Is breath meditation over prescribed?

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: Is breath meditation over prescribed?

Postby Ben » Sat Jun 26, 2010 3:39 am

I stand corrected!
Thanks Mike!
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Re: Is breath meditation over prescribed?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 26, 2010 3:48 am

Hi Ben,

Thanissaro Bhikkhu also uses it here:

AN 4.170 Yuganaddha Sutta: In Tandem
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"There is the case where a monk has developed insight preceded by tranquillity. As he develops insight preceded by tranquillity, the path is born. He follows that path, develops it, pursues it. As he follows the path, developing it & pursuing it — his fetters are abandoned, his obsessions destroyed.
[Followed by other permutations of insight and tranquillity...]

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Re: Is breath meditation over prescribed?

Postby mettafuture » Sat Jun 26, 2010 10:55 am

but have you really read it?

Lol. Now I see you're just trying to agitate me.

As the sutras themselves explain, breath meditation can lead to insight. I pointed this out in my first post. But most of my encounters with breath meditation have focused on developing samatha. It's not always the best choice for developing vipassana. One size doesn't always fit all. Why else would the Buddha bother with explaining 40 objects of meditation?

Anyone who thinks breath meditation is the only "safe" meditation is wrong, according to most meditation teachers, and the Buddha himself. The positive effects of the other meditation objects can not be denied. To deny them would be to deny and doubt the dhamma. 

Do you want to know what the Buddha suggests for overcoming this kind of doubt, and the other hindrances?

Here's one of his suggestions:

"Monks, there are these five hindrances. Which five? Sensual desire as a hindrance, ill will as a hindrance, sloth & drowsiness as a hindrance, restlessness & anxiety as a hindrance, and uncertainty as a hindrance. These are the five hindrances.

"To abandon these five hindrances, one should develop the four frames of reference. Which four? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. To abandon the five hindrances, one should develop these four frames of reference."

Now, I can either take Ajaan Lee's advice, and only do breath meditation, or I can take the advice from The Perfectly Awakened One, and be mindful of the 4 satipatthanas... Mmm... I think I'll side with the Buddha on this one. :)
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Re: Is breath meditation over prescribed?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:23 am

mettafuture wrote:You want to know one of the methods the Buddha suggests for overcoming doubt and the other hindrances?

"Monks, there are these five hindrances. Which five? Sensual desire as a hindrance, ill will as a hindrance, sloth & drowsiness as a hindrance, restlessness & anxiety as a hindrance, and uncertainty as a hindrance. These are the five hindrances.

"To abandon these five hindrances, one should develop the four frames of reference. Which four? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. To abandon the five hindrances, one should develop these four frames of reference."


Now, I can either take Ajaan Lee's advice, and only do breath meditation, or I can take the advice from The Perfectly Awakened One, and be mindful of the 4 satipatthanas... Mmm... I think I'll side with the Buddha on this one. :)

um ajaan lee is saying the same thing, how are you going to practice what the Buddha is saying to practice? it's through anapanasati that the Buddha said to do it

your sutta quote says
To abandon these five hindrances, one should develop the four frames of reference.[/b] Which four? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself

Buddha says
"And how does a monk remain focused on the body in & of itself?

[1] "There is the case where a monk — having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building — sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore [lit: the front of the chest]. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long. Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. He trains himself to breathe in calming bodily fabrication and to breathe out calming bodily fabrication. Just as a skilled turner or his apprentice, when making a long turn, discerns that he is making a long turn, or when making a short turn discerns that he is making a short turn; in the same way the monk, when breathing in long, discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short... He trains himself to breathe in calming bodily fabrication, and to breathe out calming bodily fabrication.

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or externally on the body in & of itself, or both internally & externally on the body in & of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to the body. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a body' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself.


tada

i guess it is the Buddha who is over prescribing breath meditation. not anyone else. :heart:
it's not over prescribed. it is prescribed precisely because it is a skill that leads all the way to release if followed properly.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Is breath meditation over prescribed?

Postby beeblebrox » Sat Jun 26, 2010 3:17 pm

"To abandon these five hindrances, one should develop the four frames of reference. Which four? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. To abandon the five hindrances, one should develop these four frames of reference."


I don't practice anapanasati (hope that's OK), but from what I remember in Ven. Buddhadasa's "Mindfulness With Breathing", he said that the full anapanasati is made up of 16 parts, grouped in 4 parts, each of them indeed focusing on just exactly these four frames of reference: kaya, vedana, citta, and Dhamma.
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Re: Is breath meditation over prescribed?

Postby mettafuture » Sat Jun 26, 2010 6:04 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:comments

Any meditation done in excess can cause harm.

Even the Anapanasati Sutta gives a list of objects to contemplate while watching the breath.

There's nothing wrong with meditating on something other than the breath as long as you're doing it properly.

The Metta and Satipatthana Suttas wouldn't exist if the Buddha didn't deem them useful.

Even Metta Meditation can lead to final liberation.
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Re: Is breath meditation over prescribed?

Postby bodom » Sat Jun 26, 2010 6:37 pm

mettafuture wrote: Even Metta Meditation can lead to final liberation.


Metta will lead to good rebirths. Only insight leads to final liberation. They must be practiced together.

In the Buddha's teaching these four Divine Abidings, the "greatest of all worldly merit," if practiced alone, without insight into the true nature of existence, can lead to rebirth in the highest heavens. But all heavenly existence is without exception impermanent, and at the end of the heavenly life-span — no matter how long it may last — the being dies and is reborn according to his past actions. This is because some craving for existence (for being or even for non-being) and some sort of view of existence that is not in conformity with truth still remain latent in him, to burst out again when the result of the good actions is spent. And where he will be reborn after that is unpredictable though it is certain that he will be reborn.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el007.html

: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: Is breath meditation over prescribed?

Postby adosa » Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:21 am

bodom wrote:
mettafuture wrote: Even Metta Meditation can lead to final liberation.


Metta will lead to good rebirths. Only insight leads to final liberation. They must be practiced together.

In the Buddha's teaching these four Divine Abidings, the "greatest of all worldly merit," if practiced alone, without insight into the true nature of existence, can lead to rebirth in the highest heavens. But all heavenly existence is without exception impermanent, and at the end of the heavenly life-span — no matter how long it may last — the being dies and is reborn according to his past actions. This is because some craving for existence (for being or even for non-being) and some sort of view of existence that is not in conformity with truth still remain latent in him, to burst out again when the result of the good actions is spent. And where he will be reborn after that is unpredictable though it is certain that he will be reborn.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el007.html

:anjali:



Then again what are the chances of insight arising within a mind not free of ill-will? Not that I would know, but I imagine insight can arise just as easily during metta meditation as it can watching the breath. The mind still wanders, and the mind is still brought back to the object in both cases. Impermanence can still be observed. The benefit of metta meditation is that even if insight doesn't arise we become better human beings. I'm not so sure this happens as readily with watching the breath.

adosa
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Re: Is breath meditation over prescribed?

Postby bodom » Mon Jun 28, 2010 3:06 am

adosa wrote:Then again what are the chances of insight arising within a mind not free of ill-will? Not that I would know, but I imagine insight can arise just as easily during metta meditation as it can watching the breath. The mind still wanders, and the mind is still brought back to the object in both cases. Impermanence can still be observed. The benefit of metta meditation is that even if insight doesn't arise we become better human beings. I'm not so sure this happens as readily with watching the breath.


Hi Adosa

Good points. I did not mean to imply Metta could not lead to insight, but only that practiced on its own would not lead to final liberation. Metta can be used to gain concentration, in all three levels, and that concentration can in turn be used as a basis to investigate anicca, dukkha and anatta, and will result in final liberation.

: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: Is breath meditation over prescribed?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jun 28, 2010 8:08 pm

THe Buddha said that he developed metta for seven years straight in a previous birth and as a result he became the maha-brahma and the sakka seven times. However he didnt become enlightened (Udana). However he does mention the way to become enlightened using metta- it is in conjunction with insight:

15. FROM THE ANGUTTARA NIKAYA, 4:126 (SPOKEN BY THE BUDDHA)

Here, bhikkhus, a certain person abides with his heart imbued with loving-kindness extending... over the all-encompassing world.

Now whatever therein (during that state of contemplation) exists classifiable as form, classifiable as a feeling (of pleasure, pain, or neutrality), classifiable as perception, classifiable as determinative acts, or classifiable as consciousness, such ideas he sees as impermanent, as liable to suffering, as a disease, as a cancer, as a barb, as a calamity, as an affliction, as alien, as being worn away, as void, as not-self. On the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears (as a non-returner) in the retinue of the Gods of the Pure Abodes (where there are only those who have reached the Noble Path and where extinction of greed, hate and delusion is reached in less than seven lives without return to this world). And this kind of reappearance is not shared by ordinary men (who have not reached the Noble Eightfold Path).

Some methods are simply more efficient in giving rise to insight. IMO on a scale from the best to least likely I would place: wise contemplation (yonisomanasikara), the six sense bases, one sense base, anapanasati/walking, anything else.

with metta and insight :thumbsup:

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