Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

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

Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby danieLion » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:55 pm

What does Thanissaro consistently teach is the purpose of pleasure on The Path?

In order to answer this, and my other post's question, correctly, you have to:

ONE: stop postulating your misunderstanding of Thanissaro as Thanissaro's teachings

and

TWO: start understanding him (and his teachers) in the context of ALL their teachings.

You can find the correct answer not only in Thanissaro's teachings, but in several other Ajaan's teachings: Mun, Boowa, Suwat, Fuang, Lee, etc....

YOU CAN ALSO FIND THE CORRECT ANSWER IN THE TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHA, which Thanissaro is entirely consistent with.

I suspect some Trolls or otherwise maligning influences are afoot in this (and the other Thanissaro) topics....

Where does this fear of pleasure come from? Where does this fear of notions like "breath energy" or techniques like "breathing through your eyes" come from?

Are we ascetics, or are we Buddhists?
Daniel
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby danieLion » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:00 pm

If you think mindfulness of breathing doesn't require manipulating the breath, you need to read the Anapanasati Sutta again (if you haven't yet.)
Last edited by danieLion on Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby kirk5a » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:02 pm

I think it's positively absurd to start hunting around for something to be wrong with learning to breathe in a way that is beneficial. There's no special merit in grinding away with whatever messed up/stressed out state we find ourselves in at the moment.
"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: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:06 pm

Greetings Kirk,

I agree.

SN 45.8 wrote:"And what, monks, is right effort?

[i] "There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.

[ii] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.

[iii] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen.

[iv] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort."

That is the Buddha's teaching. This is one's Right Effort (samma vayamo) and it is an integral component of the Noble Eightfold Path.

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: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby danieLion » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:10 pm

twelph wrote:If the goal of directed thought is pleasure, would that not be sensual pleasure? And therefore, wouldn't this pleasure be different than the pleasure that arises in jhana? In my experience they seem to have two distinct qualities. One is pleasure created through the act of will (Samskara) and one is created through a process of letting go.


This is not coherent.

It is not accurate to say pleasure is the goal of directed thought.

The Buddha clearly taught that the pleasures that arise from jhana are: piti and sukha.

Anapanasati and it's corollary pleasures require skillful willing (also involving sankhara and cetana, et al).

Are you trying to establish a dichotomy between willing and letting go? Could you really let go without the intention to let go?

Daniel
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby Kenshou » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:26 pm

I thought the point was that vitakka and vicara on proper objects (satipatthana, the breath, brahmaviharas, whatever) results in the abandoning of unwholesome qualities and hindrances and such which then results in the development of piti-sukha. Not that pleasure is the direct goal and result and purpose for vitakka and vicara, but a consequence of the calming of the mind as attention is trained and directed away from agitating and unhelpful qualities of mind.

But when these five hindrances are abandoned in himself, he regards it as unindebtedness, good health, release from prison, freedom, a place of security. Seeing that they have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad. Glad, he becomes enraptured. Enraptured, his body grows tranquil. His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated.
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby danieLion » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:39 pm

...the best way to find out if Vens. Thanissoro, Fuang , Lee , Suwat , Mun, etc..., are full of poop in terms of their instructions on breathe meditation is to TRY THEM...
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:41 pm

kirk5a wrote:I think it's positively absurd to start hunting around for something to be wrong with learning to breathe in a way that is beneficial. There's no special merit in grinding away with whatever messed up/stressed out state we find ourselves in at the moment.
Certainly not wanting to be absurd, but I am curious as what the actual "learning to breathe in a way that is beneficial" practice actually looks like. Also, I am uncertain as to what you might mean by "grinding away with whatever messed up/stressed out state we find ourselves in at the moment."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby twelph » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:42 pm

danieLion wrote:
twelph wrote:If the goal of directed thought is pleasure, would that not be sensual pleasure? And therefore, wouldn't this pleasure be different than the pleasure that arises in jhana? In my experience they seem to have two distinct qualities. One is pleasure created through the act of will (Samskara) and one is created through a process of letting go.


This is not coherent.

It is not accurate to say pleasure is the goal of directed thought.

The Buddha clearly taught that the pleasures that arise from jhana are: piti and sukha.

Anapanasati and it's corollary pleasures require skillful willing (also involving sankhara and cetana, et al).

Are you trying to establish a dichotomy between willing and letting go? Could you really let go without the intention to let go?

Daniel
good-will


You misunderstand, I was referring to a situation where the purpose of the directed thought is pleasure. And I wasn't talking about the pleasure that is the result of jhana, this is all before jhana is attained. I have no problem with the pleasure that comes from Jhana. And lastly, willing for pleasure to come about just feels different than allowing for craving and aversion to drop away. Please treat me a little more kindly, I promise I'm not invlolved in some smear campaign against Thanissaro :) .
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:54 pm

retrofuturist wrote:My perceptions here may be in error, but from my observation the meditation instructions of the Burmese traditions are more firmly rooted in the definitions, classifications, roadmap etc. depicted within Buddhaghosa's "Visuddhimagga" (Path Of Purification) than those of teachers from the Thai tradition. ...

It's not necessarily so black and white as Burmese vs Thai. Numerous Thai, Sri Lankan, and Malaysian institutions use the Mahasi approach. I don't have experience with Burmese teachers of this approach (only Bangladeshi, American, and Thai), so I can't comment on possible cultural differences, and it would be interesting to hear from those who have practised this method with Burmese teachers.
retrofuturist wrote:I wouldn't say that the Burmese traditions regard "pleasure" with "aversion" (because that would be rather unwholesome, wouldn't it?), but that they prefer not to allow any experience to lull the practitioner away from the present-moment vipassana practice.

Yes, you'd certainly be misunderstanding if you said that that...

The way my teachers put it is that when one develops a high level of concentration it is very important to maintain mindfulness. Having some pleasant experiences is extremely common when one develops good concentration, and it's very easy to become stuck in those states, and not make any further progress, if one doesn't maintain focus on the pleasantness of the experience, but just "wallows" in it.

As discussed in MN 29, the Buddha warns of being gratified by intermediate steps...
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11481&p=173831#p173637
... Being heedful, he achieves consummation in concentration. He is gratified with that consummation in concentration, his resolve fulfilled. Because of that consummation in concentration he exalts himself and disparages others: ...

So, in summary, definitely no suggestion that "you should not have pleasant experiences", but "make sure you keep noting when you hit pleasant experiences". Or painful experiences...

:anjali:
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby farmer » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:00 am

I must have an aversion to how often he uses the word pleasure.


That's the puritan in you, Twelph, but you are in good company. The Buddha himself had to overcome doubts about the place of pleasure in spiritual practice:

"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities...


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

Venerable Thanissaro addresses this issue directly in a talk with the title "A Pleasure not to be Feared":

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/0908 ... Feared.mp3
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby danieLion » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:05 am

twelph wrote: And lastly, willing for pleasure to come about just feels different than allowing for craving and aversion to drop away. Please treat me a little more kindly, I promise I'm not invlolved in some smear campaign against Thanissaro :)

Fair enough. I intended no unkindness, I assure you. Still, despite it feeling different, allowing also implies intention.
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby danieLion » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:19 am

farmer wrote:
I must have an aversion to how often he uses the word pleasure.


That's the puritan in you, Twelph, but you are in good company. The Buddha himself had to overcome doubts about the place of pleasure in spiritual practice:

"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities...


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

Venerable Thanissaro addresses this issue directly in a talk with the title "A Pleasure not to be Feared":

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/0908 ... Feared.mp3

Farmer. Thank you. This is one of the points I was suggesting.
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:12 am

tiltbillings wrote:
kirk5a wrote:I think it's positively absurd to start hunting around for something to be wrong with learning to breathe in a way that is beneficial. There's no special merit in grinding away with whatever messed up/stressed out state we find ourselves in at the moment.
Certainly not wanting to be absurd, but I am curious as what the actual "learning to breathe in a way that is beneficial" practice actually looks like.

Instructions of that nature have been referenced in this thread.
Also, I am uncertain as to what you might mean by "grinding away with whatever messed up/stressed out state we find ourselves in at the moment."

To put it another way, why should we practice meditation in such a way that there is no skill in achieving an increased level of calm and ease of body and mind? The notion that insight can be gained even though we may be tied in knots internally is actually quite unlikely, in my opinion.
"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: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby Brizzy » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:35 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Kirk,

I agree.

SN 45.8 wrote:"And what, monks, is right effort?

[i] "There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.

[ii] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.

[iii] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen.

[iv] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort."

That is the Buddha's teaching. This is one's Right Effort (samma vayamo) and it is an integral component of the Noble Eightfold Path.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Excellent point about right effort, which is an essential part of the path. A lot of opposition to Thanissaro's teachings might be traced to right effort being an inconvenience within traditions which promote a 'bare attention' agenda. Thanissaro's/Buddha's teachings on pleasure can also throw up problems for traditions who view pleasure as 'craving sankhara's' which must be eradicated, and that they should not allow themselves such pleasure, but repeatedly warn of the terrible dangers of Samadhi rather than the terrible dangers of no Samadhi. (Thanissaro gave quite an amusing talk on this somewhere- cant remember its name).

Metta

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:36 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
kirk5a wrote:I think it's positively absurd to start hunting around for something to be wrong with learning to breathe in a way that is beneficial. There's no special merit in grinding away with whatever messed up/stressed out state we find ourselves in at the moment.
Certainly not wanting to be absurd, but I am curious as what the actual "learning to breathe in a way that is beneficial" practice actually looks like.

Instructions of that nature have been referenced in this thread.
I know, but what has been referenced is rather vague. I am wondering if something more specific can be said.
Also, I am uncertain as to what you might mean by "grinding away with whatever messed up/stressed out state we find ourselves in at the moment."

To put it another way, why should we practice meditation in such a way that there is no skill in achieving an increased level of calm and ease of body and mind? The notion that insight can be gained even though we may be tied in knots internally is actually quite unlikely, in my opinion.
And what kind of unskilled practice are you referring to here?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:19 am

Greetings,

In terms of what is skilful or otherwise, here's some words from the Sugata that may be of relevance...

AN 3.112 wrote:Bhikkhus, these three are the origins for the arising of actions. What three? Greed is an origin for the arising of actions, so too hate and delusion.

Bhikkhus, an action by nature greedy, arising from greed, is demerit and wrong. It brings unpleasant results and conduces to more action not to the cessation of actions. Bhikkhus, an action by nature hateful, arising from hate, is demerit and wrong. It brings unpleasant results and conduces to more action not to the cessation of actions. Bhikkhus, an action by nature deluded, arising from delusion, is demerit and wrong. It brings unpleasant results and conduces to more action not to the cessation of actions. Bhikkhus, these three are the origins for the arising of actions.

Bhikkhus, these three are the origins for the arising of actions. What three? Non-greed is an origin for the arising of actions, so too non-hate and non-delusion.

Bhikkhus, an action by nature not greedy, arising from non-greed, is merit, not wrong. It brings pleasant results and conduces to cessation of actions not to the arising of more actions Bhikkhus, an action by nature not hateful, arising from non-hate, is merit not wrong. It brings pleasant results and conduces to the cessation of actions, not to the arising of more actions. Bhikkhus, an action by nature not deluded, arising from non-delusion, is merit, not wrong. It brings pleasant results and conduces to cessation of actions, not to the arising of more actions. Bhikkhus, these three are the origins for the arising of actions.

Source: http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pit ... ggo-e.html

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: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:40 am

tiltbillings wrote:I know, but what has been referenced is rather vague. I am wondering if something more specific can be said.

More specific about what? This thread is about Thanissaro Bhikkhu's instructions regarding breathing. More specificity can be found here, for instance:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... thmed.html
And what kind of unskilled practice are you referring to here?

The one where there is no skill in developing a sense of ease within the body, and tensions and imbalances are disregarded or treated as irrelevant with the notion that there is some kind of practice divorced from any sense of well-being that can conquer all. I'm not referring to any teacher or tradition in particular, I was just expressing some exasperation that anyone would find something as simple and wholesome as the practice of easeful breathing somehow problematic.
"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: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:19 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I know, but what has been referenced is rather vague. I am wondering if something more specific can be said.

More specific about what? This thread is about Thanissaro Bhikkhu's instructions regarding breathing. More specificity can be found here, for instance:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... thmed.html
Thanks. I know what the thread is about. The introductory meditation was interesting, but it is just that, introductory.
And what kind of unskilled practice are you referring to here?

The one where there is no skill in developing a sense of ease within the body, and tensions and imbalances are disregarded or treated as irrelevant with the notion that there is some kind of practice divorced from any sense of well-being that can conquer all. I'm not referring to any teacher or tradition in particular, I was just expressing some exasperation that anyone would find something as simple and wholesome as the practice of easeful breathing somehow problematic.
But that, I guess, is the question: What exactly is "easeful breathing?"
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:27 am

Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:What exactly is "easeful breathing?"

He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

But what are bodily fabrications? In-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications.

But why are in-&-out breaths bodily fabrications? In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That's why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications.

Bodily fabrications are dukkha. The calming of bodily fabrications is sukha (easeful).

There is the case where a certain person fabricates a non-injurious bodily fabrication... He rearises in a non-injurious world... There he is touched by non-injurious contacts... He experiences feelings that are exclusively pleasant, like those of the Ever-radiant Devas. This is called kamma that is bright with bright result.

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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