help! check my methods?

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help! check my methods?

Postby alan... » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:41 am

i'm alone, no teacher or temple nearby so i need advice.

the suttas are my teacher as well as some books by modern authors.

what i'm doing is using the eightfold path and further division into the three trainings of morality, concentration and wisdom.

morality:

so i'm following morality rules according to the suttas, easy enough.

for concentration (which includes mindfulness):

mindfulness i'm memorizing satipatthana sutta, reading "satipatthana: the direct path to realization" by Analayo and "four foundations of mindfulness in plain english" by bhante g. i think this should cover mindfulness, yes?

for jhana i've read "mindfulness, bliss and beyond" by brahm, "focused and fearless" by catherine. there is so much debate on proper jhana i'm at a loss here. i can sometimes enter the first jhana but not always with the same methods, i kind of mix and match so clearly i need advice here.

for wisdom: i'm observing anicca, dukkha and anatta in all things both on and off the cushion. reading the suttas, and so on. in my understanding wisdom develops as a result of the former mentioned steps in conjunction with some prior knowledge of the dhamma (you have to know what you're looking for). and i intend to get books on the anapanasati sutta as well as memorize the sutta itself to help develop wisdom.

critiques? advice? i really need to know about jhana! it's super ambiguous in the suttas and no two authors teach it the same.
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby nibbuti » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:11 am

alan... wrote:critiques? advice? i really need to know about jhana! it's super ambiguous in the suttas and no two authors teach it the same.

Indeed it is, and no two authors teach the same. Because it is not about additing something, like some special knowledge or technique, but rather about taking something away or letting go, and this doesn't sell. Authors tend to keep holding students 'on the rod', while the Buddha taught to dismiss his students.

:meditate:
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby alan... » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:22 am

nibbuti wrote:
alan... wrote:critiques? advice? i really need to know about jhana! it's super ambiguous in the suttas and no two authors teach it the same.

Indeed it is, and no two authors teach the same. Because it is not about additing something, like some special knowledge or technique, but rather about taking something away or letting go, and this doesn't sell. Authors tend to keep holding students 'on the rod', while the Buddha taught to dismiss his students.

:meditate:


hmm. so what should i do then?
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby James the Giant » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:28 am

It sounds to me like you've got a good program going, so pat yourself on the back and relax.
Good work.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby nibbuti » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:47 am

alan... wrote:hmm. so what should i do then?

Stop craving for jhana :tantrum: , donate your books to the local library :thanks: and focus on overcoming hindrances and release/non-attachment via body/breath :meditate:.
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby alan... » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:02 am

James the Giant wrote:It sounds to me like you've got a good program going, so pat yourself on the back and relax.
Good work.


that made my day james. thanks!
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:33 am

nibbuti wrote:
alan... wrote:hmm. so what should i do then?

Stop craving for jhana :tantrum: , donate your books to the local library :thanks: and focus on overcoming hindrances and release/non-attachment via body/breath :meditate:.
Craving jhana seems to be rather a common affliction.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby alan... » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:10 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
nibbuti wrote:
alan... wrote:hmm. so what should i do then?

Stop craving for jhana :tantrum: , donate your books to the local library :thanks: and focus on overcoming hindrances and release/non-attachment via body/breath :meditate:.
Craving jhana seems to be rather a common affliction.


indeed. i believe this is because it is talked about very frequently in the suttas and is a step in the eightfold path. the suttas clearly and in no uncertain terms say that one can enter into nibbana by learning and practicing jhana. the buddha recommends it with great frequency and makes statements such as "practice jhana ananda, do not delay or you will regret it later!" (MN 152, but this is found in many places with different names where ananda is). in many suttas he and others talk about it as an utterly essential part of the path. it seems to me odd for anyone to not try to practice it.

other than of course dry insight workers or people who only do metta as these ideas have some support in the suttas as well.
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby Alobha » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:41 pm

alan... wrote:morality:

so i'm following morality rules according to the suttas, easy enough.


Are you keeping five or eight precepts? What about mental behavior?

critiques? advice? i really need to know about jhana! it's super ambiguous in the suttas and no two authors teach it the same.


For how long do you practice now?
How much formal meditation do you do every day?
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby alan... » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:45 pm

Alobha wrote:
alan... wrote:morality:

so i'm following morality rules according to the suttas, easy enough.


Are you keeping five or eight precepts? What about mental behavior?

critiques? advice? i really need to know about jhana! it's super ambiguous in the suttas and no two authors teach it the same.


For how long do you practice now?
How much formal meditation do you do every day?


five precepts. i have to eat every few hours due to a health condition (and i'm quite thin, it's not an excuse thing for over eating). sleeping on the floor would anger my wife to no end and not seeing shows would mean no movies or tv and again i'm married so refusing to watch movies with my wife would be a big problem for our marriage as that's one of a few activities we have always done together. i'm pretty good with mental behavior. i maintain mindfulness most of the time and don't let myself get lost in negative thoughts.

at least an hour of formal meditation a day. sometimes two in two sessions of one hour each.
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby ground » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:46 pm

alan... wrote:critiques? advice? .

Never mind. Just sit. :sage:
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby Justsit » Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:53 pm

ground wrote:
alan... wrote:critiques? advice? .

Never mind. Just sit. :sage:

:thumbsup:


"To avoid all evil
To do good.
To purify one's mind.
This is the teaching of all the Buddhas."

--Dhammapāda, XIV, 5

(italics mine).
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby Alobha » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:25 pm

Just keep going and have some patience. Sounds like you're doing just fine.
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby daverupa » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:44 pm

The Grade of the Tamed

Section 13 begins a description of the gradual training. I recommend adhering as much as possible to this format in one's training.
    "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: help! check my methods?

Postby lojong1 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:32 pm

alan wrote:...i can sometimes enter the first jhana but not always with the same methods...

Find the common ground of the methods and other circumstances that have worked for you. This will leave you with one practice that works, fits the sutta descriptions, and is wholly compatible with the various methods you drew from, whether those teachers recognize it or not.
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby Digity » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:56 am

I'd forget Jhana for now. Just meditate...states of Jhana may just arise naturally.
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby alan... » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:48 pm

Digity wrote:I'd forget Jhana for now. Just meditate...states of Jhana may just arise naturally.


well i can enter the first jhana about 80% of the time. the only thing that stops me is sloth and torpor and as long as i'm rested i don't have that problem. considering it's an extremely important part of the dhamma i don't think i'll be forgetting it any time soon. also before reading about how to enter jhana i meditated for six years and had no naturally arising jhana. perhaps some jhanic factors but without knowledge of what they were or how to stabilize them and keep focus it never lead anywhere.
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby Digity » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:16 am

alan... wrote:
Digity wrote:I'd forget Jhana for now. Just meditate...states of Jhana may just arise naturally.


well i can enter the first jhana about 80% of the time. the only thing that stops me is sloth and torpor and as long as i'm rested i don't have that problem. considering it's an extremely important part of the dhamma i don't think i'll be forgetting it any time soon. also before reading about how to enter jhana i meditated for six years and had no naturally arising jhana. perhaps some jhanic factors but without knowledge of what they were or how to stabilize them and keep focus it never lead anywhere.


How would you describe your experience with first jhana? I don't have much experience with them. Are you able to just focus and experience feelings of bliss? Do you achieve it through directing your thoughts, focus in that area?

I'm no expert in jhana or meditation...I've only started practice meditation serious this past year, so you shouldn't necessarily listen to me. I just thought maybe you were caught up on "jhanas" and needed to focus elsewhere in your meditation.
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby alan... » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:38 am

Digity wrote:
alan... wrote:
Digity wrote:I'd forget Jhana for now. Just meditate...states of Jhana may just arise naturally.


well i can enter the first jhana about 80% of the time. the only thing that stops me is sloth and torpor and as long as i'm rested i don't have that problem. considering it's an extremely important part of the dhamma i don't think i'll be forgetting it any time soon. also before reading about how to enter jhana i meditated for six years and had no naturally arising jhana. perhaps some jhanic factors but without knowledge of what they were or how to stabilize them and keep focus it never lead anywhere.


How would you describe your experience with first jhana? I don't have much experience with them. Are you able to just focus and experience feelings of bliss? Do you achieve it through directing your thoughts, focus in that area?

I'm no expert in jhana or meditation...I've only started practice meditation serious this past year, so you shouldn't necessarily listen to me. I just thought maybe you were caught up on "jhanas" and needed to focus elsewhere in your meditation.



i meditated zen for six years. so basically i was keeping myself in thoughtless alertness with eyes wide open for forty minutes or so at a time. then i read about jhana and how if you close your eyes you will see a nimitta which is like a ball of light. then if you keep it up that nimitta will envelope your mind and you will experience the first jhana which is great bliss. this worked for me a few times. then i read about getting into access concentration (basically focused concentration where thoughts come and go very easily or not at all) and then switching to a pleasant bodily sensation as your object of mindfulness. you just watch the pleasant feeling and do nothing else and it grows until you're in the first jhana. this worked a couple of times too. now i do both, i get into access, see the nimitta or not, then i pick a pleasant sensation and am mindful but i keep my breath as well and it turns into jhana, boundless bliss that gets stronger the longer you maintain it. consciousness becomes sharp and you see only the inside of your mind or the nimitta or whatever. for me it's just a soft red mixed with white. thoughts are usually about the experience and nothing else. like "this feels great" or "how long have i been in this jhana?" stuff like that as opposed to "what is on tv later?" "what am i having for dinner?".

it's utter bliss. then if you focus even more on the breath you can leave all thought behind, joy and bliss intensifies and you enter the second jhana. beyond that i don't know. i may have entered the third and forth but i'm not sure. however i have little problem entering the first.

none of this has been hard for me but that's probably due to practicing the prerequisite stage for six years! normally people probably practice that stage for a month or so or however long their patience allows before they start trying to enter jhana. if they're not ready this could lead to a lot of confusion. like thinking happy thoughts and thinking that's jhana when really you aren't even in access concentration yet or other issues.

with me i honed the access concentration skill down to where it is second nature. it was a miserable six years as well because i didn't know what i was doing! zen teaches mindfulness of breathing basically and then you open into shikantaza or silent illumination which is very similar to entering access concentration and then practicing vipassana instead of jhana. only i didn't know about shikantaza or silent illumination!!! so i just honed access for years and years waiting for realization that would never come since that's not how it works. then i discovered jhana and slid right in no problem. i think it took about a month to get near the first jhana, another three months to broach it's outer edges fairly well, and then after ten months or so or maybe a year i was deeply inside the heart of the jhana. now i can enter it within about twenty minutes or so.
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Re: help! check my methods?

Postby alan... » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:43 am

Alobha wrote:Just keep going and have some patience. Sounds like you're doing just fine.


cool thanks.
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