Insight Meditation and the Thai Forest Tradition

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Insight Meditation and the Thai Forest Tradition

Postby Christopherxx » Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:01 pm

Hi folks,

Hi there!

Apologies if I have posted this in the wrong section. Any correction would be greatly appreciated .

I have recently become quite intrested in insight meditation.

I am aware of Mahasi and S.N.

I was wondering if there is a sticky on the subject? If not it may be a cool topic to have all the figureheads and or school of thoughts listed and then a complete explanation of the techniques (For instance Mahasi and "noting" and how this practice develops into higher level insights through use as listed in his writings and by his students.) *I did not write out a full explanation of his technique as an example because I did not want to spam the topic .

My next question is on the thai forest traditon. I believe Chah used calming and focusing exercises and then pursued insight meditation by "neutral" viewing of the arisings. Is there a more detailed account that one could provide?

Lastly for anyone with experience in the thai forest traditon which practices do monks fill their day with apart from the light chores and puja/community meditation. I am aware this tradition focuses on the code of coduct for monastics and of "right view, wisdom and concencentration" but i would love to know the practices and how they approach such practices (as each school seems to intreprete the suttas and guidelines a slightly bit different.

Thanks again!

Metta wishes

By the way, great place guys!
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Re: Insight Meditation and the Thai Forest Tradition

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:38 pm

Christopherxx wrote:Hi folks,

Hi there!

Apologies if I have posted this in the wrong section. Any correction would be greatly appreciated .

I have recently become quite intrested in insight meditation.

I am aware of Mahasi and S.N.

I was wondering if there is a sticky on the subject? If not it may be a cool topic to have all the figureheads and or school of thoughts listed and then a complete explanation of the techniques (For instance Mahasi and "noting" and how this practice develops into higher level insights through use as listed in his writings and by his students.) *I did not write out a full explanation of his technique as an example because I did not want to spam the topic .

My next question is on the thai forest traditon. I believe Chah used calming and focusing exercises and then pursued insight meditation by "neutral" viewing of the arisings. Is there a more detailed account that one could provide?

Lastly for anyone with experience in the thai forest traditon which practices do monks fill their day with apart from the light chores and puja/community meditation. I am aware this tradition focuses on the code of coduct for monastics and of "right view, wisdom and concencentration" but i would love to know the practices and how they approach such practices (as each school seems to intreprete the suttas and guidelines a slightly bit different.

Thanks again!

Metta wishes

By the way, great place guys!

Ajahn Chah never wrote a detailed step by step guide like Mahasi... to my knowledge. How he described it depended upon the situation.
although if you want to get more detail have a read of his collected teachings freely downloadable here http://forestsanghapublications.org/vie ... ection.php

The forest tradition has many practices and emphasis depending on the monastery/group, and it would be hard to give a definitive answer which encompasses the whole more than you have put.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Insight Meditation and the Thai Forest Tradition

Postby T_Hill_616 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:07 pm

This book was incredibly helpful regarding Ajahn Chah's method of Vipassana:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/083560597 ... g=at382-20

It seems he recommended starting by developing a basic concentration by following the breath at the nose tip, it doesn't have to be intense or super deep. Then view everything that arises fairly neutrally (as you said) not adding anything or taking anything away. Watch as it arises, peaks and falls away, noticing how everything that arises is impermanent, unsatisfactory and lacking a permanent self. He says to see everything as uncertain..

I'll note that this is my personal understanding from reading several books on his teachings and I have not been able to have a formal discussion with a teacher in his tradition. :anjali:
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Re: Insight Meditation and the Thai Forest Tradition

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:26 pm

Most Thai Forest teachers focus on anapanasati; the greatest of them all, in my mind, was Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.

Check out A Manual for Serious Beginners: http://what-buddha-taught.net/Books3/Bh ... athing.htm

It's important to note that most Thai Forest Teachers don't break up samatha and vipassana meditation into separate groups; like the Buddha himself, they teach Jhana, in which both insight and concentration are developed together.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Insight Meditation and the Thai Forest Tradition

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:59 pm

Hi LY,

I would struggle to find a teacher who wouldn't agree that development of concentration and insight (along with other aspects of the path) are not linked. Do such teachers actually exist in real life? In my experience, what I see is emphasis on different aspects at different stages of development. And even the Buddha, in his "gradual training" suttas is emphasising different aspects at different stages:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=14478&p=211828#p211827
and talks about getting instruction in different aspects:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=14478&p=211828#p211724

As Ajahn Brahm says, in Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond, Page 25 [after describing how to attain deep Jhanas, using
instructions, including the breath nimittas, that are reminiscent of the classical descriptions, as taught, for example, by Pa Auk Sayadaw, in "Knowing and Seeing"].
For those who are misled to conceive of all the instructions offered
here as “just samatha practice” (calming) without regard to vipassan›
(insight), please know that this is neither vipassana nor samatha. It is called
bh›van› (mental development). This method was taught by the Buddha
(AN IV,125–27; MN 151,13–19) and repeated in the forest tradition of
Northeast Thailand, with which my teacher, Ven. Ajahn Chah, was asso-
ciated. Ajahn Chah often said that samatha and vipassana cannot be sep-
arated, nor can the pair be developed apart from right view, right
thought, right moral conduct, and so forth. Samatha and vipassana, Ajahn
Chah said, are like two sides of one hand. In the original Buddhist tra-
dition they are inseparable. Indeed, to make progress in the seven stages
of meditation I have described, the meditator needs an understanding
and acceptance of the Buddha’s teachings, and one’s virtue must be pure.

I would also note that nany of Ajahn Chah students (Ajahn Tiradhammo, for example, who was in my country for a number of years) are not so enthusiastic about developing deep jhana as Ajahn Brahm is, feeling that developing "just enough" concentration allows faster progress.

We are fortunate to have access to a variety of experienced and talented teachers of the Buddha Dhamma. In my opinion, that they teach different approaches (and have different interpretations of "jhana" for that matter) is a reflection on their particular experience of what works for them and their students, not a result of some failure by some "sides" to understand the Buddha's teachings. It would be rather tragic if that were, indeed, the case...

:anjali:
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Re: Insight Meditation and the Thai Forest Tradition

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:13 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi LY,

I would struggle to find a teacher who wouldn't agree that development of concentration and insight (along with other aspects of the path) are not linked. Do such teachers actually exist in real life?

There are certainly teachers who say that concentration is not as important as insight, thta Jhana isn't necessary, that you only need access concentration, that one should do Jhana for pure samatha and then only focus on vipassana after emerging, etc.

I'm not saying that most, or even any well-known teachers are wrong about anything; I'm just saying that the term "insight meditation" applies far more to Mahasi or Pa Auk systems than Buddhadasa or Chah's. Buddhadasa himself almost always refrained from using such a label, saying instead "samatha vipassana" or just "Jhana" when he referred to meditation. I hope my statement didn't come off as accusatory.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Insight Meditation and the Thai Forest Tradition

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:28 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:There are certainly teachers who say that concentration is not as important as insight, thta Jhana isn't necessary, that you only need access concentration, that one should do Jhana for pure samatha and then only focus on vipassana after emerging, etc.

Sure. As I recally, Ajahn Brahm, for example says that vipassana happens after jhana, not during. Sorry, I don't have his book handy right now, but he's said that so many times in so many talks that I don't think I'm misrepresenting him.

The "forest tradition" is actually a rather diverse group (as are the Burmese, for that matter...).

:anjali:
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