ajahn chah

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: ajahn chah

Postby hermitwin » Sun May 20, 2012 9:33 pm

Once again, the term 'vipassana' comes up.
Beginners have a hard time separating the unique significance
of this word in the burmese tradition vs others eg thai tradition.
In the burmese tradition (mahasi sayadaw) tradition, 'vipassana' is THE method taught by Buddha to reach enlightenment.
In other traditions, "vipassana" means insight. It is not a type of meditation.
I think it would be extremely helpful if the followers of mahasi sayadaw, goenka will acknowledge this. Otherwise, many people will remain confused, as I was for a long time.
I am not trying to debate whether the mahasi sayadaw method is good or not. But hoping to clear up a very common confusion faced by many beginners.
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Re: ajahn chah

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 20, 2012 11:32 pm

Greetings Hermitwin,

Thanks for sharing the experiences of your former confusion.

As I see it, the meditation itself might rightly be called satipatthana, whereas the possible result of that satipatthana practice is vipassana (clear seeing).

Would the use of such terminology have prevented confusion?

And for anyone who is still confused...

One Tool Among Many : The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice
by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... etool.html

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: ajahn chah

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 21, 2012 1:11 am

hermitwin wrote:Once again, the term 'vipassana' comes up.
Beginners have a hard time separating the unique significance
of this word in the burmese tradition vs others eg thai tradition.
In the burmese tradition (mahasi sayadaw) tradition, 'vipassana' is THE method taught by Buddha to reach enlightenment.
Actually, not. The methodology that cultivates the factors leads to insight got called insight/vipassana well after the fact. The Burmese progenitors of this practice knew full well how vipassana is used in the suttas and commentaries. And that something I have heard explained by teachers more than once at vipassana retreats.
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: ajahn chah

Postby hermitwin » Mon May 21, 2012 5:05 am

"As I see it, the meditation itself might rightly be called satipatthana, whereas the possible result of that satipatthana practice is vipassana (clear seeing)."

thanks retro, i am in full agreement.
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Re: ajahn chah

Postby hermitwin » Mon May 21, 2012 5:09 am

"Actually, not. The methodology that cultivates the factors leads to insight got called insight/vipassana well after the fact. The Burmese progenitors of this practice knew full well how vipassana is used in the suttas and commentaries. And that something I have heard explained by teachers more than once at vipassana retreats."

dear tilt, you are entitled to your opinion. you may even back your opinion with credible support. but the point is, there are other schools outside the mahasi traditin wil disagree with you. you may even find other schools outside the mahasi tradition which agree with you.
it is however important to present the bigger picture of the diversity of views concerning 'vipassana'. esp since we are talking about ajahn chah here.
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Re: ajahn chah

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 21, 2012 5:16 am

hermitwin wrote:it is however important to present the bigger picture of the diversity of views concerning 'vipassana'. esp since we are talking about ajahn chah here.
If that is your point, I do not see anyone disagreeing with you.
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: ajahn chah

Postby Cittasanto » Mon May 21, 2012 6:35 am

hermitwin wrote:"As I see it, the meditation itself might rightly be called satipatthana, whereas the possible result of that satipatthana practice is vipassana (clear seeing)."

thanks retro, i am in full agreement.

Hi Retro; Hermitwin.
There is a technique called satipatthana originating from Thailand, it involves body movement even in sitting practice.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: ajahn chah

Postby Bakmoon » Mon May 21, 2012 5:26 pm

Cittasanto wrote:There is a technique called satipatthana originating from Thailand, it involves body movement even in sitting practice.


Forgive me if I am wrong, but I believe that tradition of meditation is called "Mahasati" developed by a Monk called Ajahn Teean.
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: ajahn chah

Postby mikenz66 » Mon May 21, 2012 7:33 pm

Bakmoon wrote:Forgive me if I am wrong, but I believe that tradition of meditation is called "Mahasati" developed by a Monk called Ajahn Teean.

This?
http://www.4ui.com/eart/248eart5.htm
http://www.curthansonpaintings.com/meditationblog.html

It's an interesting technique. Useful as a substitute for walking when you have no space...

:anjali:
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Re: ajahn chah

Postby reflection » Mon May 21, 2012 8:34 pm

I had that tought at a retreat once. It was simply called Tai Chi :tongue:

Anyway.. doesn't really have to do with the topic. :geek:
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Re: ajahn chah

Postby Cittasanto » Mon May 21, 2012 9:30 pm

Bakmoon wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:There is a technique called satipatthana originating from Thailand, it involves body movement even in sitting practice.


Forgive me if I am wrong, but I believe that tradition of meditation is called "Mahasati" developed by a Monk called Ajahn Teean.

maybe, however when I came accross what I am talking about it was going by the name of satipatthana, but that may of just been someone putting the wrong word in the video or something?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: ajahn chah

Postby danieLion » Tue May 22, 2012 6:34 am

befriend wrote:what is ajahn chahs method of vipassana?


In Reading The Natural Mind Ajahn Chah said:

Insight Meditation (Vipassana)

If you have faith it doesn't matter whether you have studied theory or not. If our believing mind leads us to develop practice, if it leads us to constantly develop energy and patience, then study doesn't matter. We have mindfulness as a foundation for our practice. We are mindful in all bodily postures, whether sitting, standing, walking or lying. And if there is mindfulness there will be clear comprehension to accompany it. Mindfulness and clear comprehension will arise together. They may arise so rapidly, however, that we can't tell them apart. But, when there is mindfulness, there will also be clear comprehension.

When our mind is firm and stable, mindfulness will arise quickly and easily and this is also where we have wisdom. Sometimes, though, wisdom is insufficient or doesn't arise at the right time. There may be mindfulness and clear comprehension, but these alone are not enough to control the situation. Generally, if mindfulness and clear comprehension are a foundation of mind, then wisdom will be there to assist. However, we must constantly develop this wisdom through the practice of Insight Meditation. This means that whatever arises in the mind can be the object of mindfulness and clear comprehension. But we must see according to Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. Impermanence (Anicca) is the basis. Dukkha refers to the quality of unsatisfactoriness, and Anatta says that it is without individual entity. We see that it's simply a sensation that has arisen, that it has no self, no entity and that it disappears of its own accord. Just that! Someone who is deluded, someone who doesn't have wisdom, will miss this occasion, he won't be able to use these things to advantage.

If wisdom is present then mindfulness and clear comprehension will be right there with it. However, at this initial stage the wisdom may not be perfectly clear. Thus mindfulness and clear comprehension aren't able to catch every object, but wisdom comes to help. It can see what quality of mindfulness there is and what kind of sensation has arisen. Or, in its most general aspect, whatever mindfulness there is or whatever sensation there is, it's all Dhamma.

The Buddha took the practice of Insight Meditation as His foundation. He saw that this mindfulness and clear comprehension were both uncertain and unstable. Anything that's unstable, and which we want to have stable, causes us to suffer. We want things to be according to our own desires, but we must suffer because things just aren't that way. This is the influence of an unclean mind, the influence of a mind which is lacking wisdom.

When we practice we tend to become caught up in wanting it easy, wanting it to be the way we like it. We don't have to go very far to understand such an attitude. Merely look at this body! Is it ever really the way we want it? One minute we like it to be one way and the next minute we like it to be another way. Have we ever really had it the way we liked? The nature of our bodies and minds is exactly the same in this regard. It simply is the way it is.

This point in our practice can be easily missed. Usually, whatever we feel doesn't agree with us, we throw out; whatever doesn't please us, we throw out. We don't stop to think whether the way we like and dislike things is really the correct way or not. We merely think that the things we find disagreeable must be wrong, and those which we find agreeable must be right.

This is where craving comes from. When we receive stimuli by way of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind, a feeling of liking or disliking arises. This shows that the minds is full of attachment. so the Buddha gave us this Teaching of Impermanence. He gave us a way to contemplate things. If we cling to something which isn't permanent, then we'll experience suffering. There's no reason why we should want to have these things in accordance with our likes and dislikes. It isn't possible for us to make things be that way. We don't have that kind of authority or power. Regardless of however we may like things to be, everything is already the way it is. Wanting like this is not the way out of suffering.

Here we can see how the mind which is deluded understands in one way, and the mind which is not deluded understands in another way. When the mind with wisdom receives some sensation for example, it sees it as something not to be clung to or identified with. This is what indicates wisdom. If there isn't any wisdom then we merely follow our stupidity. This stupidity is not seeing impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not-self. That which we like we see as good and right. That which we don't like we see as not good. We can't arrive at Dhamma this way -- wisdom cannot arise. If we can see this, then wisdom arises.

The Buddha firmly established the practice of Insight Meditation in His mind and used it to investigate all the various mental impressions. Whatever arose in His mind He investigated like this: even though we like it, it's uncertain. It's suffering, because these things which are constantly rising and falling don't follow the influence of our minds. All these things are not a being or a self, they don't belong to us. The Buddha taught us to see them just as they are. It is this principle on which we stand in practice.

We understand then, that we aren't able to just bring about various moods as we wish. Both good moods and bad moods are going to come up. Some of them are helpful and some of them are not. If we don't understand rightly regarding these things, then we won't be able to judge correctly. Rather we will go running after craving -- running off following our desire.

Sometimes we feel happy and sometimes we feel sad, but this is natural. Sometimes we'll feel pleased and at other times disappointed. What we like we hold as good, and what we don't like we hold as bad. In this way we separate ourselves further and further and further from Dhamma. When this happens, we aren't able to understand or recognize Dhamma, and thus we are confused. Desires increase because our minds have nothing but delusion.

This is how we talk about the mind. It isn't necessary to go far away from ourselves to find understanding. We simply see that these states of mind aren't permanent. We see that they are unsatisfactory and that they aren't a permanent self. If we continue to develop our practice in this way, we call it the practice of Vipassana or Insight Meditation. We say that it is recognizing the contents of our mind and in this way we develop wisdom.

Samatha (Calm) Meditation

Our practice of Samatha is like this: We establish the practice of mindfulness on the in-and out-breath, for example, as a foundation or means of controlling the mind. By having the mind follow the flow of the breath it becomes steadfast, calm and still. This practice of calming the mind is called Samatha Meditation. It's necessary to do a lot of this kind of practice because the mind is full of many disturbances. It's very confused. We can't say how many years or how many lives it's been this way. If we sit and contemplate we'll see that there's a lot that doesn't conduce to peace and calm and a lot that leads to confusion!

For this reason the Buddha taught that we must find a meditation subject which is suitable to our particular tendencies, a way of practice which is right for our character. For example, going over and over the parts of the body: hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth and skin, can be very calming. The mind can become very peaceful from this practice. If contemplating these five things leads to calm, it's because they are appropriate objects for contemplation according to our tendencies. Whatever we find to be appropriate in this way, we can consider to be our practice and use it to subdue the defilements.

Another example is recollection of death. For those who still have strong greed, aversion and delusion and find them difficult to contain, it's useful to take this subject of personal death as a meditation. We'll come to see that everybody has to die, whether rich or poor. We'll see both good and evil people die. Everybody must die! Developing this practice we find that an attitude of dispassion arises. The more we practice the easier our sitting produces calm. This is because it's a suitable and appropriate practice for us. If this practice of Calm Meditation is not agreeable to our particular tendencies, it won't produce this attitude of dispassion. If the object is truly suited to us then we'll find it arising regularly, without great difficulty, and we'll find ourselves thinking about it often.

Regarding this we can see an example in our everyday lives. When laypeople bring trays of many different types of food to offer the monks, we taste them all to see which we like. When we have tried each one we can tell which is most agreeable to us. This is just an example. That which we find agreeable to our taste we'll eat, we find most suitable. We won't bother about the other various dishes.

The practice of concentrating our attention on the in-and out-breath is an example of a type of meditation which is suitable for us all. It seems that when we go around doing various different practices, we don't feel so good. But as soon as we sit and observe our breath we have a good feeling, we can see it clearly. There's no need to go looking far away, we can use what is close to us and this will be better for us. Just watch the breath. It goes out and comes in, out and in -- we watch it like this. For a long time we keep watching our breathing in and out and slowly our mind settles. Other activity will arise but we feel like it is distant from us. Just like when we live apart from each other and don't feel so close anymore. We don't have the same strong contact anymore or perhaps no contact at all.

When we have a feeling for this practice of mindfulness of breathing, it becomes easier. If we keep on with this practice we gain experience and become skilled at knowing the nature of the breath. We'll know what it's like when it's long and what it's like when it's short.

Looking at it one way we can talk about the food of the breath. While sitting or walking we breathe, while sleeping we breathe, while awake we breathe. If we don't breathe then we die. If we think about it we see that we exist only with the help of food. If we don't eat ordinary food for ten minutes, an hour or even a day, it doesn't matter. This is a course kind of food. However, if we don't breathe for even a short time we'll die. If we don't breathe for five or ten minutes we would be dead. Try it!

One who is practicing mindfulness of breathing should have this kind of understanding. The knowledge that comes from this practice is indeed wonderful. If we don't contemplate then we won't see the breath as food, but actually we are "eating" air all the time, in, out, in, out...all the time. Also you'll find that the more you contemplate in this way, the greater the benefits derived from the practice and the more delicate the breath becomes. It may even happen that the breath stops. It appears as if we aren't breathing at all. Actually, the breath is passing through the pores of the skin. This is called the "delicate breath." When our mind is perfectly calm, normal breathing can cease in this way. We need not be at all startled or afraid. If there's no breathing what should we do? Just know it! Know that there is no breathing, that's all. This is the right practice here.

Here we are talking about the way of Samatha practice, the practice of developing calm. If the object which we are using is right and appropriate for us, it will lead to this kind of experience. This is the beginning, but there is enough in this practice to take us all the way, or at least to where we can see clearly and continue in strong faith. If we keep on with contemplation in this manner, energy will come to us. This is similar to the water in an urn. We put in water and keep it topped up. We keep on filling the urn with water and thereby the insects which live in the water don't die. Making effort and doing our everyday practice is just like this. It all comes back to practice. We feel very good and peaceful.

This peacefulness comes from our one-pointed state of mind. This one-pointed state of mind, however, can be very troublesome, since we don't want other mental states to disturb us. Actually, other mental states do come and, if we think about it, that in itself can be the one-pointed state of mind. It's like when we see various men and women, but we don't have the same feeling about them as we do about our mother and father. In reality all men are male just like our father and all women are female just like our mother, but we don't have the same feeling about them. We feel that our parents are more important. They hold greater value for us.

This is how it should be with our one-pointed state of mind. We should have the same attitude towards it as we would have towards our own mother and father. All other activity which arises we appreciate in the same way as we feel towards men and women in general. We don't stop seeing them, we simply acknowledge their presence and don't ascribe to them the same value as our parents.
http://portal.in.th/i-dhamma/pages/8904/

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Re: ajahn chah

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 22, 2012 6:43 am

danieLion wrote:
befriend wrote:what is ajahn chahs method of vipassana?


In Reading The Natural Mind Ajahn Chah said:

Insight Meditation (Vipassana). . .

:heart:
Thanks for that.
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: ajahn chah

Postby danieLion » Tue May 22, 2012 7:16 am

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:
befriend wrote:what is ajahn chahs method of vipassana?


In Reading The Natural Mind Ajahn Chah said:

Insight Meditation (Vipassana). . .

:heart:
Thanks for that.

No prob.
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