my goals and ways of practice

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: my goals and ways of practice

Postby reflection » Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:41 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:You're all very nice people, but I'm disapointed at this forum for these reasons: as the main Theravada forum on the web, our group should be able to give pratical advice on meditation. But every time anybody makes some claim of this or that attainment, they are looked on with suspicion instead of a healthy, grown-up analysis. When jhana is spoken as an experience, there's imediatly somebody begining a what-is-jhana debate. People with meditation experience, instead of welcome, are treated as unwelcome. We just lost another person who has meditation experience. And it's not the first.

This forum is good for theoretical discussions and learning buddhist tenets, but its weak point is discussion of practice, which is the most important part of buddhism. :?

:soap:

Well, the OP asked about his experiences of jhana, so he himself started the what-is-jhana debate. Myself, I can relate to his experiences, but simply not as jhana and I gave the advice I found most appropriate through my own experience and what I've learned from my teachers; just as others here did. If we don't agree, that's not suspicion or treating someone as unwelcome, that is an effort in trying to help.

But to quote ohno himself, I guess "Sometimes the beneficial things are far from what we'd like to hear."

With metta,
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ignobleone » Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:47 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Ben wrote:Because the jhanas cannot take you to liberation.

In the absence of Right View, that is true. Jhana alone cannot take you to liberation.

Similarly, deep jhanas are not necessary for liberation and that sutta give examples of arahants who had varying levels of jhanic experience, the minimum (from memory) being the first jhana.

Metta,
Retro. :)

What is liberation according to your understanding?
Is there any relation between jhana and liberation? If there is, what is it?
Isn't it good for us to make sure we understand these two things?
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:52 am

Greetings Ignoble,

Liberation = cessation = nibbana = arahantship

Isn't it good for us to make sure we understand these two things?

Yes.

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: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ignobleone » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Ignoble,

Liberation = cessation = nibbana = arahantship

Isn't it good for us to make sure we understand these two things?

Yes.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Hi Retro,
You haven't answered my 2nd question.
:)
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:38 am

Greetings Ignobleone,

ignobleone wrote:You haven't answered my 2nd question.

That's right, you can do your own investigations.

If you want some starting points... see what the Buddha said about jhana, samma-samadhi, the fetters broken at the different levels of nobility... and check out some of the old Dhamma Wheel discussions about what level of jhana is required as a minimum to achieve which noble-attainment.

Enjoy. :)

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: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Sarva » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:43 am

ignobleone wrote:1 What is liberation according to your understanding?
2 Is there any relation between jhana and liberation? If there is, what is it?
3 Isn't it good for us to make sure we understand these two things?

Hi Ignobleone, Retro, Ohnofabrications
I hope you don't mind me attempting an answer, to help.

1 Liberation is seeing the operation of craving and being able to disconnect from it. Craving is the fundamental factor because it is what drives actions and decisions up to liberation. I am still exploring the sutta's and I have not come to final decision if there are any such thing as glimpses to guide during the path or just a final sudden end (this seems most logical). My understanding is that the Buddha would focus on a final end to craving to consider it lasting nibbana. This being the case then there has to be complete elimination of craving in order to experience nibanna without interruption. I have not experienced nibbana without interruption and hence cannot cofirm if any experience is nibbana.

2 Jahna shows anatta and anicca, and hence leads to the recognition of dukkha and it causes. It is not liberation itself and is considered one of the 62 things to be abandoned (or wrong view) and should not subject to craving (http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... wrong_view). In other words once reached and used it has served its use, to my understanding.

3. Yes, but I find this part the most challenging and hence the need for a teacher or/and extensive study of the Suttas. I am finding the people on this forum to be very kind and helpful for that reason.

I have not been able to answer Ohnofabrications OP for this reason, I am not sure if the experiences are correctly related to Jhana, despite the effort going into them. If I judge on my experiences I would say that they are not the same. I still think they are helpful, but the right questions need to be asked of Ohnofabrications. Hence why I would have to refer Ohnofabrications to an experienced Buddhist teacher or/and extensive study of the sutta alongside those who are also keen and taking that route.

These are just answers from personal understanding I offer to help. I do not suggest taking them as fact, but focus on one's meditation as an inner-teacher also. :)

metta

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“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ignobleone » Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:15 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Ignobleone,

ignobleone wrote:You haven't answered my 2nd question.

That's right, you can do your own investigations.

If you want some starting points... see what the Buddha said about jhana, samma-samadhi, the fetters broken at the different levels of nobility... and check out some of the old Dhamma Wheel discussions about what level of jhana is required as a minimum to achieve which noble-attainment.

The reason I asked you such question is to find out what's your current view/understanding, not because of I don't have any idea about it. :)
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ignobleone » Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:19 pm

Sarva wrote:
ignobleone wrote:1 What is liberation according to your understanding?
2 Is there any relation between jhana and liberation? If there is, what is it?
3 Isn't it good for us to make sure we understand these two things?

Hi Ignobleone, Retro, Ohnofabrications
I hope you don't mind me attempting an answer, to help.

Many thanks for your help.

1 Liberation is seeing the operation of craving and being able to disconnect from it. Craving is the fundamental factor because it is what drives actions and decisions up to liberation. I am still exploring the sutta's and I have not come to final decision if there are any such thing as glimpses to guide during the path or just a final sudden end (this seems most logical). My understanding is that the Buddha would focus on a final end to craving to consider it lasting nibbana. This being the case then there has to be complete elimination of craving in order to experience nibanna without interruption. I have not experienced nibbana without interruption and hence cannot cofirm if any experience is nibbana.

From the Law of Dependent Origination, craving(taṇhā) comes after feeling(vedanā), and feeling comes after the other three which constitute perception(sañña). The way to cut off craving is by cutting of the roots. Nibbana is also known as cessation of perception and feeling. Notice that perception and feeling are cut off here. The Buddha attained the nibbana from mastering jhanas. That's where the role of jhana takes place in the path to Liberation. That's the relation between jhana and Liberation.
Many people, mainly mainstream Theravadan Buddhists these days (including some in this forum, which I can tell from theirs replies) don't notice/realized this. This is also why there's jhana debate thread. I would blame all of this on commentaries, since they talk about jhana only in terms of ten fetters, which have puzzled people for so long.

3. Yes, but I find this part the most challenging and hence the need for a teacher or/and extensive study of the Suttas. I am finding the people on this forum to be very kind and helpful for that reason.

I have not been able to answer Ohnofabrications OP for this reason, I am not sure if the experiences are correctly related to Jhana, despite the effort going into them. If I judge on my experiences I would say that they are not the same. I still think they are helpful, but the right questions need to be asked of Ohnofabrications. Hence why I would have to refer Ohnofabrications to an experienced Buddhist teacher or/and extensive study of the sutta alongside those who are also keen and taking that route.

The problem is, it's very difficult to find a real quality teacher these days. For my case personally, I couldn't get satisfying answer even from a high caliber monk such as Bikkhu Bodhi. I once came to his sutta study class at the temple where he resides in upper New York State. I asked him in person how to make kamasanna ceases, the question which still puzzle me up to now. His answer was very simple: The Noble Eightfold Path. I wasn't satisfied with that answer. I replied: but my question is about one of the N8P, i.e. samma-samadhi/jhana, the answer went back to the question again, infinite loop. We ended up laughing together, until he told me to take some free books (from the temple) about N8P.
There's no doubt he masters many suttas, since the answer in the sutta is the same. But still, it remains a puzzle for me.

These are just answers from personal understanding I offer to help. I do not suggest taking them as fact, but focus on one's meditation as an inner-teacher also. :)

Be careful, inner-teacher can make us deluded too, unless we train our inner-teacher with right discernment.
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ignobleone » Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:36 pm

I would blame all of this on commentaries, since they talk about jhana only in terms of ten fetters, which have puzzled people for so long.

Pardon me, one correction: the bold word I meant to be liberation.
Regarding the importance of teacher, IMO the real quality teachers can only be found somewhere in Thai or Burmese deep jungles.
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:50 pm

ignobleone wrote: IMO the real quality teachers can only be found somewhere in Thai or Burmese deep jungles.


From experience or from speculation?

A pity there aren't too many deep jungles left in Thailand and those in Burma are often contested by hill tribe rebels, there not being much of a forest monk tradition in Burma anyway.

I'm not sure what you call a Buddhist urban myth when it's not urban related, I suppose jungle myth will have to do.
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby manas » Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:13 pm

I ask forgiveness for sounding like a broken record. With metta I will keep quoting a few things from time to time, here all drawn from the mahasatipatthana sutta:

ignobleone wrote:What is liberation according to your understanding?


"And what is the noble truth of the cessation of stress? The remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.


Is there any relation between jhana and liberation? If there is, what is it?



1:
"And what is the noble truth of the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress? Just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.


2.
"And what is right concentration? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is called right concentration.


:anjali:
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Sarva » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:05 am

ignobleone wrote:1. From the Law of Dependent Origination, craving(taṇhā) comes after feeling(vedanā), and feeling comes after the other three which constitute perception(sañña). The way to cut off craving is by cutting of the roots. Nibbana is also known as cessation of perception and feeling. Notice that perception and feeling are cut off here. The Buddha attained the nibbana from mastering jhanas. That's where the role of jhana takes place in the path to Liberation. That's the relation between jhana and Liberation.
Many people, mainly mainstream Theravadan Buddhists these days (including some in this forum, which I can tell from theirs replies) don't notice/realized this. This is also why there's jhana debate thread. I would blame all of this on commentaries, since they talk about jhana only in terms of ten fetters, which have puzzled people for so long.

The problem is, it's very difficult to find a real quality teacher these days. For my case personally, I couldn't get satisfying answer even from a high caliber monk such as Bikkhu Bodhi. I once came to his sutta study class at the temple where he resides in upper New York State. I asked him in person how to make kamasanna ceases, the question which still puzzle me up to now. His answer was very simple: The Noble Eightfold Path. I wasn't satisfied with that answer. I replied: but my question is about one of the N8P, i.e. samma-samadhi/jhana, the answer went back to the question again, infinite loop. We ended up laughing together, until he told me to take some free books (from the temple) about N8P.
There's no doubt he masters many suttas, since the answer in the sutta is the same. But still, it remains a puzzle for me.


Thanks for the reply, Ignobleone
I will keep in mind your points. Regarding the topic of jhana and kamasanna (which I understand is "perception of sensuality") I will try to catch up with the jhana thread and voice some thoughts on jhana there. :).

I also feel in my case it will increase frustration (dukkha) rather than to reduce it to conclude that 'help' lies in a remote jungle. I feel we can only push on with optimism in our present circumstances.

Helpful reply from manas above too. :anjali:

metta
Last edited by Sarva on Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:14 am

Sarva wrote:
ignobleone wrote: The Buddha attained the nibbana from mastering jhanas.
No, he did not. The jhanas are tools that helped him master the insight necessary for awakening.
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.

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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Sarva » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:22 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Sarva wrote:
ignobleone wrote: The Buddha attained the nibbana from mastering jhanas.
No, he did not. The jhanas are tools that helped him master the insight necessary for awakening.

I would agree that it is a tool.
I see it in the list of "62 Wrong Views":

The 62 kinds of wrong view (regarding eternity, self, and causality):

58. The view that indulgence in the senses can still lead to nibbana.

59. The view that the first jhana is an enlightenment experience.

60. The view that the second jhana is an enlightenment experience.

61. The view that the third jhana is an enlightenment experience.

62. The view that the fourth jhana is an enlightenment experience.


http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... wrong_view
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ignobleone » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:06 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
ignobleone wrote: IMO the real quality teachers can only be found somewhere in Thai or Burmese deep jungles.


From experience or from speculation?

Sort of from speculation. Anyway it's merely an opinion since I wrote "IMO". But I also have a related experience.
When I tried to help some monks (in a Thai Buddhist temple) to clean-up their laptops (yes, these days monks are inseparable from computers) from virus, I saw uTorrent was running on the background with at least ten action movie torrents in the queue. I didn't say anything about it, only talked to myself that it was a serious Vinaya violation. No wonder the laptops are often infected by virus. I wonder whether they have time to meditate everyday. Yet to mention the activites in facebook. Sorry, I don't mean any offense to any monks in this forum.
There are too many distractions these days. I think living in jungle is the best way to avoid modern distractions. My opinion is based on that reason.

A pity there aren't too many deep jungles left in Thailand and those in Burma are often contested by hill tribe rebels, there not being much of a forest monk tradition in Burma anyway.

Oh I see. Yes it's a pity.
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ignobleone » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:24 pm

manas wrote:I ask forgiveness for sounding like a broken record. With metta I will keep quoting a few things from time to time, here all drawn from the mahasatipatthana sutta:

Thanks for the quotes, but I believe many people in this forum have been aware of those quotes. I expected to read an elaboration of one's understanding using his/her own words.

"And what is right concentration? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation.

It's the common, standard 1st jhana formula. But the problem is, it's unclear how to withdraw from sensuality technically.
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Sarva » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:38 pm

ignobleone wrote: But the problem is, it's unclear how to withdraw from sensuality technically.

Hi Ignobleone
I take "sensuality" to mean the arousal of "pleasurable" versus "dis-pleasurable" or "attractive" versus "ugly" etc. Correct me if different?

The withdraw of sensuality would imply the end of the perspective of "mine" versus "yours", to use a phrase I would say the insight of "no duality". There would be no object comparison and hence sensuality would withdraw as no object would be more or less sensual or desirable than any other object. In a way we label objects with a quality of sensuality. In order to achieve no duality and withdraw of sensuality one would have to remove the subject, who makes the judgements on objects. The subject is the cause of differentiation, the subject selects "most beautiful" over "less beautiful" based on its view of self values, so the subject needs "to end". This is what I would call anatta. I see this being done gradually through buddhist practice.

:anjali:
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ignobleone » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:57 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Sarva wrote:
ignobleone wrote: The Buddha attained the nibbana from mastering jhanas.
No, he did not. The jhanas are tools that helped him master the insight necessary for awakening.

With all due respect. But this is a very typical comment from the victims of jhana bifurcation/dichotomy, many of the mainstream theravadan buddhists these days are. For them, jhana has nothing to do with insight (I prefer the word discernment), in other words, insight is not needed to attain jhana, a misconception. Some people even too ignorant to accept this reality.
If the Buddha didn't master jhanas, he would have been trapped in jhana state like his former teachers. What Siddhaartha did was transcending the 8th (arupa)jhana to the next state, which he claimed to be the ultimate peak of perception, nothing further, i.e. the cessation of perception and feeling, nibbana.
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ignobleone » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:17 pm

Sarva wrote:I would agree that it is a tool.
I see it in the list of "62 Wrong Views":

The 62 kinds of wrong view (regarding eternity, self, and causality):

58. The view that indulgence in the senses can still lead to nibbana.

59. The view that the first jhana is an enlightenment experience.

60. The view that the second jhana is an enlightenment experience.

61. The view that the third jhana is an enlightenment experience.

62. The view that the fourth jhana is an enlightenment experience.

To make what I said clearer: what I said is mastering jhanas. I didn't mean any of those wrong views. What I meant by mastering jhanas is mastering adhitthana and not get trapped/indulged in any jhana state.
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Sarva » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:28 pm

ignobleone wrote:
Sarva wrote:I would agree that it is a tool.
I see it in the list of "62 Wrong Views":

The 62 kinds of wrong view (regarding eternity, self, and causality):

58. The view that indulgence in the senses can still lead to nibbana.

59. The view that the first jhana is an enlightenment experience.

60. The view that the second jhana is an enlightenment experience.

61. The view that the third jhana is an enlightenment experience.

62. The view that the fourth jhana is an enlightenment experience.

To make what I said clearer: what I said is mastering jhanas. I didn't mean any of those wrong views. What I meant by mastering jhanas is mastering adhitthana and not get trapped/indulged in any jhana state.

Thanks for the clarification, Ignobleone.
My point was to confirm why I see jhana as a tool. It was not intended to be judgemental in nature. :)
With respect
Sarva
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