Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

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

Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby danieLion » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:24 pm

danieLion wrote:Thanissaro has also noted that although we think of breathing as involuntary, under analysis, we come to see it as all voluntary. He also claims that the cessation of breathing is the hallmark of fourth jhana.


tiltbillings wrote:So, if I hold my breath I have attained 4th jhana?


Greetings Tilt,

That does not follow. Stilling is not holding. We also breathe (oxygenate) through our skin, so it's not absolute deprivation.

tiltbillings wrote:Is breath voluntary? Well, yes and no, but I would suggest if one thinks the answer is only yes, then spend a few minutes under water without any breathing apparatus.


You've missed the point. Not under water--under analysis; that is, while developing the seven factors of awakening.

It's not about thinking "the answer" is only yes; you investigate, contemplate, and experience your perceptions of your breath's voluntariness/involuntariness. In other words, it involves letting go (16th "step" of ānāpānasati) of your belief that breathing is involuntary and examining the results of that letting go. This contextualizes breathing in terms of sankhāra and cetanā. It asks how, with as much precision as possible, is my breathing itself a fabrication and intentional?

Try it out.

Goodwill
Daniel
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby marc108 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:09 am

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:Thanissaro has also noted that although we think of breathing as involuntary, under analysis, we come to see it as all voluntary. He also claimes that the cessation of breathing is the hallmark of fourth jhana.
So, if I hold my breath I have attained 4th jhana? Is breath voluntary? Well, yes and no, but I would suggest if one thinks the answer is only yes, then spend a few minutes under water without any breathing apparatus.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9D-biQM3ag
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby polarbuddha101 » Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:04 am

danieLion wrote:Thanissaro has also noted that although we think of breathing as involuntary, under analysis, we come to see it as all voluntary. He also claimes that the cessation of breathing is the hallmark of fourth jhana.
Goodwill
Daniel


i don't think cessation is the word you are looking for


"I thought: 'Suppose that I, clenching my teeth and pressing my tongue against the roof of my mouth, were to beat down, constrain, & crush my mind with my awareness.' So, clenching my teeth and pressing my tongue against the roof of my mouth, I beat down, constrained, & crushed my mind with my awareness. Just as a strong man, seizing a weaker man by the head or the throat or the shoulders, would beat him down, constrain, & crush him, in the same way I beat down, constrained, & crushed my mind with my awareness. As I did so, sweat poured from my armpits. And although tireless persistence was aroused in me, and unmuddled mindfulness established, my body was aroused & uncalm because of the painful exertion. But the painful feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

"I thought: 'Suppose I were to become absorbed in the trance of non-breathing.' So I stopped the in-breaths & out-breaths in my nose & mouth. As I did so, there was a loud roaring of winds coming out my earholes, just like the loud roar of winds coming out of a smith's bellows... So I stopped the in-breaths & out-breaths in my nose & mouth & ears. As I did so, extreme forces sliced through my head, just as if a strong man were slicing my head open with a sharp sword... Extreme pains arose in my head, just as if a strong man were tightening a turban made of tough leather straps around my head... Extreme forces carved up my stomach cavity, just as if a butcher or his apprentice were to carve up the stomach cavity of an ox... There was an extreme burning in my body, just as if two strong men, grabbing a weaker man by the arms, were to roast & broil him over a pit of hot embers. And although tireless persistence was aroused in me, and unmuddled mindfulness established, my body was aroused & uncalm because of the painful exertion. But the painful feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

"Devas, on seeing me, said, 'Gotama the contemplative is dead.' Other devas said, 'He isn't dead, he's dying.' Others said, 'He's neither dead nor dying, he's an arahant, for this is the way arahants live.'

"I thought: 'Suppose I were to practice going altogether without food.' Then devas came to me and said, 'Dear sir, please don't practice going altogether without food. If you go altogether without food, we'll infuse divine nourishment in through your pores, and you will survive on that.' I thought, 'If I were to claim to be completely fasting while these devas are infusing divine nourishment in through my pores, I would be lying.' So I dismissed them, saying, 'Enough.'

"I thought: 'Suppose I were to take only a little food at a time, only a handful at a time of bean soup, lentil soup, vetch soup, or pea soup.' So I took only a little food at a time, only a handful at a time of bean soup, lentil soup, vetch soup, or pea soup. My body became extremely emaciated. Simply from my eating so little, my limbs became like the jointed segments of vine stems or bamboo stems... My backside became like a camel's hoof... My spine stood out like a string of beads... My ribs jutted out like the jutting rafters of an old, run-down barn... The gleam of my eyes appeared to be sunk deep in my eye sockets like the gleam of water deep in a well... My scalp shriveled & withered like a green bitter gourd, shriveled & withered in the heat & the wind... The skin of my belly became so stuck to my spine that when I thought of touching my belly, I grabbed hold of my spine as well; and when I thought of touching my spine, I grabbed hold of the skin of my belly as well... If I urinated or defecated, I fell over on my face right there... Simply from my eating so little, if I tried to ease my body by rubbing my limbs with my hands, the hair — rotted at its roots — fell from my body as I rubbed, simply from eating so little.

"People on seeing me would say, 'Gotama the contemplative is black.' Other people would say, 'Gotama the contemplative isn't black, he's brown.' Others would say, 'Gotama the contemplative is neither black nor brown, he's golden-skinned.' So much had the clear, bright color of my skin deteriorated, simply from eating so little.

"I thought: 'Whatever brahmans or contemplatives in the past have felt painful, racking, piercing feelings due to their striving, this is the utmost. None have been greater than this. Whatever brahmans or contemplatives in the future will feel painful, racking, piercing feelings due to their striving, this is the utmost. None will be greater than this. Whatever brahmans or contemplatives in the present are feeling painful, racking, piercing feelings due to their striving, this is the utmost. None is greater than this. But with this racking practice of austerities I haven't attained any superior human state, any distinction in knowledge or vision worthy of the noble ones. Could there be another path to Awakening?'

"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities, but that pleasure is not easy to achieve with a body so extremely emaciated. Suppose I were to take some solid food: some rice & porridge.' So I took some solid food: some rice & porridge. Now five monks had been attending on me, thinking, 'If Gotama, our contemplative, achieves some higher state, he will tell us.' But when they saw me taking some solid food — some rice & porridge — they were disgusted and left me, thinking, 'Gotama the contemplative is living luxuriously. He has abandoned his exertion and is backsliding into abundance.'

"So when I had taken solid food and regained strength, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities, I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I entered & remained in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the fading of rapture I remained equanimous, mindful, & alert, and sensed pleasure with the body. I entered & remained in the third jhana, of which the noble ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — I entered & remained in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


not breathing is a practice of the Jains and it leads to death eventually
"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."
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby ignobleone » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:09 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:
danieLion wrote:Thanissaro has also noted that although we think of breathing as involuntary, under analysis, we come to see it as all voluntary. He also claimes that the cessation of breathing is the hallmark of fourth jhana.
Goodwill
Daniel


i don't think cessation is the word you are looking for

As someone has said in this thread: bodily fabrication ceases in the fourth jhana. That's why the claim makes sense.
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby polarbuddha101 » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:13 pm

I'm rather skeptical of the claim that humans can slow down their metabolism to the point where they don't even breathe anymore, but whatever. I suppose I could be wrong.
Last edited by polarbuddha101 on Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
"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."
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby Kamran » Tue May 15, 2012 1:42 am

Thanissaro Bikhu points out that depending on what state of mind you are in you may need to breath differently.

For instance, it is helpful sometimes to push the breath. Breathing unnaturally deep for a few minutes at the start is helpful to reset yourself in some cases. You have to experiment and figure out what type of breath you need.

Also, keep in mind Thanissaro Bikhu defines the breath as the energy flow in the body, so if you focus your awareness on your hands you can feel an energy and they will probably even tingle. When you breath in you can feel the whole body breathing in, not just from the nose, but through the skin.

It took me a while to understand and experience what he meant by "breath energy". At first, I started to visualize/imagine the breath going to different parts of the body, but then became sensitive to the energy on a particular body part or throughout the body simply by shifting my awareness to that spot and no longer need to visualize.

I have found that whole body awareness/breath energy as taught by Thanissaro Bikhu is the most effective method for maintaining mindfulness when I am at work throughout the day.
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby Bakmoon » Mon May 21, 2012 1:54 am

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:What exactly is "easeful breathing?"

He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'
Yes, but what is the actual practice of this?


I am by no means qualified to give pronouncements on the issue, but since I am a fan and listen to a lot of the Ven. Thanissaro's talks, I'll give it my best shot at explaining it.

In a lot of talks he talks about adjusting the breath, or experimenting with it. The way I understand it is that breathing has sort of a two dimensional spectrum, one of long breath vs. short breath, and the other being deep breath vs. shallow breath. All you do is you try out diferent combinations of the two (that is, deep long breath, short long breath, shallow long breath, and shallow short breath, and of course various intermediate positions) until you find one that feels comfortable, and just breathe that way for a while.

That's about the best way I can explain it. I hope that sheds some light on the matter.

With Mettta,
Bakmoon :anjali:
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Postby danieLion » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:17 pm

danieLion wrote:Re: ENERGY. The notion of the breath as energy is extremely optimistic. When scientists started thinking in terms of energy and not just "matter", the scientific world bloomed with new discoveries. As with the breath. When we think of it as energy, we are adopting a realistic attitude about breathing, and the discoveries start to blossom.
Goodwill
Daniel

In beginning of this talk

http://dharmaseed.org/talks/audio_player/96/1416.html

Joseph Goldstein says humans are essentially "energy systems."
Best,
Daniel
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