe. It was a different form of knowledge.

The way we learn of evolution, everything is portrayed as progressive, from lower to higher. I agree for the most part, but think that we've also lost a lot. The ability to think and rationalize is a great blessing. We wouldn't be human without it. But it can also be a curse. Our incessant thoughts, our never-ceasing rapid-fire neural activities, blunt us and strip away that "sixth sense" that so many animals have. Add to that, all the distractions of tv and other mass media. Those of us constantly bombarded by tv shows and movies (and now computer games, etc.) are even more blunted than our ancestors of a hundred years ago. When I was 15, my dad left his office in SF one night. He's always lived in a cloud of incessant thought. He was so self-absorbed that he didn't know anything was amiss. Until the muggers slashed his leg to the bone, and deeply slashed his arm, demanding his wallet and watch as he lay bleeding to death (A passerby found him soon after and called an ambulance; so he survived). It didn't have to be that way. It shouldn't have.

The purpose of this sort of meditation is not to advance forward toward nirvana, but to go backward for a while and pick up what we lost along the trail long ago.

Here's my reference: Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War (New York: Penguin, 2007), pp. 173-74.

In these pages is a discussion of the Shinkage school of (Samurai) swordsmanship. One of it's earliest masters was the 17th-century Yagyn Munenori. Later in his life, while walking in his garden with his page, he felt a sense of danger. He looked all around but saw nothing. When no attack ever came, he fell into despondency and told his page that he surely was losing his awareness in his old age, since he'd falsely sensed danger. At this, his page prostrated himself before him, profusely apologizing. He confessed that during the garden stroll, he'd thought of how easy it would be to kill his master with a sword when the master was so absorbed in the sights and smells of the blossoms. He'd never had such a thought before. He assured Munenori that he hadn't at all lost his abilities; on the contrary they were sharper than ever.

Greene then writes:

An animal has that sensitivity because it pays complete attention. Similarly, the Shinkage school taught warriors to empty their minds, centering themselves on the moment as animals did and keeping themselves from getting derailed by any particular thought. This would allow the Shinkage warrior to read in his opponent's elbow or hand the slight tension that signaled an attack; he could look through his opponent's eyes and sense the coming blow or notice the nervous shuffle of the feet that indicated fear or confusion. A master like Munenori could virtually read someone's thoughts when the other person wasn't even visible.
"...The power...was the ability to let go of one's ego, to submerge oneself temporarily in the other person's mind. You will be amazed at how much you can pick up about people if you can shut off your incessant interior monologue, empty your thoughts, and anchor yourself in the moment (p. 174).


The reason I brought this up in the first place is that I often go to nearby Thailand for Muay Thai (Thai boxing) training. I'm just a learner, but I've trained with the best and had ringside seats at the Channel 7 studio fights (broadcast all across Thailand). Muay Thai has been passed down through Theravada monasteries/temples, because they are the repository of Thai knowledge and culture. These Thai fighters are completely relaxed in the ring (trainers constantly tell me to "Sabai sabai!" [Relax relax!] ). Their utterly relaxed, calm and humble manner is mixed with lightening fast speed and accuracy; and they, like Samurais, easily read their opponents during the first round. Added to this is the great efficiency of Thailand's special forces, the majority of whom are Buddhists. And so I was wondering how these Thai Theravadins get their minds right. Do they do a similar meditation? (Thai trainers teach us farangs [foreigners] movements and techniques, but they've never said a word to me about their meditation techniques. I think they reserve that for themselves).
"You're a poor farmer, mind of mine!
You've let the precious field of human life sit fallow too long.
If only you had planted right, a golden crop would be yours by now!"

-Ramprasad Sen
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby chownah » Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:22 am

JWR,
For me a story about something that happened over 300 years ago about a single brief experience is not enough for me to develop a belief in anything.

I guess we have different views on this sort of thing but since it seems that people in this thread want to discuss meditation and not the detection of danger perhaps we should not continue our discussion. If you want you could start a new topic for the purpose of discussing the sensing of danger I guess.....
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby JWR » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:55 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings JWR,

JWR wrote:Perhaps, but I don't know exactly what is meant by "mind objects." (I'm still more of an outsider looking in. My knowledge of Theravada is less than rudimentary.)


Extract from MN 10: Satipatthana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves?

[1] "There is the case where a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances. And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances? There is the case where, there being sensual desire present within, a monk discerns that 'There is sensual desire present within me.' Or, there being no sensual desire present within, he discerns that 'There is no sensual desire present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen sensual desire. And he discerns how there is the abandoning of sensual desire once it has arisen. And he discerns how there is no future arising of sensual desire that has been abandoned. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining hindrances: ill will, sloth & drowsiness, restlessness & anxiety, and uncertainty.)
...


Thanks Retro for this info. It looks like it was intentionally written in a manner conducive for memorization. I'll read it over more carefully in the days to come.
"You're a poor farmer, mind of mine!
You've let the precious field of human life sit fallow too long.
If only you had planted right, a golden crop would be yours by now!"

-Ramprasad Sen
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby JWR » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:10 pm

David N. Snyder wrote: It sounds similar to Life meditation which I briefly mention about in my book (Buddha's Lists), but see it rarely discussed by most teachers and at Dhamma centers (so that meditators don't ignore the core practices of breath, sensations, etc.).

The goal is to eventually have mindfulness and awareness all the time, so I think Life meditation is a good practice as much as possible. And it can be very useful in guarding speech and cravings.


Thank you David for this info and the link. I just clicked it and will check it out. I'd never considered these other applications before ("guarding speech and cravings"). But it makes sense that the same heightened awareness gained of the outside world could/should be turned inward too, making us aware of our own speech and mental states.

I've only been posting on this forum a few days and I've already learned a lot. This is really beneficial.

Wishing you upekkha at all times,

JWR

P.S. (7 PM) I just downloaded your pdf format book. Looking at the Evolutionary Stages of Religion forward now.
"You're a poor farmer, mind of mine!
You've let the precious field of human life sit fallow too long.
If only you had planted right, a golden crop would be yours by now!"

-Ramprasad Sen
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:56 pm

Other than the "Completely still all thoughts" which seems very optimistic, and the motivation for the practice which seems to have little connection with Buddhism, it's pretty similar to most mindfulness practices.
"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: A different sort of meditation

Postby JWR » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:27 am

Goofaholix wrote:Other than the "Completely still all thoughts" which seems very optimistic, and the motivation for the practice which seems to have little connection with Buddhism, it's pretty similar to most mindfulness practices.


I think it depends on how one approaches Buddhism. I've had a very basic textbook knowledge of the various Buddhisms for a long time. But my real, firsthand approach to Chinese and Korean Mahayana, Japanese Zen and Theravada all came through martial arts. My interest in Theravada came almost entirely through the Thai people I've met in the course of learning Muay Thai. Firsthand exposure to Zen came through learning Shito-ryu karate, & etc.

In spite of the cultural/doctrinal differences between these versions of Buddhism, they all have had a warrior ("Bushido" in Japan) ethic/culture running through them. We westerners often compartmentalize, and try to separate religion and culture. But not so in the East. To the Japanese Samurai warrior, this sort of meditation was intricately yoked to his Rinzai school of Zen. Same with the meditation and the wushu that go hand-in-hand in Chinese Buddhism.

I've also noticed a tendency amongst my fellow Westerners to balk against the supposed incongruity of Buddhist ahimsa and the practice of martial arts & the Bushido spirit. We westerners don't usually like paradoxes; they break our brains. But Asians embrace the paradox of the sword & the fist together with ahimsa. Thus, to them (and to people who've hung out with them long enough), these type of meditation practices, which are martially oriented, are intricately connected to Buddhism(s). I close with a little quote about the bloodiest ring-sport in the world, Muay Thai. (Please keep in mind that except for some Muslims in south Thailand, the majority of Thai boxers are Theravadins. And that humble old Thai monk you happen to meet--though genuinely humble and kind--might have a deadly side to him as well) :

Throughout the match, one bicep retains a twisted cloth armlet (prajiad), which may enclose a Buddhist charm (yantra) for mystical protection. Muttering incantations (mantra) brings mental focus. Even international fighters must conduct a secular version of the sacred costumed dance.


(Quote from http://www.tatnews.org/common/print.asp?id=5154)
"You're a poor farmer, mind of mine!
You've let the precious field of human life sit fallow too long.
If only you had planted right, a golden crop would be yours by now!"

-Ramprasad Sen
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:08 pm

In Western there's something called Muscular Christianity... they trace their roots back to Paul the Apostle, who frequently used athletic metaphors to describe the challenges of a Christian life. They founded YMCA centers.
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:32 pm

Recently, in another thread, bodom found a Sutta reference which I think sounds an awful lot like the Zen concept of 'in the zone' in sports competitions, having such an intense concentration, thinking you must make the shot, score, bulls-eye, etc. or die.

Sedaka Sutta

Perhaps the Theravada precursor to the Zen concept.
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby kirk5a » Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:14 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:thinking you must make the shot, score, bulls-eye, etc. or die

What a distraction! ;)
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:27 pm

JWR wrote:In spite of the cultural/doctrinal differences between these versions of Buddhism, they all have had a warrior ("Bushido" in Japan) ethic/culture running through them. We westerners often compartmentalize, and try to separate religion and culture. But not so in the East. To the Japanese Samurai warrior, this sort of meditation was intricately yoked to his Rinzai school of Zen. Same with the meditation and the wushu that go hand-in-hand in Chinese Buddhism.


Thai forest masters sometimes use warrior like metaphors (you must fight the defilements etc) but this is as far as it goes as far as I've noticed, I don't believe there is any Bushido culture in Theravada. It's not unlike the concept of "Christian soldiers", Christian soldiers are Christians who are true to the cause, not following some esoteric martial art.

JWR wrote: I close with a little quote about the bloodiest ring-sport in the world, Muay Thai. (Please keep in mind that except for some Muslims in south Thailand, the majority of Thai boxers are Theravadins. And that humble old Thai monk you happen to meet--though genuinely humble and kind--might have a deadly side to him as well) :


The majority of drug dealers in Thailand are Theravadins, the majority of prostitutes, the majority of taxi drivers, check out girls etc That doesn't mean Theravada is influenced by Zen and the Art of taxi driving.

Sounds like you've been reading too many comic books.
"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: A different sort of meditation

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:48 pm

JWR wrote:The way we learn of evolution, everything is portrayed as progressive, from lower to higher.


This is a common misconception about evolution. Darwin, Ernst Myer, and others clearly state that evolution is not moving toward a goal or a higher state. It is only the adaptation of a population to it's envirionment. As environments change, the "goal" changes. There is a tendancy to move toward complexity, but even this has exceptions.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: A different sort of meditation

Postby JWR » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:11 am

Goofaholix wrote:
The majority of drug dealers in Thailand are Theravadins, the majority of prostitutes, the majority of taxi drivers, check out girls etc That doesn't mean Theravada is influenced by Zen and the Art of taxi driving.

Sounds like you've been reading too many comic books.


I've never read a Muay Thai comic book; I've just spend a lot of time in Thailand and have a lot of Thai friends. There are several problems with the things you've conflated.

1. Unlike criminal activities such as drug dealing and prostitution, Muay Thai is an integral part of Thai culture, and has been passed down through Buddhist monasteries for centuries. Many monks know and practice Muay Thai (see, for example, the documentary, "Buddha's Lost Children." For many other examples, spend some time in Thailand getting to know the local monks and lay-people).

2. Additionally, Muay Thai is Thailand's national sport; and is taught in P.E. classes all across the nation. Conflating Muay Thai with criminal/immoral activities is thus very disrespectful to all Thais, and their culture and religion. If I was Thai I'd be very offended at your post. Since I'm not, I just have to assume that you know little or nothing about Thailand.

Your comments also remind me of the unfortunate, false stereotypes that people have about Thailand. Have you ever actually spent quality time in Bangkok? I have, on and off since 1995, and found that the prostitution and sleaze revolves almost entirely around two relatively small districts (Podpong and Soi Cowboy), which came to being during the Viet Nam war, when the USA dumped thousands of soldiers there for recreational leave every week. The first club in Soi Cowboy was started by a US serviceman, not a Thai. The rest of Bangkok (millions of people) is just a normal city, with hardworking people, who are just as respectable/honorable as anyone else in Asia. (And, all the rest of Thailand, except for the nightclub sections of a few tourist cities, is the same. Just normal, working people). Bangkok is known amongst scholars of religion as one of the best places on earth to study Theravada (which is why Thomas Merton spent his last days there); and among martial artists as the best place to practice Muay Thai.

Since you conflated these categories falsely, and in a manner that's disrespectful to Thais and their country, it's possible that you're a Western convert to Theravada. Often, Western converts think themselves to be more right and authentic, as opposed to the supposedly 'nominal' believers who were just born into the religion. (Like the Dutch ISKCON devotee I met who was telling Indian Hindus that he was worshipping Krishna the correct way, while the Indian Hindus were hopelessly deceived). The ordinary Thai Theravadins I know (including a taxi driver and others in the normal work world) don't have the off-putting zeal of a convert. Instead, they have a deep-running, quiet faith and devotion that puts me to shame. The utterly non-assuming, humble demeanor of a Muay Thai master (who could knock me out in a quarter of a second, but who never even talks about his skill or all the trophies he's won) speaks much more loudly about authentic Buddhism than the zeal of a convert who really knows the way.
"You're a poor farmer, mind of mine!
You've let the precious field of human life sit fallow too long.
If only you had planted right, a golden crop would be yours by now!"

-Ramprasad Sen
JWR
 
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