Abandoning hindrances

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Brizzy

Abandoning hindrances

Postby Brizzy » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:52 am

Hi everyone

This is my first post on this forum, and since my ideas tend to cause slight controversy within a classical Theravadin forum, I thought this post would be better in the "free for all".
My question is for people who undertake meditation, especially the Goenka or Mahasi tradition - How are you taught to "Abandon the Hindrances"? I have my own take on how to "Abandon the Hindrances" - but would like to hear other peoples views first.

Thanks :smile:

Brizzy

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:00 am

Hi Brizzy!
Rather than ask what other people think, why not just come out and tell us what you think!
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Jechbi
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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Jechbi » Sun Oct 11, 2009 4:45 pm

Welcome! :hello:
Last edited by Jechbi on Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:34 pm

Brizzy wrote: I have my own take on how to "Abandon the Hindrances" - but would like to hear other peoples views first.



Actually, rather than others put them selves out there first, given your lead in and question, maybe it might help if you were to give us an idea of your position.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:51 pm

Hi Brizzy,

There is plenty of literature on Mahasi medition, so it seems pointless to write an essay on it... Here are U Pandita's thoughts on Hindrances (and other problems):
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... /mara.html

Metta
Mike

Brizzy

Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Brizzy » Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:11 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Brizzy wrote: I have my own take on how to "Abandon the Hindrances" - but would like to hear other peoples views first.



Actually, rather than others put them selves out there first, given your lead in and question, maybe it might help if you were to give us an idea of your position.


Hi

Good idea. :smile: I may have time this week or at the latest this weekend.

Brizzy

Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Brizzy » Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:28 am

Ben wrote:Hi Brizzy!
Rather than ask what other people think, why not just come out and tell us what you think!


Hi

Actually, I worded it wrong, it is not my own take on abandoning the hindrances, rather it is the importance I think should be given to the practice.
For my perspective on “abandoning the hindrances” I am using "Dvedhavitakka Sutta: Two Sorts of Thinking" (MN 19), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, June 7, 2009, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.019.than.html although there are many others. “Abandoning the hindrances” IS the meditation IS the practice and any dhamma means that occur to an individual can be used. Mindfulness of breathing/ metta / reflection on the foul/ reflection of the noble truths/ personal reflections on death etc. etc. etc. All these can be used in the abandonment of the hindrances. As you can see from the sutta, the buddha abandoned his hindrances through thought processes "As I noticed that it leads to my own affliction, it subsided. As I noticed that it leads to the affliction of others... to the affliction of both... it obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding, it subsided. Whenever thinking imbued with sensuality had arisen, I simply abandoned it, destroyed it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence."
Further in the sutta the buddha talks of the body and how "thinking and pondering" for a long time would cause the body to tire. The buddha is already in first jhana - practicing mindfulness of body. When he abandons thinking and pondering he enters second jhana and is still practicing mindfulness of body, and so on through the jhanas.
Mindfulness of body is always involved as right from the start what we think and feel can be experienced along with the body. As the practice progresses the mind finds gladness/joy and then the real job of mindfulness of body can begin. This insight/jhana approach is spelled out so often in the suttas and yet people still complain that the Buddha did not leave any meditation instructions. The Buddha did not appear to leave instructions on strange concentration practices where one is merely aware of sensations bubbling about the body while the mind is frozen with a superimposed "equanimity" that is just storing up trouble. He also did not appear to leave instructions about noting "rising" "rising" "falling" "falling" . These modern day insight practices seem to imply that by merely being "aware" insight will magically unfold. If we exam the buddhas teachings regarding wisdom then we can see that he taught a reflective/contemplative approach that when practiced evolves into greater samadhi & wisdom. As the samadhi becomes greater the wisdom becomes greater and less "thinking" is needed. This is all in the suttas but people seem to prefer a "special" mind numbing technique rather than what the buddha taught. I am not saying this is the only way but it is the most common approach to be found in the suttas ( if we ignore later interpretations of what is actually written) As an example in the suttas the jhanas are clearly described as states in which one is aware of the body and yet this idea is almost lost and jhana has been replaced by concentration exercises in which one can use determined effort and brute force to fix ones mind. To achieve the Buddhas jhanas one would use wisdom and peace to settle the mind. One thing that is also worth mentioning, the Buddha talks of the seven enlightenment factors, the second of these being investigation of the dhamma. I dont really know how much investigation can be undertaken when one is merely being aware or just noting physical phenomena. Another example could be anapana, where it is taught as a fixed meditation. If we read the sutta we see that the practicing monk has a real role in the meditation and not just a passive observational one. It is the practicing monk, who must figure out ways and means to calm the body/raise joy etc. That is not to say that these are not causally linked and will give rise to further progression, but it is the monk who must nurture their causes by thought. what do you think? :smile:

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Jechbi » Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:03 am

Hi Brizzy,
Brizzy wrote:what do you think? :smile:

I think the sky is blue and water is wet. What difference does it make what we think?

Here's how I was going to answer your original question, which was:
Brizzy wrote:How are you taught to "Abandon the Hindrances"?

The obvious answer is here. My own personal understanding of what I've been taught is that hindrances rise and pass away, and it's no use trying to kill them completely at this stage. So for example, when drowsiness arises, I have two basic choices: 1) Bring a little more viriya into the equation, maybe by taking a couple deliberate breaths, and sit through it, understanding what has arisen, and that it will pass away; or 2) take rest. So it's an ongoing process of facing whatever comes up, without expectations, and with equanimity.

Just my take. Having read your description of "strange concentration practices" and a "mind numbing technique" and so forth, I have to say, none of that bears any resemblance to my personal experience of what I've been taught. If you've found a method of practice that works for you, that's great! But I don't see the point of trying to denounce other approaches, if that's your intention.

Peace.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:27 am

Hi Brizzy,

I don't see anything particularly controversial in what you say, apart from your overly simplistic view of what people are actually practising.
Brizzy wrote: These modern day insight practices seem to imply that by merely being "aware" insight will magically unfold.

I'm sure there are some teachers who teach like that, but I have not met any.

I dont' think that anyone who has spent any time with a genuine teacher thinks that the starting point of watching breath, or the motion or the abdomen or feet (which the Mahasi school would classify to a large extent as contemplation of the elements - as in the Satipatthana Sutta, the Commentaries, and the Visuddhimagga) is the entire practise. See, for example, U Pandita, "In this Very Life"
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pandita/index.htm
Here's a discussion on the hindrances from that book:
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... Hindrances

Metta
Mike

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:47 am

Brizzy wrote: ...but people seem to prefer a "special" mind numbing technique rather than what the buddha taught. ...


Mind numbing is hardly an accurate description of the Mahasi Sayadaw method. You seem to be criticizing what you do not know.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:26 am

Brizzy,
tiltbillings wrote: You seem to be criticizing what you do not know.

I tend to agree with Tilt's assessment and the comments of other respondents to this thread.
Personally, I think it would be worth your while taking the opportunity while you are here to learn and complement any learning with practice.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

Brizzy

Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Brizzy » Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:46 am

Ben wrote:Brizzy,
tiltbillings wrote: You seem to be criticizing what you do not know.

I tend to agree with Tilt's assessment and the comments of other respondents to this thread.
Personally, I think it would be worth your while taking the opportunity while you are here to learn and complement any learning with practice.
kind regards

Ben


Hi
If people have certain views, then they will always be defensive of those views. My view is that the suttas speak for themselves and any distortion of the sutta teachings, should be contested. Obviously I am defensive of that view as other people may be defensive of the Commentaries and the Visuddhimagga, from which current techniques originate. My point is that the suttas are not opaque and I cannot understand why truth seekers ( which is hopefully what we all are ), should feel so strongly that they need to look outside of those teachings. The final authority must always be the suttas/vinaya and when other teachings are put forward as being Buddha Dhamma, then it is against the suttas/vinaya, that they must be measured.
:smile: Be Happy

BTW I have practiced both methods, and I agree that certain benefits can be gained. My point is that they are not strictly what the Buddha taught and advised people to do, therefore the results gained may be less than following actual sutta advice. :smile:

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:49 am

Brizzy wrote: My view is that the suttas speak for themselves and any distortion of the sutta teachings, should be contested.


There is nothing in the Mahasi Sayadaw teachings that runs counter to the suttas.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

Brizzy

Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Brizzy » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:20 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Brizzy wrote: My view is that the suttas speak for themselves and any distortion of the sutta teachings, should be contested.


There is nothing in the Mahasi Sayadaw teachings that runs counter to the suttas.


Is there evidence of Mahasi Sayadaw teachings in the suttas? Where exactly is the technique of walking super slow taught or "noting"?

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:26 am

Brizzy wrote:Where exactly is the technique of walking super slow taught or "noting"?


So, because it is not exactly spelled out in point by point detail in the suttas something that cultivates mindfulness and concentration is a problem? Says who?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:34 am

Hi Brizzy,

Thank you for clarifying where you are coming from. Let's forget the "modern" Commentaries and Visuddhimagga for now then...
Brizzy wrote:Is there evidence of Mahasi Sayadaw teachings in the suttas? Where exactly is the technique of walking super slow taught or "noting"?

As Tilt says, there is nothing contradictory. Noting is just a training technique to focus on the object. Walking slowly is another possible training technique.

MN 10 Satipatthana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .soma.html
"Mindful, he breathes in, and mindful, he breathes out. He, thinking, 'I breathe in long,' he understands when he is breathing in long; or thinking, 'I breathe out long,' he understands when he is breathing out long; or thinking, 'I breathe in short,' he understands when he is breathing in short; or thinking, 'I breathe out short,' he understands when he is breathing out short.
...
"And further, O bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, in going forwards (and) in going backwards, is a person practicing clear comprehension; in looking straight on (and) in looking away from the front, is a person practicing clear comprehension; in bending and in stretching, is a person practicing clear comprehension; in wearing the shoulder-cloak, the (other two) robes (and) the bowl, is a person practicing clear comprehension; in regard to what is eaten, drunk, chewed and savored, is a person practicing clear comprehension; in defecating and in urinating, is a person practicing clear comprehension; in walking, in standing (in a place), in sitting (in some position), in sleeping, in waking, in speaking and in keeping silence, is a person practicing clear comprehension.
...
"And further, O bhikkhus, when he is going, a bhikkhu understands: 'I am going'; when he is standing, he understands: 'I am standing'; when he is sitting, he understands: 'I am sitting'; when he is lying down, he understands: 'I am lying down'; or just as his body is disposed so he understands it.
...
"Here, O bhikkhus, when sensuality is present, a bhikkhu knows with understanding: 'I have sensuality,' or when sensuality is not present, he knows with understanding: 'I have no sensuality.' He understands how the arising of the non-arisen sensuality comes to be; he understands how the abandoning of the arisen sensuality comes to be; and he understands how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned sensuality comes to be.
...

Sounds just like typical "modern" instructions to me...

Metta
Mike

Brizzy

Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Brizzy » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:39 am

Hi mike

"As Tilt says, there is nothing contradictory. Noting is just a training technique to focus on the object. Walking slowly is another possible training technique."
My point is that these training techniques are not found in the suttas and since these training techniques form the basis for the Mahasi method, I dont think they can be casually overlooked. As far as your quote from MN10 goes, my point is that the bhikkhu is involving the thought/reflection/contemplation process and not just employing bare awareness as is often taught.

:smile:

Brizzy

Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Brizzy » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:44 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Brizzy wrote:Where exactly is the technique of walking super slow taught or "noting"?


So, because it is not exactly spelled out in point by point detail in the suttas something that cultivates mindfulness and concentration is a problem? Says who?


Hi

Not exactly spelt out? It is not even mentioned. As far as cultivating mindfulness and concentration... well that depends a lot on how you define Right mindfulness and Right concentration. Remember I am only interested in how they are defined in the suttas(thats who). :smile:

Brizzy

Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby Brizzy » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:45 am

Jechbi wrote:Welcome! :hello:


Thanks :smile:

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Re: Abandoning hindrances

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:57 am

Brizzy wrote:"As Tilt says, there is nothing contradictory. Noting is just a training technique to focus on the object. Walking slowly is another possible training technique."
My point is that these training techniques are not found in the suttas and since these training techniques form the basis for the Mahasi method, I dont think they can be casually overlooked. As far as your quote from MN10 goes, my point is that the bhikkhu is involving the thought/reflection/contemplation process and not just employing bare awareness as is often taught.

Who is being casual here? Can you point to some statement by Sayadaw Mahasi that contradicts the Suttas? It's not really possible to discuss statements like: "as is often taught".

If you're going to completely disregard the Commentaries and modern teachers then interpretation of the Suttas becomes quite open. You can probably conclude whatever you want because the instructions in the Suttas are not particularly specific. From passages like the following it seems clear that much more detailed instructions were delivered personally, and I would presume that the commentaries have recorded many of those.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"As for the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, he should approach an individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment... and ask him, 'How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated? How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'The mind should be steadied in this way. The mind should be made to settle down in this way. The mind should be unified in this way. The mind should be concentrated in this way. Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.


Metta
Mike


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