Re: Is open, non-absorptive concentration "right samadhi"?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Is open, non-absorptive concentration "right samadhi"?

Postby starter » Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:48 pm

Hello Teachers/Friends,

I'm wondering if the following open, non-absorptive concentration can lead to jhana with piti/sukha or not? Would it fall into "right concentration" defined by the Buddha?

"With meditation we have the opportunity to contemplate the mind. The silence of the mind is like the space in the room; it is always there, but it is subtle. It doesn't stand out, it doesn't grab your attention. It has no extreme quality which would stimulate and grasp your attention, so you have to pay attention, you have to be attentive. Now one can use the sound of silence (or the primordial sound, sound of the mind, or whatever you want to call it) very skilfully, by bringing it up, paying attention to it. By concentrating your attention on that for a while, it becomes something that you can really begin to know. It is the mode of knowing in which one can reflect. It's not a concentrated state you absorb into, it's not a suppressive kind of concentration. The mind is concentrated in a state of balance and openness, rather than absorbed into an object, so that one can actually think and use that as a way of seeing things in perspective -- letting things go [[let our attachment to things go]]."

"If you are still concentrated on the curtains, or the window or the people, you don't notice the space. But actually you don't have to get rid of all those things to notice the space; instead you begin just to open to the space, to notice it. Rather than focusing your attention on one thing, you are opening the mind completely; you are not choosing an object -- a conditioned object -- but the space where the conditioned objects are."

-- "Noticing Space" by Ajahn Sumedho [http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebmed040.htm]

Thought Ajahn Sumedho's students and/or other teachers/friends might help me with this question.

Thanks and Metta to all,

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Last edited by starter on Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can open, non-absorptive concentration lead to jhana?

Postby IanAnd » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:47 pm

starter wrote:I'm wondering if the following open, non-absorptive concentration can lead to jhana with piti/sukha or not?

"With meditation we have the opportunity to contemplate the mind. The silence of the mind is like the space in the room; it is always there, but it is subtle. It doesn't stand out, it doesn't grab your attention. It has no extreme quality which would stimulate and grasp your attention, so you have to pay attention, you have to be attentive. Now one can use the sound of silence (or the primordial sound, sound of the mind, or whatever you want to call it) very skilfully, by bringing it up, paying attention to it. By concentrating your attention on that for a while, it becomes something that you can really begin to know. It is the mode of knowing in which one can reflect. It's not a concentrated state you absorb into, it's not a suppressive kind of concentration. The mind is concentrated in a state of balance and openness, rather than absorbed into an object, so that one can actually think and use that as a way of seeing things in perspective -- letting things go [[let our attachment to things go]]."

"If you are still concentrated on the curtains, or the window or the people, you don't notice the space. But actually you don't have to get rid of all those things to notice the space; instead you begin just to open to the space, to notice it. Rather than focusing your attention on one thing, you are opening the mind completely; you are not choosing an object -- a conditioned object -- but the space where the conditioned objects are."

-- "Noticing Space" by Ajahn Sumedho [http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebmed040.htm]

Now you're onto a very good insight here.

The condition of jhana has been defined by many modern meditation masters (Ajahn Chah being chief among them) as "appana samadhi" or "fixed concentration." In this sense, then, the elements of piti and sukha within the standard recitation of jhana in the discourses are used as tools to help propel the mind into this "fixed concentration" state. They are by no means always necessary elements.

I expect some difference of opinion from others here regarding that last point, but unless their practice has advanced to the stage that Ajhan Sumedho's (and obviously my own) has, then they would be speaking from a position of inexperience and hence ignorance.

This is only my (experienced) opinion. Which happens to reflect the opinion of other experienced practitioners.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Can open, non-absorptive concentration lead to jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:17 pm

IanAnd wrote:I expect some difference of opinion from others here regarding that last point, but unless their practice has advanced to the stage that Ajhan Sumedho's (and obviously my own) has, then they would be speaking from a position of inexperience and hence ignorance.

This is only my (experienced) opinion. Which happens to reflect the opinion of other experienced practitioners.
Claiming some degree of equivalence to LP Sumedho, wow. Other experienced practitioners may view things differently, which does not make them ignorant. It simply points to the fact that what jhana is undertstood as being can vary significantly and these differences can equally claim to be based upon direct experience.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Can open, non-absorptive concentration lead to jhana?

Postby Viscid » Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:05 pm

IanAnd wrote: unless their practice has advanced to the stage that Ajhan Sumedho's (and obviously my own) has, then they would be speaking from a position of inexperience and hence ignorance.


:jedi:
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Re: Can open, non-absorptive concentration lead to jhana?

Postby Goedert » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:49 pm

Look this sutta:

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Now at that time Ven. Subhuti was sitting not far from the Blessed One, his legs crossed, his body held erect, centered in a concentration free from directed thought. The Blessed One saw Ven. Subhuti sitting not far away, his legs crossed, his body held erect, centered in a concentration free from directed thought.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

Whose thoughts are
vaporized,
well-dealt-with
within,
without trace —
going beyond that tie,
one who perceives the formless,
overcoming
four yokes, [1]
does not go
to rebirth.

"Subhuti Sutta: About Subhuti" (Ud 6.7), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 8 July 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html.

You have to put it in practice to experience if it can lead to jhana or not. Them you can say that is by direct knowledge.
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Re: Can open, non-absorptive concentration lead to jhana?

Postby IanAnd » Fri Apr 01, 2011 11:01 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Other experienced practitioners may view things differently, which does not make them ignorant. It simply points to the fact that what jhana is undertstood as being can vary significantly and these differences can equally claim to be based upon direct experience.

I agree. However, I did qualify my statement with "unless their practice has advanced to the stage [of a mature practice]..."

Meaning that (and I've been there so I know whereof I speak), when one's practice has matured and one is mindful of that fact and begins to accept what one is able to observe from one's own experience as being true and receives corroboration from others whose practices have also matured, one can fairly be very certain of what one speaks.

I can only wish for those who are not so certain that they may one day become so through diligent practice. It is not that difficult. It just takes time and patience and a lot of focused practice.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Can open, non-absorptive concentration lead to jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 01, 2011 11:20 pm

IanAnd wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Other experienced practitioners may view things differently, which does not make them ignorant. It simply points to the fact that what jhana is undertstood as being can vary significantly and these differences can equally claim to be based upon direct experience.

I agree. However, I did qualify my statement with "unless their practice has advanced to the stage [of a mature practice]..."

Meaning that (and I've been there so I know whereof I speak),
The problem is that you claim yours is a mature practice, but based upon what objective criteria? I am sure there are those who you have dismissed as ignorant could as easily make the same claim based upon this criteria: when one's practice has matured and one is mindful of that fact and begins to accept what one is able to observe from one's own experience as being true and receives corroboration from others whose practices have also matured, one can fairly be very certain of what one speaks.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Can open, non-absorptive concentration lead to jhana?

Postby starter » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:57 pm

Hi thanks for all the helpful input.

"The Blessed One saw Ven. Subhuti sitting not far away, his legs crossed, his body held erect, centered in a concentration free from directed thought...."

-- But by focusing on space ["Rather than focusing your attention on one thing, you are opening the mind completely; you are not choosing an object -- a conditioned object -- but the space where the conditioned objects are."], it's not a samadhi free from directed thought [there's still directed thought of space].

The Buddha at first attained two formless samadhi but didn't find them useful for liberation. He then attained four jhanas which led him to the three noble knowledges and liberation. I wonder if the right concentration he defined in the N8P only includes the 4 jhanas or not.

Thanks and metta,

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Re: Can open, non-absorptive concentration lead to jhana?

Postby Freawaru » Sat Apr 02, 2011 5:26 pm

starter wrote:The Buddha at first attained two formless samadhi but didn't find them useful for liberation. He then attained four jhanas which led him to the three noble knowledges and liberation. I wonder if the right concentration he defined in the N8P only includes the 4 jhanas or not.

Thanks and metta,

Starter


Hi Starter,

as far as I know the four formless jhanas (jhana 5 to 8) he learned from his teachers are actually the fourth jhana with the respective formless objects (infinite space, infinite consciousness, etc) as objects of one-pointed concentration. The way I understand it all concentration that manifests the jhana factors of the fourth jhana are the fourth jhana, regardless of the object of absorption.
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Re: Is open, non-absorptive concentration right samadhi?

Postby starter » Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:05 pm

"... all concentration that manifests the jhana factors of the fourth jhana are the fourth jhana, regardless of the object of absorption."
-- As I understand, one has neither mental/emotional feelings nor physical sensations in the 4th jhana, which is very deep absorption. The "open, non-absorptive concentration" doesn't seem to be any type of absorption/jhana. But probably such "open, non-absorptive concentration" can provide sufficient level of samatha for vipassana and liberation?

Metta to all,

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Re: Is open, non-absorptive concentration right samadhi?

Postby Freawaru » Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:35 pm

starter wrote:"... all concentration that manifests the jhana factors of the fourth jhana are the fourth jhana, regardless of the object of absorption."
-- As I understand, one has neither mental/emotional feelings nor physical sensations in the 4th jhana, which is very deep absorption.


I think this is only true for the formless absorptions. The fourth jhana can be used for many things, including recalling ones past lives for example.

The "open, non-absorptive concentration" doesn't seem to be any type of absorption/jhana. But probably such "open, non-absorptive concentration" can provide sufficient level of samatha for vipassana and liberation?

Metta to all,

Starter


I might be wrong but I think that Ajahn Sumedho refers to concentrating on that spacious impression of the mind one gains either by jhana practice or by mindfulness practice. When in fourth jhana the mind seems very spacious and one can concentrate on that spacious impression. A similar impression of spaciousness of one's mind can be experienced when observing how things arise and drop back in it and then one can focus on this.
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Re: Is open, non-absorptive concentration "right samadhi"?

Postby starter » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:47 pm

Hm, just to share with you my new understanding of the purpose and use of concentration:

If one can naturally achieve and maintain such "open, non-absorptive concentration" and use it for contemplations/vipassana successfully, then it's fine. But for many beginners it might be hard to be able to achieve and maintain such concentration for vipassana purpose, so the Buddha taught us first to cultivate our concentration to the level which can be used for vipassana (around the 1st jhana).

Metta to all.


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Re: Is open, non-absorptive concentration "right samadhi"?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:26 pm

Hi Starter,

Samadhi is a fluctuating dynamic thing. Any practice which uses focusing (even without an object) can be helpful in adding towards the 'samadhi fund', in the mind.

My issue with being aware of open space is that when samadhi gets deep enough you will feel compelled to close your eyes. Using this method runs into some trouble then (unless you change it half way to focusing on an internal spaciousness). I like the breath because it stays true all the way.

As for 'mature practice' my standards are 1) having let gone of all sensual craving and other defilements
2) access to the jhanas at will 3) experience of nibbana 4) ..and being able to say you might not have achieved any of it.
5) humility.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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