The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

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The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Mojo » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:23 am

I'm starting to wonder if Anapanasati is truly appropriate for the householder or if something like The Mahasi Method is better. I've only ever read about jhana, but it seems to me that it would be rather time consuming. I could understand perhaps in a retreat setting, but I just don't know that a 20-60 minutes would be enough time to attain and hold Jhana for any benefit. Wouldn't something like the Mahasi Method be more appropriate for the person with little free time?

Thanks,

Mojo
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:12 am

Mojo wrote:I'm starting to wonder if Anapanasati is truly appropriate for the householder or if something like The Mahasi Method is better. I've only ever read about jhana, but it seems to me that it would be rather time consuming. I could understand perhaps in a retreat setting, but I just don't know that a 20-60 minutes would be enough time to attain and hold Jhana for any benefit. Wouldn't something like the Mahasi Method be more appropriate for the person with little free time?

Thanks,

Mojo

First off, Anapanasati is insight meditation. Secondly, Jhana can absolutely be obtained by a house-holder should one put in the effort, and third, one does not necessarily need Jhana in order to progress through the Anapanasati tetrad - while Jhana is definitely the ultimate expression of Anapanasati, one can make do with access concentration until Jhana is established.

I have nothing against the Mahasi Method, but no approach to meditation is really "easier" than the other. One can spend 30 minutes a day doing either Mahasi or Buddhadasa's technique. It's all about which one allows you to get more out of that 30 minutes.
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

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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby daverupa » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:44 am

Mojo wrote:I just don't know that a 20-60 minutes would be enough time to attain and hold Jhana for any benefit.


Morality and satisampajanna are daily practices that there's nothing but time to do, and which properly form the backbone of anapanasati in the first place. Since jhana isn't required for stream-entry, I'd say a householder has their work cut out for them without worrying about time available for it.

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    "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: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Mojo » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:01 am

Thank you for the clarifications. I did understand anapanasati to be an insight practice - just unsure of the time commitment required for progression. I have spent tome doing breath counting or following meditation, which I understand to be considered a concentration practice, for periods of up to 30 minutes and have never encountered any special states that would correlate to my understanding of jhana.

When I use Insight with a capital I, I am referring specifically to http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vipassana_movement. I've read that some consider it dry and others that state it's got it's own type of jhana. Either way, I was just guessing that it would take less time (not effort) to make insight gains due to not frontloading the samatha as in Anapanasati.

Again, this its all just speculation on my part. But in my possibly flawed logic, one simply couldn't expect to make any progress with only 20 min anapanasati sessions.
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Kamran » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:33 am

The main deciding factor for me in the method I choose is the amount of resources available.

I chose Thanissaro Bikhu's method, because he gives daily talks specifically on meditation practice that address the issues you will encounter (not to mention all the translations, and study guides he puts out on http://www.accesstoinsight.com )

There's a lot of great resources, but I have yet to find anyone else putting out daily talks and to keep the practice going long term it helps to hear a motivational talk every day.

If interested, his talks are organized by theme at: http://www.dhammatalks.org/mp3_collections_index.html
Last edited by Kamran on Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby manas » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:33 am

Hi Mojo, these talks might help answer the above question also

http://www.audiodharma.org/series/16/talk/1843/

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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:35 am

Mojo wrote:Thank you for the clarifications. I did understand anapanasati to be an insight practice - just unsure of the time commitment required for progression. I have spent tome doing breath counting or following meditation, which I understand to be considered a concentration practice, for periods of up to 30 minutes and have never encountered any special states that would correlate to my understanding of jhana.

It does take a while, for sure. I would recommend trying out the Mahasi method and seeing if it does work better for you!

When I use Insight with a capital I, I am referring specifically to http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vipassana_movement. I've read that some consider it dry and others that state it's got it's own type of jhana. Either way, I was just guessing that it would take less time (not effort) to make insight gains due to not frontloading the samatha as in Anapanasati.

Mahasi meditation has what are called "Vipassana Jhanas." Buddhadasa or Chah's Jhanas could also be considered Vipassana Jhanas, although they aren't really referred to in that way. Samatha Jhanas are deep, deeep levels of concentration discussed in the Visuddhimagga and other commentaries. Insight is impossible while in these states.

Again, this its all just speculation on my part. But in my possibly flawed logic, one simply couldn't expect to make any progress with only 20 min anapanasati sessions.

I think it's probably best (just my opinion) to try out Mahasi techniques for a while, see where they get you, and maybe make a decision in a month or two. I started in the Mahasi school and only became more interested in Anapanasati once I had a firm foundation in access concentration. That may work well for you too!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Mojo » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:25 am

Thank you. Would you recommend specific resources to learning the Mahasi method? Are there other teachers that have flushed out this specific method more than the original instructions while starting true to Mahasi?
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:42 am

Mojo wrote:Thank you. Would you recommend specific resources to learning the Mahasi method? Are there other teachers that have flushed out this specific method more than the original instructions while starting true to Mahasi?

https://www.youtube.com/user/yuttadhammo

Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu trains in the Mahasi method and has a ton of videos about it.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:12 am

Books by Mahāsi Sayādaw and see "In This Very Life" in my sig.
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Mojo » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:12 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Books by Mahāsi Sayādaw and see "In This Very Life" in my sig.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
Mojo wrote:Thank you. Would you recommend specific resources to learning the Mahasi method? Are there other teachers that have flushed out this specific method more than the original instructions while starting true to Mahasi?

https://www.youtube.com/user/yuttadhammo

Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu trains in the Mahasi method and has a ton of videos about it.


Thank you both.

:namaste:
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Samma » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:15 pm

A passage from Sujato, from book A History of Mindfulness:
This difference reflects the orientation of these emerging schools. The Theravadins, with their vipassana emphasis, were more rational, scholastic, urban. The Sarvastivadins were more faith-orientated, emphasizing the unpredictable charisma of the forest sage. A similar distinction is recognizable within the modern Theravada, with the forest monks devoting themselves to samadhi, while their brothers in the city monasteries do dry vipassana. But it is almost inevitable that the rugged earnestness of the forest tradition will become tamed and civilized, and will turn away from practice towards study. Sometimes this only takes a generation or two. And so the later Sarvastivadins went on to develop a vast Abhidhamma commentarial literature, in which, as we shall see in the next chapter, satipatthana became just vipassana.


Indeed, we get the samatha guys (Sujato, etc) that talk about the vipassana movement as an incomplete practice, and you get from the vipassana guys that jhana is unnecessary, takes longer, not as suitable today. They are different traditions, and it is sometimes not easy to see how they might relate to a single path. Regardless, I suspect you'll find that 30min a day is not really enough. You might see what sanghas are nearby to you, and how they practice.
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Mojo » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:34 pm

Mojo wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Books by Mahāsi Sayādaw and see "In This Very Life" in my sig.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
Mojo wrote:Thank you. Would you recommend specific resources to learning the Mahasi method? Are there other teachers that have flushed out this specific method more than the original instructions while starting true to Mahasi?

https://www.youtube.com/user/yuttadhammo

Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu trains in the Mahasi method and has a ton of videos about it.


Thank you both.

:namaste:


I checked out both resources and like the YouTube presentations.

The method seems kind of chatty. Is Anapanasati as chatty?

Thanks, Jon
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:53 pm

Mojo wrote:I checked out both resources and like the YouTube presentations.

The method seems kind of chatty. Is Anapanasati as chatty?

Thanks, Jon

What do you mean by "chatty?"
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Mojo » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:13 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
Mojo wrote:I checked out both resources and like the YouTube presentations.

The method seems kind of chatty. Is Anapanasati as chatty?

Thanks, Jon

What do you mean by "chatty?"


Alot of internal dialogue. You note everything. Sound sound sound thinking thinking itch itch itch itch itch pain light odor itch...
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Samma » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:19 pm

Insight meditation is incessant work -- meditate whenever you see, hear, smell, taste, touch or think, without missing anything. But to beginners, to note everything is quite impossible. Begin with several. It is easy to observe the moving form in the rising and falling of the abdomen. We have already spoken about it. Note without a let-up “rising, falling, rising, falling.” As your mindfulness and concentration grow stronger, add the sitting and the touching and note, “rising, falling, sitting, touching.” As you note on, ideas may come up. Note them, too: “thinking, planning, knowing.” They are hindrances. Unless you are rid of them, you have not got purity of mind and will not have a clear understanding of mind-matter phenomena. So, don’t let them in. Note them and get rid of them.
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Fun ... ntals.html


You might check out Mahasi's Forty, which mentions the objects for contemplation, including an anapanasati, though a commentary influenced take:
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Forty/forty.html
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:35 pm

Hi Mojo,
Mojo wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:
Mojo wrote:I checked out both resources and like the YouTube presentations.

The method seems kind of chatty. Is Anapanasati as chatty?

Thanks, Jon

What do you mean by "chatty?"


Alot of internal dialogue. You note everything. Sound sound sound thinking thinking itch itch itch itch itch pain light odor itch...


This is a common misunderstanding. The noting is not the point of this method, the noting is merely a technique to focus on the experiences rather than just thinking or imagining the experiences. If it becomes chatty then that would indicate that it is not being done correctly, and one should drop it (or, more usefully, notice that one's mind has become chatty...).

To me the key idea in the Mahasi approach is to set up a continuity of attention, and develop samadhi at the same time. This is done by having a "primary" object (motion of feet, motion of abdomen, whatever), but switch attention to "secondary" objects when they become prominent (pain, thinking, distraction, etc).

Patrick Kearney's introductory retreat talks give a good summary of the ideas:
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/audio.html
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/BMIMC% ... BMIMC.html
01 (AM) Introducing Mahāsī method
We look at the origins of the modern insight movement in Myanmar, and at the characteristics of Mahāsī Sayādaw’s approach to satipaṭṭhāna vipassanā (insight based on establishing mindfulness). We see how Mahāsī Sayādaw divides the meditator’s experience into “primary object” and “secondary object;” and how the three fundamental movements of the practitioner are “noting,” “naming” and “noticing.”


If you decide to do the "naming" part (giving the experience a label to aid attention), in my opinion you need to practice it for a while (weeks) to get the hang of it (preferably with some feedback from a teacher, or at least with some careful reading/listening of the resources posted here). Like any other technique, it takes some practice to get the idea.

:anjali:
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby Samma » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:52 pm

Good points mikenz66. It is not internal dialogue. As dialogue has the meaning of a conversation -- self-talk, mulling things over. This is not a practice in narrative thought. But it is incessant work, and mental repetition.

To use Kearneys terms, Noting is more important, but here Mahasi wrote about the drawback of not naming:
For particular attention it may be mentioned here that the words ‘rising’ and ‘falling’ should not be repeated by mouth, but they should be repeated mentally. In fact, words are not of real importance. To know the actual movements of the abdomen and the bodily motion present therein is of real importance. However, if the contemplation is carried on by the simple act of mental observation without the act of repeating the words mentally, the contemplation will be casual and ineffective and with many drawbacks such as that the attention fails to reach closely enough to the object to which it is directed, that the objects are not clearly distinguished and perceived separately and that the necessary energy deteriorates. Hence it is directed that contemplation should be carried out by repeating mentally the necessary words on the respective objects.
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/For ... tml#Direct
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:15 pm

Hi Samma,

I certainly agree. The first Buddhist meditation instruction I received used this technique, and that is what I primarily practise.

However, any technique needs time to understand and get used to, and if one wants to evaluate an approach, I would recommend following the instructions from one reputable teacher (be it Mahasi, Buddhahdasa, Brahm, or whoever) for some time (months). As far as I have observed, flitting between approaches, tends to lead to confusion and dissatisfaction.

:anjali:
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