natural progression of meditation?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:24 am

I understand from your posts that you can attain both kind of jhanas. Well, at least you can attain hard jhana. Am I correct? If you are capable of doing so, attaining sutta jhana should be much easier.

May I suggest an experiment? Go to the 4th hard jhana and come out. Right after coming out try to remember as many past lives as you can. Then go to 4th sutta jhana and try to remember as many past lives as you can while in jhana. Give each kind of jhana one month and then evaluate which one makes you remember more past lives. This will be a way of measuring the power of your mind in each aproach. Then stick with the one which gives better results.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby marc108 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:38 am

alan... wrote:practice for... the rest of my life? liberating the mind is the end goal. people spend many years practicing. i don't imagine i will have much time to practice each one and see which one gets me to nibbana. i need to find one and stick with it.


i think if you practiced each method for one year you would get a good handle on what will work best for you... lets say 2 hours per day and one 10 day retreat with each method. from what you've posted it seems like your ability to develop Samadhi in meditation is sufficient that this would be realistic for you.

i think, like you, ive obsessed and picked this subject apart intellectually more or less to the fullest extent possible. it's given me a good understanding of the gamut of experience and teaching, but has mostly left me confused. i've come to my own conclusions about things, maybe they will be useful for you:

i think first, you should always be able to clearly match the teaching and experience back to the Suttas. if you have to stretch or do mental gymnastics to clearly match the teachings with the Suttas, that is problematic. whats been useful for me has to been simply to pick a method, and follow the breath as deeply as possible... then to go back and see how that experience matches to the Suttas, and how the practice could possibly be adjusted according to the Suttas (re: mn 118). Experiment. The practice, imo, is very much about experimentation and reflection on the results of the practice.

its clear that there is a wide variety of practice, and that most of them are leading people to profound states of liberation. there is no clear answer on this topic.
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby lojong1 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:15 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:May I suggest an experiment?[...]

Exactly.
You are not at a dead end; those 6 years are over and you've gained valuable experience be happy. You have 1st jhana 80% or 20% of the time or whatever percent and whatever type of concentration it really is. It sounds skillful so master it and drop the course to try for 2nd jhana and up as Modus suggests. Recognize hindrances as they arise again after jhana, especially as daily work stuggles keep sucking you back to square one time and time again.
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby lojong1 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:22 am

Alan you are doing so fooking well but still have no real faith! MOSQUE!
The longer you think this needs to take, the longer it will take.
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:14 am

manas wrote:Hi alan,
I used to be similarly plagued with this also, but I've found a way through that works for me. It might or might not for others, but: I take the suttas as the ultimate guide, and I listen to various teachers who I feel can explain, or elucidate and make clear to me what the suttas are really getting at - which is a long-term process, and not gotten straight away. Yes I live with some uncertainty, but I keep investigating to perceive what leads to more wakefulness, more clear seeing, less doubt. If 'your' way of calming the mind leads to seeing the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and self-less-ness of the five clinging khandas, then it's working for you. imho. If your samadhi practice is leading you towards disenchantment with clingable phenomena, never mind that it differs in some details to what some others do!
:anjali:


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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:21 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:I understand from your posts that you can attain both kind of jhanas. Well, at least you can attain hard jhana. Am I correct? If you are capable of doing so, attaining sutta jhana should be much easier.

May I suggest an experiment? Go to the 4th hard jhana and come out. Right after coming out try to remember as many past lives as you can. Then go to 4th sutta jhana and try to remember as many past lives as you can while in jhana. Give each kind of jhana one month and then evaluate which one makes you remember more past lives. This will be a way of measuring the power of your mind in each aproach. Then stick with the one which gives better results.


with hard jhana i have been able to get just inside the first jhana. or so i think. it was utter silence, no senses functioning, no info from the outside world, couldn't hear my breathing, just a nimitta, no thoughts whatsoever, just the act of knowing. i've done this twice for about thirty minutes or forty each time. as far as going up to the 4th jhana i have no idea whether or not i've been anywhere near it. seems to me what i experienced could have been the fourth as there was no pleasant or painful feelings. just equanimity. but that being such a high state i am inclined to assume i was only in the first.

working with other methods i get into the first super easy and after emerging i usually am very confident that the experience resonates with the sutta description of jhana. rarely do i meditate with non nimitta/absorption methods and not get into the first jhana. going higher i get shaky and start to think sometimes as the overall concentration is not cultivated to the extreme as it is in absorption jhana.

as far as past lives go i don't know that that's something i'm even looking to know about. kind of a side track that i imagine must take a ton of effort. unless you know otherwise? is it easy or something?
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:11 am

No, I don't know anything about past lives. It was just a suggestion on how to measure which kind of jhana was most useful. I think usefulness is the key, not discovering what may be the absolute, unique, categoricaly true jhana. Things are more fluid than that, although I don't dismiss the existence of a correct way (where correct here means taught by the Buddha).

But, the impression I have that only the Ajahn Brahm group claims that hard jhana is necessary for nibbana, while the rest of the Sangha seem to support sutta jhana as the most correct tool for insight (be it with the name sutta jhanas, vipassana jhanas or upacara samadhi) , makes me think that the sutta jhanas are the way intended by the Buddha.
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:25 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:No, I don't know anything about past lives. It was just a suggestion on how to measure which kind of jhana was most useful. I think usefulness is the key, not discovering what may be the absolute, unique, categoricaly true jhana. Things are more fluid than that, although I don't dismiss the existence of a correct way (where correct here means taught by the Buddha).

But, the impression I have that only the Ajahn Brahm group claims that hard jhana is necessary for nibbana, while the rest of the Sangha seem to support sutta jhana as the most correct tool for insight (be it with the name sutta jhanas, vipassana jhanas or upacara samadhi) , makes me think that the sutta jhanas are the way intended by the Buddha.


i agree. if nothing else this whole thing where you must get to the ninth jhana to reach nibbana is really odd. it's in the suttas a bit. but so are many stories of people reaching nibbana myriad other ways.
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby lojong1 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:06 pm

alan... wrote:past lives... kind of a side track ?

I can't do it eaither, but side track? I think rather the only way to certify right view!
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:10 pm

lojong1 wrote:
alan... wrote:past lives... kind of a side track ?

I can't do it eaither, but side track? I think rather the only way to certify right view!


right view culminates in the realization that there is no self. one can realize this regardless of whether or not one has seen his/her past lives. remembering past lives is a mundane event, only nibbana is supramundane. so i see no reason to devote any time to it whatsoever.

the sammaditthi sutta: right view as far as i remember doesn't even mention past lives (other than possibly through inference) but i don't have time to re read it now so i'm fully prepared to be utterly wrong :tongue:
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:18 pm

marc108 wrote:
alan... wrote:practice for... the rest of my life? liberating the mind is the end goal. people spend many years practicing. i don't imagine i will have much time to practice each one and see which one gets me to nibbana. i need to find one and stick with it.


i think if you practiced each method for one year you would get a good handle on what will work best for you... lets say 2 hours per day and one 10 day retreat with each method. from what you've posted it seems like your ability to develop Samadhi in meditation is sufficient that this would be realistic for you.

i think, like you, ive obsessed and picked this subject apart intellectually more or less to the fullest extent possible. it's given me a good understanding of the gamut of experience and teaching, but has mostly left me confused. i've come to my own conclusions about things, maybe they will be useful for you:

i think first, you should always be able to clearly match the teaching and experience back to the Suttas. if you have to stretch or do mental gymnastics to clearly match the teachings with the Suttas, that is problematic. whats been useful for me has to been simply to pick a method, and follow the breath as deeply as possible... then to go back and see how that experience matches to the Suttas, and how the practice could possibly be adjusted according to the Suttas (re: mn 118). Experiment. The practice, imo, is very much about experimentation and reflection on the results of the practice.

its clear that there is a wide variety of practice, and that most of them are leading people to profound states of liberation. there is no clear answer on this topic.


i suppose that's fairly reasonable. still though. so many different methods! could be many years.
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby SarathW » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:46 pm

Hi ,
I think that there is more than one way to attain Jhana or Nirvana. To me, it is like travelling from one country to another country. So most of the teachers could be right, as they are talking to you with their experience. For example I think some people can experience some form of Jhana by just walking in the street. The problem is that they don’t know that they are in a Jhana state.

So the best thing is to follow one teacher and his method, for me, that is Buddha an Four Noble Truths. However I like to know what other teachers experience in their own account. So I can make an assessment about my own path. Especially I can learn from others experience and mistakes.
I do not consider meditation as another chores in my life.
Meditation is just the journey not the destination, might as well enjoy it.
:)
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby lojong1 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:02 pm

alan... wrote:...i don't have time to re read it now...

It is a bit non-issuey for both of us at this point. I was picturing some poor blighter stuck at 4th jhana for whom the experiment might be more relevant.
Dropped like wrestling from olympics.
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:33 pm

lojong1 wrote:
alan... wrote:...i don't have time to re read it now...

It is a bit non-issuey for both of us at this point. I was picturing some poor blighter stuck at 4th jhana for whom the experiment might be more relevant.
Dropped like wrestling from olympics.


fair enough :smile:
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby JadeRabbit » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:28 pm

Hello,

In Part II of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's 'Into The Stream' he says:

The material in this part of the study guide is presented in five sections. The first section, The Arising of the Dhamma Eye, discusses the experience of stream entry, and concludes with a passage indicating why the experience is described in terms of the faculty of vision. The second section, The Three Fetters, discusses the three fetters of renewed existence that are cut with the arising of the Dhamma eye: self-identity views, uncertainty, and grasping at habits and practices. The third section, The Character of the Stream-enterer,discusses the personal characteristics of a stream-enterer that flow directly from the cutting of the first three fetters. This section focuses on three lists of the four factors of stream entry, which are not to be confused with the four factors for stream entry discussed in the first part of this study guide. The fourth section, Rewards, discusses the rewards of stream entry that are come both in this life and in future lives. The final section, Advice, echoes the Buddha's last words to his disciples before entering total nibbana. The discourse reporting those words — DN 16 — also reports that the most backward of the monks present at the Buddha's passing away were stream-enterers. The fact that his last words to them stressed the need for heedfulness underlies the fact that even stream-enterers have to be wary of heedlessness. This is especially true in the present day, when many different meditation schools define the attainment of stream entry in such different terms, raising the question of whose certification of stream entry is valid and whose is not. The safest course of action for all meditators — whether certified as stream-enterers or not, and whether that certification is valid or not — is to maintain an attitude of heedfulness with regard to all mental qualities.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... tml#intro2

In metta, JR
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby Samma » Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:50 pm

Some practical advice.

In Pa Auk tradition with nimittas if you have jhana you work on mastery. And if you can't seem to progress, Pa Auk will have you move on to 4elements.
http://dictionary.buddhistdoor.com/en/word/4401/vasi

But it seems you are moving away from this style. For a whole awareness, Thanissaro is good to read, and what I suggested you try. Similarly, he talks about mastery, and what is your experience of the jhana factors? That lets you know where you are, and where to go.
If you’re not sure about what to do at any stage in the concentration, simply stay with your sense of the “observer.”
Don’t be too quick to jump to any conclusions about whether what you’re doing is right or wrong, or whether what you’re experiencing is true or false. Just watch, watch, watch. At the very least, you won’t be taken in by false assumptions. And you may gain some important insights into how the mind can fool itself through its desire to label and interpret things.

More important than labeling your concentration is learning what to do with it.
Whether your concentration falls into the stages on the map or has a few different stages of its own, the proper way to treat any stage of concentration is the same in all cases. First, learn to maintain it as long as you can, in as many postures and activities as you can. Try to re-enter it as quickly as you can. This allows you to familiarize yourself with it. When you’re really familiar with it, pull out of it slightly so that you can observe how the mind is relating to its object—but not so far out that you fully leave that stage of concentration. Some people experience this as “lifting” the mind slightly above its object. For others it feels like having your hand snugly in a glove and then pulling it out slightly so that it’s not fully snug but still remains in the glove. Either way, you’re now in a position to observe the movements of the mind around the object of its concentration. Ask yourself a question of discernment: “Is there still any sense
of disturbance or stress in the concentration itself?”
- Thanissaro


Or don't be afraid to try something different.
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby alan... » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:19 am

JadeRabbit wrote:Hello,

In Part II of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's 'Into The Stream' he says:

The material in this part of the study guide is presented in five sections. The first section, The Arising of the Dhamma Eye, discusses the experience of stream entry, and concludes with a passage indicating why the experience is described in terms of the faculty of vision. The second section, The Three Fetters, discusses the three fetters of renewed existence that are cut with the arising of the Dhamma eye: self-identity views, uncertainty, and grasping at habits and practices. The third section, The Character of the Stream-enterer,discusses the personal characteristics of a stream-enterer that flow directly from the cutting of the first three fetters. This section focuses on three lists of the four factors of stream entry, which are not to be confused with the four factors for stream entry discussed in the first part of this study guide. The fourth section, Rewards, discusses the rewards of stream entry that are come both in this life and in future lives. The final section, Advice, echoes the Buddha's last words to his disciples before entering total nibbana. The discourse reporting those words — DN 16 — also reports that the most backward of the monks present at the Buddha's passing away were stream-enterers. The fact that his last words to them stressed the need for heedfulness underlies the fact that even stream-enterers have to be wary of heedlessness. This is especially true in the present day, when many different meditation schools define the attainment of stream entry in such different terms, raising the question of whose certification of stream entry is valid and whose is not. The safest course of action for all meditators — whether certified as stream-enterers or not, and whether that certification is valid or not — is to maintain an attitude of heedfulness with regard to all mental qualities.



http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... tml#intro2

In metta, JR


awesome quote. thanks much.
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby alan... » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:19 am

Samma wrote:Some practical advice.

In Pa Auk tradition with nimittas if you have jhana you work on mastery. And if you can't seem to progress, Pa Auk will have you move on to 4elements.
http://dictionary.buddhistdoor.com/en/word/4401/vasi

But it seems you are moving away from this style. For a whole awareness, Thanissaro is good to read, and what I suggested you try. Similarly, he talks about mastery, and what is your experience of the jhana factors? That lets you know where you are, and where to go.
If you’re not sure about what to do at any stage in the concentration, simply stay with your sense of the “observer.”
Don’t be too quick to jump to any conclusions about whether what you’re doing is right or wrong, or whether what you’re experiencing is true or false. Just watch, watch, watch. At the very least, you won’t be taken in by false assumptions. And you may gain some important insights into how the mind can fool itself through its desire to label and interpret things.

More important than labeling your concentration is learning what to do with it.
Whether your concentration falls into the stages on the map or has a few different stages of its own, the proper way to treat any stage of concentration is the same in all cases. First, learn to maintain it as long as you can, in as many postures and activities as you can. Try to re-enter it as quickly as you can. This allows you to familiarize yourself with it. When you’re really familiar with it, pull out of it slightly so that you can observe how the mind is relating to its object—but not so far out that you fully leave that stage of concentration. Some people experience this as “lifting” the mind slightly above its object. For others it feels like having your hand snugly in a glove and then pulling it out slightly so that it’s not fully snug but still remains in the glove. Either way, you’re now in a position to observe the movements of the mind around the object of its concentration. Ask yourself a question of discernment: “Is there still any sense
of disturbance or stress in the concentration itself?”
- Thanissaro


Or don't be afraid to try something different.


i'm liking thanissaro more and more. thanks.
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby Magoo » Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:34 am

Hi Allan and others,

Below is an interview that I stumbled upon. I have never heard of the Monk or the Website before but I found the interview excellent reading and very useful in regard to some of your questions Alan.

http://www.wiseattention.org/blog/2012/09/07/learning-meditation-from-the-buddha-a-meeting-with-ven-analayo/

Hope it helps.

With Metta
Eamonn
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Re: natural progression of meditation?

Postby Gena1480 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:54 pm

Hi alan
How about testing all the methods.
so you know for yourself which one works for you.
the Buddha instruction is to investigate the teaching by practicing them.
and don't forget to pick a chant and practice it before going to mindfulness or concentration practice.
so you have a natural progression of practice..
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