buddha's teaching on posture?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby end » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:00 am

i've read a decent amount of the pali canon sections on meditation but there are a few things i haven't seen. generally we sit on the floor or a mat with our legs in the lotus posture, hands in a mudra, back straight, eyes half shut or all the way shut, and focus on our breathing. however in my reading i can't find anywhere the buddha specifies what to do with the eyes, back, hands, or legs (as in explaining that one should specifically use lotus).

he just says to sit and set up mindfulness in front of you and focus on your breathing.

is there somewhere that he specifies all the other aspects or is this just something that has developed over time? i think the biggest thing is eyes open or shut. does anyone know? if you know where in the nikayas that would be awesome.
end
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:57 am

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby Euclid » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:13 am

Hi end

In the mahasatipatthana sutta the Buddha specifies:

"There is the case where a monk — having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building — sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore [lit: the front of the chest]. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.


That covers the parts of your question regarding your back and your legs. As for your hands etc, I'm not sure if it's ever specified in the suttas, although perhaps your best bet for meditative technique would be Vism. or Vimuttimagga. I haven't read either of those though so I'm just speculating. Perhaps somebody better versed in the nikayas than I will be able to shed some more light :)
Euclid
 
Posts: 200
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:33 am
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby cooran » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:30 am

Hello end,

I think this is something you could discuss with a teacher of meditation - or do what is helpful when you sit yourself. I don't know of any Sutta which goes into anymore detail than you have found yourself. But there is a lot on the internet by teachers well-versed in the Dhamma and experienced in meditation.

Here is something from our Bhikkhu Pesala:

Sitting Meditation
The traditional posture for sitting meditation is that seen in many images of the Buddha — cross-legged with a straight back, the eyes half-closed and the hands resting in the lap. Long experience has shown this to be the most suitable posture. However, you may also meditate sitting on a chair if you support your back and keep it straight. In either case it is important not to change the position frequently, if at all, since every movement will interrupt concentration.
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Pesala/Med ... ation.html

It is not meant to be a gruelling ordeal - so I often use a straight-backed chair, or a kneeling stool.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7059
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby end » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:19 pm

cooran wrote:Hello end,

I think this is something you could discuss with a teacher of meditation - or do what is helpful when you sit yourself. I don't know of any Sutta which goes into anymore detail than you have found yourself. But there is a lot on the internet by teachers well-versed in the Dhamma and experienced in meditation.

Here is something from our Bhikkhu Pesala:

Sitting Meditation
The traditional posture for sitting meditation is that seen in many images of the Buddha — cross-legged with a straight back, the eyes half-closed and the hands resting in the lap. Long experience has shown this to be the most suitable posture. However, you may also meditate sitting on a chair if you support your back and keep it straight. In either case it is important not to change the position frequently, if at all, since every movement will interrupt concentration.
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Pesala/Med ... ation.html

It is not meant to be a gruelling ordeal - so I often use a straight-backed chair, or a kneeling stool.

with metta
Chris


oh yes i've talked to different teachers and gotten postures from books. i got my current method and posture from a combination of what i learned at a temple i go to and from books. i just was curious mainly about what the man said about it. thanks for the help. your description is pretty much what i do already:)
end
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:57 am

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby end » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:23 pm

Euclid wrote:Hi end

In the mahasatipatthana sutta the Buddha specifies:

"There is the case where a monk — having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building — sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore [lit: the front of the chest]. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.


That covers the parts of your question regarding your back and your legs. As for your hands etc, I'm not sure if it's ever specified in the suttas, although perhaps your best bet for meditative technique would be Vism. or Vimuttimagga. I haven't read either of those though so I'm just speculating. Perhaps somebody better versed in the nikayas than I will be able to shed some more light :)


cool thank you! i have the digha so i will look it up there. i also have visuddhimagga by buddhaghosa and it does give pretty detailed description, i love it! but i just was wondering about the original teaching out of curiosity mainly.
end
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:57 am

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby Fede » Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:23 pm

The other thing members might be interested in looking at, is researching the Alexander Technique.
it's extremely interesting , and really worth a look.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/
User avatar
Fede
 
Posts: 1182
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: The Heart of this "Green & Pleasant Land"...

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:41 pm

It is important to remember the purpose of the meditation when thinking about how to do it- if it is samatha- then a comfortable (to avoid pain) is recommended, but not too comfortable (..end up falling asleep), if vipassana, any posture which will allow you to remain alert, sometimes using pain as one of the objects of your meditation is good enough. Someone suggested striking a 'kindly' posture- not too tense, when doing metta meditation- seems to work. :smile:

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby mirco » Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:30 am

Dhamma Greetings,


eighteen years ago I read a Sutta, where it was explained something like this:

First comes full lotus, then it goes through various crossed legged scenarios,
followed by those with sitting aids (bindings, mini-chairs). At the end full chairs
like they're common in the western world are mentioned for a suitable sitting posture.
The rating descends from the beginning to the end, with each pose being o.k. by itself,
just mentioning, that the foregoing would be better.

So, this is what my memory tells me. I read it in a book during a stay at a monastery
and I'm pretty sure, it was a Sutta, due to the repetitive phrases.
But, I can't find it now. Anyone knows this Sutta?


:-) Regards
Last edited by mirco on Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I get what I give
mirco
 
Posts: 360
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:12 pm

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:02 am

Greetings,

Euclid wrote:That covers the parts of your question regarding your back and your legs.

In the context of anapanasati, yes.

Satipatthana Sutta wrote:[2] "Furthermore, when walking, the monk discerns, 'I am walking.' When standing, he discerns, 'I am standing.' When sitting, he discerns, 'I am sitting.' When lying down, he discerns, 'I am lying down.' Or however his body is disposed, that is how he discerns it.

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or focused externally... unsustained by (i.e. not appropriating) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself.

[3] "Furthermore, when going forward & returning, he makes himself fully alert; when looking toward & looking away... when bending & extending his limbs... when carrying his outer cloak, his upper robe & his bowl... when eating, drinking, chewing, & savoring... when urinating & defecating... when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, & remaining silent, he makes himself fully alert.

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or focused externally... unsustained by (i.e. not appropriating) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself.

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)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14524
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:08 am

mirco wrote:Dhamma Greetings,


eighteen years ago I read a Sutta, where it was explained something like this:

First comes full lotus, then it goes through various crossed legged scenarios,
followed by those with sitting aids (bindings, mini-chairs). At the end full chairs
like they're common in the western world are mentioned for a suitable sitting posture.
The rating descends from the beginning to the end, with each pose being o.k. by itself,
just mentioning, that the foregoing would be better.

So, this is what my memory tells me. I read it in a book dureing a stay at a monastery
and I'm pretty sure, it was a Sutta, due to the repetitive phrases.
But, I can't find it now. Anyone knows this Sutta?


:-) Regards


It's definitely not a sutta, but it is a common group of suggestions that one may find in the west where people aren't as used to the floor.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
User avatar
polarbuddha101
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:39 am
Location: California

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby mirco » Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:45 pm

Hi 'polarbuddha',
polarbuddha101 wrote:
mirco wrote:First comes full lotus, then it goes through various crossed legged scenarios, followed by those with sitting aids (bindings, mini-chairs). At the end full chairs like they're common in the western world are mentioned for a suitable sitting posture. The rating descends from the beginning to the end, with each pose being o.k. by itself, just mentioning, that the foregoing would be better.

So, this is what my memory tells me. I read it in a book during a stay at a monastery and I'm pretty sure, it was a Sutta, due to the repetitive phrases. But, I can't find it now. Anyone knows this Sutta?

It's definitely not a sutta, but it is a common group of suggestions that one may find in the west where people aren't as used to the floor.

How do you definitely know for sure it is not a sutta?
Are you a Bhivamsa?

:-) Regards
I get what I give
mirco
 
Posts: 360
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:12 pm

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby fig tree » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:37 am

mirco wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote:It's definitely not a sutta, but it is a common group of suggestions that one may find in the west where people aren't as used to the floor.

How do you definitely know for sure it is not a sutta?
Are you a Bhivamsa?

:-) Regards


Sometimes the canon contains surprising things, but in this particularly popular topic, there has been a lot of effort by the real experts to find relevant suttas. Every now and then one encounters a statement to the effect that the satipatthana sutta, the mahasatipatthana sutta, the anapanasati sutta, and perhaps a few others, are all the suttas that say anything about the question the author is considering about how specifically to meditate. If the Buddha had said that half-lotus was way less effective a position than full-lotus (or that it was just as good) and the remark got put into the canon, surely lots of us would have heard about it. That generations of experienced meditators and meditation teachers have helped by experimenting and passing on useful tips addressing details not specified in the canon is a basic fact of Buddhist culture. :-)

Fig Tree
User avatar
fig tree
 
Posts: 170
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:25 am

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby mirco » Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:31 am

Hi 'fig tree',
fig tree wrote:Sometimes the canon contains surprising things, but in this particularly popular topic, there has been a lot of effort by the real experts to find relevant suttas. Every now and then one encounters a statement to the effect that the satipatthana sutta, the mahasatipatthana sutta, the anapanasati sutta, and perhaps a few others, are all the suttas that say anything about the question the author is considering about how specifically to meditate. If the Buddha had said that half-lotus was way less effective a position than full-lotus (or that it was just as good) and the remark got put into the canon, surely lots of us would have heard about it. That generations of experienced meditators and meditation teachers have helped by experimenting and passing on useful tips addressing details not specified in the canon is a basic fact of Buddhist culture. :-)


that sounds a bit more convincing to me. But I still wonder about the sutta-like repetitive style of the phrases, I remember.
Time (or research) will tell...

:-) Regards
I get what I give
mirco
 
Posts: 360
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:12 pm

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby Ben » Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:42 am

mirco wrote:But I still wonder about the sutta-like repetitive style of the phrases, I remember.
Time (or research) will tell...

:-) Regards


Its a mnemonic device not limited to the suttas.
No where have I seen anywhere in the nikayas or the ancient commentaries anything that suggests that one posture over another is efficacious for meditation. It sounds like the sort of thing that may have as its provenance one of the east-asian mahayanist schools.
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15793
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:56 am

Concerning the absence of details on posture in the suttas I think it's important to remember that, in the absence of furniture, some sort of cross-leg or lotus position is simply a practical way of sitting comfortably for a long time. It may well be a modern new-age idea that there is something spiritual about it.

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 9621
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:29 am

Also, it would be rather impractical to carry a chair around in the forest or while wandering around on foot in India, or anywhere really.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
User avatar
polarbuddha101
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:39 am
Location: California

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby Ben » Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:58 am

Polarbuddha,
I beg to disagree.

84142_airchairv2_777.png
84142_airchairv2_777.png (178.84 KiB) Viewed 280 times
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15793
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: buddha's teaching on posture?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:58 am

:rofl:

I'll remember to bring one of those if I ever wind up in the rainforest in Sri Lanka. :thumbsup:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
User avatar
polarbuddha101
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:39 am
Location: California


Return to Theravada Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests