Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

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twelph
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Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby twelph » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:04 am

When first learning to meditate many years ago, the teachers I studied under all had a clear rule about not trying to control the breathe. Within this past year I have started to really bunker down and study the teachings of my favorite modern teachers, namely Gil Fronsdal, Sayadaw U Tejaniya, and Thanissaro Bikkhu. While I greatly enjoy Thanissaro's Pali references in the majority of his work, I seem to have an aversion to his style of meditation that he talks about in most of his dhamma talks and compiled essays.The whole idea of wanting to manipulate the breathe to get rid of unpleasant feelings, and to create momentary pleasure seems to stem from greed and aversion. Is this the wrong way to look at it? Is there any information in the Suttas that mention this type of practice?
Last edited by twelph on Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:12 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:17 am


twelph
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby twelph » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:22 am

Last edited by twelph on Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

twelph
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby twelph » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:25 am


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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:20 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:47 am


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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:57 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:35 am

Yes, that's true. Developing wholesome states is clearly important. I think it is a mistake to jump to the conclusion that when people talk about starting with: "bare awareness" or "just be with the experience" that they are advocating that the whole of the path is about "just observing", and there is no development. But "just being with the experience" is often a good place to start, because going in with the idea that you can directly manipulate things also doesn't work very well. What often seems to be required is a somewhat sneaky "setting up the right conditions".

For example, it's almost impossible to "let go" of something (such as wanting to be in a relaxed state) by willing oneself to let go of it. That, of course, just makes it worse. One has to use a different strategy, such as focussing attention on the wanting, and figuring out what actually works takes some experimentation.

:anjali:
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:16 am


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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:44 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:49 am


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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:57 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:03 am


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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:06 am


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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:09 am


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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby farmer » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:19 am

This discussion of "controlled" breathing assumes that there is a way of meditating on the breath in which the breath is natural or uncontrolled. I think Venerable Thanissaro would argue that our habitual ways of focusing on and conceptualizing the breath shape our breathing even if we intend to breathe naturally. Better to get these processes out into the light, where we can observe and experiment with them than to pretend they aren't happening.

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby phil » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:38 am

He encourages people to breathe through their eyes, through their hands. It feels good to tap into the "breath energy" which is indeed coursing through the body, as ki, or chi, though T.B doesn't acknowledge it as such. The founder of the tradition (Ajahn Lee) developed it to heal his body after a heart attack during a rains retreat. Great, healing is great. This kind of breath yoga definitely brings heath benefits, wonderful. Very unfortunate that he promotes it as Dhamma, but most people who study Dhamma seriously are able to see past Thanissaro Bhikkhu pretty easily, and those who don't and get caught up in his cozy atta trap will at least get physical benefits from it. Well, at the cost of being deprived of a correct understanding of Dhamma, that's a steep price.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:06 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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tiltbillings
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breathe

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:19 am



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