meditation...

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.
krisfu
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meditation...

Postby krisfu » Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:19 pm

Hi(will introduce myself later)! I have been reading the various core suttas concerning meditation(anapanasati, (maha)satipatthana, etc) aswell as trying out a while for myself. I have a bunch of questions so feel free to answer as many or few as you like.

It seems that the first jhana will come after(if all the requisites for that is achieved) after being calm(?);

anapanasati sutta:
"[...] I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication."

Is anyone here certain about this, in that they have had direct experience with it?

I was scanning & reading 'The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation' http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el351.html and it talks about how one can have different objects for meditation. One of these is fire. Is this the same as a kind of candlelightfire meditation i have done previously, that is you get a candle and focus on the tip of the flame; because I have been getting good results from this in the past and if Visuddhimagga talks about it i suppose it has some weight; but i'd rather stay with the breath if people (know what their talking about) and can recommend that. It also talks about all these meditation objects but im not sure if there is basis in the suttas for all of the statements concerning this? Have anyone looked into this, because I am kinda sceptical towards the Visuddhimagga in that it was written 1000 years after the buddha and because - i can't remember exactly now - the author alludes to the fact that he prays he will once become enlightened on the cover of the book...(i mean if he can't do it, im not sure if i'm going to bother trying...)...

In 'Basic Breath Meditation Instructions' http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... thmed.html. Thannisaro Bhikku promotes a certain meditation of which one is to use the breath as a kind of anchor and be sensitive to the body at the same time one is doing it... I have always seperated my meditation the way it's written in the anapanasati sutta(ironically it was translated by Thannissaro Bhikku!) into first the discernment process, then the sensitive to the body process then the calming of breath... and during the 'sensitive of the body' process i only focus on the body... :? Does anyone have any arguments for why 'being like a spider in a web' is the right way?(it seems harder...)

Also, understanding exactly which phenomenological/existential experience is supposed to correspond to which words - sensitive to mind, steadying the mind, satisfying mind, releasing the mind - for example i find a bit hard. Any help in this regard? :)

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Re: meditation...

Postby cooran » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:35 pm

Hello krisfu,

You also need contact with a qualified Dhamma Teacher.

The Suttas are not instruction manuals. They are packed layer upon layer with information, more like the notes of points a speaker has at a conference. They need to be unpacked and explained by someone well-versed in the Dhamma.

People on internet lists may give good advice, but also may not.

Look up Theravada and 'your area' here, and see if you can have contact with a live teacher. If there aren’t any close by, consider doing 10 day Meditation Retreat even if you have to travel to get there.
http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/

with metta
Chris
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Re: meditation...

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:49 pm

Greetings Krisfu,

krisfu wrote:anapanasati sutta:
"[...] I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication."

Is anyone here certain about this, in that they have had direct experience with it?


I'm sure Ayya Dhammadinna had... here's what she said during a Q&A session with her former husband....

MN 44 - Culavedalla Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"But what are bodily fabrications? What are verbal fabrications? What are mental fabrications?"

"In-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications."

"But why are in-&-out breaths bodily fabrications? Why are directed thought & evaluation verbal fabrications? Why are perceptions & feelings mental fabrications?"

"In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That's why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech. That's why directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental; these are things tied up with the mind. That's why perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications."

"Now, lady, how does the attainment of the cessation of perception & feeling come about?"

"The thought does not occur to a monk as he is attaining the cessation of perception & feeling that 'I am about to attain the cessation of perception & feeling' or that 'I am attaining the cessation of perception & feeling' or that 'I have attained the cessation of perception & feeling.' Instead, the way his mind has previously been developed leads him to that state."

"But when a monk is attaining the cessation of perception & feeling, which things cease first: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, or mental fabrications?"

"When a monk is attaining the cessation of perception & feeling, friend Visakha, verbal fabrications cease first, then bodily fabrications, then mental fabrications."


krisfu wrote:[re: visuddhimagga] i can't remember exactly now - the author alludes to the fact that he prays he will once become enlightened on the cover of the book...


Apparently this is venerable Nanamoli, the translator of the text... though the layout of the English text isn't particularly clear in this regard.

Also, understanding exactly which phenomenological/existential experience is supposed to correspond to which words - sensitive to mind, steadying the mind, satisfying mind, releasing the mind - for example i find a bit hard. Any help in this regard? :)

I would identify what the Pali words are and consult a couple of Pali dictionaries if I wanted to investigate this. Also bear in mind that generally speaking, but particularly in relation to meditation, words aren't a direct correlation to a phenomenological/existential experience... words are only ever approximates, no matter who says them and in what language they're spoken.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: meditation...

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:08 pm

Hi Krisfu
Cooran's advice is excellent. A Dhamma teacher will be of great benefit to you. In the interim, you may wish to consult Venerable Analayo's brilliant Satipatthana: the direct path to realization, published by Windhorse. Not only will it answer many of your questions but it will be an invaluable practice reference.
kind regards

Ben
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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
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Re: meditation...

Postby Virgo » Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:25 am

Hi,

"One of these is fire. Is this the same as a kind of candlelightfire meditation i have done previously, that is you get a candle and focus on the tip of the flame; because I have been getting good results from this in the past and if Visuddhimagga talks about it i suppose it has some weight"

The meditation you learned is probably the one where you simply concentrate your gaze on the candle flame to become one pointed. This is a bit different than the fire meditation in Theravada Buddhism. The fire (kasina) meditation involves looking at the flame and being aware simply that it is "fire", or "fire element". As you look at it you repeat (silently if you wish), "fire", "fire", "fire" to help yoke your mind to the meditation object. You can read more about it in the Visuddhimagga.

Kevin

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Re: meditation...

Postby kirk5a » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:42 am

krisfu wrote:Does anyone have any arguments for why 'being like a spider in a web' is the right way?(it seems harder...)

Thanissaro does - "there's no where else you have to go, nothing else you have to think about" :smile:
"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: meditation...

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:22 am

krisfu wrote:Hi(will introduce myself later)! I have been reading the various core suttas concerning meditation(anapanasati, (maha)satipatthana, etc) aswell as trying out a while for myself. I have a bunch of questions so feel free to answer as many or few as you like.

It seems that the first jhana will come after(if all the requisites for that is achieved) after being calm(?);

anapanasati sutta:
"[...] I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication."

Is anyone here certain about this, in that they have had direct experience with it?


Yes I have experienced it and is quite certain about it -despite the problems with making a statement like that I think it is important for people to know that it is possible, the suttas are a true reflection of living experience and are not outdated in any way.

with metta

Matheesha/RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Re: meditation...

Postby Virgo » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:17 pm

Virgo wrote:Hi,

"One of these is fire. Is this the same as a kind of candlelightfire meditation i have done previously, that is you get a candle and focus on the tip of the flame; because I have been getting good results from this in the past and if Visuddhimagga talks about it i suppose it has some weight"

The meditation you learned is probably the one where you simply concentrate your gaze on the candle flame to become one pointed. This is a bit different than the fire meditation in Theravada Buddhism. The fire (kasina) meditation involves looking at the flame and being aware simply that it is "fire", or "fire element". As you look at it you repeat (silently if you wish), "fire", "fire", "fire" to help yoke your mind to the meditation object. You can read more about it in the Visuddhimagga.

Kevin

To be a little bit clearer. In the first case, the object is the concept of simply what is seen (a candle flame) in order to steady the gaze and the awareness. In the second place, "fire" itself is the concept which becomes the object. In the first, you don't think of fire, you use it as a tool to steady your gaze and your awareness in one place. In the latter, you use it to become absorbed in the concept of "fire" itself, taking that as your object of meditation, instead of any old thing like a dot on the wall or a candle flame to steady your gaze and giving you something visual to steady your awareness on.

Kevin

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Re: meditation...

Postby krisfu » Tue Dec 07, 2010 10:19 pm

Hi. Thanks all :). I'm sorry i haven't answered before. For a while now i seem to be able to meditate for a while, then lie down on my bed, and as more and more thoughts disappear some kind of joy and/or "light-body" appears. Just to be sure; this happens relatively quickly - I'm not asleep when it happens. The first time this happened i was able to hold this state for what must have been several hours until tiredness took me and i decided to sleep. Iv'e since been able to enter into this state more or less reliably depending on tiredness etc(i'm not what one could call "higly structured": numerous things get in the way of my descent towards dhamma...). Oh, and it definitevely seems to be different levels of strenght of this state i can access depending on tiredness, stress etc..

So is this the first jhana?

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Re: meditation...

Postby Virgo » Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:57 am

krisfu wrote:So is this the first jhana?

No. It doesn't seem to be.

Kevin

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Re: meditation...

Postby krisfu » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:10 am

hmm. would you know? I don't want to be brash or anything, but it is a straightforward question :) Perhaps i'm asking what's "wrong" with this state. Atleast from what i remember from the sutta the "light-body" thing seems pretty consistent with what is in that sutta. (no i can't remember which exact sutta that is right now but it might be the mindfullness of the body sutta on accesstoinsight.org)

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Re: meditation...

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:41 am

Greetings Krisfu,

You might want to investigate the Pali word piti and see if that corresponds with your experiences.

I suspect you'll also find the discussions in the following topic to be of interest and relevance...

Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas
viewtopic.php?f=33&t=5761

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: meditation...

Postby Kenshou » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:45 am

You really haven't given enough information one way or the other, and it's going to depend who you ask, but just because your thoughts quiet down and you get a happy feeling doesn't necessarily equal some kinda jhana thingie.

If you're getting better at developing happiness born of seclusion (vivekajam pitisukham), separate from the 5 hindrances, (as per the 1st jhana formula) then heck, you might be probing in the right general direction possibly. Lying down is a legitimate meditation position, but something tells me you might be mistaking the simple pleasure of relaxing in bed at the end of the day for more than it is. And even if you aren't, it all comes back to the fact that either way all you need to do is keep up your meditation! Imo, a diligent anapanasati regimen naturally leads to what some consider jhana, but it ain't a huge deal. If you've gotten there, okay, keep meditating because there's plenty more to be done, if not, no big deal, keep meditating.

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Re: meditation...

Postby alan » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:59 am

Jhana is an exalted meditative state which few ever realize. You did it lying down? Unlikely.
Don't fool yourself.

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Re: meditation...

Postby Reductor » Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:26 am

As Alan and Virgo have said, it is unlikely that you've entered jhana land (EDIT-append: 'but not impossible' - don't want to discourage you overly much). But Kenshou has suggested some means to measure whether or not you're developing in the right direction.

More important than anything we might say to you here is your own continuance of practice. Practice. Sit up, sit straight, relax, stay steady with the breath. If you're anticipating anything happening beyond you're next breath, then relax away that anticipation and return to the breath right here. If you're thinking of anything that came before this breath, then remember that the past is worthless compared to the present; then relax into the breath.

If you can't manage that, then getting bent out of shape about what jhana is or is not will do you worse than nothing. It'll screw you right up. Keep to the present, keep to the breath, keep to the body. Keep at it. Don't form a firm conclusion on what you've experienced, saying 'it is this. this is true'. As you practice you'll soon learn that what you thought was right was only partly right, and that grabbing hold of it tight will cause you more distress than peace (which is the point, is it not?).

Take it from a guy who has gotten pretty wound up over this in the past.

P.S: if you prefer to lay down, then lay on the floor, on your right side, with one leg stacked on the other, with your right arm bent so that you're fist is beneath your head. Get comfortable like that. This way you're less likely to fall into a sleepy haze and mistake that for jhana.
Michael

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Re: meditation...

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:30 pm

Hi Krisfu

Even though beginners have some luck when it comes to meditation- attaining jhana is unlikely to happen to them. It usually takes around 3 hours of daily practice (3, 1 hour sessions a day) over weeks-moths to get into the first jhana. It might happen quicker on retreat. If you are interested in jhana I think you should go for it. It is a good initial goal to have (oh no -here comes the 'goalless' contingent...) and it will motivate your practice and make it a success...hopefully :smile:

with metta

Matheesha
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Re: meditation...

Postby andre9999 » Wed Dec 08, 2010 2:09 pm

I am under the impression that all the meditation in the world won't get you there unless you're doing the right things off the cushion. Is that wrong?

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Re: meditation...

Postby kirk5a » Wed Dec 08, 2010 2:39 pm

andrer9999 wrote:I am under the impression that all the meditation in the world won't get you there unless you're doing the right things off the cushion. Is that wrong?

All the meditation in the world is a lot of meditation. :smile: Who knows what will get you here. Take Ajahn Sumedho's advice -

"When one says, “I am an unenlightened person who needs to practice meditation in order to become an enlightened person in the future,” one assumes that “I am this body. I have this history. I am so many years old, born in such and such a place. I’ve done all these things and so I have a history to prove that this person exists.” I have a passport and a birth certificate, and people even want me to have a website. But, in fact, there doesn’t seem to be any person in the awareness."

http://www.abhayagiri.org/main/article/593/
"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: meditation...

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:39 pm

kirk5a wrote:
andrer9999 wrote:I am under the impression that all the meditation in the world won't get you there unless you're doing the right things off the cushion. Is that wrong?

All the meditation in the world is a lot of meditation. :smile: Who knows what will get you here. Take Ajahn Sumedho's advice -

"When one says, “I am an unenlightened person who needs to practice meditation in order to become an enlightened person in the future,” one assumes that “I am this body. I have this history. I am so many years old, born in such and such a place. I’ve done all these things and so I have a history to prove that this person exists.” I have a passport and a birth certificate, and people even want me to have a website. But, in fact, there doesn’t seem to be any person in the awareness."

http://www.abhayagiri.org/main/article/593/


I think the statement 'I am en unenlightened person, therefore...' and the statement re non-self is a good example of confusing the conventional and ultimate truths. Often a sign that the practitioner hasnt really experienced ultimate truths and basic his/her conclusions on contemplation of the dhamma.

with metta
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Re: meditation...

Postby kirk5a » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:05 pm

rowyourboat wrote:


I think the statement 'I am en unenlightened person, therefore...' and the statement re non-self is a good example of confusing the conventional and ultimate truths. Often a sign that the practitioner hasnt really experienced ultimate truths and basic his/her conclusions on contemplation of the dhamma.

with metta

The talk given by Ajahn Sumedho in the link provided gives all the necessary context for understanding why he was talking about that. There is no confusion there.
"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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