The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

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

The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

Postby smokey » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:26 pm

As Buddhists we all know that the True Way which leads One to Enlightenment is the Noble Eightfold Path. Now we have to ask ourselves what does that mean?
In Buddha's time people were becoming Arahants in a matter of months or even weeks, but today rarely anyone achieves it during whole lifetime. Why is that? I have read that in the suttas it is written that the Buddha said that his Teachings will remain pure for five hundred years after his passing and entering into Parinibbana. So what we have to ask ourselves is what in the Buddha's Teaching has become impure? The answer is rather simple: It is the meditation technique.
What also I do recollect from the suttas is that the Buddha experienced Jhana when he was a boy and when he was trying to achieve enlightenment he recollected that memory and came to a conclusion: "Jhana is the Way which leads One to Enlighenment". Today "Dry Insight" is practised and results are very feeble and Jhana is barely practised. And Satipatthana Sutta could easily be the result of a lost Teaching that has become Impure and leading One away from "Right Mindfulness" and making the Enlightenment a lot more difficult to achieve, it is not a wrong method to enlightenment, but a rather more difficult one.
So I invite you all to discuss this and think of how to find an answer of the question: What was the Buddha really teaching? What to be mindful of during Jhana? How to achieve Enlightenment using only Jhanas in a matter of months or even weeks?

With Metta and Karuna -smokey
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Re: The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

Postby Refugee » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:28 pm

smokey wrote:......... What also I do recollect from the suttas is that the Buddha experienced Jhana when he was a boy and when he was trying to achieve enlightenment he recollected that memory and came to a conclusion: "Jhana is the Way which leads One to Enlighenment". Today "Dry Insight" is practised and results are very feeble and Jhana is barely practised. .............
With Metta and Karuna -smokey


Hi Smokey,

I am presently reading "The Basic Method of Meditation" by Ajhan Brahm. He teaches Jhana as part of the Buddhist meditation method to experience Nibbana - Quote:
.... As it were, Insight dances around Jhana and Jhana dances around Insight. This is the Path to Nibbana, the Lord Buddha said, "for one who indulges in Jhana, four results are to be expected: Stream-Winner, Once-returner, Non-Returner or Arahant".

Link: http://www.jhanagrove.org.au/meditation.html

With Metta,
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My practice is simply this: Avoid evil, do good, and purify the mind.
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Re: The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

Postby bodom » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:37 pm

Nyanaponika Thera:

We have to face the fact that, in this hectic and noisy age of ours, the natural quietude of mind, the capacity for higher degrees of concentration, and the requisite external conditions to cultivate both, have greatly decreased, compared with the days of old. This holds good not only for the West, but also, though in a lesser degree, for the East, and even for a not inconsiderable section of Buddhist monkhood. The principal conditions required for cultivating the absorptions are seclusion and noiselessness; and these are very rare commodities nowadays. In addition, environment and education have produced an increasing number of those types who will naturally be more attracted by, and adapted to, the direct development of Insight.Under such circumstances, it would amount to a neglect of promising roads of progress if one were to insist rigidly on an exclusive approach through the absorptions, instead of making use of a method emphatically recommended by the Buddha himself: Dry insight.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

Postby Kenshou » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:42 pm

Though I understand the sentiment of this thread, I think the fact is that there's such a variety of interpretations (as the previous posts and surely the following ones will most certainly show) that a single consensus is probably impossible. Though I don't think it's necessary, either, the individual can pick among the various branches and find what works for them.

What to be mindful of during Jhana?


The 5 aggregates, 4 frames of reference, 3 characteristics, all that same good stuff, I doubt one could go wrong with those.
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Re: The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

Postby Reductor » Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:08 pm

I think jhana by itself is insufficient, as is the four frames of reference.

Entering into jhana is to establish the ideal mental qualities for the development of the frames and for their observation and analysis. The development of the frames and their analysis, coupled by the intense focus of mind, allows understanding of DO and the process of craving. With the growth of this understanding comes skill in letting go, until you let go of the final perception of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, resulting in cessation and release, and to final knowledge.

Or so that is the picture that the suttas seem to paint.

EDIT: Oh, yeah, the final 'letting go' can come from any stage after the first jhana.
Last edited by Reductor on Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

Postby Sobeh » Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:39 pm

I found the following article by Bhikkhu Bodhi to be very useful with respect to understanding the necessities of jhana in various contexts. It is entitled The Jhānas and the Lay Disciple According to the Pāli Suttas, and is very clear. Some pertinent bits from the conclusion are below:

(2) All noble disciples acquire the right concentration of the Noble Eightfold Path, which is defined as the four jhānas. This need not be understood to mean that stream-enterers and once-returners already possess jhāna before they reach stream-entry. The formula for right concentration may imply only that they must eventually attain the jhānas in the course of developing the path to its culmination in arahantship.

(4) Several non-returners in the Nikāyas claim to possess all four jhānas, and according to the Mahāmāluṅkya Sutta, attainment of at least the first jhāna is part of the practice leading to the eradication of the five lower fetters. It thus seems likely that stream-enterers and once-returners desirous of advancing to non-returnership in that very same life must attain at least the first jhāna as a basis for developing insight.
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Re: The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

Postby m0rl0ck » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:28 pm

Imo spiritual growth is about surrender, letting go. In developing absorption using the method of just relaxing and breathing rather than hard, contracted, forced concentration on some artificial object or particular spot, one must see what one is letting go of. I think they call that mindfulness.

I saw a utube vid, a bhante was sayiing that the buddhas instructions for breath meditation appeared, i beleive it was, 4 times in the canon, pretty much word for word and he didnt think that was an accident.

I beleive too that the degree to which one wants or sees jhana as important is inversley proportional to the degree one is likely to experience it. So i think the best course of action is to relax and breathe and let go :)
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

Postby Freawaru » Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:31 pm

Hi Smokey,

smokey wrote: So what we have to ask ourselves is what in the Buddha's Teaching has become impure? The answer is rather simple: It is the meditation technique.


Well, if you ask me it is not the meditation technique as such. Rather it is the lack of proper understanding of the meaning of the suttas resulting in wrong attention to the wrong things. In the suttas the Buddha teaches: do this and don't do that. But what does it mean? Say, what does "homelessness" mean? We know that the Buddha "left home (and his newborn son)" and went into "homelessness". He taught about "going into villages for alms". But what does it mean? Most people just assume that it is meant in an everyday sense, that they can just read the suttas and follow the order and practice according to the Buddha's teaching. But at the time of the Buddha the people knew that He taught in a specific language, that the meaning of His words were not obvious but hidden. And they turned around and searched for that hidden meaning in their minds or hoped for someone to interpret.

I have heard that on one occasion Ven. Maha Kaccana was staying in Avanti at Osprey's Haunt, on Sheer-face Peak. Then Haliddakani the householder went to him and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to Ven. Maha Kaccana: "Venerable sir, this was said by the Blessed One in Magandiya's Questions in the Atthaka Vagga:
'Having abandoned home, living free from society, the sage in villages creates no intimacies. Rid of sensual passions, free from yearning, he wouldn't engage with people in quarrelsome debate.'

"How is the detailed meaning of this, the Blessed One's brief statement, to be understood?"

[Ven. Maha Kaccana:] "The property of form, householder, is the home of consciousness. When consciousness is in bondage through passion to the property of form, it is said to be living at home. The property of feeling... perception... fabrication is the home of consciousness. When consciousness is in bondage through passion to the property of fabrication, it is said to be dwelling at home.

"And how does one not live at home? Any desire, passion, delight, craving, any attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions with regard to the property of form: these the Tathagata has abandoned, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Therefore the Tathagata is said to be not dwelling at home.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


In the suttas home refers to the property of form (and the others), this is the home of consciousness. It is the "householder" who lives at home, the bhikkhu has gone forth into homelessness, freed itself from the bondage. The life of the householder is hard and dusty, that of the bhikkhu is easy and free space - because consciousness is not bonded by form (and the rest). For the rest of the suttas it is just like that, the instructions are not interpreted correctly and thus many practitioners pay attention to the wrong stuff and use up all effort for the wrong goals.


What also I do recollect from the suttas is that the Buddha experienced Jhana when he was a boy and when he was trying to achieve enlightenment he recollected that memory and came to a conclusion: "Jhana is the Way which leads One to Enlighenment".


Yes, because when it arises in the mind during vipassana one can free oneself from all the lokas.
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Re: The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:02 am

smokey wrote:Today "Dry Insight" is practised and results are very feeble
Says who? Based upon what?
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: The True Path to Enlightenment - Magga

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:09 pm

Right effort (to get rid of unwholesome/hindrances) leads to right mindfulness (satipatthana) leads to right unification of mind (jhana) according to the noble eightfold path. According to the tenfold classification right unification (or concentration) leads to right insight (samma nana) and right release (samma vimukti).

This is mirrored in the classification of the spiritual faculties:
effort leads to mindfulness leads to unification/samadhi leads to insight leads to release.

the three trainings:
virtue leads to unification leads to insight

the purifications
virtue leads to mind/samadhi leads to various degrees of insight

The gradual path:
moderation in eating, precepts, removing 'obstructing things'/hindrances leading to satipatthana practice leading to jhana

So it cannot be said to be a great mystery as to what the path is. We just need to mindful enough (hours/days continously) after having purified our minds through sila,sense restraint, removing gross hindrences (this being the purpose of samatha anapanasati), leading to seeing arising and passing away of whatever we are mindful of.

Why arent we successful unlike in the Buddha's time. I can think of a few reasons
1) the buddha is not around to know the minds of others and give the perfect meditation instruction/take the mind to stream entry and beyond using words
2) too little faith (how difficult is taking refuge?)
3) too much thinking/analyzing, talking (try talking once a week!)
4) too little effort (the whole day, every minute)
5) not prepared to follow anothers instructions (weak teacher student relationships)
6) too much sensual distractions through the media (the world is too comfortable- death disease old age is hidden away in institutions)
7) world view doesnt have karma and rebirth in it- too little incentive to practice
8) ...we are outside the Buddhas dispensation?? not enough paramii ?? -I dont believe these

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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