ānāpānasati & samatha

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby Zenainder » Thu May 23, 2013 6:11 pm

Hello!

In my personal practice I did not realize (when I started) that there were different practices of meditation. I do not wish to get lost in the semantics of watching in breath and out breath either via the nostrils or the rise / falling of the abdomen. I have two questions:

1. Do I choose one over the other based upon my temperment?
2. Based upon my practice now, assuming my understanding is accurate, I fall into the samatha practice (observing breath at nostrils; tranquility). Are both or only one of these a path to jhanas?

I ask as I have a specific, unexplainable, interests in the jhanas. If I need to be guided in the other direction, please do as I am leaving myself open. In the end, as I understand it, both practices have the ultimate goal of nibbana.

Thanks in advance for answers!

:anjali:
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Re: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby dxm_dxm » Thu May 23, 2013 6:21 pm

I'm probably not the one you will find the most reliable givin my dxm topic lol but the theory goes like this:

You first need to develop concentration meditation in order to be able to advance in insight meditation, witch is the one that will get you to enlightment. I have read that therevadian westerners like these on this forum have difficulty advancing at vipassana because the way teaching goes in the west is based on the burma tradition where they seem to jump a little over the samatha because people there are way more advanced at concenration than westerners. The very complex and speedy way of life in the west makes westerners bad at concentration.

The Budha thaught both methods and said that you should atain the first 4 jhanas to be able to advance till the end at insight meditation (witch has 16 nanas). The descriptions of the jhanas/nanas are not perfect because the map is not the same as the path but they are usetfull and pretty acurate.

You will be guided to vipassana meditation on this forum because it is therevada. Probably it is recomanded to practice both styles every day in 2 meditation sessions one for each one. I would like to hear from somebody advanced too.

As a side thing... the "interesting stuff" that motivates a little all of us beginers whether we admit it or not (because you say oh it works, it finally works)(advanced meditators avoing talking about this to not make you deluded but I think any beginer needs this as a little extra motivation beside the horible implications of not escaping samsara) happens in samatha meditation but the arising and passing away event witch is the most powerfull experience a person can feel in his life (in terms of oh my god, oh my god) althow been just the 4th nana happens in insight meditation. Also enlightment happens in insight meditation and althow not having pleasant effects like jhana little "revelations" about the nature of things witch change you not just for the moment also happen there.

edit: maby this guy helps viewtopic.php?f=41&t=17253
Last edited by dxm_dxm on Thu May 23, 2013 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby acinteyyo » Thu May 23, 2013 6:47 pm

Zenainder wrote:Hello!

Hi!
Zenainder wrote:1. Do I choose one over the other based upon my temperment?

vipassana and samatha meditation go hand in hand. If you struggle to observe a given phenomenon you may start practicing some more samatha to gain stronger samadhi in order to be focused properly.
Zenainder wrote:2. Based upon my practice now, assuming my understanding is accurate, I fall into the samatha practice (observing breath at nostrils; tranquility). Are both or only one of these a path to jhanas?

samatha practice leads to jhana, vipassana practice leads to wisdom
Zenainder wrote:I ask as I have a specific, unexplainable, interests in the jhanas. If I need to be guided in the other direction, please do as I am leaving myself open.

It is important to balance samatha and vipassana practice. Even the highest level of samadhi or jhana will not lead to liberation. On the other hand vipassana with weak samadhi degenerates to mere thinking and does not lead to insight and wisdom.
Zenainder wrote:In the end, as I understand it, both practices have the ultimate goal of nibbana.

The ultimate goal nibbana can only be reached by practicing the N8P. In short this is sila, samadhi and pañña. Samatha and vipassana practice can be summed up to samadhi and pañña but without sila samadhi is weak and with weak samadhi vipassana cannot penetrate to the truths.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby reflection » Thu May 23, 2013 6:55 pm

I'm with acinteyyo.

In my view in the suttas there is no clear difference between types of practice "insight" and "tranquility". Sure they talk about these as results, but not as separate practices. The practice itself entails both. To gain samadhi, one needs insight into how the mind works - it's not just something one can do untrained. And deeper insight is not a thing you can decide upon, it comes by itself when the mind is clear.

And even if there was a difference in practice (again, which I don't think and experience there to be), then why would the difference be the spot you place your attention? That'd be silly. In my experience the place where you focus on breath is not important.
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Re: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby dxm_dxm » Thu May 23, 2013 7:05 pm

And even if there was a difference in practice (again, which I don't think and experience there to be), then why would the difference be the spot you place your attention? That'd be silly. In my experience the place where you focus on breath is not important.

In the abdomen technique the point is moving up and down, it is harder to have a fix small spot and you should watch it how it get's up and down etc. I thought the abdomen practice is for vipassana, am I wrong ?

Another thing, how can you do vipassana when concentrating on the nose ? You watch the breath travel in and out instead of maintaining your concentration fixed ? I asked about this in another topic and nobody answered yet to get me out of this confusion
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Re: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby EmptyShadow » Thu May 23, 2013 7:17 pm

From my understanding watching the breath at the nostrils is usually taught as a way to reach anapana jhanas. After that you use this jhanas to practice insight.
And whatching the rise and fall of the abdoment is usually taught as a vipassana method that aim to develop concentration(not to the level of jhana) and insight in the same time.
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Re: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby Zenainder » Thu May 23, 2013 7:27 pm

Thanks to all who have answered thus far!

EmptyShadow wrote:From my understanding watching the breath at the nostrils is usually taught as a way to reach anapana jhanas. After that you use this jhanas to practice insight.
And whatching the rise and fall of the abdoment is usually taught as a vipassana method that aim to develop concentration(not to the level of jhana) and insight in the same time.


To EmptyShadow + All,

Perhaps my inexperience shows here, but how is the associated objects (abdomen or nostrils) have different results? I've noticed jhana related items with the nostrils in my own practice (mostly piti and dukkha). I have not tried watching the abdomen yet. I honestly did not decipher the two until a few moments ago. Oh how I love the details and how they can escape me! :rofl:
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Re: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 23, 2013 7:32 pm

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Re: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby daverupa » Thu May 23, 2013 8:15 pm

Zenainder wrote:I do not wish to get lost in the semantics of watching in breath and out breath either via the nostrils or the rise / falling of the abdomen. I have two questions:

1. Do I choose one over the other based upon my temperment?


Neither of these options has to happen. You can just notice the breath, wherever and however it is, and then the third step of anapanasati is to experience it alongside/as part of the rest of the body.

Even if you start with the abdomen or the nostrils, you're going to end up broadening your base of awareness at step three, so it's almost a question of whether you should start walking with the right foot or the left foot first. It doesn't much matter; the distinction won't be sustained for very long anyway, according to the instructions for the first tetrad.

:heart:
    "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: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby fivebells » Thu May 23, 2013 8:43 pm

Zenainder, I strongly recommend With Each and Every Breath. It is focused on the development of jhana via anapanasati.

With regard to your question about where to focus attention, it suggests scanning the body for the place where the breath feels most pleasant/comfortable and settling down there. (p. 28 onwards.)
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Re: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby EmptyShadow » Thu May 23, 2013 8:53 pm

Zenainder wrote:how is the associated objects (abdomen or nostrils) have different results?


Usually the 2 techniques are taught differently and have different goals. The abdomen method originates from Mahasi Sayadaw and it's taught for practicing satipatana/vipassana.
The nostril method i think originates from the Visuddhimagga and it's used for developing jhanas.
The reason why the abdomen is not usually used for jhanas is because it's moving while you are breathing and thus it's not stable as the nostrils. And with the nostrils/upper lip method you are supposed to place your attention there in a stable position, and watch the sensations of the breath there without following it in and out, thus without moving your attention.
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Re: ānāpānasati & samatha

Postby Billymac29 » Fri May 24, 2013 10:41 am

daverupa wrote:
Zenainder wrote:I do not wish to get lost in the semantics of watching in breath and out breath either via the nostrils or the rise / falling of the abdomen. I have two questions:

1. Do I choose one over the other based upon my temperment?


Neither of these options has to happen. You can just notice the breath, wherever and however it is, and then the third step of anapanasati is to experience it alongside/as part of the rest of the body.

Even if you start with the abdomen or the nostrils, you're going to end up broadening your base of awareness at step three, so it's almost a question of whether you should start walking with the right foot or the left foot first. It doesn't much matter; the distinction won't be sustained for very long anyway, according to the instructions for the first tetrad.

:heart:

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"whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon will be the inclination of one's mind"
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