Ajahn Brahm wrote:Meditators fail to overcome the hindrances because they look for them
in the wrong place. It is crucial to success in meditation to understand that
the hindrances are to be seen at work in the space between the knower
and the known. The hindrances’ source is the doer, their result is lack of
progress, but their workshop is the space between the mind and its
meditation object. Essentially, the five hindrances are a relationship problem.
Skillful meditators observing their breath also pay attention to how
they watch their breath. If you see expectation between you and your
breath, then you are watching the breath with desire, part of the first
hindrance. If you notice aggression in the space in between, then you are
watching the breath with the second hindrance, ill will. Or if you recognize
fear in that space, maybe anxiety about losing awareness of the
breath, then you are meditating with a combination of hindrances. For
a time you may appear to be successful, able to keep the breath in mind
for several minutes, but you will find that you are blocked from going
deeper.You have been watching the wrong thing. Your main task in meditation
is to notice these hindrances and knock them out. Thereby you
earn each successive stage in meditation, rather than trying to steal the
prize of each stage by an act of will.
[Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond/Happiness Through Meditation, Page 48]
Dennenappelmoes wrote:Hi Mike,
Thank you for that quote. That was very insightful
I still think though that Ajahn Sona deviates from this a bit when he talks about "reshaping the contents of the mind" since what Ajahn Brahm is writing about there is dealing with hindrances rather than what is in the mind....
This may come across as a mister-know-it-all answer, and I'm sorry for that, but ask yourself this: Who lets go and who controls?
If you see that there is no one letting go and no one controlling, you see that both instructions are wrong in a sense. They split the experience up between "you" and "the mind". The instructions "you let go" or "you control" are thus both incorrect. Of course, the teachers have to say it like this, because when putting things into words, you need a framework. If you can see behind this veil, by having some experience in meditation, you see you don't always know if it's letting go or controlling that happens in meditation. Take anger for example. Option one: Anger arises, if it is let go it go, it is replaced by kindness. Or option two: Anger arises, it is replaced by kindness, so it is let go. Who's to say what's what? It's not always so clear.
On the more conventional level, in my experience, usually when mindfulness is weak (so the hindrances are strong) it is useful to deliberately replace states of mind. This is at the level of course thoughts still. When mindfulness is stronger and thoughts are disappearing, it's better to not take deliberate action, because it will create too much restlessness. So the 'let go' instruction can be seen as a tool mainly for restlessness. Although in the end, it's all about letting go in a sense.
The Buddha instructed both ways. He said whoever makes letting go their object easily achieves samadhi. But he also gave more "taking control" instructions. Even thing like "crushing the mind". So he also said we should learn to be skillful enough to see how we should treat the mind. Sometimes we relate to it in one way, sometimes in another way.
At a certain point in meditation everything goes automatically and you forget about the instructions. But I dare to say that it is one of the most common problem preventing people from deep meditation: they don't stop interfering with the mind. So that's why Ajahn Brahm gives it so much importance.
I can't speak for the teachers, so this is only my view. They may agree or disagree. I know Ajahn Brahm also teaches some deliberate actions in the first stages of meditation. Don't know too much about Ajahn Sona.
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