still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:40 pm

EDIT: with the help of the many great answers to this thread and some soul searching... err... anatta searching?... whatever, i have come to the conclusion that this is not the best option, even if i never find a theravada teacher i will probably continue to practice alone. END EDIT

i find nothing but conflicting ideas and confusion trying to practice alone. in the early stages (the past four years) everything was clear as day, morality rules and mindfulness training in the suttas is cut and dry, but as many of you have noticed, i'm at a gridlock with sitting meditation.

there are zen schools near me, should i just give up and go learn from someone at one of those schools?

if so, should i still practice and read theravada scripture?

i'm thinking if i can find a teacher who will teach me shikantaza i can start off with the method of jhana i know and come out of it to follow their instructions of shikantaza. as far as i can tell this is very similar to sitting in jhana and then doing vipassana. i have too many questions for one book to answer and reading more than one book to answer a question ends in conflicting ideas so i'm back to square one.

or i know of a rinzai school that only teaches meditation face to face, they don't even encourage it alone (at least not until you have been taught by a teacher) and apparently they walk around with a wooden sword to smack people with when they nod off or break a rule. this both intrigues and disturbs me, not sure what to make of that.

other than that there are a few tibetan schools but i don't see much in tibetan buddhism that is even going towards the same goal as theravada. i have no interest in spending my life preparing for death bardos or trying to merge my consciousness with whatever tibetan deities there are. not that there's anything wrong with this, it's just not for me. whereas zen follows roughly similar patterns as theravada, mostly diverging on the ideas of meditation. up to that point their eightfold path explanations are very similar and at times identical.
Last edited by alan... on Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:15 am

Hi Alan,

I practice with few local sanghas who follow Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings (I live in NYC).

I think they've been very good for me... but I can imagine that some of the practices and teachings that are followed might grate on many of the people in here.

I think that Nhat Hanh is very open with his own understanding, quite a genius, and is probably quite capable of teaching in any kind of style (haven't really tested that for myself, though)... but his main style is still very Mahayanist, though, and it's become very simple over the time, maybe because of the audience who come to him. His audience also tends to bring their children along (which I think is great, and that's one of main reasons why I like this tradition).

I think the main reason (or maybe two) why I have a very good tolerance for any kind of teachings might be because my first meditation practice was "just sitting."

I learned how to bring up a tremendous amount of patience with that.

Another reason is because I'm deaf... so I might be less picky about where I get my teachings from, and I very easily go for any kind of support which is available. (Maybe that is kind of similar to the bhikkhu not being picky about what he gets in his alms.)

Maybe you can keep that in mind when you do your own practice. You also know what's best for yourself, so you can try to learn how to trust that.

Everything is impermanent.

:anjali:
Last edited by beeblebrox on Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:15 am, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:31 am

The problem is that, depending on who you speak to, you might be told that Jhana is distracting, dangerous, the Devil's cave, etc.
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.
User avatar
LonesomeYogurt
 
Posts: 900
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm
Location: America

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:34 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:The problem is that, depending on who you speak to, you might be told that Jhana is distracting, dangerous, the Devil's cave, etc.


Is that so... or are you imagining some scenarios that Alan might find himself in?

:anjali:
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:36 am

I would say no. You're worrying about it too much. But I'm saying no because personally I want to try to follow the actual historical person's (that we know as the Buddha) teachings to the best of my ability and that means Theravada and the pali suttas are my best bet. Personally, the evidence in favor of body awareness in jhana seems much stronger to me than the idea that there is only mental awareness. However, that doesn't mean one cannot learn both. I would recommend learning the body based jhanas first and then if you still want to, then learn the other style of jhana. Heck, you could learn samadhi from an advaita vedantist after if you want but anyway this is just my recommendation. If I was going to recommend a specific meditation teacher to you then I'll recommend Thanissaro Bhikkhu. You may want to listen to some talks from a student of his, Eugene Cash, about samadhi and anapanasati, they are good talks. http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/68/?search=samadhi

But yeah, why go to Zen? That removes your practice even further from the ones that the Buddha recommended. Although, going to the zen center to meditate and hanging out with other buddhists is probably a great idea, I'm just recommending that you stick with the practices from the Pali suttas regarding the content of your meditation. Zen has multiple meditation styles too and it's not like they're more likely to be closer to what the Buddha taught than what can be found in Theravada, in fact I'd say it's just the opposite. But anyway, it's your choice and I wish you the best of luck in your journey down the path.

If you just do this (and have awareness of the body in jhana as the sutta suggests pretty clearly, especially in the 4th jhana simile) then you'll be fine:

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Angas. Now, the Angas have a town named Assapura. There the Blessed One addressed the monks, "Monks!"

"Yes, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "'Contemplative, contemplatives': That is how people perceive you. And when asked, 'What are you?' you claim that 'We are contemplatives.' So, with this being your designation and this your claim, this is how you should train yourselves: 'We will undertake & practice those qualities that make one a contemplative, that make one a brahman, so that our designation will be true and our claim accurate; so that the services of those whose robes, alms-food, lodging, and medicinal requisites we use will bring them great fruit & great reward; and so that our going forth will not be barren, but fruitful & fertile.'[1]

Conscience & concern
"And what, monks, are the qualities that make one a contemplative, that make one a brahman? 'We will be endowed with conscience & concern (for the consequences of wrong-doing)': That's how you should train yourselves. Now the thought may occur to you, 'We are endowed with conscience & concern. That much is enough, that much means we're done, so that the goal of our contemplative state has been reached. There's nothing further to be done,' and you may rest content with just that. So I tell you, monks. I exhort you, monks. Don't let those of you who seek the contemplative state fall away from the goal of the contemplative state when there is more to be done.

Purity of conduct
"And what more is to be done? 'Our bodily conduct will be pure, clear & open, unbroken & restrained. We will not exalt ourselves nor disparage others on account of that pure bodily conduct': That's how you should train yourselves. Now the thought may occur to you, 'We are endowed with conscience & concern. Our bodily conduct is pure. That much is enough, that much means we're done, so that the goal of our contemplative state has been reached. There's nothing further to be done,' and you may rest content with just that. So I tell you, monks. I exhort you, monks. Don't let those of you who seek the contemplative state fall away from the goal of the contemplative state when there is more to be done.

"And what more is to be done? 'Our verbal conduct... our mental conduct will be pure, clear & open, unbroken & restrained. We will not exalt ourselves nor disparage others on account of that pure verbal... mental conduct': That's how you should train yourselves. Now the thought may occur to you, 'We are endowed with conscience & concern. Our bodily conduct is pure. Our verbal conduct... our mental conduct is pure. That much is enough, that much means we're done, so that the goal of our contemplative state has been reached. There's nothing further to be done,' and you may rest content with just that. So I tell you, monks. I exhort you, monks. Don't let those of you who seek the contemplative state fall away from the goal of the contemplative state when there is more to be done.

"And what more is to be done? 'Our livelihood will be pure, clear & open, unbroken & restrained. We will not exalt ourselves nor disparage others on account of that pure livelihood': That's how you should train yourselves. Now the thought may occur to you, 'We are endowed with conscience & concern. Our bodily conduct is pure. Our verbal conduct... our mental conduct is pure. Our livelihood is pure. That much is enough, that much means we're done, so that the goal of our contemplative state has been reached. There's nothing further to be done,' and you may rest content with just that. So I tell you, monks. I exhort you, monks. Don't let those of you who seek the contemplative state fall away from the goal of the contemplative state when there is more to be done.

Restraint of the senses
"And what more is to be done? 'We will guard the doors to our sense faculties. On seeing a form with the eye, we will not grasp at any theme or variations by which — if we were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail us. We will practice for its restraint. We will protect the faculty of the eye. We will achieve restraint with regard to the faculty of the eye. On hearing a sound with the ear... On smelling an aroma with the nose... On tasting a flavor with the tongue... On feeling a tactile sensation with the body... On cognizing an idea with the intellect, we will not grasp at any theme or variations by which — if we were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the intellect — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail us. We will practice for its restraint. We will protect the faculty of the intellect. We will achieve restraint with regard to the faculty of the intellect': That's how you should train yourselves. Now the thought may occur to you, 'We are endowed with conscience & concern. Our bodily conduct is pure. Our verbal conduct... our mental conduct is pure. Our livelihood is pure. We guard the doors to our sense faculties. That much is enough, that much means we're done, so that the goal of our contemplative state has been reached. There's nothing further to be done,' and you may rest content with just that. So I tell you, monks. I exhort you, monks. Don't let those of you who seek the contemplative state fall away from the goal of the contemplative state when there is more to be done.

Moderation in eating
"And what more is to be done? 'We will have a sense of moderation in eating. Considering it appropriately, we will take food not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification, but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, thinking, "I will destroy old feelings [of hunger] & not create new feelings [from overeating]. Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort"': That's how you should train yourselves. Now the thought may occur to you, 'We are endowed with conscience & concern. Our bodily conduct is pure. Our verbal conduct... our mental conduct is pure. Our livelihood is pure. We guard the doors to our sense faculties. We have a sense of moderation in eating. That much is enough, that much means we're done, so that the goal of our contemplative state has been reached. There's nothing further to be done,' and you may rest content with just that. So I tell you, monks. I exhort you, monks. Don't let those of you who seek the contemplative state fall away from the goal of the contemplative state when there is more to be done.

Wakefulness
"And what more is to be done? 'We will be devoted to wakefulness. During the day, sitting & pacing back & forth, we will cleanse the mind of any qualities that would hold it in check. During the first watch of the night,[2] sitting & pacing back & forth, we will cleanse the mind of any qualities that would hold it in check. During the second watch of the night[3] reclining on his right side, we will take up the lion's posture, one foot placed on top of the other, mindful, alert, with the mind set on getting up [either as soon as we awaken or at a particular time]. During the last watch of the night,[4] sitting & pacing back & forth, we will cleanse the mind of any qualities that would hold it in check': That's how you should train yourselves. Now the thought may occur to you, 'We are endowed with conscience & concern. Our bodily conduct is pure. Our verbal conduct... our mental conduct is pure. Our livelihood is pure. We guard the doors to our sense faculties. We have a sense of moderation in eating. We are devoted to wakefulness. That much is enough, that much means we're done, so that the goal of our contemplative state has been reached. There's nothing further to be done,' and you may rest content with just that. So I tell you, monks. I exhort you, monks. Don't let those of you who seek the contemplative state fall away from the goal of the contemplative state when there is more to be done.

Mindfulness & alertness
"And what more is to be done? We will be possessed of mindfulness & alertness. When going forward and returning, we will act with alertness. When looking toward and looking away... when bending and extending our limbs... when carrying our outer cloak, upper robe, & bowl... when eating, drinking, chewing, & tasting... when urinating & defecating... when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, & remaining silent, we will act with alertness': That's how you should train yourselves. Now the thought may occur to you, 'We are endowed with conscience & concern. Our bodily conduct is pure. Our verbal conduct... our mental conduct is pure. Our livelihood is pure. We guard the doors to our sense faculties. We have a sense of moderation in eating. We are devoted to wakefulness. We are possessed of mindfulness & alertness. That much is enough, that much means we're done, so that the goal of our contemplative state has been reached. There's nothing further to be done,' and you may rest content with just that. So I tell you, monks. I exhort you, monks. Don't let those of you who seek the contemplative state fall away from the goal of the contemplative state when there is more to be done.

Abandoning the hindrances
"And what more is to be done? There is the case where a monk seeks out a secluded dwelling: a forest, the shade of a tree, a mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle grove, the open air, a heap of straw. After his meal, returning from his alms round, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body erect, and brings mindfulness to the fore.

"Abandoning covetousness with regard to the world, he dwells with an awareness devoid of covetousness. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning ill will and anger, he dwells with an awareness devoid of ill will, sympathetic with the welfare of all living beings. He cleanses his mind of ill will and anger. Abandoning sloth and drowsiness, he dwells with an awareness devoid of sloth and drowsiness, mindful, alert, percipient of light. He cleanses his mind of sloth and drowsiness. Abandoning restlessness and anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness and anxiety. Abandoning uncertainty, he dwells having crossed over uncertainty, with no perplexity with regard to skillful mental qualities. He cleanses his mind of uncertainty.

"Suppose that a man, taking a loan, invests it in his business affairs. His business affairs succeed. He repays his old debts and has extra left over for maintaining his wife. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, taking a loan, I invested it in my business affairs. Now my business affairs have succeeded. I have repaid my old debts and have extra left over for maintaining my wife.' Because of that he would gain joy & experience happiness.

"Now suppose that a man falls sick — in pain & seriously ill. He does not enjoy his meals and has no measure of strength in his body. At a later time he is released from that sickness. He enjoys his meals and has a measure of strength in his body. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was sick... Now I am released from that sickness. I enjoy my meals and have a measure of strength in my body.' Because of that he would gain joy & experience happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is bound in prison. At a later time he is released from that bondage, safe & sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was bound in prison. Now I am released from that bondage, safe & sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would gain joy & experience happiness.

"Now suppose that a man, subject to others, not subject to himself, unable to go where he likes. At a later time he is released from that slavery, subject to himself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where he likes. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was a slave... Now I am released from that slavery, subject to myself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where I like.' Because of that he would gain joy & experience happiness.

"Now suppose that a man, carrying money & goods, is traveling by a road through desolate country. At a later time he emerges from that desolate country, safe & sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, carrying money & goods, I was traveling by a road through desolate country. Now I have emerged from that desolate country, safe & sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would gain joy & experience happiness.

In the same way, when these five hindrances are not abandoned in himself, the monk regards it as a debt, a sickness, a prison, slavery, a road through desolate country. But when these five hindrances are abandoned in himself, he regards it as unindebtedness, good health, release from prison, freedom, a place of security. Seeing that they have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad. Glad, he becomes enraptured. Enraptured, his body grows tranquil. His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated.

The four jhanas
"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's nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.

"Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters and remains in the second jhana: rapture and pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation — internal assurance. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of composure. Just like a lake with spring-water welling up from within, having no inflow from the east, west, north, or south, and with the skies supplying abundant showers time and again, so that the cool fount of water welling up from within the lake would permeate and pervade, suffuse and fill it with cool waters, there being no part of the lake unpervaded by the cool waters; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of composure. There's nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born of composure.

"And furthermore, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture. Just as in a lotus pond, some of the lotuses, born and growing in the water, stay immersed in the water and flourish without standing up out of the water, so that they are permeated and pervaded, suffused and filled with cool water from their roots to their tips, and nothing of those lotuses would be unpervaded with cool water; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture. There's nothing of his entire body unpervaded with pleasure divested of rapture.

"And furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure and stress — as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress — he enters and remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither-pleasure nor stress. He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. Just as if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the monk sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. There's nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness.

The three knowledges
"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives.[5] He recollects his manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction and expansion, [recollecting], 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus he recollects his manifold past lives in their modes and details. Just as if a man were to go from his home village to another village, and then from that village to yet another village, and then from that village back to his home village. The thought would occur to him, 'I went from my home village to that village over there. There I stood in such a way, sat in such a way, talked in such a way, and remained silent in such a way. From that village I went to that village over there, and there I stood in such a way, sat in such a way, talked in such a way, and remained silent in such a way. From that village I came back home.' In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. He recollects his manifold past lives... in their modes and details.

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge of the passing away and re-appearance of beings. He sees — by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: 'These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, and mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, and mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.' Thus — by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — he sees beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma. Just as if there were a tall building in the central square [of a town], and a man with good eyesight standing on top of it were to see people entering a house, leaving it, walking along the street, and sitting in the central square. The thought would occur to him, 'These people are entering a house, leaving it, walking along the streets, and sitting in the central square.' In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to knowledge of the passing away and re-appearance of beings. He sees — by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma...

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, the monk directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. He discerns, as it has come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are mental fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.' His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the fermentation of sensuality, the fermentation of becoming, the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There's nothing further for this world.' Just as if there were a pool of water in a mountain glen — clear, limpid, and unsullied — where a man with good eyesight standing on the bank could see shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also shoals of fish swimming about and resting, and it would occur to him, 'This pool of water is clear, limpid, and unsullied. Here are these shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also these shoals of fish swimming about and resting.' In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. He discerns, as it has come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are mental fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.' His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the fermentation of sensuality, the fermentation of becoming, the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There's nothing further for this world.'

"This, monks, is called a monk who is a contemplative, a brahman, washed, a master, learned, noble, an arahant.[6]

"And how is a monk a contemplative?[7] His evil, unskillful qualities that are defiled, that lead to further becoming, create trouble, ripen in stress, and lead to future birth, aging, & death have been calmed.[8] This is how a monk is a contemplative.

"And how is a monk a brahman? His evil, unskillful qualities that are defiled, that lead to further becoming, create trouble, ripen in stress, and lead to future birth, aging, & death have been expelled.[9] This is how a monk is a brahman.

"And how is a monk washed? His evil, unskillful qualities that are defiled, that lead to further becoming, create trouble, ripen in stress, and lead to future birth, aging, & death have been washed away. This is how a monk is washed.

"And how is a monk a master? His evil, unskillful qualities that are defiled, that lead to further becoming, create trouble, ripen in stress, and lead to future birth, aging, & death have been mastered. This is how a monk is a master.

"And how is a monk learned?[10] His evil, unskillful qualities that are defiled, that lead to further becoming, create trouble, ripen in stress, and lead to future birth, aging, & death have streamed away.[11] This is how a monk is learned.

"And how is a monk noble?[12] His evil, unskillful qualities that are defiled, that lead to further becoming, create trouble, ripen in stress, and lead to future birth, aging, & death have gone far away.[13] This is how a monk is noble.

"And how is a monk an arahant? His evil, unskillful qualities that are defiled, that lead to further becoming, create trouble, ripen in stress, and lead to future birth, aging, & death have gone far away.[14] This is how a monk is an arahant."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words.


Here is a quote from Thanissaro Bhikkhu from Shankman's book: The Experience of Samadhi (I highly suggest you purchase a copy of Shankman's book by the way):

Richard Shankman: In the West now, there are a variety of jhana sytstems being taught.

Thanissaro: I always found the most useful way of avoiding the jhana wars is that, when you get into a state of concentration, whatever it is, you master it and then you analyze it. Is there any disturbance here? Then you look to see what the mind is doing around its object. If you see any kind of disturbance, in terms either of the state of concentration itself or of the defilements surrounding that state, then, if you're an honest person, you have to admit to yourself, "Okay, there's still more work to be done." And regardless of whether you're in jhana or out of jhana, if you approach every state of concentration this way, in full honesty, then you're going to get through it and eventually arrive at full awakening. But honesty is the important part of the question.

People like to compare their jhanas, which is not healthy for their practice: "My jhana is better than your jhana." "I'm in the third jhana now. How about you?" As the Buddha said, this is the sign of a person of no integrity. So it doesn't really matter which jhana you're in. You have to know what to do with whatever state of concentration you've got. If you're using it for the purpose of understanding stress and abandoning the cause of stress, then you're using it for the right purpose.

(End of interview between Shankman and Thanissaro)


: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."
User avatar
polarbuddha101
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:39 am
Location: California

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby SDC » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:13 am

Do you follow the work of any contemporary monks? Meaning through books, audio/video lectures and other online material?
User avatar
SDC
 
Posts: 1023
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm
Location: North Jersey

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:31 am

beeblebrox wrote:Hi Alan,

I practice with few local sanghas who follow Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings (I live in NYC).

I think they've been very good for me... but I can imagine that some of the practices and teachings that are followed might grate on many of the people in here.

I think that Nhat Hanh is very open with his own understanding, quite a genius, and is probably quite capable of teaching in any kind of style (haven't really tested that for myself, though)... but his main style is still very Mahayanist, though, and it's become very simple over the time, maybe because of the audience who come to him. His audience also tends to bring their children along (which I think is great, and that's one of main reasons why I like this tradition).

I think the main reason (or maybe two) why I have a very good tolerance for any kind of teachings might be because my first meditation practice was "just sitting."

I learned how to bring up a tremendous amount of patience with that.

Another reason is because I'm deaf... so I might be less picky about where I get my teachings from, and I very easily go for any kind of support which is available. (Maybe that is kind of similar to the bhikkhu not being picky about what he gets in his alms.)

Maybe you can keep that in mind when you do your own practice. You also know what's best for yourself, so you can try to learn how to trust that.

Everything is impermanent.

:anjali:


i started off reading a ton of thich back in the day! loved his work so much. good advice, thanks!
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:33 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:The problem is that, depending on who you speak to, you might be told that Jhana is distracting, dangerous, the Devil's cave, etc.


indeed. i've heard this but i've read enough of the suttas to never believe such things. i accept the pali canon as authoritative. it's possible i could go a different direction if guided by a competent teacher but they would have to be really convincing, that still wouldn't make me believe that anything in the canon is wrong, just that there are alternatives.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:38 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:I would say no. You're worrying about it too much. But I'm saying no because personally I want to try to follow the actual historical person's (that we know as the Buddha) teachings to the best of my ability and that means Theravada and the pali suttas are my best bet. Personally, the evidence in favor of body awareness in jhana seems much stronger to me than the idea that there is only mental awareness. However, that doesn't mean one cannot learn both. I would recommend learning the body based jhanas first and then if you still want to, then learn the other style of jhana. Heck, you could learn samadhi from an advaita vedantist after if you want but anyway this is just my recommendation. If I was going to recommend a specific meditation teacher to you then I'll recommend Thanissaro Bhikkhu. You may want to listen to some talks from a student of his, Eugene Cash, about samadhi and anapanasati, they are good talks. http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/68/?search=samadhi

But yeah, why go to Zen? That removes your practice even further from the ones that the Buddha recommended. Although, going to the zen center to meditate and hanging out with other buddhists is probably a great idea, I'm just recommending that you stick with the practices from the Pali suttas regarding the content of your meditation. Zen has multiple meditation styles too and it's not like they're more likely to be closer to what the Buddha taught than what can be found in Theravada, in fact I'd say it's just the opposite. But anyway, it's your choice and I wish you the best of luck in your journey down the path.

If you just do this (and have awareness of the body in jhana as the sutta suggests pretty clearly, especially in the 4th jhana simile) then you'll be fine:



Here is a quote from Thanissaro Bhikkhu from Shankman's book: The Experience of Samadhi (I highly suggest you purchase a copy of Shankman's book by the way):

Richard Shankman: In the West now, there are a variety of jhana sytstems being taught.

Thanissaro: I always found the most useful way of avoiding the jhana wars is that, when you get into a state of concentration, whatever it is, you master it and then you analyze it. Is there any disturbance here? Then you look to see what the mind is doing around its object. If you see any kind of disturbance, in terms either of the state of concentration itself or of the defilements surrounding that state, then, if you're an honest person, you have to admit to yourself, "Okay, there's still more work to be done." And regardless of whether you're in jhana or out of jhana, if you approach every state of concentration this way, in full honesty, then you're going to get through it and eventually arrive at full awakening. But honesty is the important part of the question.

People like to compare their jhanas, which is not healthy for their practice: "My jhana is better than your jhana." "I'm in the third jhana now. How about you?" As the Buddha said, this is the sign of a person of no integrity. So it doesn't really matter which jhana you're in. You have to know what to do with whatever state of concentration you've got. If you're using it for the purpose of understanding stress and abandoning the cause of stress, then you're using it for the right purpose.

(End of interview between Shankman and Thanissaro)


:anjali:


i only consider zen because my choices are: zen or tibetan lol! it's the best one of the two. i agree with you. i've just got so many questions!!!


for example i even find questions in thanissaro's little quote above! what is concentration per se? zero thought? thoughts arise but no interaction? is there consciousness of the senses and inputs? and so on. i just wish i could freaking talk to a teacher!


zen goes back and forth as well. some teachers in history went with a really odd outlook like meditation is the opposite of what you want to do since by meditating you are getting further from the truth because the goal of meditation is your true nature so to seek it is to lose it. that kind of stuff is almost the exact opposite of what the buddha taught. but soto zen for example is fairly close to theravada. it's really a mix of different traditions. you see old school buddhism in early zen, heavy on meditation and morality, then in late zen you see this odd mixture of it and other things, some masters are extremely violent, one cuts a man's finger off, another cuts a cat in half, there are masters shouting and beating people, and so on, and they teach odd things like the above about meditation on and off. in some ways it's far from what the buddha taught but in other ways, coupled with the theravada dhamma (or perhaps a firm guiding hand through zen practice itself), these shocking ideas and thoughts can help cut through some of the confusion in practice, that is as long as one already has a firm grounding in theravada dhamma.

for example i used shikantaza to just sit and noticed how automated everything is in the body, even consciousness itself! this was very liberating as i realized how little room there is for a willful self when the body and mind run with or without my consent!

and you people with your audio/video dhamma talks :tongue: !!! i get them suggested to me all the time on here. i wish i had your patience, i'm sure they're wonderful. i also have limited time in front of the computer as my wife and new puppy and other obligations always call me away. perhaps some day. i know darn well they are fantastic and it is annoying for me to not be able to watch/listen to them. the biggest problem is they are usually exceedingly long! for now i just do better with books.
Last edited by alan... on Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:03 am, edited 5 times in total.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:49 am

SDC wrote:Do you follow the work of any contemporary monks? Meaning through books, audio/video lectures and other online material?


bhante g, ayya khema, nyanaponika thera, mahasi sayadaw, analayo, bhikkhu bodhi, thinssaro bhikkhu and others.

i like brahm but i just can't decide on his jhana methods, they're so freaking out of this world!
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:07 am

Greetings Alan...

morality rules and mindfulness training in the suttas is cut and dry...

So why not just do that?

You seem so obsessed with jhana at the moment that it appears to be giving rise to hindrances.

Why not just practice the Noble Eightfold Path, then? That's what the Buddha taught, and that is what is liberative.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14672
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Alan...

morality rules and mindfulness training in the suttas is cut and dry...

So why not just do that?

You seem so obsessed with jhana at the moment that it appears to be giving rise to hindrances.

Why not just practice the Noble Eightfold Path, then? That's what the Buddha taught, and that is what is liberative.

Metta,
Retro. :)


naturally, the eightfold path culminates in step eight: samma samadhi, usually defined as jhana. unless there is another definition you are referring to?
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:31 am

Greetings Alan...,

alan... wrote:naturally, the eightfold path culminates in step eight: samma samadhi, usually defined as jhana. unless there is another definition you are referring to?

By way of analogy...

I go to yoga classes, and some of the postures we do consist of several moves. The instructor advises that it is better for us to do as many of these moves in the sequence as we can, and to do them right... than it is to build upon incorrect moves with more incorrect movements, because the posture only goes as far as you actually did the preceding movements correctly.

So bringing that back to the Dhamma...

MN 117 wrote:The Blessed One said: "Now what, monks, is noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions? Any singleness of mind equipped with these seven factors — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, & right mindfulness — is called noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions.

Therefore, perhaps you might focus on getting back to the first seven (which you seem to indicate were not problematic in and of themselves) and let the eighth take care of itself in due course.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14672
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby ground » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:03 am

still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Maybe you should investigate into your expectations as to receiving help from others and develop self-confidence instead? :sage:
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 2592
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:19 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Alan...,

alan... wrote:naturally, the eightfold path culminates in step eight: samma samadhi, usually defined as jhana. unless there is another definition you are referring to?

By way of analogy...

I go to yoga classes, and some of the postures we do consist of several moves. The instructor advises that it is better for us to do as many of these moves in the sequence as we can, and to do them right... than it is to build upon incorrect moves with more incorrect movements, because the posture only goes as far as you actually did the preceding movements correctly.

So bringing that back to the Dhamma...

MN 117 wrote:The Blessed One said: "Now what, monks, is noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions? Any singleness of mind equipped with these seven factors — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, & right mindfulness — is called noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions.

Therefore, perhaps you might focus on getting back to the first seven (which you seem to indicate were not problematic in and of themselves) and let the eighth take care of itself in due course.

Metta,
Retro. :)


oh okay gotcha. thanks much.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:23 am

ground wrote:
still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Maybe you should investigate into your expectations as to receiving help from others and develop self-confidence instead? :sage:


i have been relying on myself alone for four years and everything was going swimmingly until i discovered how deep the jhana confusion really goes. i practice in utter isolation. i don't even know a single other buddhist in person. without self confidence i would have fallen off this path long ago.

until now my expectations as to receiving help from others was that i didn't need it, i could learn all i need from the suttas and books. i still feel this way to a degree, it's been only recently i have considered that i may need a teacher, my only problem is defining jhana practice. once this is done i will likely be in good shape.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby Goob » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:47 am

What does your gut tell you about what teacher is right for you? I often find that when I'm confronted by multiple roads to walk down on I sort of already knew what was right deep down. Feeling like you're suppressing qualms about what a teacher is saying probably means that it wasn't meant to be. I'd say you're knowledgable enough to go with your instinct in this matter. I had the same problem regarding the Jhana-confusion for some time but am confident that I've picked an approach that instinctively works for me.
Goob
 
Posts: 93
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:14 pm

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby Dmytro » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:06 pm

Hi Alan,

alan... wrote:i have too many questions for one book to answer and reading more than one book to answer a question ends in conflicting ideas so i'm back to square one.


Seems like you rely on books a lot. The book knowledge need to be delicately balanced with inner knowledge.

It goes like this - at the end of each meditation sitting, and at the end of each day, you reflect what happened, and learn from it, posing new questions to explore in the future.
This seemingly simple practice evolves with time into the inner knowledge.

For example:

"Suppose that anger is interfering with your concentration. Instead of getting involved in the anger, you try simply to be aware of when it's there and when it's not. You look at the anger as an event in and of itself — as it comes, as it goes. But you don't stop there. The next step — as you're still working at focusing on the breath — is recognizing how anger can be made to go away. Sometimes simply watching it is enough to make it go away; sometimes it's not, and you have to deal with it in other ways, such as arguing with the reasoning behind the anger or reminding yourself of the drawbacks of anger. In the course of dealing with it, you have to get your hands dirty. You've got to try and figure out why the anger is coming, why it's going, how you can get it out of there, because you realize that it's an unskillful state. And this requires that you improvise. Experiment. You've got to chase your ego and impatience out of the way so that you can have the space to make mistakes and learn from them, so that you can develop a skill in dealing with the anger. It's not just a question of hating the anger and trying to push it away, or of loving the anger and welcoming it. These approaches may give results in the short run, but in the long run they're not especially skillful. What's called for here is the ability to see what the anger is composed of; how can you take it apart."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... cmind.html

I can give more examples if you are interested.

"Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge."

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

Best wishes, Dmytro
User avatar
Dmytro
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:24 pm
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:29 pm

alan... wrote:there are zen schools near me, should i just give up and go learn from someone at one of those schools?
if so, should i still practice and read theravada scripture?


I think it might be useful for you to explore the Zen tradition, given that there are similarities with Theravada. Also it might be good to spend more time with other Buddhists even if their approach is currently different to yours. Meanwhile maintain a basic practice.
Mrs. Bun: Have you got anything without spam in it?
Waitress: Well, there's spam, egg, sausage and spam. That's not got MUCH spam in it.
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 2666
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Spam, wonderful spam

Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:50 pm

richard_rca wrote:What does your gut tell you about what teacher is right for you? I often find that when I'm confronted by multiple roads to walk down on I sort of already knew what was right deep down. Feeling like you're suppressing qualms about what a teacher is saying probably means that it wasn't meant to be. I'd say you're knowledgable enough to go with your instinct in this matter. I had the same problem regarding the Jhana-confusion for some time but am confident that I've picked an approach that instinctively works for me.


at this point i'm just wary of teachers in general since my last one was such a bad experience. my gut let me down on that one. i kept thinking he must be guiding me in the right direction and so must the other teachers. i still wonder what was up with all of that. i can't imagine for a second how any of them or any of the other students found any merit or progress in what they were doing. seeing it from the inside i always thought there was something i didn't understand and was missing. now from the outside it seems like they were missing all the important points of the dhamma. but who knows? maybe i just always caught every teacher and the abbott at bad times? i'm not sure, but i know very well that they taught me nothing but vague mindfulness techniques and inadequate mindfulness of breathing sitting meditation techniques. it's possible some of this was due to language barriers. i went to a retreat once and 95% of all speech was non english. but then a couple years later four teachers were native english speakers so again, i have no idea what the deal was.


my gut tells me i wasted many years and that i should not trust any teacher unless they help me make progress and are clearly skillful and knowledgeable. the problem is there are no theravada temples near me, none at all. so it's my old teacher and two other zen temples and a couple tibetan. that's it.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Next

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Dan74 and 7 guests