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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Anapana meditation in Vipassana

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

Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby stevenpaul » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:36 pm

Hi everyone,

I notice that some teachers and authors recommend taking the breath as an object of meditation in the practice of Vipassana. At the same time, the same teachers will talk about how mindfulness of breath is great for building concentration. Next we hear how concentration power alone is insufficient for attaining deep insight into impermanence, selflessness, and suffering. We may be able to concentrate brilliantly, but no amount of concentration will ever foster enlightenment by itself. However, applying our well-developed concentration to the practice of Vipassana is a great recipe for success in Buddhist meditation. What I fail to understand is how the same practice--mindfulness of breath--can lead to two vastly different results. How can mindfulness of breath promote useful but limited concentration power (as a samadhi practice), and at the same time foster enlightenment (as a Vipassana practice).

The technique as I have heard it described is usually to focus on the square centimeter or so where the breath moves in and out of the nose, and feel the sensation of breath as it moves in and out of the nose. That routine is recommended for Samadhi practice (concentration building) and Vipassana as well, by many teachers (e.g Bhante Gunaratana and many others). It seems like these teachers are recommending the same technique for both Samadhi and Vipassana, yet state emphatically that Samadhi and Vipassana are two very different practices with different outcomes. What am I missing? I understand that some teachers (Shinzen Young, S. N. Goenka, etc.) use other objects of focus for Vipassana, but many do indeed list breath meditation as an object of focus for both Vipassana and Samadhi. Where then does the distinction lie between these practices?

I look forward to your wisdom,

Steven
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby reflection » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:55 pm

I believe the two should not be seen that seperate. Vipassana arises as a result of samatha and vice versa. So, you can't train them seperate.

There are also teachers supporting this view. Especially the first quote is a good essay in support of this view. However, more important than essays and words is always personal experience. What do you experience? Can you train them separate or not? I ask this because you can get totally lost in these discussions.. Especially this one because it seems it has been going on for centuries. :tongue: Best to believe your own practice.

From this description it's obvious that samatha and vipassana are not separate paths of practice, but instead are complementary ways of relating to the present moment.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... etool.html


Some traditions hold that samatha (calm) and vipassana (insight) are separate types of meditation, and developing jhanas is "only samatha" and does not result in wisdom. Ajahn Brahm disagrees, saying "the two are indivisible facets of the same process. Calm leads to insight and insight leads to calm."
http://buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebmed099.htm
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:38 pm

You shouldn't seperate them, they can be cultivated seperately, but a certain amount of both would still be pressent.

Samatha provides the fuel and Vipassana the tools to break through, like at a demolition site, you can have a crane with the big ball attached, if it has fuel but no equiptment attached it can not do the job, but if it has the tools but no fuel it still can not do the job, it needs both.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby santa100 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:39 pm

Serenity (samatha) and Insight (vipassana) are very much related. Take the analogy of a burning candle. An unsteady or shaky candle is never be able to produce the same amount of brightness as compared to when it's is perfectly still..
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:22 pm

Hi stevenpaul,

As others have said, any approach is going to have to build both concentration and insight to be useful. It is a common experience that using the breath, or related objects in different ways emphasises one or the other more, so abdominal motion, for example, often tends to give a less "focussed" concentration than using the breath itself (that's certainly my experience), which is probably why Sayadaw Mahasi used the "rising-falling" abdominal motion as the primary object in his instructions.

I like the discussion in the following quote , which explains that focussing on the sensations tends towards the insight end of the spectrum, whereas sinking into the concept of the breath tends towards the concentration end.
http://aimwell.org/Books/Other/Questions/questions.html
“Why did Mahāsi Sayādaw ignore ānāpānassati, which was directly taught by the Buddha, but introduced the rising-falling method?”

“Is ānāpānassati the same in essence as vipassanā and meditating on rising and falling, and able to lead to magga-phala and nibbāna?”

In answering these questions, Panditārāma Sayādaw explained the teachings of the Mahāsi Sayādaw as follows.

Ānāpānassati can take two directions. If the meditator strives to be mindful of the form or manner of the in-breath and the out-breath, then it is samatha meditation and leads to one-pointedness of mind. On the other hand, if the meditator notes the sensation of the in-breath and out-breath as it moves and touches, then it is vipassanā meditation. The element of wind or motion (vayo-dhātu) is rūpa or matter, while the awareness or consciousness of the sensation is nāma or mind. Therefore, ānāpānassati can be considered as vipassanā, and can lead to high levels of insight wisdom. However, in the Visuddhimagga, in the section on kāyānupassana, or mindfulness of body, fourteen objects of meditation are discussed, and further subdivided into objects for samatha and vipassanā meditation. In the Visuddhimagga, ānāpānassati is presented as an object of samatha meditation. Consequently, if we are to instruct meditators to develop ānāpānassati as part of vipassanā meditation, we will be inviting much unwanted and unwarranted criticism and controversy. And neither Mahāsi Sayādaw or myself would want to argue here that the Visuddhimagga, the rightly venerated classic, is at fault here.

It has been said that by noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, meditators are distancing themselves from the teachings of the Buddha. The answer to this is a firm and definite “no.” Quite apart from the success that meditators have achieved by noting rising-falling, there is much solid evidence in the Buddhist scriptures, such as Salāyatana Vagga Samyutta, to show that the method is very much a part of the Buddha’s teachings regarding mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of the elements (dhātu), and mindfulness of the five aggregates (khandhas).

You might notice that teachers who emphasis concentration and jhana more, such as Ajahn Brahm, talk about just perceiving that one is breathing, rather than the specific sensations.

In the end, it's up to the individual to use the Buddha's teaching the accumulated practice wisdom of ancient and modern teachers, and their own experience to figure out the most useful way of using these practices. Some find certain approaches easier and/or more effective than others.

:anjali:
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby amtross » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:24 pm

The difference I've been able to generalize from most teachers has to do with the way you deal with the wandering mind. Vipassana techniques gererally involve noting or labelling or sometimes even staying with the new mind object. Samatha techniques generally pay less attention to secondary objects and focus more on getting the mind back to and keeping it on the primary object (the breath in this case).

May you be well,
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:08 pm

It's a matter of emphasis, samatha emphasises staying with a primary object and vipassana emphasises working with whatever arises otr changing objects and may or may not have a primary object to fall back on.

Doesn't really matter whether that primary object is the breath at the nostrils, breath at the abdomen, or something else.

Both develop hand in hand and you can't have one without the other but you should be clear about which you are emphasising whenever you sit.

I don't think there is any point in emphasising samatha beyond the minimum needed to keep the mind reasonably stable for vipassana, unless of course you wish to develop jhana and are in a position to realistically achieve that.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:19 pm

Just to make a note for you, and something which is not emphasised enough
The last set of four "stages" are part of the Dhamma tetrad of the satipatthana section of the Anapanasati sutta, and in contrast to the satipatthana sutta they are clearly more Vipassana than the dhamma section of the Satipatthana Sutta, which has these throughout btw.

This would be Concentration developing/leading onto Wisdom.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:51 pm

These two posts also help to clarify the differences in emphasis.
amtross wrote:The difference I've been able to generalize from most teachers has to do with the way you deal with the wandering mind. Vipassana techniques gererally involve noting or labelling or sometimes even staying with the new mind object. Samatha techniques generally pay less attention to secondary objects and focus more on getting the mind back to and keeping it on the primary object (the breath in this case).


Goofaholix wrote:It's a matter of emphasis, samatha emphasises staying with a primary object and vipassana emphasises working with whatever arises or changing objects and may or may not have a primary object to fall back on.


This is all consistent with AN 4.41Samadhi Sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Monks, these are the four developments of concentration. Which four? There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to a pleasant abiding in the here & now. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the attainment of knowledge & vision. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents.
...

The "pleasant abiding" is jhana
I'm unclear how to understand the knowledge & vision section.
The third, mindfulness & alertness, is seeing rising and falling of feelings, perceptions, thoughts.
The fourth, ending of the effluents, rise and fall in terms of of khandhas (aggregates).

I think that sutta is worth studying to see that these differences in emphasis are not a post-Sutta invention.

:anjali:
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:56 pm

Greetings,
mikenz66 wrote:I think that sutta is worth studying to see that these differences in emphasis are not a post-Sutta invention.

Correct, but regarding them as discrete and separable paths is. Reflection's quotations above are apt.

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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:13 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
mikenz66 wrote:I think that sutta is worth studying to see that these differences in emphasis are not a post-Sutta invention.

Correct, but regarding them as discrete and separable paths is. Reflection's quotations above are apt.

No one is saying they are separate paths, but that sutta clearly describes some different "actions" and experiences.

:anjali:
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:24 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:No one is saying they are separate paths, but that sutta clearly describes some different "actions" and experiences.

No one here is saying it, but as Reflection's quotations show, there are indeed those who readily cleave them into separate paths. That act of cleaving is post-Sutta, but as you say, there are indeed "differences in emphasis" within the suttas. My statement wasn't to contradict yours, only to caveat it - hence why I said, "Correct, but..."

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: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:12 am

Well, as I've said, I don't actually think anyone really teaches them as completely separate "paths". Certainly not the so-called "vipassana" approaches I'm familiar with (Goenka, Mahasi, various Ajahn Chah students...). However, there is ample evidence in the suttas that they can be developed with more emphasis on one or the other at any given time, which is what is taught.

See:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Samadhi Sutta: Concentration (Tranquillity and Insight)

:anjali:
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby pegembara » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:48 am

"And how is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing developed & pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination?

"[1] On whatever occasion a monk breathing in long discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, discerns, 'I am breathing out long'; or breathing in short, discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, discerns, 'I am breathing out short'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&... out sensitive to the entire body'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out calming bodily fabrication': On that occasion the monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this — the in-&-out breath — is classed as a body among bodies, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

"[2] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out sensitive to rapture'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out sensitive to pleasure'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out sensitive to mental fabrication'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out calming mental fabrication': On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this — careful attention to in-&-out breaths — is classed as a feeling among feelings,[6] which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

"[3] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out sensitive to the mind'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out satisfying the mind'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out steadying the mind'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out releasing the mind': On that occasion the monk remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I don't say that there is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing in one of lapsed mindfulness and no alertness, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

"[4] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out focusing on inconstancy'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out focusing on dispassion'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out focusing on cessation'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out focusing on relinquishment': On that occasion the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He who sees with discernment the abandoning of greed & distress is one who watches carefully with equanimity, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

"This is how mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is developed & pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby stevenpaul » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:14 pm

Thank you all for the great thread. I have much more to go on now. I'm reasonably convinced by the posts of Mike66, Amtross, and Goofaholix that Anapana could be used to cultivate samadhi when we focus away from distractions and also used for sati when we temporarily focus on distractions before returning to the breath. The difference between Anapanasati and Anapanasamadhi (if I might coin such a term), therefore, relates to our position on distractions. If we bring ourselves back to the breath, rigorously focusing away from any and all distractions, we are cultivating samadhi. On the other hand, if we allow attention to be pulled towards distractions as they arise, equanimously observing them, noting or labeling if we choose to, & then return to the breath, we are cultivating sati.

Thanks again,

Steven
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:23 pm

stevenpaul wrote:If we bring ourselves back to the breath, rigorously focusing away from any and all distractions, we are cultivating samadhi. On the other hand, if we allow attention to be pulled towards distractions as they arise, equanimously observing them, noting or labeling if we choose to, & then return to the breath, we are cultivating sati.


You said "we allow attention to be pulled towards distractions", can you see the freudian slip there?

In a vipassana approach nothing is a distration, anything and everything that arises is a worthy object of attention, an opportunity for learning.
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Vipassana happens when we focus on the impermanence of the object of observation. Samatha, when we simply focus on the object.
vipassana happens when we a continually aware of one of the the three characteristics (anicca, dukkha, anatta) of the object, rather than its color, quality, shape, texture etc.
Vipassana happens when we have 'clear comprehension' (sampajanna-of arising and passing away) along with mindfulness. If it is mindfulness alone, then it is samatha.

So any object can be used as a vipassana or samatha object.

Both samatha and vipassana are like two wheels of the noble eightfold path, it has been said in the suttas.

See also this sutta about the need for both samatha and vipassana:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby Noah » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:25 am

This thread is great, I have embraced meditation practice after a long time of being a Buddhist and just reading suttas, dhamma texts and moral practice. I have decided to follow the Anapanasati Sutta to cultivate the 4 foundations of mindfulness (frames of reference). I thought I might share here some great resources-

The suttas :P
6 part Anapanasati Retreat talks by: Viveka available free at FreeBuddhistAudio.com
The Wings to Awakening by: Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Thanks again for this thread- you guys rock! :)
Evil is caused by and is the cause of future suffering, abandon at all costs! Cultivate virtuous qualities and live the happy life! Just as all wise human endeavors, from Physics to Philosophy, approach the Dhamma; be fearless in your reverence for it- The time for the True Law is yet to dawn in the west!! :D
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby stevenpaul » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:49 am

Goofaholix wrote:You said "we allow attention to be pulled towards distractions", can you see the freudian slip there?

In a vipassana approach nothing is a distraction, anything and everything that arises is a worthy object of attention, an opportunity for learning.


Yes, I agree 100%. I was trying to say that we take the breath as our primary focus in anapana meditation, and the non-breath arisings (which I termed rightly or wrongly "distractions") can then be taken as mini objects of meditation. In a Vipassana approach, then, we would turn to those non-breath arisings as a temporary new object of meditation for a given time (the parameters of which are a whole other topic), then subsequently return to our initial and indeed primary object of focus, the breath. Contrastingly, in a samadhi-type meditation on the breath, we focus away from non-breath arisings, returning to the breath as soon as we catch ourselves losing perception of it.

The genius of Vipassana is that nothing--no emotion however mundane, base, or ignoble, no verbalization in the mind's ear, no image in the mind's eye, no craving, however lewd or unconscionable--is unworthy of objective, scientific attention. Vipassana is thus the ultimate equal opportunity institution.
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Re: Anapana meditation in Vipassana

Postby reflection » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:31 pm

Hi,

Obviously you see it as different training methods. I don't agree on that. To me they are faculties of the mind, not trainings. When you focus on the breath, both samadhi and vipassana are needed and trained. As may be obvious from experience, you can't have a still and sharp mind without knowing how to do so, so samadhi requires vipassana. On the other hand, you can't have true insights without a sharp mindful mind. A dull mind just won't see the way things are, so vipassana also requires samadhi. So, the two are supporting eachother and are not separate.

In this debate, this dhammapada verse is often quoted:
There is no meditative concentration
for him who lacks insight,
and no insight for him
who lacks meditative concentration.
He in whom are found both
meditative concentration and insight,
indeed, is close to Nibbana.
http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/dhammapada-25.html


Ajahn Chah likened it to a stick. Samadhi is one end of the stick, vipassana is the other end. You can't have one end without the other. When you pick up the stick (meditate), you will have both ends. I'd compare it with glasses; they need both a frame (vipassana) and a lens (samadhi), but you can't use glasses when they are just a lens or just a frame.

It is true that there may be different ways of meditating, but to me it is wrong to call one vipassana and the other samadhi.

With metta,
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