sattva wrote:This is a question, especially for those who have practiced breath meditation focusing on the nostrils and on the belly both. In Zen, it is considered best to focus on the belly (tanden, hara) because it helps to create joriki (energy) and groundedness in practice. From a Theravada perspective what do you consider to be the benefits and detriments of each? Is there any difference in your opinion?
From my perspective and understanding, it seems as though it just depends on what one is attempting to accomplish. Some people relate better to subtle phenomena like the breath when developing calmness meditation (samatha
), while others find it more productive to focus on something more substantial within their experience such as the rising and falling of the stomach. In Theravada, to my knowledge, there is no emphasis on esoteric "energy patterns" within the body, so this would be one of the differences in the focus on the end product of what is to be accomplished.
If you read and study the Pali discourses, the Buddha teaches a way of meditation designed to help increase mental concentration abilities. The end goal of this practice is for the mind to become unified on an object or subject in order to be able to more fully examine either the object or the subject during insight meditation. He wants you to be able to know
these phenomena directly in order to verify their true nature. In order for that to occur, a sharpening in one's concentration and comprehension ability is necessary, which is why he emphasized a practice in mindfulness and clear knowing (clear comprehension).
I suppose if one is focusing on the stomach in order to create joriki that perhaps, depending on how one is being instructed by their meditation guide, they too might experience an increase in mental concentration, although I have never seen described or heard of such a practice. But it might
People teach all kinds of methods in order to help others sharpen various skills that it is not unimaginable. Perhaps this is what is meant by the phrase "groundedness in practice"?
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV