Mindfulness or Mindlessness: Sati Explained in 30 Minutes

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

Re: Mindfulness or Mindlessness: Sati Explained in 30 Minute

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:38 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:
Clever, but he really offers no real argument that what Ven Mahasi Sayadaw is doing to trying to cater to the masses for his own aggrandizement, as in implied by this paragraph.

I tried to be careful not to infer that Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw, or any of the noble Sayadaws, were included in this reference. I was referencing what I believe Prof. Sharf referenced, that being the 8th century CE dilutions with current mindfulness approaches...this would not include, at least as I was communicating, the noble Burmese traditions and its Sayadaws.

Of course, Prof Sharf did talk about Mahasi Sayadaw. If you read the criticisms that he is referencing: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 20#p220875 you'll find that they revolve around technical issues to do with Commentarial interpretations of access concentration, and so on. And this is what Prof Sharf seems to me to be saying: Buddhist Modernists have abandoned the Theravada tradition.

His criticisms would therefore apply also to Ven Thanissaro and the other various Thai Forest strands, who actually make an issue out of abandoning the Commentaries... Therefore, I couldn't figure out where this idea came from:
BuddhaSoup wrote:I feel that what Prof. Sharf is stating echoes what Ven. Thanissaro teaches, which is that the practices that evolved through the commentarial tradition (and found a home in the Burmese vipassana tradition) do not fully reflect what the Canon prescribes.

I'm not sure we listened to the same talk!
BuddhaSoup wrote:It may or may not be true that the Burmese "dry" vipassana approach involved allowing meditators to bypass samatha/vipassana in tandem (Canon jhana),

The access concentration discussed in the Visuddhimagga, which is the minimum required for "dry" insight, appears to be of that level. And clearly the Burmese methods seek to develop samatha an vipassana in tandem, in much the same way as Ven Thanissaro instructs (as I've already pointed out).
BuddhaSoup wrote:and to get at the vipassana side more directly. I have no opinion on this, and wouldn't venture one, as I have not had the good fortune to train in Burma or with, for example, Joseph Goldstein. I make no suggestion that the Sayadaws or JG teach vipassana as a means to cater to self aggrandizement, and while having never met JG, I have read enough about him to believe he's a rare example of a selfless and dedicated teacher in the west. A recent Tricycle article that mentioned JG helping a disabled man meditate (even inviting the man to his home) after his Zen teachers disowned him because he couldn't sit upright without pain, spoke volumes about JG's compassion and selflessness.

Well, I have not met JG, or Ven T, or been to Burma, or had teachers that most here would have heard of. I'm sure if I had met Ven T I'd also be enthusiastic about him, as others here (including me) are enthusiastic about the teachers who have helped them. But when enthusiasm runs over into statements to the effect that "my teacher is the one who has the real Dhamma", I tend to become highly skeptical.

:anjali:
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Re: Mindfulness or Mindlessness: Sati Explained in 30 Minute

Postby Anagarika » Sun Dec 22, 2013 9:10 pm

I'm sure if I had met Ven T I'd also be enthusiastic about him, as others here (including me) are enthusiastic about the teachers who have helped them. But when enthusiasm runs over into statements to the effect that "my teacher is the one who has the real Dhamma", I tend to become highly skeptical.


I trust that no one read anything that I wrote to suggest something like the above. I posted the original post to get comment from others over Prof. Sharf's presentation at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbu ... nders.html. I don't post here to gratify myself..I'd rather find myself incorrect and be corrected or correct myself on an issue and grow from that experience, than engage in an effort to prove myself right or superior in view to others. I regret touching any "third rails" in this discussion.
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Re: Mindfulness or Mindlessness: Sati Explained in 30 Minute

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:20 pm

OK, sorry to go off track, but it seemed a particularly stretched reading to suggest that Prof S was supporting the views of Ven T, so I felt I should elaborate how I saw his talk.

To be clear, I like Ven T's teachings, along with the teachings of most of the serious modern monastic and lay teachers that get mentioned here. However, suggestions that any of those particular teachers has a monopoly on understanding of Dhamma is an automatic red flag to me.

Perhaps that wasn't the intention of this thread, but there has been a lot of discussion of Ven T's take on sati on this Forum, so perhaps some of us have been over-sensitised.

I have particular respect for the way most teachers (such as Ajahn Amaro, who I happened to be listening to yesterday) state very clearly that "this is my interpretation, if I've said something wrong, I please forgive me."

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Re: Mindfulness or Mindlessness: Sati Explained in 30 Minute

Postby Anagarika » Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:29 am

mikenz66 wrote:I have particular respect for the way most teachers (such as Ajahn Amaro, who I happened to be listening to yesterday) state very clearly that "this is my interpretation, if I've said something wrong, I please forgive me."

:anjali:
Mike


This is a terrific quote from Ajahn Amaro, who is a terrific teacher.

As for the discussion on this post, I feel as though I have learned some important things from the exchange, even though at times there was some friction, perhaps. I always come to DW with the idea from the ancient Hebrew text that "iron sharpens iron," and hopefully, I've gained from the knowledge of others even it it meant that I found myself wanting in my understanding of an issue.
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Re: Mindfulness or Mindlessness: Sati Explained in 30 Minute

Postby daverupa » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:35 pm

I see a shifting interplay of a few Venn spheres here, which come up in different ways on the forum. Some of them include the already-complex interactions between meditation modalities within the Theravada tradition, to say nothing of the Buddhist tradition taken as a whole (which includes some wild stuff, what with the other two -yanas).

What's been added recently, which has complicated the situation manyfold, is a scientific approach as well as a New Age approach - and some shades between - to the lot as a consequence of modernity as well as various (inter-)national contexts.

So, given the general flexibility of language and the lack of a certain precision in this field, meditation as a whole becomes a jumbled mess to talk about unless great care is taken, and key terms take on towering significance in this sort of environment which is made even more complicated when these rarefied terms are used in unaligned, or even conflicting, ways by different people.

Winnowing the chaff can be difficult, but there are techniques for it.
    "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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