Samatha and Vipassana question

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Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby eternityinmind » Tue May 29, 2012 8:33 pm

:namaste: I am a little bit confused about the difference between samatha and vipassana meditation. How the two relate to each other? Can and should I combine them? How exactly? Any tips appreciated. :)
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby reflection » Tue May 29, 2012 9:19 pm

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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby hermitwin » Wed May 30, 2012 5:47 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzSFB3PO6Js

this shd answer your question. cheers.
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed May 30, 2012 6:48 am

Samatha meditation is concentration meditation, where the mind is focused on a single object, usually the breath, until a unity of focus has been established. This is sometimes called Jhana.

Vipassana meditation is insight meditation, where the mind is directed to experienced phenomena such as thoughts or sensations in order to see them clearly as impermanent, dissatisfying, and non-self.

In some traditions, such as the Goenka or Mahasi traditions, "dry" vipassana, where there is very little pure concentration meditation, is supported. However, in practice, a great amount of concentration is developed through insight.

In others, like Buddhadasa or Ajahn Chah, essentially do not separate them at all and say that the cultivation of concentration and Jhana leads to insight.

It all depends on what tradition you're interested in. I would personally recommend taking a while to focus on developing concentration through annapanna, or breath awareness. Try and find the point where you most distinctly feel the in and out breath, and then establish your mind on that point like a gatekeeper; don't follow the breath in or out, just note when it hits that one spot and when it doesn't. When your mind wanders, bring it back. Try and "know the breath," understanding directly the length, duration, intensity, etc. that each in and out breath has. Don't think about it analytically, saying, "That was a short breath, I bet the next one will be longer!" Just know it directly. That might sound weird, but you'll soon grow to see the difference between knowing at the experiential level and just thinking. Try and examine each breath to see it as impermanent and out of your control. Try and keep focused and calm your mind, but when other thoughts invade, just note how impermanent and uncontrollable they are as well. Do that for a while, establishing concentration and mindfulness until you begin to become more and more fixed on the breath at that one single point of entry.

In the suttas, the Buddha never says, "Do samatha" or "Do vipassana." He just says "Go meditate." In truth, you can't have samatha (concentration) without vipassana (insight), or vice versa. Like a bird with an injured wing, having only one side developed will hamper you. Instead, they should develop together. So don't worry too much about whether or not you're doing samatha or vipassana; the important thing is to sit and be mindful!

But I'm no meditation master! Other people will have other ideas. This is just what I would say off the cuff. Good luck and welcome to the Sangha!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby eternityinmind » Wed May 30, 2012 7:13 am

:namaste: Well,when i meditate I usually count the breath from 1 to 10,paying attention to the motion of the lower abdomen (the hara) and the posture of my body,trying to keep my spine straight.It's basically zazen I think.Is that classified as samatha meditation? Thanks for all the answers! :twothumbsup:
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby Cittasanto » Wed May 30, 2012 7:23 am

If you doo a search (found in the top bar to the right) for the key words there is plenty of threads on the topic which may help you.
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby DarwidHalim » Wed May 30, 2012 9:22 am

Basically, you can do it in 2 different ways:

1. Master your samantha first until you reach Jhana 4.
Afterwards, you use that super stability of mind to look into the nature of your mind, the nature of your body, the nature of your perception, the nature of feelings, the nature of phenomena (like tree, river, mountain, sky, whatever you like).

2. You use Vipassana to build up samantha.
In this approach, you need a very good understanding of emptiness, minimum from conceptual point of view. You really need a solid conceptual understanding. You need it, because in your journey of meditation, you will face a lot of problems with thoughts. In order to deal with the thoughts, you need to know what is the nature of the thoughts. This knowledge comes mainly from the teaching of emptiness. If you don't have this knowledge, for sure you will be knocked down by the thoughts in the sense that the thoughts will carry you away and you will be fully conditioned by them. Your meditation will fail.

If you follow Anapanasati sutta, you will follow approach No. 1. You will start with breathing. You will build up a solid background of samantha. In the last part, you will build up your Vipassana.

The main difference between Practice No. 1 and 2, is:
In practice no. 1, if you have thought or you are captured by thought, you will refocus back into the breathing. There is shifting here. You do a change here.

But, in practice No. 2, you do not do that. Practice No. 2 is without any object. You do not have any focus at all. You are just aware. If thought comes, you slowly look into its nature. If no thought, you also just slowly look into its nature. No acceptance, and no rejection. Just look. Not looking like ignorant people not knowing what is going on. But, look with awareness nakedly. You don't do any changing here.

Within Theravada umbrella, I do not know where you can find information or sutta about the meditation No. 2. I think probably it is not available.

By the way, vipassana and samantha cannot be separated like that. When you have samantha, you will have vipassana. But, they are also not same.
Samantha is for stability.
Vipassana is for insight - knowing perfectly the nature of what is going on.
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I do not exist neither non-exist.
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby Nyana » Wed May 30, 2012 9:54 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Samatha meditation is concentration meditation, where the mind is focused on a single object, usually the breath, until a unity of focus has been established. This is sometimes called Jhana.

Vipassana meditation is insight meditation, where the mind is directed to experienced phenomena such as thoughts or sensations in order to see them clearly as impermanent, dissatisfying, and non-self.

In some traditions, such as the Goenka or Mahasi traditions, "dry" vipassana, where there is very little pure concentration meditation, is supported. However, in practice, a great amount of concentration is developed through insight.

In others, like Buddhadasa or Ajahn Chah, essentially do not separate them at all and say that the cultivation of concentration and Jhana leads to insight.

It all depends on what tradition you're interested in. I would personally recommend taking a while to focus on developing concentration through annapanna, or breath awareness. Try and find the point where you most distinctly feel the in and out breath, and then establish your mind on that point like a gatekeeper; don't follow the breath in or out, just note when it hits that one spot and when it doesn't. When your mind wanders, bring it back. Try and "know the breath," understanding directly the length, duration, intensity, etc. that each in and out breath has. Don't think about it analytically, saying, "That was a short breath, I bet the next one will be longer!" Just know it directly. That might sound weird, but you'll soon grow to see the difference between knowing at the experiential level and just thinking. Try and examine each breath to see it as impermanent and out of your control. Try and keep focused and calm your mind, but when other thoughts invade, just note how impermanent and uncontrollable they are as well. Do that for a while, establishing concentration and mindfulness until you begin to become more and more fixed on the breath at that one single point of entry.

In the suttas, the Buddha never says, "Do samatha" or "Do vipassana." He just says "Go meditate." In truth, you can't have samatha (concentration) without vipassana (insight), or vice versa. Like a bird with an injured wing, having only one side developed will hamper you. Instead, they should develop together. So don't worry too much about whether or not you're doing samatha or vipassana; the important thing is to sit and be mindful!

But I'm no meditation master! Other people will have other ideas. This is just what I would say off the cuff. Good luck and welcome to the Sangha!

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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed May 30, 2012 8:05 pm

eternityinmind wrote::namaste: Well,when i meditate I usually count the breath from 1 to 10,paying attention to the motion of the lower abdomen (the hara) and the posture of my body,trying to keep my spine straight.It's basically zazen I think.Is that classified as samatha meditation? Thanks for all the answers! :twothumbsup:

Zazen is samatha, yes. It's far more of a Mahayana technique, but that tranquility in great for turning towards insight in Theravada. My recommendation would be to start moving that attention from the hara to other sensations in the body, or perhaps to your thoughts. Just as you mindfully examine the hara, try mindfully examining all other experiences for a bit. But don't stop trying to get samatha going; it's important!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby Sekha » Thu May 31, 2012 12:03 pm

There is a short sutta about the distinct aims of samatha and vipassana in the Duka Nipata:

http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/angu ... 2-032.html

basically, samatha uproots raga (and dosa) while vipassana uproots avijja
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

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As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby eternityinmind » Thu May 31, 2012 7:22 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
eternityinmind wrote::namaste: Well,when i meditate I usually count the breath from 1 to 10,paying attention to the motion of the lower abdomen (the hara) and the posture of my body,trying to keep my spine straight.It's basically zazen I think.Is that classified as samatha meditation? Thanks for all the answers! :twothumbsup:

Zazen is samatha, yes. It's far more of a Mahayana technique, but that tranquility in great for turning towards insight in Theravada. My recommendation would be to start moving that attention from the hara to other sensations in the body, or perhaps to your thoughts. Just as you mindfully examine the hara, try mindfully examining all other experiences for a bit. But don't stop trying to get samatha going; it's important!


:namaste: Yeah,during meditation I will try to count the breath from 1 to 10 in the beginning until the mind settles and then I will move my attention to examining the breath without counting it,just observing.I think that will be a good combination of both samatha and vipassana.I usually meditate for about 20 minutes (I am a beginner),doing some walking meditation before or after the sitting meditation.Are 20 minutes enough for the mind to settle down and then be examined or I should increase the time of my sitting?
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu May 31, 2012 10:00 pm

eternityinmind wrote: :namaste: Yeah,during meditation I will try to count the breath from 1 to 10 in the beginning until the mind settles and then I will move my attention to examining the breath without counting it,just observing.I think that will be a good combination of both samatha and vipassana.I usually meditate for about 20 minutes (I am a beginner),doing some walking meditation before or after the sitting meditation.Are 20 minutes enough for the mind to settle down and then be examined or I should increase the time of my sitting?

Well, in the beginning it's a great time period. But always push yourself - I remember a teacher told me once to never go a week without raising your time limit on meditation. Try even 21 minutes next time, a longer walk, etc.

Walking meditation is important though! Good to see you doing it.

Where are you locating the breath? If you're interested in increasing your samatha practice and working to obtain Jhana, you might want to bring your focus to the tip of the nose rather than the abdomen. However, if you're more interested in pure insight, try the abdomen. I'm definitely in the "obtain Jhana first" camp, so I'm biased. But Ajahn Brahm and Bhante Gunaratana both have great books on the subject if you're interested.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby eternityinmind » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:37 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
eternityinmind wrote: :namaste: Yeah,during meditation I will try to count the breath from 1 to 10 in the beginning until the mind settles and then I will move my attention to examining the breath without counting it,just observing.I think that will be a good combination of both samatha and vipassana.I usually meditate for about 20 minutes (I am a beginner),doing some walking meditation before or after the sitting meditation.Are 20 minutes enough for the mind to settle down and then be examined or I should increase the time of my sitting?

Well, in the beginning it's a great time period. But always push yourself - I remember a teacher told me once to never go a week without raising your time limit on meditation. Try even 21 minutes next time, a longer walk, etc.

Walking meditation is important though! Good to see you doing it.

Where are you locating the breath? If you're interested in increasing your samatha practice and working to obtain Jhana, you might want to bring your focus to the tip of the nose rather than the abdomen. However, if you're more interested in pure insight, try the abdomen. I'm definitely in the "obtain Jhana first" camp, so I'm biased. But Ajahn Brahm and Bhante Gunaratana both have great books on the subject if you're interested.


I focus my attention on the motion of the abdomen,because it's harder for me to feel my breathing on the tip of the nose compared to the abdomen.But I will try focusing on the feeling on the rims of the nostrils and see where that leads me to.Thanks for the suggestion :) Can you give me the name of some of these books you mentioned? It would be helpful.
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:57 am

Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm is all about Jhana practice, as is Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English by Gunaratana. Both are great resources for deeper meditation states.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby RatherSkeptic » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:14 pm

You mentioned just Mindfulness in Plain English, which I read too. I'd like too say that I'm also a bit confused about the difference between Samatha and Vipassana.

So I've read Gunaratanas book about Vipassana, and the one about Samatha. However, I struggle to find the actual difference - not the difference of the purpose, but about the method, because in both meditation styles, Bhante seems to describe quite the same:

1. Focus on your meditation object
2. Distractions will arise
3. Swift your mind to that distraction until you recognise it ceasing,
4. Then return to your object of meditation

The only difference seems to be that in Samatha, you never really leave your primary object of meditation, while in Vipassana, you always select the distractions as the new meditation objects until they disappear. So actually, according to Gunaratana, the difference is just about how much concentration you're putting into the distractions.

Or isn't it?
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:15 pm

RatherSkeptic wrote:The only difference seems to be that in Samatha, you never really leave your primary object of meditation, while in Vipassana, you always select the distractions as the new meditation objects until they disappear. So actually, according to Gunaratana, the difference is just about how much concentration you're putting into the distractions.

Or isn't it?

Yeah, basically haha. In samatha, you keep focus on the object of meditation ceaselessly until you can never leave it or you experience "one-pointedness." Vipassana is more active and mobile, where you direct concentration to different things as they arise. If you're trying to reach Jhana, you might feel a scratch on your back and move to it, but you just say "not breath" and go back immediately once you realize you've left. In vipassana, you examine that feeling mindfully and with equanimity.

In reality, those who do vipassana develop a huge amount of tranquility, and those who do samatha develop a huge amount of insight. The division is more conceptual than actual.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby eternityinmind » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:34 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm is all about Jhana practice, as is Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English by Gunaratana. Both are great resources for deeper meditation states.


Thanks! A while ago I started reading Mindfulness in Plain English,but didn't finish it.When I have time I will start reading it again.After all it is a classic hehe :reading:
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:55 pm

Greetings,

eternityinmind wrote::namaste: I am a little bit confused about the difference between samatha and vipassana meditation. How the two relate to each other? Can and should I combine them? How exactly? Any tips appreciated. :)

A response from Ven. Huifeng to a similar question over at Dharma Wheel...

Well, in modern English language Buddhist usage, the term in Pali "vipassana" largely refers to a couple of streams of modern Theravadin meditation that largely derive from some doctrinal explanations from Burma / Myanmar in the last century or so.

However, the term "vipassana" (in Pali), and "vipasyana" (in Skt), are not confined to Theravada, and have always had a strong usage in almost all forms of Buddhism. It's paired with "samatha", and the two are "yoked together" to form the basis of Buddhist meditation as a general whole. Usually samatha comes first.

Samatha, from the root "sam" (to pacify), means calming, pacification, stilling, etc. and is roughly equivalent to samadhi "concentration".
Vipasyana, from the root "pas" (to see), insight, special seeing, observation, etc. and is roughly equivalent to prajna "knowledge".

Now, because almost every Buddhist school indicates that some sort of wisdom or insight is needed to become liberated, they all have some equivalent of vipasyana. They may not use this term, however, but the meaning is a commonality.

~~ Huifeng

Source: http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... 16#p103458

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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby black hole » Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:23 pm

Samatha leads first to a state of mental calm and peaceful mind leads to a feeling of bliss, physically and mentally, which is growing by deepening samatha. It can also be accompanied by visions: color, waves, bright spots or circles of light, or different sensations. After this stage of bliss and visions, we feel a clarity of mind, sometimes great clarity. Equanimity allows then obtaining deeper concentration.
I think some practitioners get the certainty that this is an important experience, a "view" but I do not agree because it is tied to reality in different consciousness. The fact is that there is a source of confusion that can lead to a wrong view and we can fall back in fine in a system attachment / repulsion. The certainty of being in sight lead to disregard any other experience, to push the thoughts, feelings, sensations, mental formations as if they were unsuitable, so it's a kind of aversion.
On second thought, we got there at the very begining of vipassana : w got the necessary discernment. But we refuse to enter: we fall into the attachment / aversion. At the same time and to have lived it, I think it's a negative experience that brings many because aversion or attachment consciously experienced are an indication that one is at the very beginning of a new ability to distinguish what appears and to accept or decline it. This is a sign that we must regroup to place our mind in preparation for vipassana. There is a subtle balance between samatha and vipassana.
At this point, we realize that the conclusions - early - on clearly felt during samatha were wrong: it is not emptiness. Sin of pride ... This is not the nature of mind that we approached. The water surface was only a little calmer and we can begin to see what's at the bottom.
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Re: Samatha and Vipassana question

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:44 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:In reality, those who do vipassana develop a huge amount of tranquility, and those who do samatha develop a huge amount of insight. The division is more conceptual than actual.


I've been thinking the same myself - 2 sides of the same coin?
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