What should I contemplate on?

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

What should I contemplate on?

Postby JadeRabbit » Wed May 20, 2009 8:27 am

Hi all

I'm a beginner in Vipassana meditation and wondered is there a clear list of what I should contemplate on?

I understand simply, that I should consider anicca, dukka, and anatta. Is this linked to the Four Mindfulnesses?

In the Tibetan tradition I've looked at Lam Rim and a series of 21 daily contemplations, which was nice, clear and straightforward.

I'm so confused now I'm trying to understand Theravadan meditation.

Sorry for my ignorance. :namaste:
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Re: What should I contemplate on?

Postby Ben » Wed May 20, 2009 8:31 am

Hi JR

I generally think its a good idea to undertake instruction on vipassana from a meditation teacher where you have access to guidance and supervision. There are many different objects of vipassana meditation but not all of them are suitable for everyone or beginners.
Kind regards

Ben
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Re: What should I contemplate on?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 20, 2009 9:10 am

Greetings Jade,

It might be worth distinguishing between "contemplation" as a conceptual activity, versus "meditation" in its various forms.

If you mean contemplation, you could try reading suttas such as...

AN 5.57: Upajjhatthana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

.. for some suggestions. If you mean meditation, then as Ben suggests, a structured and supervised meditation course would be the way to go. Until such time it would be worth commencing with the following...

"Mindfulness In Plain English" by Ven Henepola Gunaratana
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1384

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: What should I contemplate on?

Postby JadeRabbit » Wed May 20, 2009 11:29 am

Thank you for your kind replies.

I'm definitely looking for practices on contemplation, and will read the sutta you suggest Retro.

I have 'Mindfulness in Plain English', it's an excellent book, and am okay with breathing meditation.

Should I also be looking at the 'Satipatthanna Sutta'? (I've just bought the translation and commentary by Soma Thera - 'The Way of Mindfulness').
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Re: What should I contemplate on?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 20, 2009 10:38 pm

Greetings JR,

JadeRabbit wrote:Should I also be looking at the 'Satipatthanna Sutta'? (I've just bought the translation and commentary by Soma Thera - 'The Way of Mindfulness').


Another cornerstone sutta, even if the commentary translated by Soma Thera can seem a bit pedantic at times.

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: What should I contemplate on?

Postby JadeRabbit » Thu May 21, 2009 8:18 am

Thanks Retro, at least I'm on the right track, I hope.

Do you know of a better version you could suggest? (bearing in mind I'm just starting out with the Suttas)

Looking at the Upajjhatthana Sutta, I've seen it somewhere else - a Gatha by Thich Nhat Hanh:

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill health.
There is no way to escape having ill health.
I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature of change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My deeds are my closest companions.
I am the beneficiary of my deeds.
My deeds are the ground on which I stand.

:meditate:
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Re: What should I contemplate on?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 21, 2009 8:26 am

Greetings,

JadeRabbit wrote:Do you know of a better version you could suggest? (bearing in mind I'm just starting out with the Suttas)

The translation itself is OK... it's just the commentary that's a bit tiring, and I wouldn't recommend that to you yet.

Access to Insight has a few translations on MN10 for comparative interpretation.

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: What should I contemplate on?

Postby JadeRabbit » Thu May 21, 2009 8:33 am

Okey doke. Thank you. :anjali:
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Re: What should I contemplate on?

Postby MMK23 » Fri May 22, 2009 6:02 am

JadeRabbit wrote:Hi all

I'm a beginner in Vipassana meditation and wondered is there a clear list of what I should contemplate on?

I understand simply, that I should consider anicca, dukka, and anatta. Is this linked to the Four Mindfulnesses?

In the Tibetan tradition I've looked at Lam Rim and a series of 21 daily contemplations, which was nice, clear and straightforward.

I'm so confused now I'm trying to understand Theravadan meditation.

Sorry for my ignorance. :namaste:


Hey JadeRabbit! I just thought I would share my opinion - the more the merrier, right? LOL

I'm sharing on the basis that you are capable of making decisions for yourself, and I have no expectation that you will treat me as a teacher of Buddhism. I am not. Got it? Good :-)

In one of the great classics of Theravada Buddhism, the Vimuttimagga (The Path of Freedom), practitioners who are of the personality that "walks in infatuation" are advised to not undertake meditative practice before cultivating other qualities beforehand. This direction is in the middle of a bundle of advice that goes to analysing the different types of people and their most eminent mental characteristics. The advice is clearly that anyone who wants to practice meditation, ought first find a greatly accomplished teacher, and perfect the virtuous behaviours.

Wow... that's not what you read in modern dhamma books! Now, I'm not going to advocate that position. And I'm not going to disagree with the advice of those who have already shared suggestions with you. But I did want to let you know that I, and others, are of an opinion that meditation practice is something that should begin after a very serious period of moral cultivation - the boring stuff like cutting down on excessive indulgence, etc. Indeed, my very personal opinion, is that meditation practice can be harmful for some people, and can manifest as sort of self-hypnosis that creates an even bigger and more attenuated ego than that contended with prior.

So I say this to share with you that there are different perspectives on "where to begin", and mine is - not with meditation, and definitely not with vipassana. However, there are an enormous number of people who will say the exact opposite of me, and that vipassana practices will cultivate great skillful qualities for you which will naturally encourage moral behaviour.

How do we contend with this? Well, you can do as you wish - that's your prerogative :-) How do I contend with a diversity of views - I read the suttas, I study the commentaries, and I commit my introspection to the most serious and egoless place that I can find. Then I do it all again. And again. And again. And again :-)

Anyway, good luck with your vipassana meditation and I hope you achieve great successes :)

:anjali: :buddha1: :heart:

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Re: What should I contemplate on?

Postby JadeRabbit » Fri May 22, 2009 8:36 am

Hi MMK23

Thanks for taking the time to post and share :smile:

Sorry, maybe I should have been clearer in my first post. I've been interested in Buddhism for around 5 years and looked at different traditions and forms of meditation. I feel like I've finally found a tradition that sits right with me and am now looking to go a bit deeper (hence starting to look at the suttas).

Lots of previous suffering in this life have helped my wish to become a better person. I completely agree with your view and am glad I'm on the right track. Whether you're a teacher or not, I still respect those who may have a little wisdom. :mrgreen:

:namaste:
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