early meditation manuals

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

early meditation manuals

Postby marc108 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:48 pm

I was hoping someone would be able to point me in the direction of the earliest available meditation manuals, or just books covering the topic of meditation in early Buddhism.

Thanks :)
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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:50 pm

Well, it's fairly likely that the Satipatthana Sutta was compiled with just such an intention, so that's probably in the running.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:05 am

Greetings,

Daverupa is correct.

That said, if you would like a book that ties related suttas together with the Satipatthana Sutta, I highly recommend this…

Maha Satipatthana Sutta - The Supreme Bliss Of Nibbana – by Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thera
http://www.buddhistcc.net/bookshop/book ... sp?bid=802

As a book itself, it's not ancient, but it relies nearly exclusively on suttas (which are!)

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: early meditation manuals

Postby bodom » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:21 am

The Vimuttimagga is ‘The Path of Freedom’, a treatise expounding the various aspects of the path to awakening (bodhi) as understood within the Theravada tradition. The author of the work is Upatissa, who may have lived in the 1st to 3rd century AD. This work is generally thought to to have provided the inspiration for Buddhaghosa's later and more comprehensive compendium ‘The Path of Purification’


http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Vimuttimagga

The Visuddhimagga purports to be a summary of the whole of the Sutta Pitaka as understood by the Mahàvihara tradition of Theravada Buddhism.

The name means 'Path of Purification.’ The book was written by Buddhaghosa in the 4th century CE and takes as its schema the seven purifications (satta visuddhi) taught by the Buddha in the Rathavinãta Sutta (M.I,145). The Visuddhimagga’s approach to spiritual practice is more a theoretical abhidhamma one than a practical one.


http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Visuddhimagga

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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby marc108 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:19 am

thank you all for the suggestions :)


retrofuturist wrote:As a book itself, it's not ancient, but it relies nearly exclusively on suttas (which are!)


that looks excellent, thank you. if you can recommend any other books on meditation based exclusively, or nearly exclusively on the Suttas i would appreciate it :)
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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:28 am

marc108 wrote:thank you all for the suggestions :)


retrofuturist wrote:As a book itself, it's not ancient, but it relies nearly exclusively on suttas (which are!)


that looks excellent, thank you. if you can recommend any other books on meditation based exclusively, or nearly exclusively on the Suttas i would appreciate it :)
Such a book would be, of course, the author's commentary on/interpretation of the suttas.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:14 am

tiltbillings wrote:
marc108 wrote:thank you all for the suggestions :)


retrofuturist wrote:As a book itself, it's not ancient, but it relies nearly exclusively on suttas (which are!)


that looks excellent, thank you. if you can recommend any other books on meditation based exclusively, or nearly exclusively on the Suttas i would appreciate it :)
Such a book would be, of course, the author's commentary on/interpretation of the suttas.

Yes, of course. It's a rather odd request, in my opinion. Anything more than the suttas is an interpretation, based on opinion and experience of the teacher (ancient or modern). So it depends on whose interpretation you think is more effective.

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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby Ben » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:38 am

Greetings marc,
The one "early" meditation manual that I return to from time to time is the Visuddhimagga.

All the best,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:35 am

"Early Buddhism" generally refers to the pre-sectarian and early sectarian periods of Buddhism, i.e. the first few hundred years after the Buddha's parinibbāna. Long before the composition of the Vimuttimagga and the Visuddhimagga.
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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:24 am

Hi Geoff, That's true, but this forum is:
Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

The aim was that, in addition to discussing "proper early Buddhism", to have a place to discuss comparisons between early sects and so on.

One can only speculate what meditation instructions were in the pre-sectarian era. My impression from the suttas is that that many details were common knowledge and/or transmitted orally.

See, for example, the preamble of the Anapanasati Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html, which indicates that the discourse was of the nature of a talk that was the culmination of months of dedicated practice under a number of senior bhikkhus, not "meditation instructions for beginners".

As far as early documents are concerned, the commentaries to the suttas may well contain some of those details. Since they only survive in the form collected by Buddhaghosa (i.e. from the same era as the Visuddhimagga) , it is difficult to say how ancient they are. However, the commentary to the Satipatthana Sutta is available in English as a book, and on-line here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... wayof.html

Some of the ancient commentary on the Anapanasati is in Bhikkhu Nanamoli's book: Mindfulness of Breathing
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma14/mindfulbreath.html

:anjali:
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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:39 am

mikenz66 wrote:One can only speculate what meditation instructions were in the pre-sectarian era. My impression from the suttas is that that many details were common knowledge and/or transmitted orally.

I agree. I should have been more clear in the last reply. I'd suggest that there really are no "early" meditation instruction manuals.
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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby marc108 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:55 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:I'd suggest that there really are no "early" meditation instruction manuals.


well that solves it then :jumping: i was trying to get a handle on how the early Buddhists practices meditation.
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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:13 pm

Hi Marc,

I think the the overall "shape" and results of the practices can be discerned if you gather together suttas such as (small selection...):
And those suttas seem to me to provide a good guide once one has started practising. However, they don't answer questions like:
  • What should I start with?
  • If I'm doing anapanasati where (if anywhere) should I watch the breath?
  • If I'm doing anapanasati should I manipulate the breath or not?
  • if I'm doing satipathana should I do all the exercises mentioned in the above sutta? If so, is there a particular order?
It seems to me that to answer the above questions one has to either try to make up something for oneself or build on the experience of others, which is what the Buddha advocated in suttas such as:


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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby Dmytro » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:08 am

Hi Marc,

marc108 wrote:I was hoping someone would be able to point me in the direction of the earliest available meditation manuals, or just books covering the topic of meditation in early Buddhism.


"Meditation" is a fairly recent concept. And all the earliest texts are filtered through a modern translation.

If you will come upon early practice manual (which is available), would you be willing to begin from the very start, diligently practicing virtue (sila), sense restraint, etc.? And would you be willing to explore the original meanings of the terms, often distorted by translation?
Only then the study of earliest available texts will make sense.

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:13 am

Greetings,

Excellent point, Dmytro... the "practice" is the following of the Noble Eightfold Path and the Noble Eightfold Path is explained well in the suttas.

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: early meditation manuals

Postby Nyana » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:16 pm

Dmytro wrote:"Meditation" is a fairly recent concept.

No it isn't. This bugaboo over the use of the English terms "meditation" and "contemplation" is much ado about nothing. Both terms have broader meanings in Western contemplative traditions than is often acknowledged. Moreover, the English term "meditation" has now shifted and expanded in meaning due to the influence of Buddhism and other Eastern yoga traditions. In some modern dictionary entries for "meditate," Buddhist & Hindu meanings are now given alongside common meanings and Western contemplative meanings. Cf. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: meditate.
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Re: early meditation manuals

Postby Ben » Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:48 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Dmytro wrote:"Meditation" is a fairly recent concept.

No it isn't. This bugaboo over the use of the English terms "meditation" and "contemplation" is much ado about nothing. Both terms have broader meanings in Western contemplative traditions than is often acknowledged. Moreover, the English term "meditation" has now shifted and expanded in meaning due to the influence of Buddhism and other Eastern yoga traditions. In some modern dictionary entries for "meditate," Buddhist & Hindu meanings are now given alongside common meanings and Western contemplative meanings. Cf. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: meditate.


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Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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