re. Vipassana Advice

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re. Vipassana Advice

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:39 am

Can I suggest that if a member offers advice on Vipassana they should be prepared to give information on where they learned and from whom ?
I really don't think that DW should be encouraging D.I.Y. Vipassana.
We live in an age where Vipassana is widely taught and available.
I think it sensible that advice should come exclusively from those who have had formal hands-on training in Vipassana.
At least to beginners degree.


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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:07 am

Greetings Peter,

PeterB wrote:I think it sensible that advice should come exclusively from those who have had formal hands-on training in Vipassana.

Slightly at a tangent to this, but not unrelated...

Being the Information Age this is, with available information exceeding the amount of time people have to absorb it, people have learnt more than ever to apply filters over the information that is made available. Accordingly, I find that when reading through posts on a forum, not everyone believes everything they read, and not everyone reads everything that's posted.

Particularly once we get to know each other a bit, what seems to be one of the main criteria over whether we will even give a post the (limited) time of day (available), is who says it.

It's not just an arbitrary criteria, either... people come to regard others as trust sources, if:

- Their posts are well considered
- They are respectful to others
- Their behaviour is exemplary, befitting someone of Dhamma practice
- Their actions and words are consistent and clear, day/week/month/year-in-year out

If someone really does have no idea about anything or is all words and no substance, chances are people simply aren't going to listen when they speak, as they will decide that such a person is not a suitable person with whom to discuss the Dhamma. Seeing it thusly, the "problem" you present to us with your suggestion in many way sorts itself out, without intervention.

If you were to ask someone, "where they learned and from whom?", and the question is met with silence, people will interpret that silence as they see fit.

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:10 am

Greetings,

A related sutta...

AN 4.192: Thana Sutta (Traits)
http://www.vipassana.com/canon/anguttara/an4-192.php

"Monks, these four traits may be known by means of four [other] traits. Which four?
"It is through living together that a person's virtue may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

"It is through dealing with a person that his purity may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

"It is through adversity that a person's endurance may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

"It is through discussion that a person's discernment may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

[1] "'It is through living together that a person's virtue may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning': Thus it was said. And in reference to what was it said?

"There is the case where one individual, through living with another, knows this: 'For a long time this person has been torn, broken, spotted, splattered in his actions. He hasn't been consistent in his actions. He hasn't practiced consistently with regard to the precepts. He is an unprincipled person, not a virtuous, principled one.' And then there is the case where one individual, through living with another, knows this: 'For a long time this person has been untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered in his actions. He has been consistent in his actions. He has practiced consistently with regard to the precepts. He is a virtuous, principled person, not an unprincipled one.'

"'It is through living together that a person's virtue may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning': Thus it was said. And in reference to this was it said.

[2] "'It is through dealing with a person that his purity may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning': Thus it was said. And in reference to what was it said?

"There is the case where one individual, through dealing with another, knows this: 'This person deals one way when one-on-one, another way when with two, another way when with three, another way when with many. His earlier dealings do not jibe with his later dealings. He is impure in his dealings, not pure.' And then there is the case where one individual, through dealing with another, knows this: 'The way this person deals when one-on-one, is the same way he deals when with two, when with three, when with many. His earlier dealings jibe with his later dealings. He is pure in his dealings, not impure.'

"'It is through dealing with a person that his purity may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning': Thus it was said. And in reference to this was it said.

[3] "'It is through adversity that a person's endurance may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning': Thus it was said. And in reference to what was it said?

"There is the case where a person, suffering loss of relatives, loss of wealth, or loss through disease, does not reflect: 'That's how it is when living together in the world. That's how it is when gaining a personal identity [atta-bhava, literally "self-state"]. When there is living in the world, when there is the gaining of a personal identity, these eight worldly conditions spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions: gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain.' Suffering loss of relatives, loss of wealth, or loss through disease, he sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. And then there is the case where a person, suffering loss of relatives, loss of wealth, or loss through disease, reflects: 'That's how it is when living together in the world. That's how it is when gaining a personal identity. When there is living in the world, when there is the gaining of a personal identity, these eight worldly conditions spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions: gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain.' Suffering loss of relatives, loss of wealth, or loss through disease, he does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, does not beat his breast or becomes distraught.

"'It is through adversity that a person's endurance may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning': Thus it was said. And in reference to this was it said.

[4] "'It is through discussion that a person's discernment may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning': Thus it was said. And in reference to what was it said?

"There is the case where one individual, through discussion with another, knows this: 'From the way this person rises to an issue, from the way he applies [his reasoning], from the way he addresses a question, he is dull, not discerning. Why is that? He does not make statements that are deep, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. He cannot declare the meaning, teach it, describe it, set it forth, reveal it, explain it, or make it plain. He is dull, not discerning.' Just as if a man with good eyesight standing on the shore of a body of water were to see a small fish rise. The thought would occur to him, 'From the rise of this fish, from the break of its ripples, from its speed, it is a small fish, not a large one.' In the same way, one individual, in discussion with another, knows this: 'From the way this person rises to an issue, from the way he applies [his reasoning], from the way he addresses a question...he is dull, not discerning.'

"And then there is the case where one individual, through discussion with another, knows this: 'From the way this person rises to an issue, from the way he applies [his reasoning], from the way he addresses a question, he is discerning, not dull. Why is that? He makes statements that are deep, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. He can declare the meaning, teach it, describe it, set it forth, reveal it, explain it, & make it plain. He is discerning, not dull.' Just as if a man with good eyesight standing on the shore of a body of water were to see a large fish rise. The thought would occur to him, 'From the rise of this fish, from the break of its ripples, from its speed, it is a large fish, not a small one.' In the same way, one individual, in discussion with another, knows this: 'From the way this person rises to an issue, from the way he applies [his reasoning], from the way he addresses a question...he is discerning, not dull.'

"'It is through discussion that a person's discernment may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning': Thus it was said. And in reference to this was it said.


"These, monks, are the four traits that may be known by means of these four [other] traits."

This happens as is, and doesn't necessitate policing.

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


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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:17 am

In the case of established members I have no problem with that Retro.
I guess my concern is those newer members who log onto , for example, the Vipassana Bhavana sub forum and are offered advice from those who more established members strongly suspect have no hands-on instruction in the sphere themselves...
It seems to me that such inquirers could at best end up having their time wasted.
Vipassana above all practices needs specific and personal instruction.
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:23 am

Hi Peter,

I would certainly ignore advice from someone who had had no instruction. And I would hope that members would not give advice on things that they have no experience with. However, there are all kinds of difficulties in formulating policies in this area:

1. Some members don't appear share that view.

2. How would you propose to enforce such a policy? There are thousands of competent teachers out there, most of whom none of us have ever heard of. So how could you possibly check?

I happen to have done some short retreats or one-day workshops with well-known, or reasonably well-known (as in, you could find some of their talks or writings on the internet) bhikkhus. However, those who I have really spent time with, and who have therefore taught me much more than the "famous" ones would be totally unknown to anyone else here.

:anjali:
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:33 am

In the end Mike it would be a matter of trust. Trust that if someone was asked that they would tell the truth, or simply refuse to answer. Which as Paul says would lead one to ones own conclusions.
I am not suggesting a photocopy of a framed certificate. Just an indication that a given response isnt a result of simply reading something and passing it off as informed and experiential, when it is simply opinion. Or the result of responding through boredom.
Some indication that the person has actually practised Vipassana with instruction.
I think one could just about get away with learning Samatha from written instructions or a video. Although that is not advisable...Vipassana ?....No.
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:58 am

Hi Peter,
As Mike said I think its going to be a difficult thing to administer.
From my own point of view I think its easy to tell who has actual experience and those who don't. Some of the attitudes that are captured in the suttas that Paul reproduced are a good rule of thumb. For those of us who have been around for awhile we know who is reliable and who is not.
And I think overall we get an abundance of established practitioners who are only too keen to provide advice.
Again, from my perspective I tend to think a bigger issue is when someone is looking for advice with regards to a particular approach to vipassana and a well-meaning and knowledgeable member answers without realizing the OP is seeking advice specific to a particular practice/tradition context and the OP gets advice inappropriate to their needs. What to do? I'm not sure but we're talking about it.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:11 am

I am not underestimating the difficulty in deciding what if anything the Forum's role should be here.
But I have concerns and wanted them on record..


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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:14 am

Hi Peter,
Yes, your concerns are definitely noted. We are discussing them in the public suggestion box with the membership and privately in the Admin forum amongst the Mod/Admin team.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby bodom » Wed Oct 19, 2011 11:48 am

This is why, for the most part, rather than give personal opinion on practice, I find it more useful to point someone back to the suttas or provide quotes from a qualified teacher.

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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:09 pm

I dont tend to quote Suttas myself because I am always conscious of translation and interpretation issues...which is not a criticism of those that do.
My own usual response repeated ad nauseum, is to point them to their nearest Vipassana centre.
I dont see that as a lesser answer in terms of the forum.
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:37 pm

I am concerned if this leads to one more section like the Discovering Theravada section where everything is moderated. In the discovering theravada section it makes some sense, as people are defenitely new (although I'm not entirely a fan of it). But in the others it makes no sense to restrict posts or this forum loses interest.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:44 pm

It might gain interest for anyone looking for an informed answer rather than an opinion.
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:04 pm

It might. But have you thought about what this forum would be without opinion?

Besides, the mods admins are not arahats (AFAIK!), so how would they decide which was right and which wasn't in the dificult points of vipassana instructions? If even Ajahn Chah and Mahasi Sayadaw had different opinions regarding vipassana, how can a non arahat decide what is to pass and what not? No need to create a "vipassana police".

I think it's up to each one to decide for themselves what to practice. People are grown ups so they can take care of themselves in this respect. There's no need for "baby sitting" in this forum.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:12 pm

It depends what we are talking about.
Opinions are good. People should be encouraged to express them.
However Vipassana meditation is a very specific set of skills and is, or should be, tailor made not off the peg..
In other words opinion is of little value when discussing specific techniques..
One particular type of approach to Vipassana might suit more than another, but even that is not a matter of opinion or whim but should be ideally talked through with an experienced teacher....and practised in a way that is consistent to itself. To that system.
It doesnt need an "arahant"..it needs someone who knows more than we do and can give hands-on instruction.
In my view this forum is potentially a good way to communicate data ABOUT Vipassana meditation...what, where, when, who,but neither this or any other online forum should attempt to replace hands on instruction.
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby kirk5a » Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:13 pm

Step 1: Define "Vipassana"

But if you look directly at the Pali discourses — the earliest extant sources for our knowledge of the Buddha's teachings — you'll find that although they do use the word samatha to mean tranquillity, and vipassana to mean clear-seeing, they otherwise confirm none of the received wisdom about these terms. Only rarely do they make use of the word vipassana — a sharp contrast to their frequent use of the word jhana. When they depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana." And they never equate the word vipassana with any mindfulness techniques. In the few instances where they do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... etool.html
"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: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:36 pm

For the purpose of this discussion those mediation practices as taught by the Goenkaji, Sayadaw and related schools. In other words those practices commonly understood to the the topic when the phrase Vipassana ( often with a capital V ) is mentioned on this forum.
My purpose was not to debate the relative merits of various meditative practices, But rather to request that should inquiry take a specific form, for example if advice concerning Vipassana is sought that any advice forthcoming should be in accord with accepted forms of Vipassana as taught...for example in Goenka or Sayadaw centres.

Whether this accords with a scholastic or pedantic definition of vipassana is of no interest to me.
Whether it accords to the cerebrations of Thanissaro Bhikkhu is of no interest to me.
What goes on at your local centre is what is of interest to me.
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby Mr Man » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:13 pm

Hello
I think that there is a problem with making something into something "special" when it really isn't that special. Making it esoteric when it really isn't. Do I need to show my credentials for this view :tongue: .
I'm sure that most people who are serious in learning a meditation technic will try and seek out a "teacher" rather than basing there practice on what they read on a forum.
If they do follow any of the advice that may be available on Dhamma Wheel what is the worst that could happen?
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:39 pm

If I was sure that the majority who are interested in Vipassana but had no experience would seek out their local centre I would not have bothered to post the OP.

The worst that could happen is that a lot of people would wander around in circles for a while and then ditch the practice...It happens.
It is not esoteric. It is a skillset that needs to be learned properly.
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Re: re. Vipassana Advice

Postby kirk5a » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:42 pm

PeterB wrote:For the purpose of this discussion those mediation practices as taught by the Goenkaji, Sayadaw and related schools. In other words those practices commonly understood to the the topic when the phrase Vipassana ( often with a capital V ) is mentioned on this forum.

Precisely my point. I disagree with the presumption that those schools authoritatively define "Vipassana." They certainly authoritatively define their own techniques, but it would be better to speak about the techniques of a teacher or school rather than have them assume some mantle of authority for "Vipassana" ... (which looks like a rather modern use of the term in the first place.)

Why don't you simply follow your own suggestion and identify your teachers when you give advice on "Vipassana"? Or ask others to identify theirs when they do? Or go ahead and note, as you frequently do already, the importance of hands-on instruction? I don't see the problem that needs fixing here.
"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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