Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:36 pm

Hi Tilt, Goofaholix

I'm just asking for an explanation of the vipassana nana from this sayadaw. Can you find me one? Everything else is just debate.

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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:42 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hi Tilt, Goofaholix

I'm just asking for an explanation of the vipassana nana from this sayadaw. Can you find me one? Everything else is just debate.

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I'm still not clear what you are looking for, are you looking for a description of the process of observing anicca, dukkha, anatta by observing processes at the 6 sense doors?
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:15 pm

I think that RYB means a description like Mahasi Sayadaw's Progress of Insight
http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progress/progress.html

However, I'm not sure why it would be considered necessary for every teacher to write such a book, or spend a lot of time talking about such things. My experience with teachers is that they simply give me practical instructions and make comments on what I report back. It's clear from what they say about what I report that they are very familiar with the territory, but they don't tell me about things that I have not experienced. As I understand it, the original purpose of Mahasi Sayadaw's book was to aid his teachers in instruction, not to tell students what they should be experiencing.

As Ven Nyanaponika Thera says in the introduction to his translation:
As the treatise deals chiefly with the advanced stages of the practice, it was originally not intended for publication. Handwritten or typed copies of the Burmese or Pali version were given only to those who, with some measure of success, had concluded a strict course of practice at the meditation centre.


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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:27 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I think that RYB means a description like Mahasi Sayadaw's Progress of Insight
http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progress/progress.html

However, I'm not sure why it would be considered necessary for every teacher to write such a book, or spend a lot of time talking about such things. My experience with teachers is that they simply give me practical instructions and make comments on what I report back. It's clear from what they say about what I report that they are very familiar with the territory, but they don't tell me about things that I have not experienced. As I understand it, the original purpose of Mahasi Sayadaw's book was to aid his teachers in instruction, not to tell students what they should be experiencing.


If that's the case then he wants SUT to teach Mahasi technique. Mahasi technique isn't the only means of achieving Vipassana nana. In Burma it's taught very methodically but as I think you've pointed out the process between student and teacher is often much more practical and intuitive, particulaly in the West. I think SUT has taken it one step further into a more intuitive approach, and yes there is no need to write a book that is already written.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:35 pm

Hi Goofaholix

Thanks- I suspected that this method was more in line with 'Insight meditation' of the west rather than vipassana of the east.

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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:54 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Thanks- I suspected that this method was more in line with 'Insight meditation' of the west rather than vipassana of the east.


It's more in line with Insight Meditation (aka Vipassana) of the West than with Insight Meditation (aka Vipassana) as taught by other Burmese teachers , yes.

I think that's probably why he's so popular with IMS teachers, he took them the next step in the direction they were already heading.

So is your contention that Insight Meditation (aka Vipassana) of the West does not lead to Vipassana nana?
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:21 pm

Well I think so- it is inherently unpalatable to a western audience. These nanas are tough. Why would anyone put themselves through revulsion, dispassion etc? It would be asking/risking too much IMO.

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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 08, 2010 2:52 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Well I think so- it is inherently unpalatable to a western audience. These nanas are tough. Why would anyone put themselves through revulsion, dispassion etc? It would be asking/risking too much IMO.

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I have no idea as to what you are talking about when it comes to "Western vipassana." At the retreats I have been to at IMS these things were quite seriously talked about.
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:21 pm

Hi Tilt,

Thanks, yes, I respect IMS for forging ahead with this type of thing. I guess I was more referring to the 'Mindfulness' movement which Bikkhu Bodhi refers to here:

BB: I’m reluctant to make judgments about what other teachers are doing, but I will merely point to one important adaptation that has taken place in the contemporary teaching of vipassana meditation that can easily pass unnoticed. I get the impression that the purpose for which mindfulness meditation is being taught in the West has undergone a sea change from its traditional function, perhaps because many Western teachers are teaching outside the framework of classical Buddhist doctrine. Mindfulness meditation, it seems, is now taught mainly as a means to heighten our experience of the present moment. The aim of the practice is to enable us to accept everything that happens to us without discrimination. Through heightened mindfulness of the present moment, we learn to accept everything as intrinsically good, to see everything as instructive, to experience everything as inherently rewarding. We can thus simply abide in the present, heartily accepting whatever comes, open to the ever-fresh, ever-unpredictable flow of events.

Now at a certain level, such a style of teaching does impart valuable lessons to us. It is certainly much better to accept whatever comes than to live eagerly pursuing pleasure and anxiously fleeing pain. It is much wiser to see the positive lessons inherent in pain, loss and transience than to bemoan our miserable fate. However, to present this as the main point of the Buddha’s teaching would be, in my view, a misinterpretation of the Dhamma. The Buddha’s teaching, as given in the suttas, has quite a different logic behind it. The teaching isn’t designed to culminate in acceptance of the world, but to lead out beyond the confines of conditioned experience to that which transcends the world, to the ageless and deathless, which is also the cessation of suffering. Simply maintaining awareness of the present in order to arrive at a detached acceptance of the present could easily lead through the back door to a reconciliation with samsara, to a reaffirmation of samsara, not to release from samsara.

http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/Translator.html

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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:42 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Thanks, yes, I respect IMS for forging ahead with this type of thing. I guess I was more referring to the 'Mindfulness' movement which Bikkhu Bodhi refers to here:

BB: I’m reluctant to make judgments about what other teachers are doing, but I will merely point to one important adaptation that has taken place in the contemporary teaching of vipassana meditation that can easily pass unnoticed. I get the impression that the purpose for which mindfulness meditation is being taught in the West has undergone a sea change from its traditional function, perhaps because many Western teachers are teaching outside the framework of classical Buddhist doctrine. Mindfulness meditation, it seems, is now taught mainly as a means to heighten our experience of the present moment. The aim of the practice is to enable us to accept everything that happens to us without discrimination. Through heightened mindfulness of the present moment, we learn to accept everything as intrinsically good, to see everything as instructive, to experience everything as inherently rewarding. We can thus simply abide in the present, heartily accepting whatever comes, open to the ever-fresh, ever-unpredictable flow of events.

Now at a certain level, such a style of teaching does impart valuable lessons to us. It is certainly much better to accept whatever comes than to live eagerly pursuing pleasure and anxiously fleeing pain. It is much wiser to see the positive lessons inherent in pain, loss and transience than to bemoan our miserable fate. However, to present this as the main point of the Buddha’s teaching would be, in my view, a misinterpretation of the Dhamma. The Buddha’s teaching, as given in the suttas, has quite a different logic behind it. The teaching isn’t designed to culminate in acceptance of the world, but to lead out beyond the confines of conditioned experience to that which transcends the world, to the ageless and deathless, which is also the cessation of suffering. Simply maintaining awareness of the present in order to arrive at a detached acceptance of the present could easily lead through the back door to a reconciliation with samsara, to a reaffirmation of samsara, not to release from samsara.


Fair comment. Though all I said was the technique SUT teaches is more intuitive and awareness more broad so similar to the way Mahasi style practice is taught in the West than how it is taught in Burma, I didn't say he was teaching that the purpose of the practice is just to be in the present moment.

He is a Burmese teaching with an asian world view, I never got the impression that he didn't subscribe to the framework of classical Buddhist doctrine in any way.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:31 pm

Hi Goofaholix,

I guess I'm just stressing the ease in which a mindfulness method could fall into the trap that Bikkhu Bodhi mentions above. Following the vipassana nana system is the only assurance that it is leading us to transcend samsara, rather than deeper into it.

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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:35 pm

rowyourboat wrote:I guess I'm just stressing the ease in which a mindfulness method could fall into the trap that Bikkhu Bodhi mentions above. Following the vipassana nana system is the only assurance that it is leading us to transcend samsara, rather than deeper into it.


So we are back where we started, where can I find the explanation of the vipassana nana system so that I can check whether SUT teaching complies?
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby Kenshou » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:28 am

rowyourboat wrote:I guess I'm just stressing the ease in which a mindfulness method could fall into the trap that Bikkhu Bodhi mentions above. Following the vipassana nana system is the only assurance that it is leading us to transcend samsara, rather than deeper into it.
How do you know that?
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:30 pm

Kenshou wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:I guess I'm just stressing the ease in which a mindfulness method could fall into the trap that Bikkhu Bodhi mentions above. Following the vipassana nana system is the only assurance that it is leading us to transcend samsara, rather than deeper into it.
How do you know that?


Guess.
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby kirk5a » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:17 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Following the vipassana nana system is the only assurance that it is leading us to transcend samsara, rather than deeper into it.

If that was true, I would think the Buddha would have taught the vipassana nana system to everyone he came across. I don't see any evidence for that.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby Kenshou » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:56 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Guess.

My guess is that you're just being over-enthusiastic. Or alternatively, you think you've become a sotapanna through that practice and so now have license to poo-poo other methods. But you haven't claimed that so I won't load that accusation onto you willy-nilly, merely a guess. I'm not saying anything against the Mahasi system here, mind you, but I feel more or less the same as kirk5a above.
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby Reductor » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:44 pm

rowyourboat wrote:
Kenshou wrote:How do you know that?


Guess.


I'm guessing you think highly of yourself, and so think highly of mahasi by extension. From there it is only a short jump to this partisan parry-and-thust between yourself and every non-mahasi practitioner on the forum.

If you were what you seem to consider yourself to be, I don't think you'd be so quick to narrow the dhamma down to this single mahasi method.
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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:28 am

:D

Hi All,

I think what matters here is that it is not possible for someone who isn't a stream entrant to know whether another person is one or not. So any discussion on the matter- including calling me overenthusiastic -is pure speculation! :) (as in - you cant know whether I am overenthusiastic or deluded or enlightened...).

So it is best to focus on the subject matter at hand.. :smile:

The vipassana nana falls into the framework of the visuddhi ('purifications') which is taught by the Buddha in the suttas. Specific nana like sanakharaupekka nana is mentioned directly in the suttas (rare). Udayabaya nana is commonly mentioned in the suttas. The content of the other nanas are mentioned descriptively, in the progressive format the nanas are laid out in, in the suttas. Because of this I am confident that the nanas are a true reflection of the progress of vipassana. This has been borne out in my practice and also of those whom I guide (ie- it happens to them, in that order, regardless of whether they know it or not). So in my opinion (while they need not be known or memorized for practice) they do serve as important guide to the gradations of practice in vipassana, without which most vipassana teachers would be lost. So while I agree that it is not for every practitioner to know these things, it is essential (IMO) for a dhamma teacher to be very fluent in it- to successfully guide a meditator without them going off track by practicing a type of mindfulness which is not conducive to their arising. In any case, it is upto each of us to decide whether we want to make best use of ancient wisdom or not.

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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:40 am

rowyourboat wrote:I think what matters here is that it is not possible for someone who isn't a stream entrant to know whether another person is one or not. So any discussion on the matter- including calling me overenthusiastic -is pure speculation! :) (as in - you cant know whether I am overenthusiastic or deluded or enlightened...).
One should, then, be careful about things one says about oneself, which can easily lead to "speculation.".

So while I agree that it is not for every practitioner to know these things, it is essential (IMO) for a dhamma teacher to be very fluent in it- to successfully guide a meditator without them going off track by practicing a type of mindfulness which is not conducive to their arising. In any case, it is upto each of us to decide whether we want to make best use of ancient wisdom or not.
Probably so, and without suggesting what happens next.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Where practicing Vipassaná in Burma?

Postby Kenshou » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:13 am

I think what matters here is that it is not possible for someone who isn't a stream entrant to know whether another person is one or not. So any discussion on the matter- including calling me overenthusiastic -is pure speculation! (as in - you cant know whether I am overenthusiastic or deluded or enlightened...).
You were really, really begging the question. You -asked- for speculation! But, okay.

The vipassana nana falls into the framework of the visuddhi ('purifications') which is taught by the Buddha in the suttas.
Roughly, sure. I believe it would be an exaggeration to say that all the trimmings and implications of Mahasi's progress of insight or Burmese vipassana in general are contained in the suttas, though. I do not really have any big problem with those systems however and I wouldn't be so nosy as to tell people that they shouldn't use that knowledge if they want, do what works for you I say. It is simply the word "only", in that strict sense, that I take issue with, for that first reason.
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