Theravada and Zen sitting practice

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Theravada and Zen sitting practice

Postby himalayanspirit » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:58 pm

Like most non-Buddhists who get introduced to Buddhism through Zen, my knowledge of Theravada is rudimentary. I am familiar with terms like Shamatha and Vipassana (at least I feel I am) and would like to know if meditation practices of Zen tradition have any correlation with Shamatha and Vippassana.

My main interest is in the Zen practice of sitting in Lotus posture. Ideally, the practitioner would only require to just sit and relax and try to maintain the posture - instead of actively putting effort to concentrate the mind or analytically observe various phenomena. My question is, what would this Zen meditation practice lead to, according to Theravada perspective? Will it lead to Jhanas? Or will it lead to insight? In other words, is this Zen meditation a form of Shamatha (since there is nothing that we actually do than just sit) or Satipatthana (mindfulness) according to Theravada perspective?

And from Theravada perspective, what benefits will I gain if I consistently practice this method of "bare sitting"?
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Re: Theravada and Zen sitting practice

Postby DAWN » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:07 pm

If you will be totaly concentrated on immobility of your body, immobility of your spine, you will be able to penetrate Jhanas most rapidly if you will concentrate on some phenomena (mental of physical).
Why?
Because in sentences concentrate on body or concentrate on mental formations the key word is concentrate.
Concentration is the key, objects is the door.
But why body is best door for Samatha?
Because body door is like a door made in wood, solid, stable you can take it and open it.
But mental door is like a doot made in water, liquid, in perpetual mouvement. There is a risk to be distructed by it, but even if you not distructed by it, you ant catch it, is liquid, you must freez it (like your body), make this water like solid ice, or give some rhythm (like a breath), this rhythm will make the door more stable, and then you can cath it and open it.
BUT also, if you practicing Samatha and Vipassana an the same moment, you can, by using wisdom, go trought this water door without openning, go beyound dirrectly.

I dont know if it's Theravada method or not. But i know that Ajahn Mun teach about the importance of body investigation in "Heart Released"
If it's heretical please delete it.

Metta
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english
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Re: Theravada and Zen sitting practice

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:32 pm

himalayanspirit wrote:Like most non-Buddhists who get introduced to Buddhism through Zen, my knowledge of Theravada is rudimentary. I am familiar with terms like Shamatha and Vipassana (at least I feel I am) and would like to know if meditation practices of Zen tradition have any correlation with Shamatha and Vippassana.

My main interest is in the Zen practice of sitting in Lotus posture. Ideally, the practitioner would only require to just sit and relax and try to maintain the posture - instead of actively putting effort to concentrate the mind or analytically observe various phenomena. My question is, what would this Zen meditation practice lead to, according to Theravada perspective? Will it lead to Jhanas? Or will it lead to insight? In other words, is this Zen meditation a form of Shamatha (since there is nothing that we actually do than just sit) or Satipatthana (mindfulness) according to Theravada perspective?

And from Theravada perspective, what benefits will I gain if I consistently practice this method of "bare sitting"?

Zen "bare awareness" meditation is not really samatha or vipassana to Theravada practioners - that isn't to say that it is worthless, but just that it doesn't necessarily fit into our two general categories.

In my experience, it's hard for bare sitting to lead to Jhana because Jhana takes a very high degree of concentration on an object like the breath or a kasina or whatever, and I don't think Shikantaza allows for that kind of directed focus. In the same way, I don't think it is vipassana either because it does not observe with insight. If anything, it's a middle way between the two.

I know many people who practice Zazen and I think it's a very helpful and enriching practice, but in terms of relation to Theravada, it's not really designed to fit our categories.

Are you interested in learning more about Theravada meditation?
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: Theravada and Zen sitting practice

Postby seeker242 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:47 pm

himalayanspirit wrote:Like most non-Buddhists who get introduced to Buddhism through Zen, my knowledge of Theravada is rudimentary. I am familiar with terms like Shamatha and Vipassana (at least I feel I am) and would like to know if meditation practices of Zen tradition have any correlation with Shamatha and Vippassana.

My main interest is in the Zen practice of sitting in Lotus posture. Ideally, the practitioner would only require to just sit and relax and try to maintain the posture - instead of actively putting effort to concentrate the mind or analytically observe various phenomena. My question is, what would this Zen meditation practice lead to, according to Theravada perspective? Will it lead to Jhanas? Or will it lead to insight? In other words, is this Zen meditation a form of Shamatha (since there is nothing that we actually do than just sit) or Satipatthana (mindfulness) according to Theravada perspective?

And from Theravada perspective, what benefits will I gain if I consistently practice this method of "bare sitting"?


I can not speak from a Theravada perspective but from a zen perspective, shikantaza is a variation of insight meditation. The difference is there is no fixed or particular object is taken up to observe, but that does not mean there is just sitting and no observing. There is always observing going on and with this observing comes insight. It has some elements of both shamatha and vippassana. Focused concentration is quite necessary to be able to do it, which is why teachers recommend that skill in focused concentrating be developed first, before practicing it. Otherwise you may just spend the whole time playing with the monkey mind and receive no benefit from it. So you could say it's a combination of both.
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Re: Theravada and Zen sitting practice

Postby bodom » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:25 pm

:goodpost:

Thank you seeker. Having practiced in both traditions I can say that yours is an accurate description of Zen meditation.

: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: Theravada and Zen sitting practice

Postby himalayanspirit » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:05 am

DAWN wrote:If you will be totaly concentrated on immobility of your body, immobility of your spine, you will be able to penetrate Jhanas most rapidly if you will concentrate on some phenomena (mental of physical).
Why?
Because in sentences concentrate on body or concentrate on mental formations the key word is concentrate.
Concentration is the key, objects is the door.
But why body is best door for Samatha?
Because body door is like a door made in wood, solid, stable you can take it and open it.
But mental door is like a doot made in water, liquid, in perpetual mouvement. There is a risk to be distructed by it, but even if you not distructed by it, you ant catch it, is liquid, you must freez it (like your body), make this water like solid ice, or give some rhythm (like a breath), this rhythm will make the door more stable, and then you can cath it and open it.
BUT also, if you practicing Samatha and Vipassana an the same moment, you can, by using wisdom, go trought this water door without openning, go beyound dirrectly.

I dont know if it's Theravada method or not. But i know that Ajahn Mun teach about the importance of body investigation in "Heart Released"
If it's heretical please delete it.

Metta


You are right about concentration on body, and that it will eventually lead to Jhanas with consistent practice. However, concentration requires "effort" (and even energy to mentally focus), where as the practice I was referring to was about just sitting on Lotus posture and trying to naturally relax and not follow any thoughts whatsoever. When we practice Shamatha we focus on an object (like breath), and to bring stability to our focus we have consistently put mental effort, which eventually leads to the body becoming tired.

In "Void meditation" (I think this is what it is called), however, there is no expending of effort, mental or physical, and no grasping of any concept.
Will this be of any benefit in Theravada?

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
himalayanspirit wrote:Like most non-Buddhists who get introduced to Buddhism through Zen, my knowledge of Theravada is rudimentary. I am familiar with terms like Shamatha and Vipassana (at least I feel I am) and would like to know if meditation practices of Zen tradition have any correlation with Shamatha and Vippassana.

My main interest is in the Zen practice of sitting in Lotus posture. Ideally, the practitioner would only require to just sit and relax and try to maintain the posture - instead of actively putting effort to concentrate the mind or analytically observe various phenomena. My question is, what would this Zen meditation practice lead to, according to Theravada perspective? Will it lead to Jhanas? Or will it lead to insight? In other words, is this Zen meditation a form of Shamatha (since there is nothing that we actually do than just sit) or Satipatthana (mindfulness) according to Theravada perspective?

And from Theravada perspective, what benefits will I gain if I consistently practice this method of "bare sitting"?

Zen "bare awareness" meditation is not really samatha or vipassana to Theravada practioners - that isn't to say that it is worthless, but just that it doesn't necessarily fit into our two general categories.

In my experience, it's hard for bare sitting to lead to Jhana because Jhana takes a very high degree of concentration on an object like the breath or a kasina or whatever, and I don't think Shikantaza allows for that kind of directed focus. In the same way, I don't think it is vipassana either because it does not observe with insight. If anything, it's a middle way between the two.

I know many people who practice Zazen and I think it's a very helpful and enriching practice, but in terms of relation to Theravada, it's not really designed to fit our categories.

Are you interested in learning more about Theravada meditation?


I am definitely interested in Theravada because, ironically, I find the Theravadins to be far more compassionate compared to the Mahayanists even though it is the latter who give special emphasis to it! I am sure there are common grounds between traditions and that practically the relationship between them was much more harmonious than can be inferred from written material against each other.

I had visited the Kanheri Buddhist caves (which is in a National forest reserve near Mumbai) three times in my life and it was a wonderful experience to look at the dwelling place where monks practiced their meditation to perfection. In fact, it was pretty scary to see how monks could live there and sit on some cabins within these caves in complete darkness to practice Buddhism. I found the caves of all sects - Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana - carved adjacent to each other. So, indeed, the monks of various sects practiced along with each other in harmony.
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Re: Theravada and Zen sitting practice

Postby DAWN » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:42 am

himalayanspirit wrote:
You are right about concentration on body, and that it will eventually lead to Jhanas with consistent practice. However, concentration requires "effort" (and even energy to mentally focus), where as the practice I was referring to was about just sitting on Lotus posture and trying to naturally relax and not follow any thoughts whatsoever. When we practice Shamatha we focus on an object (like breath), and to bring stability to our focus we have consistently put mental effort, which eventually leads to the body becoming tired.

In "Void meditation" (I think this is what it is called), however, there is no expending of effort, mental or physical, and no grasping of any concept.
Will this be of any benefit in Theravada?


When you do like this, there is no door, so you have just to enter. Not by effort, but by light, by proprety and space.

Why?
Because when you enter in wood (earth) door, you become this element, and while you go trought it, the element of earth is absorbed by door, so you leave it, and go beyound without it, you become clean of it.
When you enter the water door, you become the water, and when you go trought, the water is absorbed by water door, so you leave it and go beyound without it, you become clean of it.
When there is no door, you become the space, and when you go trought, the space is absorbed by space, so you leave it and go beyound without it, you become clean of it.

Thats why the one have to keep the proprety, stable light and space.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english
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Re: Theravada and Zen sitting practice

Postby greggorious » Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:14 pm

You have to remember that Jhana's aren't spoken about in Zen, because in Zen practice there is nothing to attain. According to Zen, you have already attained it, you just haven't realised it, whereas with theravada it's believed you have to work for it. That's my opinion anyway.
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: Theravada and Zen sitting practice

Postby DAWN » Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:50 pm

greggorious wrote:You have to remember that Jhana's aren't spoken about in Zen, because in Zen practice there is nothing to attain. According to Zen, you have already attained it, you just haven't realised it, whereas with theravada it's believed you have to work for it. That's my opinion anyway.


Zen tradition are reason in this point.
We are all Buddhas yet. This is unconditioned part of buddha nature.
There is no picture without canvas.
There is no clothings without body.
So theravada teach how to strip all clothings, one after other.
Actualy there is no Theravada, there is just Buddha Gotama teaching, Samma Sambuddha teaching.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english
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