ajahn brahm meditation methods

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ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby alan... » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:14 am

what do you think of this from ajahn brahm?

this is from a book called "the jhanas", it covers starting from jhana one all the way up through all the formless attainments and finally to neither perception nor non-perception and then to the cessation of perception:

" THE MIND-BASE OF NEITHER PERCEPTION NOR NON-PERCEPTION

Within the perception of nothingness lies the perception of not even nothing! If the mind is subtle enough to see this feature" then the perception of nothingness disappears and is replaced by the perception of neither perception nor no perception. All that one can say about this Fourth Immaterial Attainment is that it is, in fact, a perception (AN 9's, 42). In the simile of the thousand petalled lotus, this state is represented by the 1,000th layer of petals, still dosed, with all the 999 other layers of petals fully open. The l000th petal is almost a non-petal, being the most subtle and sublime of all. For it clasps within its gossamer fabric the famous "Jewel in the heart of the lotus," Nibbana.




NIBBANA, THE END OF All PERCEPTION

For within the perception of neither perception nor no-perception lies the end of all perception, the cessation of all that is felt or perceived, Nibbana. If the mind attends to this, the mind stops. When the mind starts again one gains the attainment of Arahant or Anagami, these are the only possibilities."

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books/Ajahn_Brahm_The_Jhanas.htm#PART_TWO

out of curiosity, did ajahn chah teach this? i don't really know much about him.

certainly there is support from the suttas for this idea but likely opposition as well.

what about the commentaries? is this how it is taught there as well?

what about his VERY specific progression through and description of the nimittas? is there not room in the suttas for completely different definitions of nimitta as well as nimitta free meditation that still leads through jhana? is this a commentary thing?

has anyone made progress with this method? is it this specific?
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:40 am

I will say that I am a bit skeptical as to whether the Buddha actually taught a meditative state such as the cessation of perception and feeling and that to equate that meditative state with nibbana seems a bit blasphemous to me. Nibbana is the cessation of passion, aversion, and delusion. It is freedom from craving and attachment. For an arahant, the cessation of perception and feeling doesn't matter because they have seen rightly that perceptions and feelings are not-self, they sense feelings and perceptions disjoined from them and so when the 5 khandas cease at death the arahant doesn't die because the arahant has stopped identifying with the khandas, the arahant cannot even be pinned down as a truth or reality while the khandas are still manifest so how would the cessation of perception and feeling be nibbana when nibbana is so much more.

Without saying anything more I'll just point you to what Daverupa has said because his doubts are more articulately formulated:

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15880&hilit=inductive+claim&start=40#p227271
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby daverupa » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:48 am

:popcorn:
    "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: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby bodom » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:54 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:I will say that I am a bit skeptical as to whether the Buddha actually taught a meditative state such as the cessation of perception and feeling...


Not for the sake of argument but only for reference see sutttas SN 36:11 and MN 43 and 44. As stated by the commentaries it can only be achieved by never returners and arhats who have mastered all eight jhanas and is not essential for the realization of arhatship. Sorry for not posting links but I'm on my mobile.

: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: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby SDC » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:58 am

bodom wrote:Sorry for not posting links but I'm on my mobile.


Unacceptable...and from a moderator no less... :tongue:
Through many of samsara’s births I hasten seeking, finding not the builder of this house - pain is birth again, again. O builder of this house you’re seen, you shall not build a house again, all your beams have given away, rafters of the ridge decayed, mind to the unconditioned gone, exhaustion of craving has it reached.(Dhp - 153, 154)
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:00 am

bodom wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote:I will say that I am a bit skeptical as to whether the Buddha actually taught a meditative state such as the cessation of perception and feeling...


Not for the sake of argument but only for reference see sutttas SN 36:11 and MN 43 and 44. As stated by the commentaries it can only be achieved by never returners and arhats who have mastered all eight jhanas and is not essential for the realization of arhatship. Sorry for not posting links but I'm on my mobile.

:anjali:


Yeah I've read those suttas and know that only the first jhana is actually needed to become an arahant (according to the suttas as I understand them at least) but it just seems to me that the equating of a meditative state with the final goal of the Buddha's teaching is not dhamma and actually much more Upanisadic in nature. Perhaps I'll start a little project and try to make an actual case for my statements on here but I have to go to class in 15 minutes or so. Perhaps in a few days I'll have a decent argument/case worked out and then this will seem less presumptuous of me.

:namaste:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby Nyana » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:43 am

The cessation of perception and feeling is not the same as nibbāna. Liberation through discernment (paññāvimuttā) doesn't require the development of the formless attainments or the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling. The suttas tell us that in the Buddha's day there were more arahants liberated through discernment than those who were liberated both ways etc., and there's no reason to think that this situation changed later. For example, SN 8.7 Pavāraṇā Sutta, informs us that of 500 arahants present on that occasion, 60 had triple knowledge, 60 had the six higher gnoses, 60 were liberated both ways (ubhatobhāgavimuttā, meaning jhānas & formless attainments), and all of the rest were liberated through discernment.

The arahant path and fruition can occur after emerging from the attainment of cessation of perception and feeling, but even among arahants it's a path less traveled.

And in the Abhidhammapiṭaka the cessation of perception and feeling doesn't play any significant part in the path of awakening. There is no occurrence of consciousness during the cessation attainment, therefore no perception or knowledge. This is why the cessation attainment plays no direct role in the attainment of the supramundane paths and fruitions.

Moreover, the Theravāda has never accepted that the cessation of perception and feeling is not-conditioned (asaṅkhata) because that would mean that there are two not-conditioned dhammas, and that a produced meditative state is not-conditioned, and that the cessation of perception and feeling would have the same liberating role as the supramundane paths and fruitions, and so on. This is a specific point of controversy in the Kathāvatthu, where all of these alternatives are rejected.
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby reflection » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:58 am

Hi there!

It's not really possible to know what Ajahn Chah taught his monks specifically, because most has never been recorded. He probably taught different students different things, depending on where they are and how their characters are. So the best source of his teachings are his students. They seem to teach a bit differently, but I'm sure Ajahn Brahmavamso is teaching what he has was taught. Is this approach suitable for everybody? Perhaps not. Doesn't make it wrong, though.

My two cents: The meaning of nibbana is varying throughout interpretations and suttas, because nibbana is not a thing or specific state. It means 'unbinding' in a general sense. Yes, it can mean unbinding from desire, but also unbinding from bodily and mental processes. So yes, one form of nibbana can be a state of no mind - so no perception. Final nibbana being this without end. As there are no more khandas, there is no more consciousness, no more perception.

I loosely follow Ajahn Brahms meditation teachings. And while I'm not as advanced as some others are, I can say that the states he describes are indeed quite specific and will be very similar for everybody who does this method. The deeper you get, the more simple the state, so they will become even more alike. I know people disagree on interpretations of jhana and what not - but whatever interpretation you have, the suttas also described the jhanas as very specific states with certain factors.

However, don't judge a book by it's cover. If you are really interested in this method, don't analyse it through thinking or analysing suttas or whatever. Try it out. See if it has any value for you and if there is any truth in it. You don't need to go to the final stages to get a sense of it. If you throw a ball, you roughly know where it will land. If you get some results as Ajahn Brahms describes it, you'll also get a sense of why his description of nibbana may indeed be the highest peace.

Metta to ya!
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby Sylvester » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:19 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:I will say that I am a bit skeptical as to whether the Buddha actually taught a meditative state such as the cessation of perception and feeling and that to equate that meditative state with nibbana seems a bit blasphemous to me. Nibbana is the cessation of passion, aversion, and delusion. It is freedom from craving and attachment. For an arahant, the cessation of perception and feeling doesn't matter because they have seen rightly that perceptions and feelings are not-self, they sense feelings and perceptions disjoined from them and so when the 5 khandas cease at death the arahant doesn't die because the arahant has stopped identifying with the khandas, the arahant cannot even be pinned down as a truth or reality while the khandas are still manifest so how would the cessation of perception and feeling be nibbana when nibbana is so much more.

Without saying anything more I'll just point you to what Daverupa has said because his doubts are more articulately formulated:

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15880&hilit=inductive+claim&start=40#p227271


Ya ought to combine resources with daverupa to really scour the 4 early Nikayas to see just how often saññāvedayitanirodha features in the texts (occurring in 29 vaggas, not counting individual suttas within each vagga) and see if these references can be purged as un-Buddhist intrusions from the contemporary Indian landscape. For a start, you could start by scrutinising the words of Ven Ananda in AN 9.47 to 9.51, where this "cessation of perception and feeling" is reported by Ananda to have been declared by the Buddha to be nibbānaṃ nippariyāyenā (literally Nibbāna), versus the preceding 8 attainments which were declared to be be nibbānaṃ pariyāyena (Nibbāna, in a manner of speaking/metaphorically).

Concepts which have appeared far less frequently (eg papañca/proliferation, appatiṭṭhita/"unestablished") have made it to both the classical and modern orthodoxy as "Buddhist".
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:58 am

Sylvester wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote:I will say that I am a bit skeptical as to whether the Buddha actually taught a meditative state such as the cessation of perception and feeling and that to equate that meditative state with nibbana seems a bit blasphemous to me. Nibbana is the cessation of passion, aversion, and delusion. It is freedom from craving and attachment. For an arahant, the cessation of perception and feeling doesn't matter because they have seen rightly that perceptions and feelings are not-self, they sense feelings and perceptions disjoined from them and so when the 5 khandas cease at death the arahant doesn't die because the arahant has stopped identifying with the khandas, the arahant cannot even be pinned down as a truth or reality while the khandas are still manifest so how would the cessation of perception and feeling be nibbana when nibbana is so much more.

Without saying anything more I'll just point you to what Daverupa has said because his doubts are more articulately formulated:

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15880&hilit=inductive+claim&start=40#p227271


Ya ought to combine resources with daverupa to really scour the 4 early Nikayas to see just how often saññāvedayitanirodha features in the texts (occurring in 29 vaggas, not counting individual suttas within each vagga) and see if these references can be purged as un-Buddhist intrusions from the contemporary Indian landscape. For a start, you could start by scrutinising the words of Ven Ananda in AN 9.47 to 9.51, where this "cessation of perception and feeling" is reported by Ananda to have been declared by the Buddha to be nibbānaṃ nippariyāyenā (literally Nibbāna), versus the preceding 8 attainments which were declared to be be nibbānaṃ pariyāyena (Nibbāna, in a manner of speaking/metaphorically).

Concepts which have appeared far less frequently (eg papañca/proliferation, appatiṭṭhita/"unestablished") have made it to both the classical and modern orthodoxy as "Buddhist".


Well, I do own all the Nikayas with the exception of the Khuddaka Nikaya but that sort of research is a bit beyond me at this point. My main point is that a meditative state cannot be equivalent to nibbana nor can the mere disruptance or temporary cessation of perceptions and feelings automatically lead to the ending of the kilesas; if it could then people who've been knocked under anesthetics would be non-returners or arahants. Also, there is another reason that I am skeptical of the cessation of perception and feeling as the teaching of the Buddha:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

These suttas seem to present contradictory accounts of the Buddha's awakening. Also, (as far as I know) whenever the Buddha talked about his time as a bodhisatta, he only mentioned getting as far as the dimension of nothingness and of neither perception nor non perception but the Buddha in the Tapussa sutta speaks as if he is already familiar with the cessation of perception and feeling, i.e. he has at least heard of it before from someone but if the cessation of perception and feeling automatically results in non-returnership or arahantship and is equivalent to nibbana then no one else other than the Buddha could have known about it before the Buddha awakened and so this sutta seems suspect. Furthermore, the bodhisatta rejects the formless attainments of his teachers and instead relies on the jhanas to concentrate his mind and use it to recollect past lives, see the beings dying and reappearing according to their kamma, and then to see how all phenomena are not worth attaching too and thus letting go of all passion and self identification and becoming unbound. Anyway, this is a preliminary post, I'll work on my case some more but read those two suttas and tell me what you think.

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby Mr Man » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:43 am

reflection wrote:
It's not really possible to know what Ajahn Chah taught his monks specifically, because most has never been recorded. He probably taught different students different things, depending on where they are and how their characters are. So the best source of his teachings are his students. They seem to teach a bit differently, but I'm sure Ajahn Brahmavamso is teaching what he has was taught. Is this approach suitable for everybody? Perhaps not. Doesn't make it wrong, though.



I guess we would have to ask Ajahn Brahmavamso but I don't think what he teaches in regard to formal meditation was taught by Ajahn Chah.
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby Sylvester » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:05 pm

Hi polarbear

I'm familiar with the argument that such inconsistent narratives point to intrusions from non-Buddhist sources. Equally plausible is the hypothesis that the formless references are the artefact of recitation, ie the reciters automatically added these into an "original" series consisting only of the jhanas, simply because the full series of 9 attainments was seen as logically inevitable.

So, you do have a point about the Tapussa Sutta's anachronism, as if the Bodhisatta had already heard of the attainment of Cessation before His Awakening. Perhaps one needs to resort to an explanation with some pixie dust - eg He delved into His past or spoke with the divine Sangha and thus learnt of that opening. Different strokes for different folks.

The opinions about this Cessation can be as varied as the individual scholar who tackles it. Eg Vetter doubts the formless attainments as original, but counts the attainment of Cessation as a Buddhist innovation. Interestingly, Ven Analayo does a hybrid emic and etic approach to the formless issue. Drawing on several suttas, he suggests that they are witness to pre-Buddhist aspirations that would count as vibhavatanha in the form of craving for formless states into which the Self merges. I think this accounts for his perspective that the Bodhisatta did learn the real McCoy formless attainments from Alara and Ramaputta. What tainted those attainments, in his view, was the underlying craving.

I guess I digress. Personally, I think the attainment of Cessation is compatible with doctrine, as an especially powerful manifestation of Dependant Cessation.
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:48 am

Sylvester wrote: AN 9.47 to 9.51


yes, game over it seems. these suttas state that this is the way it can work. it's exactly what brahm is saying (that one can reach nibbana by entering the base of the cessation of thought and perception.)

however i think it important to note that this is one of many ways one can attain nibbana. there are myriad other ways it happens in the suttas.

further i think there is some apprehension to this idea because it is doing something to reach nibbana, as if all it takes is mastering this skill, however i would imagine one would have to fulfill vast amounts of prerequisites before one could attain the base of the cessation of thought and perception and become and arahant or non returner. so it doesn't change anything.
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby daverupa » Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:05 pm

There's little reason to consider the Nikayas as a bulk proof in this respect; they reflect a development in their ideation of formless states, and it hardly seems likely that the 'four jhanas' pericope implicitly assumes these as the fourth jhana is repeatedly cited as the foundation for the destruction of the asavas.

Sylvester, the word-count idea is an interesting herring of indeterminate color; you must already know that the Agamas consistently lack the formless states (as well as two of the tevijja) where the Nikayas include them (and, less often, includes them where the Pali does not), highlighting their localized, and developmentally late, importance in terms of the recitation traditions. It seems additionally significant in this context, for example, that MN 111 does not seem to have a parallel.

I will respectfully disagree with your characterization of a previously mentioned alternative as "equally" plausible.

:anjali:
    "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: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby Sylvester » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:35 pm

daverupa wrote:
Sylvester, the word-count idea is an interesting herring of indeterminate color; you must already know that the Agamas consistently lack the formless states (as well as two of the tevijja) where the Nikayas include them


You give me too much credit. So I decided to suss out some suttas and their Chinese parallels. Eg the Agama parallel to SN 36.19 definitely has the formless attainments (SA 485). The Chinese parallel to SN 36.11 has the exact sequence of attainments as the Pali (SA 474, incorrectly tagged as SA 473 by SuttaCentral). I am not really in the position to say how "consistent" the Agamas are on this, either way.

I'm intrigued by your point about the Nikayas including them when they are not in the Pali. Could you expand on this?



:[/]
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby daverupa » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:44 pm

Sylvester wrote:I'm intrigued by your point about the Nikayas including them when they are not in the Pali. Could you expand on this?


I wrote a confusing sentence; to clarify:

...[T]he Agamas consistently lack the formless states (as well as two of the tevijja) where the Nikayas include them; less often, the Agamas include them where the Nikayas do not.


There is overlap as well, of course, such that the two sources agree with respect to inclusion or exclusion in some cases, but on balance the formless attainments are much more strongly represented on the Indian side of things, and I am more inclined to think that formless talk is developmentally additional, on the one hand, rather than lost, on the other.
Last edited by daverupa on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "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: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby Sylvester » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:48 pm

Phew, that's a relief.

Do you have have a source who's done a survey on the distribution differences between the 2 collections? Something to add to the reading list.
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby daverupa » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:51 pm

The only survey I currently have access to is Analayo's MN study. I'm pursuing his bibliography with your query in mind, however, but that's not easy going. Nevertheless, I find the MN comparison to be proof of concept, at least.
    "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: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby Sylvester » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:54 pm

Ok. Perhaps that's a feature of the MA? The SA does not seem as stingy. But 2 parallels do not make a trend. :tongue:
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Re: ajahn brahm meditation methods

Postby daverupa » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:34 pm

A tendency is nevertheless observed; simply because formless ideation became de rigueur does not make its apparent temporal development an irrelevancy.
    "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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