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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - I need some guidance

I need some guidance

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

I need some guidance

Postby Collective » Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:58 am

Lately I've been having doubts about my meditational techniques. I'm supposed to be practicing vipassana meditation but I'm not sure I'm going about it in the correct manner. I've read the following books on the subject:

Buddhism: Plain and Simple - Steve Hagen
Meditation: Now or Never - Steve Hagen
8 Mindful Steps to Happiness - Bhante Hebepola Gunaratana
Mindfulness in Plain English - Bhante Hebepola Gunaratana
Buddhsim: The Plain Facts - Robert Mann and Rose Youd

It's the awareness part.

I focus, or try to focus, on the breath to the exclusion of anything else. But then I hear talk about being aware of everything that arises. The part that confuses, is where regardless of any distractions, I'm supposed to 'take it back to the breath'. I guess it's the insight part of vipassana that's evading me. The obvious suggestion would be to read the books by Gunaratana for a second time, but right now, I have other books on the go, and don't want to finish them until I've gone through them, and I've obviously failed to understand some part of his writings. I guess this is where a teacher would be indspensible over the usage of a book.

Hope that makes sense, anyone have any thoughts?
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Nov 29, 2009 11:06 am

I think you have already been given some pretty good advice in this area on the other thread you asked on Collective, to repeat, you would almost certainly benefit from hands on instruction. I would not advise anyone to practice Vipassana without it. Maybe until you can get that instruction you could look into another form of mindfulness of breathing. I think books or tapes the internet can only take you so far.
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Nov 29, 2009 11:16 am

Go to the satipatthana sutta, or the relevant sutta which covers the area you are practicing such as the Anapanasati sutta if you are practicing mindfulness of breath!

I think eventually we all have to let go of the techneque we were taught and get back to basics and find the interpretation (or interpret the text for ourselves) so that we can progress. in other words we complicate things and this can prevent us from utilising the teachers teaching propperly, we already know the teaching but no longer use it propperly, so this in conjunction with talking to your teacher may be of benefit.
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Collective » Sun Nov 29, 2009 12:20 pm

Unfortuantely there are no teachers even remotely near me, all I have are books. There is one centre which I've found, but I've been told to steer well clear of: Dharmavajra Kadampa Buddhist Centre, structured by a certain Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

At the risk of getting harangued, here's the link to the practice: Centre

Can I ask, if all I want to do is relax (because I suffer from stress), then simply focusing on the breath will help yes? If it's too dangerous, or difficult to anything else without a teacher (which like I said i don't have), can I just drop the insightful part?
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:22 pm

Hi Collective
When I do anapana-sati I just to the samatha variant. Its pretty simple.
I just observe the flow of respiration at or around the nostrils and keep my attention on the actual sensation of the breath as it passes over that part of the body for longer and longer periods. Whatever else is going on in the head - ignore it. Whatever else is going on in the body - ignore it. Just keeping the attention firnly but lightly fixed on the point of contact between respiration and the body in, around, or under the nostrils. An added benefit is that it tends to produce calm.
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

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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Collective » Sun Nov 29, 2009 2:28 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Collective
When I do anapana-sati I just to the samatha variant. Its pretty simple.
I just observe the flow of respiration at or around the nostrils and keep my attention on the actual sensation of the breath as it passes over that part of the body for longer and longer periods. Whatever else is going on in the head - ignore it. Whatever else is going on in the body - ignore it. Just keeping the attention firnly but lightly fixed on the point of contact between respiration and the body in, around, or under the nostrils. An added benefit is that it tends to produce calm.
kind regards

Ben

That's exactly what I do when I meditate.

Thank you
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:32 pm

I believe that is a description of Samatha meditation Collective. I think there is a wide spread view that it is a better option tp teach oneself than Vipassana is. Its not that either are superior, in fact they are complimentary. But many people think that Vipassana is hard to learn wothout hands on instruction.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Collective » Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:42 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:I believe that is a description of Samatha meditation Collective. I think there is a wide spread view that it is a better option tp teach oneself than Vipassana is. Its not that either are superior, in fact they are complimentary. But many people think that Vipassana is hard to learn wothout hands on instruction.

It sounds as if my chances of awakening are very slim, and rely on there being a teacher within reasonable distance? Sounds unfair
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:50 pm

Samatha practice is quite enough to take you to Stream Entry Collective according to the Canon.
I believe that you said you live in Wales. Actually there are many places in Wales that teach Vipassana should you feel disposed to that practice, which is a very effective practice but is not the only one by any means.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Collective » Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:54 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Samatha practice is quite enough to take you to Stream Entry Collective according to the Canon.
I believe that you said you live in Wales. Actually there are many places in Wales that teach Vipassana should you felel disposed to that practice, which is a very effective practice but is not the only one by any means.

I've looked for Buddhist centres in Wales but only came up with the one already posted - at least as fae as South Wales is concerned. Do you think you could provide some info for my search? That would be great

Thank you

PS: At the risk of sounding mental, what is Samatha? I read about in those books above, but it's been so long
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Nov 29, 2009 4:02 pm

Samatha is often translated as "Calm Abiding" meditation. As Ben says its aim is to produce a calm mind.
Among other centres there is Dhamma Dipa in Hereford.
Satipanya in Powys
The Samtha Centre also in Powys ( which as the name implies teaches Samatha ).
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Nov 29, 2009 4:03 pm

Collective wrote:PS: At the risk of sounding mental, what is Samatha? I read about in those books above, but it's been so long


Samatha is the practice of cultivating concentration.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Laurens » Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:37 pm

I heard from several different sources that instruction from a qualified teacher is important when practicing vipassana. I would say for the time being its probably better to focus on samatha, unless you have a teacher of course, then go speak to them :)
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Collective » Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:05 pm

I'll stick with Samatha. Will at awaken me?
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Laurens » Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:10 pm

Collective wrote:I'll stick with Samatha. Will at awaken me?


One couldn't possibly say, if you pursue it with great effort it may. But one doesn't give meditation instructions with an enlightenment guarantee.

I can tell you that if done correctly it will bring you more peace and happiness.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:27 pm

Collective wrote:I'll stick with Samatha. Will at awaken me?

No, on its own it won't. But the benefit of practicing samatha can't be overlooked. It will assist you in your progress towards liberation. Saya Thetgyi, a teacher within the tradition that I practice, was said to have practiced the samatha variant of anapana-sati for seven years before moving on to vipassana. So, my advice to you Collective is to 1. keep on going and 2. Refine the other aspects of the path. Ensure you are maintaining your sila as sila conditions one's progress in developing samadhi (via samatha).
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

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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Dhammabodhi » Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:36 pm

Hi Collective,

You might find this link useful. Also check out Bhikkhu Pesala's nice article on Samatha and Vipassana.

Metta :anjali:
Dhammabodhi
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Laurens » Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:33 pm

Another worthwhile thing to remember is that your aim is to keep mindfulness at all times, not just on the cushion. At the end of your meditation session just take a second to acknowledge how you feel, often you will feel calm and peaceful, don't then rush up and throw that all down the tube, what you should do is try to maintain that calm peaceful awareness for as long as possible into your daily buisiness. Get up slowly and mindfully, and try to sustain that clear peaceful awareness.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan
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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Jack » Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:54 pm

There are some excellent vipassana guided meditations on the web that you can download. For instance, see:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/

http://www.audiodharma.org/

Going on a retreat even though it is not located close to you would be beneficial.

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Re: I need some guidance

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:07 pm

Of course we dont know how you are fixed for transport and so on. But Wales is a very small country. :smile:

:namaste:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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