Myotai wrote:So would you say that the pleasant feelings often accompanying practices are inherently a trap, to be ignored (unless pursuing Jhana)?
I think that pleasant feeling (piti and sukha are mentioned) are to be observed in order to catch sight of the process of citta-sankhara in order to calm that process; this calming of processes, this making it an object to let go, leads to jhana, and is basically the point of anapanasati. You can do brahmaviharas and guard the sense gates and be mindful and abide with satipatthana and call all of it meditation, but so far none of it requires a seated position, though they can be pursued in that way. But seated meditation is scrubbing the hindrances in order to open the way to jhana - it is a specific goal of seated meditation, and encouragement to practice jhana were the last words of the Buddha.
My understanding of traditions like Chan actively encourage this state as its an indication that we're 'just sitting' free from agitation from external stimuli ('dropping off body and mind')...what do you think?
I did Zen for a while out of Kanzeon Zen Center back in the 1990s. The instruction I initially received was to sit and gently stare, basically, and clear the mind and watch the breath. There was no doctrine to speak of at first, but the learning process was instead primarily an unfolding within discussions with the teacher(s) there, with some people carrying around favorite Sutras or other works.
But the ultimate lack of engagement was a dead-end, for me, as merely observing the stream of thoughts meant there was no right effort. Bare attention, by contrast, is only similar in that whatever occurs is something to be aware of & not something to repress and not notice, but beyond this initial establishing of mindfulness there then follows a slew of tasks one is enjoined to undertake, primarily dealing with the hindrances. The Zen I was taught said nothing about this.