Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

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Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby Micheal Kush » Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:51 pm

After reading the Path of Purification by Buddhaghosa mainly for the benefit of my breathinng meditation and examining the steps of breath meditation elucidated in the suttas, ive noticed some corresponding issues i wish to get clarified. For a while now, i have done my meditation consisting of intensely focusing on my nose tip for the breath to appear and touch(path of purification). So far, so good. However, ive noticed in the suttas it is never stated that one can gain absorbtion or purified concentration by focusing solely on the nose tip which seems to have a lack of presence regarding in the four tetrads.

And i have wondered, are buddhaghosas methods just an easier and elaborated way of breath meditation in the suttas or is it completely different? Does his thesis lack something that the suttas have?

I ask this primarily because recently i decided to expirement a little with my practice in spite of the struggling journey i have had with my breathing practice. When i decided to do the four tetrads, i closely followed the breath at the nose tip but also maintained the duration(long,short) and then when the feeling of bodily fabrications came, i felt this initial shock of calmness that grew with every breath, i started to question what was going on. Everytime an unpleasant feeling arose, i simply just breathed in and calmed it. After i was finished, i investigated it and felt that there must be something wrong because even though i was attuned to my breath, it wasnt fully concentrated the concentration on the breath felt muddled but i felt the joy in which the breath produced.

So are buddhaghosa practice and suttas one and the same? Or should i stick to this dofferent method?

Another reason i ask is because i hear most people say that you should just mind everything else or note it and just go back to the breath. Also, i dont wanna feel like a long enduring path of progress is washed away just because i switched methods. I have gotten fairly good at buddhaghosa technique which is why this recent expierence and examination of the texfs left me with much confusion.

Please clarify

With metta, mike
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby Ben » Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:14 pm

Greetings Mike.
Personally, I think its a false dichotomy to set the Visuddhimagga against the Suttas. Buddhaghosa's work is a commentary and manual for meditation masters. If you read it as an explanation and manual that is read alongside the suttas, then it will be most beneficial. Most modern meditation methods have their provenance in the Visuddhimagga. Anapana can be practiced to cultivate either samadhi or vipassana.
In my experience, anapana-sati is extraordinarily difficult and subtle. The object of meditation becomes increasingly more difficult to discern the more one progresses. Hence, it is always good to work under the instruction of a teacher or guide. And having chosen a particular approach - stick to it for six months to a year exclusively to give yourself an opportunity to develop some depth of experience and become proficient in the practice.
with metta,

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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby Micheal Kush » Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:22 pm

Ben wrote:Greetings Mike.
Personally, I think its a false dichotomy to set the Visuddhimagga against the Suttas. Buddhaghosa's work is a commentary and manual for meditation masters. If you read it as an explanation and manual that is read alongside the suttas, then it will be most beneficial. Most modern meditation methods have their provenance in the Visuddhimagga. Anapana can be practiced to cultivate either samadhi or vipassana.
In my experience, anapana-sati is extraordinarily difficult and subtle. The object of meditation becomes increasingly more difficult to discern the more one progresses. Hence, it is always good to work under the instruction of a teacher or guide. And having chosen a particular approach - stick to it for six months to a year exclusively to give yourself an opportunity to develop some depth of experience and become proficient in the practice.
with metta,

Ben


Defintely agree. I just needed clarification based on those two apporaches. I think its best for me to seek out a teacher.

With metta, mike
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby Micheal Kush » Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:36 pm

Another problem i have dealing with the factors of concentration, is that if one pointedness is actually a faculty for absorbtion or is it fully body awareness that needs to be developed?

I have a hard time telling which one is most conducive, plus i have never heard of one pointedness in the suttas. Clarification?

With metta, mike
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby bodom » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:03 pm

Micheal Kush wrote: i have never heard of one pointedness in the suttas.


See any descripton of the second Jhana found in the Pali canon where common translations include unification of mind, one pointedness of mind etc..

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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: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:07 pm

Micheal Kush wrote:Another problem i have dealing with the factors of concentration, is that if one pointedness is actually a faculty for absorbtion or is it fully body awareness that needs to be developed?

I have a hard time telling which one is most conducive, plus i have never heard of one pointedness in the suttas. Clarification?

With metta, mike

have you read the sutta definition of the second Jhana?
although there is another term which is sometimes used within the first Jhana description which also can translate the same.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby bodom » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:14 pm

Nyanatilokas translation of MN 44 from his classic anthology The Word of the Buddha:

(MN 44) Having the mind fixed to a single object (cittekaggata, lit. "One-pointedness of mind"): this is concentration.


: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: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby Micheal Kush » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:42 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Micheal Kush wrote:Another problem i have dealing with the factors of concentration, is that if one pointedness is actually a faculty for absorbtion or is it fully body awareness that needs to be developed?

I have a hard time telling which one is most conducive, plus i have never heard of one pointedness in the suttas. Clarification?

With metta, mike

have you read the sutta definition of the second Jhana?
although there is another term which is sometimes used within the first Jhana description which also can translate the same.


Huh, must have missed that part -_-

Anyways thanks for the clarification

With metta,mike
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby daverupa » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:06 pm

One-pointedness of mind need not imply single-object absorption; samadhi is best translated as composure, not concentration, imo; it's a certain tenor of six-sense body awareness-&-mindfulness. I'm of the mind to see a backreading of Vedic/Brahamnical meditation values and progress into the Suttas.
    "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.
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby Kamran » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:23 pm

You may be interested in Thanissaro Bikhu's below talk :

"When the Buddha describes concentration states, he doesn't use images of single-pointedness. He uses images of whole-body awareness...

Progress along the path comes simply from staying right here and growing more and more aware of what's going on all around right here. You develop a more all-around awareness, not only all-around in the body, but also all-around in the mind. You see through the blind spots that allowed you to consume experiences obliviously, forgetting the fact that you had to produce them. It's like watching a movie — two hours of lights flashing up on a screen — and then later seeing a documentary about how they made the movie. "

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/meditations.html#steps
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby Micheal Kush » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:26 pm

daverupa wrote:One-pointedness of mind need not imply single-object absorption; samadhi is best translated as composure, not concentration, imo; it's a certain tenor of six-sense body awareness-&-mindfulness. I'm of the mind to see a backreading of Vedic/Brahamnical meditation values and progress into the Suttas.


And this where my confusion lies. Shiuld i practice and devlop more of a full body awareness by attending the breath as Thanssiro Bhikku suggests or a fixated one pointedness that relies solely on where the breath touches?

I know that the suttas mention of a one pointedness, this i dont doubt. However, they also speak of feeling the bodily fabrications to the point where the breath calms it and being focused on the whole body or mind while attending to the breath.

But iguess both methods work as many report tobenefit from both though ive heard Buddhaghosas advice leads to more of a deeper concentration. I guess i will practice and see.

With metta, mike
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:39 pm

Micheal Kush wrote:But iguess both methods work as many report tobenefit from both though ive heard Buddhaghosas advice leads to more of a deeper concentration. I guess i will practice and see.

I don't think it's really accurate to call such things "Buddhaghosa's advice". It's in ancient commentaries that Buddhaghosa translated back into Pali (and summarised in the Visuddhimagga).

Since the suttas don't specify any particular way to use the breath in anapanasati, there is plenty of room for interpretation, elaboration, and experimentation. As you say, different ways of using the breath tend to do different things. See, for example, what I quoted here:
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=13380#p199651

:anjali:
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby Micheal Kush » Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:09 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Micheal Kush wrote:But iguess both methods work as many report tobenefit from both though ive heard Buddhaghosas advice leads to more of a deeper concentration. I guess i will practice and see.

I don't think it's really accurate to call such things "Buddhaghosa's advice". It's in ancient commentaries that Buddhaghosa translated back into Pali (and summarised in the Visuddhimagga).

Since the suttas don't specify any particular way to use the breath in anapanasati, there is plenty of room for interpretation, elaboration, and experimentation. As you say, different ways of using the breath tend to do different things. See, for example, what I quoted here:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 80#p199651

:anjali:
Mike


Sorry if i caused misconception when i attributed the commentaries as Buddhahosa advice, that is just stemmed from my laziness from spelling Visuddhimagga.

I agree with the response you made, i cant deny a commentary that has aided much of Theravada on the path to Nibbana. I think it comes down to what exactly the Jhanas are, but thats for another time.

With metta,mike
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:03 am

Micheal Kush wrote: I think it comes down to what exactly the Jhanas are, but thats for another time.

See: The Great Jhana Debate
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4597

:anjali:
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:16 pm

Greetings,

daverupa wrote:One-pointedness of mind need not imply single-object absorption; samadhi is best translated as composure, not concentration, imo; it's a certain tenor of six-sense body awareness-&-mindfulness. I'm of the mind to see a backreading of Vedic/Brahamnical meditation values and progress into the Suttas.

:goodpost:

8-)

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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby Dmytro » Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:30 am

Hi Mike,

Micheal Kush wrote:For a while now, i have done my meditation consisting of intensely focusing on my nose tip for the breath to appear and touch(path of purification). So far, so good. However, ive noticed in the suttas it is never stated that one can gain absorbtion or purified concentration by focusing solely on the nose tip which seems to have a lack of presence regarding in the four tetrads.


Path of Purification requires a careful reading. It does not instruct to focus solely on the nose tip. It's essential to focus on the air touching the tip of the nose or the upper lip.

And the first stage of practice is removing the hindrances. This is described very concisely in the Path of Purification. There are some more details in the Anapanasati chapter of Patisambhidamagga:
http://www.bps.lk/olib/bp/bp502s.pdf

With metta, Dmytro
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby manas » Tue Aug 07, 2012 9:43 am

Micheal Kush wrote:After reading the Path of Purification by Buddhaghosa mainly for the benefit of my breathinng meditation and examining the steps of breath meditation elucidated in the suttas, ive noticed some corresponding issues i wish to get clarified. For a while now, i have done my meditation consisting of intensely focusing on my nose tip for the breath to appear and touch(path of purification). So far, so good. However, ive noticed in the suttas it is never stated that one can gain absorbtion or purified concentration by focusing solely on the nose tip which seems to have a lack of presence regarding in the four tetrads.

And i have wondered, are buddhaghosas methods just an easier and elaborated way of breath meditation in the suttas or is it completely different? Does his thesis lack something that the suttas have?

I ask this primarily because recently i decided to expirement a little with my practice in spite of the struggling journey i have had with my breathing practice. When i decided to do the four tetrads, i closely followed the breath at the nose tip but also maintained the duration(long,short) and then when the feeling of bodily fabrications came, i felt this initial shock of calmness that grew with every breath, i started to question what was going on. Everytime an unpleasant feeling arose, i simply just breathed in and calmed it. After i was finished, i investigated it and felt that there must be something wrong because even though i was attuned to my breath, it wasnt fully concentrated the concentration on the breath felt muddled but i felt the joy in which the breath produced.

So are buddhaghosa practice and suttas one and the same? Or should i stick to this dofferent method?

Another reason i ask is because i hear most people say that you should just mind everything else or note it and just go back to the breath. Also, i dont wanna feel like a long enduring path of progress is washed away just because i switched methods. I have gotten fairly good at buddhaghosa technique which is why this recent expierence and examination of the texfs left me with much confusion.

Please clarify

With metta, mike


Hi Michael,

while I also like to begin with the sensation of the air as it enters & leaves the nostrils (until the mind begins to calm down a little), that location is just personal preference; no specific location for knowing that a breath is taking place is specified in the suttas, afaik. Furthermore, if we read the suttas we see that awareness is ultimately meant to expand out, to encompass the entire body:

"Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.


So this is where we are heading towards, a whole-body awareness. For this reason I think that 'sensitive to the entire body, I shall breath in...out' means just that. (This) entire body. Why? Because this is what we are heading towards, in the jhanas. And so we need to practice this, in the earlier stages, to train the mind in this ability, before jhana. imho

'He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal...There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.' I don't know how much more plainly the Buddha could spell this out.

Ok, one last thing: metta to all practitioners, sutta-ists and visuddhi-magga-ists, and those of any other school of thought; may we all attain liberation of heart-and-mind :heart:

:anjali:
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby reflection » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:40 am

Micheal Kush wrote:After reading the Path of Purification by Buddhaghosa mainly for the benefit of my breathinng meditation and examining the steps of breath meditation elucidated in the suttas, ive noticed some corresponding issues i wish to get clarified. For a while now, i have done my meditation consisting of intensely focusing on my nose tip for the breath to appear and touch(path of purification). So far, so good. However, ive noticed in the suttas it is never stated that one can gain absorbtion or purified concentration by focusing solely on the nose tip which seems to have a lack of presence regarding in the four tetrads.

And i have wondered, are buddhaghosas methods just an easier and elaborated way of breath meditation in the suttas or is it completely different? Does his thesis lack something that the suttas have?

I ask this primarily because recently i decided to expirement a little with my practice in spite of the struggling journey i have had with my breathing practice. When i decided to do the four tetrads, i closely followed the breath at the nose tip but also maintained the duration(long,short) and then when the feeling of bodily fabrications came, i felt this initial shock of calmness that grew with every breath, i started to question what was going on. Everytime an unpleasant feeling arose, i simply just breathed in and calmed it. After i was finished, i investigated it and felt that there must be something wrong because even though i was attuned to my breath, it wasnt fully concentrated the concentration on the breath felt muddled but i felt the joy in which the breath produced.

So are buddhaghosa practice and suttas one and the same? Or should i stick to this dofferent method?

Another reason i ask is because i hear most people say that you should just mind everything else or note it and just go back to the breath. Also, i dont wanna feel like a long enduring path of progress is washed away just because i switched methods. I have gotten fairly good at buddhaghosa technique which is why this recent expierence and examination of the texfs left me with much confusion.

Please clarify

With metta, mike

Hi Mike

Most importantly, if you feel like you are getting more peace and happiness out of a particular meditation practice, whatever it is, I don't think you should change it. You can try other techniques just to try, especially when you get stuck, when your overall peace isn't really increasing anymore. But if you switch abruptly from one practice to the other, you could get a bit confused and lost.

I find that if I do whole body awareness and let things be, the mind will often naturally pick up the breath as it's main focus and lose the rest of the body. If I want to stay with the body, I have to force it out to get back to body awareness, by doing that disrupting the mind again. So being with just the breath is naturally more peaceful if the mind is ready for it.

That isn't to say body awareness isn't useful in itself. I do it a lot. But in my experience the mind has the natural tendency to go inward. If you read the descriptions of the jhanas you can also see how each jhana is leaving things from the previous one behind, simplifying the experience. Thus the more subtle experience is likely to be closer to jhanas. In this case, awareness on the breath (In my experience it doesn't have to be the tip of the nose per se) is more peaceful and subtle than whole body awareness. Similarly, the breath will fade out from perception leaving just the mind, which is more peaceful. As said in the Anapanasati "I will breathe in...&...out sensitive to the mind".

If you make a small step of how you read the suttas, you'll see this also described there. For one thing, the words for 'body' do not refer to just the whole physical body. It can refer to any 'collection' of things/experiences. Just like the body is a collection of all it's parts. For one example, this is literally stated in the anapanasati sutta "the in-&-out breath — is classed as a body among bodies". So at least that sutta is not about whole body awareness in my eyes. Likewise, 'body' I feel can just as well refer to only the mind in my point of view. If you loose all 5 sense perception and are left with just the mind, it can certainly really feel like a body although it isn't physical. If you get to these experiences you'll have more certainty of what road to go.

I know too little of the Visudimagga to go into your question in very much detail, but I think this division of 'sutta meditation style' and 'visudimagga meditaiton style' is more artificial than anything else. I hope the above helps a bit

With metta,
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby robertk » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:02 am

manas wrote:
while I also like to begin with the sensation of the air as it enters & leaves the nostrils (until the mind begins to calm down a little), that location is just personal preference; no specific location for knowing that a breath is taking place is specified in the suttas, afaik. Furthermore, if we read the suttas we see that awareness is ultimately meant to expand out, to encompass the entire body:

"Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.


So this is where we are heading towards, a whole-body awareness. For this reason I think that 'sensitive to the entire body, I shall breath in...out' means just that. (This) entire body. Why? Because this is what we are heading towards, in the jhanas. And so we need to practice this, in the earlier stages, to train the mind in this ability, before jhana. imho

'He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal...There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.' I don't know how much more plainly the Buddha could spell this out.

Ok, one last thing: metta to all practitioners, sutta-ists and visuddhi-magga-ists, and those of any other school of thought; may we all attain liberation of heart-and-mind :heart:

:anjali:

Actually the body can have several meanings, such as body of cetasikas. Obviously there can be no bodily awareness in mundane jhana, that is impossible.
However rupa can be conditioned by citta and because of the sublime nature of jhana cittat the rupas conditioned by cittas are also very sublime, and this can be known once a yogi exits jhana.
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Re: Buddhaghosa Path of Purification vs Suttas?

Postby manas » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:23 am

...Obviously there can be no bodily awareness in mundane jhana, that is impossible.


I hesitated to write what I wrote before, and this is why - I don't wish to argue about jhana. So: I do not agree, robert, with your statement quoted just above; but I'm bowing out of this topic now, in the interests of peace of mind. I've seen how arguments about this issue can seem to go on and on, to no conclusion, and I just don't wish to get involved in one.

much metta

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