gabrielbranbury wrote:This thread is for discussing whether or not people find it helpful to assess the relative depth of meditation attainment as apposed to just following instruction as you understand them regardless of what arises. I have come to the tentative conclusion that some of the hearers the Buddha was teaching were already so familiar with systems of meditative categorization that he found he had to teach how these categories relate to Dhamma but that it is not necessary for me to use or think about them.
thereductor wrote:gabrielbranbury wrote:This thread is for discussing whether or not people find it helpful to assess the relative depth of meditation attainment as apposed to just following instruction as you understand them regardless of what arises. I have come to the tentative conclusion that some of the hearers the Buddha was teaching were already so familiar with systems of meditative categorization that he found he had to teach how these categories relate to Dhamma but that it is not necessary for me to use or think about them.
Well, I don't know if its helpful over the long course. But I do believe it is helpful for just starting out, as the meditator tries to discern what is working and what is not. Beyond that initial orientation I don't think it is that important... just practice, practice, practice, and recognize that you might have a bad session, or six, from time to time.
Kenshou wrote:Maybe if that's what you're looking for.
IMO, the anapanasati sutta is about cultivating pitisukha and mindfulness as a basis for insight (in the 4th tetrad), but not necessarily "jhanic". However those same steps could indeed be used to reach jhanic concentration, I believe, when done thoroughly and with lots of practice.
Remember that there's nothing particularly significant about jhana other than being a wholesome skill. If your goal is deeper concentration then you may want to look into that. If your goal is simply to collect the mind and explore it, as you put it, then maybe not.
I'm no teacher but it sounds to me like you're kind of in a place where you're experimenting and getting to know how the technique works with your mind, which is probably something good to keep on doing until you get a pretty good handle on everything, but of course you know you best.
Vepacitta wrote:Well, on the one hand, one is supposed to be 'diligent, ardent, resolute ' so that does imply a goal as to practise. I don't think a person can just sit there and 'blah out' - that won't go too far - except into sloth and torpor.
On the other - going into meditation trying to 'get' jhana, could be analagous to watching for the water to boil , if one is grasping at that state, or at what one thinks that state should be, one probably isn't going to get there any time soon.
It's a bit of a catch-22 - on the one hand - yes - there have to be some goals for a meditation practise (of whatever stripe). However, if a person is grasping on to that goal - or to an idea of a state to 'attain' or to what a person thinks 'should be' - it eludes one.
Annoying, ain't it?
gabrielbranbury wrote:Hi Thereductor,
Do you think that measuring your progress against djanna descriptions is the best way for a beginner to assess progress? Im not so sure.
Kenshou wrote:Vepacitta is quite right, it's something of a dilemma.
Kenshou wrote:But on the other hand you learn by messing up, too. After screwing things up for awhile you can really appreciate how much it helps to put down the expectations, and then conveniently you are more able to get to what you wanted in the first place. Messy messy.
Ben wrote:Hi KenshouKenshou wrote:Vepacitta is quite right, it's something of a dilemma.
I tend to characterise it as a balancing act. When I am on retreat and get to practice anapana-sati uninterrupted for extended periods, my goal is to remain aware of the breath for as long as possible. And if my awareness gets diverted, then going back to the breath as quickly as possible. I distinctly remember my teacher making the warning that desiring a meditation attainment becomes an almost insurpassable barrier.
To illustrate the even quality of energy required for attaining to the meditative absorptions, The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga)describes a test which students of surgery in ancient days had to undergo as a proof of their skill. A lotus leaf was placed in a bowl of water, and the pupil had to make an incision through the length of the leaf, without cutting it entirely or submerging it. He who applied an excess of force either cut the leaf into two or pressed it into the water, while the timid one did not even dare to scratch it. In fact, something like the gentle but firm hand of the surgeon is required in mental training, and this skillful, well-balanced touch will be the natural outcome of the non-violent procedure in the practice of bare attention.
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