which path too take?

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which path too take?

Postby johnny » Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:45 am

the buddha taught a vast variety of different methods and practices in the pali canon.

how do you decide which one too do?

which practices are the most connected too which?

as far as i can tell, you need too fulfill the three trainings of concentration, morality and wisdom (and within that the eightfold path).

i just picked for myself through trial and error:

satipatthana and sutta study (and lots and lots of general study of many authors and articles on the dhamma) for wisdom

anapanasati for jhana (concentration)

and the precepts (obviously you don't have too pick) for morality.

side note:

i know it is systematized in the visuddimaggha, i find that book too be wonderful and indispensable, but i didn't really identify with it's methods of picking practices by personality types. so i was wondering if there is any clue in the canon about this? and i'm also interested in what actual practitioners on here think, or views from modern teachers and/or other teachers throughout history.
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Re: which path too take?

Postby manas » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:26 am

Hi johnny

it does not make sense to me that the Buddha would have taught different 'paths'. There is only one Path, and we all know what that is. I might still be, relatively speaking, a neophyte in this Dhamma & Discipline, but the more I study and practice it, the more I perceive a fundamental unity throughout all the various 'teachings' the Buddha gave.

So I don't see why you have to 'choose' between any of the above mentioned. Do them all; they all fall under the umbrella of the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Satipatthana sutta explains samma sati in depth;

Jhana is samma samadhi (it should be undertaken with the correct motivation, however); and

The precepts cover samma vaca, samma kammanta and samma ajiva (unless I'm mistaken).

All that is left then, is samma ditthi, samma sankappa and samma vayama. Which, since you are studying the suttas, you would be increasingly familiar with as well.

Just keep refining the entire Path, that's what we all need to do. In particular, strive to enter into right view (that's what I'm trying to do also).

:anjali:
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Re: which path too take?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:32 am

johnny wrote:the buddha taught a vast variety of different methods and practices in the pali canon.

The Buddha taught only one thing: the end of suffering.

All of these things, anapanasati, sattipatthana, sutta study, metta - none of them conflict with each other in ultimate reality. They're all different paths to the same goal.

Try what seems logical to you and if it doesn't work, put it on the backburner. Try something else. It's not a zero-sum game.
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: which path too take?

Postby David2 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:03 am

In the long run, to get a good intellectual understanding of the Buddha's path, it is very good to learn Pali and read the Palicanon in Pali (with the help of a dictionary and one or two translations.)

To know which practice suits you best, it's also good to attend retreats in traditions that seem to be most interesting to you.
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Re: which path too take?

Postby johnny » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:11 am

manas wrote:Hi johnny

it does not make sense to me that the Buddha would have taught different 'paths'. There is only one Path, and we all know what that is. I might still be, relatively speaking, a neophyte in this Dhamma & Discipline, but the more I study and practice it, the more I perceive a fundamental unity throughout all the various 'teachings' the Buddha gave.

So I don't see why you have to 'choose' between any of the above mentioned. Do them all; they all fall under the umbrella of the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Satipatthana sutta explains samma sati in depth;

Jhana is samma samadhi (it should be undertaken with the correct motivation, however); and

The precepts cover samma vaca, samma kammanta and samma ajiva (unless I'm mistaken).

All that is left then, is samma ditthi, samma sankappa and samma vayama. Which, since you are studying the suttas, you would be increasingly familiar with as well.

Just keep refining the entire Path, that's what we all need to do. In particular, strive to enter into right view (that's what I'm trying to do also).

:anjali:



practicing the jhanas, metta meditation, mindfulness of breathing too cut off discursive thinking, contemplation of loathsomeness of the body too uproot lust, practicing the brahma-viharas, etc. etc.

there are so many different things too do, trying too do them all would mean you would never get very good at one as you would be doing each one only a little because you would constantly be trying too make time too do the next one on your list. there are probably over a hundred different practices he taught. many lead too the same results, but some do things others do not. so we have too pick, and picking involves deciphering which ones lead too which goals (some meditation objects only go so high in the jhanas, others go all the way too the top, loathsomeness of the body leads too uprooting lust, and so on.).
Last edited by johnny on Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:16 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: which path too take?

Postby johnny » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:14 am

David2 wrote:In the long run, to get a good intellectual understanding of the Buddha's path, it is very good to learn Pali and read the Palicanon in Pali (with the help of a dictionary and one or two translations.)

To know which practice suits you best, it's also good to attend retreats in traditions that seem to be most interesting to you.



indeed, i read at least two translations of suttas i find important and look up at least some of the key words and phrases and match them too a couple different pali english dictionaries too make sure i have a good understanding, as opposed too possibly not getting the real message due too things that get lost in translation.

ah a retreat! some day!
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: which path too take?

Postby drifting cloud » Sat Aug 04, 2012 4:20 pm

johnny wrote:there are so many different things too do, trying too do them all would mean you would never get very good at one as you would be doing each one only a little because you would constantly be trying too make time too do the next one on your list..


This is simply untrue. If this were the case, the Buddha would not have taught all of them. It is more the case that different practices reinforce and strengthen each other through positive feedback.

To take one example off your list, it is common to practice both metta and anapanasati together - in fact every Theravada teacher I have ever met or read has taught these practices together and talked about how they reinforce each other. See, for example, these guided meditation instructions from Thanissaro Bhikku, where he explains how the practice of metta supports the practice of breath meditation.

Therefore, it is not a matter of picking and choosing. To pick one and discard the others would be like trying to drive a car with only one wheel, or thinking you can build a house using only a hammer.
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Re: which path too take?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:05 pm

drifting cloud wrote:This is simply untrue. If this were the case, the Buddha would not have taught all of them. It is more the case that different practices reinforce and strengthen each other through positive feedback.

The Buddha taught different methods to suit different people. We may indeed benefit from practising more than just one method exclusively, but we don't need to do them all, nor even several at once.

Even within the Satipatthāna Sutta there are several different methods for body contemplation — mindfulness of respiration, clear comprehension of all daily activities, contemplation of the four elements, 32-body parts, cemetery contemplation on dead bodies in different stages of decay. When the Buddha taught this discourse he was addressing a large audience of monks who had been using different meditation objects.

Then there are techniques like Buddhanussati and Metta, which are not even mentioned in the Satipatthāna Sutta, but which can be used as the basis for concentration (instead of ānāpānassati), before switching to contemplate for insight.

I think we should mostly stick to one method, but also be familiar with other methods so that we know how to use them when the need arises. For example, if lust arises its good to know about the contemplations on repulsiveness such as the 32 body parts or cemetery contemplations, or if doubt or fear overwhelm the mind, then its good to know about recollection of the Buddha's qualities.
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Re: which path too take?

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:07 pm

johnny wrote:i just picked for myself through trial and error.


That's the way to do it.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: which path too take?

Postby reflection » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:15 pm

It's not about choosing a specific path. It's learning about ourselfs and through that we learn what practices are suitable for the mind at a specific moment. And you have to find out for yourself which practices those are by trying them a bit.

Also, you divided your practice into groups, but the three go together really. Morality is a practice needed for samadhi also. And samadhi leads to wisdom. This is why there is the order of sila, samadhi, panna. It's not an accident. ;) So if you want to study suttas and articles, that's great, but that is not the way to develop wisdom in itself.

It's the entire 8-fold path that needs to be practiced. In the beginning it may seem like there are many practices, but in fact they are all one thng. And that basically comes down to being heedful and willing to let go.

With metta,
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