Focused and Fearless- read it?

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: Focused and Fearless- read it?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Feb 05, 2010 10:16 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Yes, that's a good point. But it is interesting to wonder why Ajahn Brahm's instructions appear so different from his western contemporary Ajahn Chah students.

Mike


For the same reason there are so many teachers teaching different techniques and approaches, it worked for him and it didn't really work for them, teachers teach what worked for them.

I think in general westerners find jhanas pretty elusive, they are much better at dry insight approaches, Ajahn Brahm is one exception to this. What does make him unique is his insistence that this is the way to go, both for monks and lay people, whereas people like Shaila will teach it as one option among others.
"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
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1980
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Focused and Fearless- read it?

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:42 pm

It's now been a couple of months since I finished Catherine's book and probably three or four since I read Ajahn Brahm's. In retrospect, what strikes me is that Ajahn Brahm seemed much more definite in his teaching whereas Catherine's is more guiding. Each contributed a significant amount to my understanding. I think Ajahn Brahm's "this then that" style was very helpful in getting me started and Catherine's statement that humans have been achieving jhana for centuries "and so can you" is extremely beneficial in building confidence.

When listening to Ajahn Brahm's talks, he strikes me as someone who has been doing what he does, both meditating and teaching, for a long time and is well established in ideas, methods, and guidance. I.e., someone who has seen so much water flow under the bridge that he bypasses the fringes and gets straight to the point.

With regards to Catherine's connection of jhana to Vipassana, my recollection is that she repeatedly made the point that practicing jhana without using the experience to gain insight would be merely self-indulgent "blissing out". The intensity with which she makes those statements makes me most curious about her experiences. As for her audio teachings, I was listening (briefly) to one yesterday and, frankly, her style is not suited to me. She comes across very much like one of my algebra teachers -- very slow and methodical and determined not to lose any of her students along the way. That's a wonderful attitude for the struggling students, but I learn best when I'm more challenged to keep up.

Regards: AdvaitaJ
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
Li Bai
User avatar
AdvaitaJ
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 1:17 am
Location: Michigan, USA

Re: Focused and Fearless- read it?

Postby salmon » Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:33 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Salmon,

I'm no expert on this, but Shaila's approach seems to be based on Pa Auk Sayadaw's approach and the Visuddhimagga. I.e. a more "commentarial" approach, not necessarily "untraditional". I believe that the Visuddhimagga does talk about skipping through the Jhanas in different orders.

It is interesting that Ajahn Brahm talks about following the Suttas closely, but his descriptions of the Jhanas are very "deep", more like in the Visuddhimagga than in the Suttas.

Metta
Mike


Hi Mike (and all),

I search for the bit where the Pa Auk Sayadaw mentions one can skip jhana levels but I can't seem to find it. Sorry I'm really bad at finding section from texts. Can you help? All I find are that you can skip jhana into vipassana but I can't find the skipping from access concentration to the various jhana levels.

Thanks.
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~
User avatar
salmon
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:55 am

Re: Focused and Fearless- read it?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:14 am

Hi Salmon,
salmon wrote:I search for the bit where the Pa Auk Sayadaw mentions one can skip jhana levels but I can't seem to find it. Sorry I'm really bad at finding section from texts. Can you help? All I find are that you can skip jhana into vipassana but I can't find the skipping from access concentration to the various jhana levels.

I thought he discussed this in the context of supernormal powers in "Knowing and Seeing" (PDF on Buddhanet.net), but I see he just mentions supernormal powers and that they require mastery of jhanas in fourteen ways:
Psychic powers (abhinnà-nisaÿsa): If one wants to master the mundane psychic powers, like the recollection of past lives (pubbenivàsànussati-abhinnaà), the divine eye (dibbacakkhu), the divine ear (dibba-sota), knowing the mind of others (paracitta-vijànana), and the supernormal powers (iddhividha), flying, walking on water, etc., one must develop the ten kasinas and eight attainments (samàpatti) in fourteen ways. This is the third benefit of concentration.

This is described in detail in Visuddhimagga, Chapter XII, paragraph 2.
He must have complete control of his mind in the following ways: (i) in the order of the kasinas, (ii) in the reverse order of the kasinas ... (vi) skipping jhanas, (viii) skipping kasinas, ...
...
5. (vii) He skips alternate jhanas without skipping the kasinas in the following way: having first attained the first jhana in the earth kasina, he attains the third jhana in that same kasina, ...

I see that Pa Auk Sayadaw (in "Knowing and Seeing") talks about changing to different jhanas by coming out of jhana then going back into a different jhana, rather than transitioning between jhanas, as Shaila describes.

Anyway, as I said, I'm not an expert on this, just offering what I've read in various places.

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10526
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Focused and Fearless- read it?

Postby salmon » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:20 am

Thanks for the fast reply mike. It's a good enough start for me to keep searching.

Appreciate it! :anjali:
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~
User avatar
salmon
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:55 am

Re: Focused and Fearless- read it?

Postby Collective » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:35 pm

This book comes up a lot.

Would it be good for a beginner practising vipassana (like myself) to purchase?
User avatar
Collective
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:12 am

Re: Focused and Fearless- read it?

Postby Kenshou » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:52 pm

I do have the book, and I would say no. The insight-related sections are brief, and are dealt with in the context of jhana or the moments during the dissolution of jhana. If you want a book on pure vipassana, this isn't the book for that.
Kenshou
 
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Focused and Fearless- read it?

Postby limbo » Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:04 pm

AdvaitaJ wrote:With regards to Catherine's connection of jhana to Vipassana, my recollection is that she repeatedly made the point that practicing jhana without using the experience to gain insight would be merely self-indulgent "blissing out". The intensity with which she makes those statements makes me most curious about her experiences.


This is actually a commonly used warning when talking about jhanas and is often used as one of the reasons why teachers in the west do not teach jhana and actually see jhana as a potential trap on the path. I don't know what Catherine's specific experiences were like but this warning is by no means unique to her.
limbo
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:39 pm

Re: Focused and Fearless- read it?

Postby Kenshou » Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:19 pm

It is really common. As I quote from Leigh Bransington, "An interesting thing that I have observed that holds for most teachers of Jhana is that they tend to regard all Jhana methods with concentration levels less than their own as "not authentic, not real Jhanas", and they tend to regard all methods with concentration levels stronger than their own as "indulging, not useful."

Everybody is right, everybody is wrong, what can you do? :thinking:
Kenshou
 
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Focused and Fearless- read it?

Postby imagemarie » Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:24 pm

Kenshou wrote:Everybody is right, everybody is wrong, what can you do? :thinking:


Through practice you come to realize something for yourself
- A. Chah (thanks bodom :smile: )
User avatar
imagemarie
 
Posts: 373
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:35 pm

Previous

Return to Theravada Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ftw and 7 guests