eyes open during meditation?

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

eyes open during meditation?

Postby johnny » Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:44 am

is this done much in the theravada tradition? in the suttas they don't specify, so clearly it was implied back then that it should be one way, the other, or it's a personal preference. what about you all?

i do jhana meditation and sometimes vipassana meditation, always with my eyes closed. keeping them open i seem too just be looking blankly at what ever is in front of me and i get no where.

what's your experience, specifically with theravada meditation:

open? which kind/method?

closed? which kind/method?
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:06 pm

johnny wrote:is this done much in the theravada tradition? in the suttas they don't specify, so clearly it was implied back then that it should be one way, the other, or it's a personal preference. what about you all?


I haven't come across eyes open in the Theravada tradition, though it is practised in other traditions. Generally I find eyes closed better for samatha meditation, though if I'm very tired I will open them.
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby bodom » Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:22 pm

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu recommended eyes open. Most all Theravadan teachers whose works ive read and even those who I have received personal instruction from has said that it is ok to sit with eyes open if that is what works best for oneself.

:anjali:
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: eyes open during meditation?

Postby johnny » Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:57 am

bodom wrote:Buddhadasa Bhikkhu recommended eyes open. Most all Theravadan teachers whose works ive read and even those who I have received personal instruction from has said that it is ok to sit with eyes open if that is what works best for oneself.

:anjali:



can you enter jhana with them open? i'm very curious about this.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby johnny » Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:58 am

porpoise wrote:
johnny wrote:is this done much in the theravada tradition? in the suttas they don't specify, so clearly it was implied back then that it should be one way, the other, or it's a personal preference. what about you all?


I haven't come across eyes open in the Theravada tradition, though it is practised in other traditions. Generally I find eyes closed better for samatha meditation, though if I'm very tired I will open them.


i know! samatha is so close to sleep! if i'm at all tired i go out instantly.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:33 am

johnny wrote:i know! samatha is so close to sleep! if i'm at all tired i go out instantly.

If you're falling asleep it's not likely to be right samadhi, but the hindrance of sloth-and-topor.

:anjali:
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby bodom » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:54 pm

johnny wrote:
bodom wrote:Buddhadasa Bhikkhu recommended eyes open. Most all Theravadan teachers whose works ive read and even those who I have received personal instruction from has said that it is ok to sit with eyes open if that is what works best for oneself.

:anjali:



can you enter jhana with them open? i'm very curious about this.


According to Buddhadasa Bhikkhu once concentration has been reached the eyes will naturally close on there own:

Although the eyes are gazing inattentively at the tip of the nose, you can gather your attention or awareness or sati, as it's called in our technical language, in order to catch and note your own breathing in and out. (Those who like to close their eyes will do so from here on.) Those who prefer to leave the eyes open will do so continually until the eyes gradually close on their own as concentration and calmness (samadhi) increases.


http://www.suanmokkh.org/archive/aps/mwb-abc1.htm

:anjali:
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: eyes open during meditation?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:57 pm

bodom wrote:According to Buddhadasa Bhikkhu once concentration has been reached the eyes will naturally close on there own:


All the Thai Forest people I've met meditate with their eyes shut.
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby bodom » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:13 pm

porpoise wrote:
bodom wrote:According to Buddhadasa Bhikkhu once concentration has been reached the eyes will naturally close on there own:


All the Thai Forest people I've met meditate with their eyes shut.


Again, its a matter of preference. Here is Ajahn Passano, disciple of Ajahn Chah and former abbot of the Thai Forest monastery Wat Pah Nanachat, speaking about the various benefits of sitting with the eyes open:

http://www.dhammaweb.net/dhammadb/view.php?id=2435

He gets right to it within the first 30 seconds of the talk so no need to search or listen to the whole thing, though I would recommend listening to the whole series if you have the time and inclination its excellent!

:anjali:
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: eyes open during meditation?

Postby johnny » Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:16 am

mikenz66 wrote:
johnny wrote:i know! samatha is so close to sleep! if i'm at all tired i go out instantly.

If you're falling asleep it's not likely to be right samadhi, but the hindrance of sloth-and-topor.

:anjali:
Mike



if you know how to fix this please let me know. and just too be clear, i've tried everything within reason. i get very calm and focused on my breath and then i start too drift into a dreamy early stage of sleep kind of state. this kind of thing would make a secular person laugh. i'm getting myself very relaxed and focused on only my breath with very little thoughts arising and i wonder why i'm falling asleep.

however sometimes i'm able to remain entirely alert, enter access no problem, and then jhana (shakily, and not for long, but nonetheless, i get there), totally awake, not a trace of sloth and torpor. but this sloth and torpor thing has been a serious problem for my meditation. nothing i have tried has worked even a little. i exercise, i eat reasonably well, i get enough sleep, i've tried all of the tips the buddha gave maha mogallana in the "nodding" sutta, i've tried all the tips given too me by random other meditators. it's like a joke seriously, i have no idea how others stay awake no problem. but then again i've heard of veteran monks/nuns falling asleep in the meditation hall so it's obviously not just me.

are there any theravada monastics on here that could advise me?
Last edited by johnny on Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby johnny » Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:25 am

bodom wrote:
johnny wrote:
bodom wrote:Buddhadasa Bhikkhu recommended eyes open. Most all Theravadan teachers whose works ive read and even those who I have received personal instruction from has said that it is ok to sit with eyes open if that is what works best for oneself.

:anjali:



can you enter jhana with them open? i'm very curious about this.


According to Buddhadasa Bhikkhu once concentration has been reached the eyes will naturally close on there own:

Although the eyes are gazing inattentively at the tip of the nose, you can gather your attention or awareness or sati, as it's called in our technical language, in order to catch and note your own breathing in and out. (Those who like to close their eyes will do so from here on.) Those who prefer to leave the eyes open will do so continually until the eyes gradually close on their own as concentration and calmness (samadhi) increases.


http://www.suanmokkh.org/archive/aps/mwb-abc1.htm

:anjali:


okay thanks.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:14 am

Hi johnny,
johnny wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:
johnny wrote:i know! samatha is so close to sleep! if i'm at all tired i go out instantly.

If you're falling asleep it's not likely to be right samadhi, but the hindrance of sloth-and-topor.

:anjali:
Mike



if you know how to fix this please let me know. and just too be clear, i've tried everything within reason. i get very calm and focused on my breath and then i start too drift into a dreamy early stage of sleep kind of state. this kind of thing would make a secular person laugh. i'm getting myself very relaxed and focused on only my breath with very little thoughts arising and i wonder why i'm falling asleep.

however sometimes i'm able to remain entirely alert, enter access no problem, and then jhana (shakily, and not for long, but nonetheless, i get there), totally awake, not a trace of sloth and torpor. but this sloth and torpor thing has been a serious problem for my meditation. nothing i have tried has worked even a little. i exercise, i eat reasonably well, i get enough sleep, i've tried all of the tips the buddha gave maha mogallana in the "nodding" sutta, i've tried all the tips given too me by random other meditators. it's like a joke seriously, i have no idea how others stay awake no problem. but then again i've heard of veteran monks/nuns falling asleep in the meditation hall so it's obviously not just me.

are there any theravada monastics on here that could advise me?

I discussed some peripheral things here:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=11240
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 20#p102254

As you'll find in numerous instructions, such problems are often to do with balancing the faculties http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indriya
    1. faith or conviction or belief (saddhā)
    2. energy or persistence or perseverance (viriya)
    3. mindfulness or memory (sati)
    4. concentration or focus (samādhi)
    5. wisdom or understanding or comprehension (pañña).
You can never have too much mindfulness. It's the key to balancing the others. The other four can be thought of as pairs that need to be balanced (faith/wisdom), (energy/concentration). In the meditative context it's the energy/concentration balance that can cause difficulties. If there is too much energy without enough concentration you get restlessness, too much concentration without energy you can get drowsy. So whatever techniques you've learned to increase mindfulness and energy, apply those. A fairly universal one is walking or standing meditation. There are others that are specific to particular approaches. For the Mahasi-style approach I mostly use, increasing the rate of noting can help to rouse energy. In general terms, it's to do with increasing the interest of the mind in the object ("Is the breath short or long?" etc is one way that "rousing interest" is discussed in various suttas).

Here are some comments from Ajahn Brahm, Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond, Page 40.
Dullness in meditation is the result of a tired mind, usually one that
has been overworking. Fighting that dullness makes you even more
exhausted. Resting allows the energy to return to the mind. To under-
stand this process, I will now introduce the two halves of the mind: the
knower and the doer. The knower is the passive half of the mind that sim-
ply receives information. The doer is the active half that responds with
evaluating, thinking, and controlling. The knower and the doer share the
same source of mental energy. Thus, when you are doing a lot, when
you have a busy lifestyle and are struggling to get on, the doer consumes
most of your mental energy, leaving only a pittance for the knower.
When the knower is starved of mental energy you experience dullness.
...
The most profound and effective way to overcome sloth and torpor
is to stop fighting your mind. Stop trying to change things and instead
let things be. Make peace not war with sloth and torpor. Then your
mental energy will be freed to flow into the knower, and your sloth and
torpor will naturally disappear.

Giving Value to Awareness

Another method for overcoming sloth and torpor is to give more value
to awareness. All Buddhist traditions say that human life is valuable and
precious, especially a life like this one where you have encountered the
Buddha’s teachings. Now you have the opportunity to practice.You may
not realize how many lifetimes it has taken and how much merit you’ve
had to accumulate just to get where you are now. You’ve invested life-
times of good karma to get this close to the Dhamma. Reflecting like
this means you will incline less to sloth and torpor and more to bright
awareness.

The path of meditation sometimes comes to a fork in the road. The
left path leads to sloth and torpor while the right path leads to bright
awareness. With experience you will recognize this fork. This is the point
in meditation where you can choose between the alley to sloth and tor-
por or the highway to mindful stillness. Taking the left path you give up
both the doer and the knower. Taking the right path you let go of the
doer but keep the knower. When you value awareness you will auto-
matically choose the right path of bright awareness.

:anjali:
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:10 am

bodom wrote:
porpoise wrote:
bodom wrote:According to Buddhadasa Bhikkhu once concentration has been reached the eyes will naturally close on there own:


All the Thai Forest people I've met meditate with their eyes shut.


Again, its a matter of preference. Here is Ajahn Passano, disciple of Ajahn Chah and former abbot of the Thai Forest monastery Wat Pah Nanachat, speaking about the various benefits of sitting with the eyes open:

http://www.dhammaweb.net/dhammadb/view.php?id=2435


Thanks, interesting stuff. I meditated for many years with eyes open doing Dzogchen shamata, and still do now from time to time - it's a different experience from eyes shut, pros and cons I guess.
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:14 am

johnny wrote:can you enter jhana with them open? i'm very curious about this.


I managed it on an intensive meditation retreat last year. But not since!
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby johnny » Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:50 pm

porpoise wrote:
johnny wrote:can you enter jhana with them open? i'm very curious about this.


I managed it on an intensive meditation retreat last year. But not since!


awesome! could you describe please?
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:24 pm

johnny wrote:
porpoise wrote:
johnny wrote:can you enter jhana with them open? i'm very curious about this.


I managed it on an intensive meditation retreat last year. But not since!


awesome! could you describe please?


There were the usual absorption factors like piti and sukha, then a strong experience of consciousness expanding - a bit like coming out of a dark tunnel into bright open space. I think having eyes open made it a different experience, but it's hard to be specific.
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Re: eyes open during meditation?

Postby johnny » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:40 pm

porpoise wrote:
There were the usual absorption factors like piti and sukha, then a strong experience of consciousness expanding - a bit like coming out of a dark tunnel into bright open space. I think having eyes open made it a different experience, but it's hard to be specific.


cool thank you.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Posts: 151
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