concentration without object

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concentration without object

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri May 28, 2010 6:34 pm

Hello

I wanted to ask what is the role of the meditative state of concentration without object in Theravada. Is it mentioned in the suttas? What is its purpose? How is it achieved? Zazen AFAIK is a way of cultivating this state, but I don't know if it's the right method. Something like going into jhana and then droping the object would be a easier way than the zazen aproach; at least that's what I think.

Metta
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: concentration without object

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 28, 2010 6:53 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:Hello

I wanted to ask what is the role of the meditative state of concentration without object in Theravada. Is it mentioned in the suttas? What is its purpose? How is it achieved? Zazen AFAIK is a way of cultivating this state, but I don't know if it's the right method. Something like going into jhana and then droping the object would be a easier way than the zazen aproach; at least that's what I think.

Metta
Are you referring to shikantaza?
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: concentration without object

Postby bodom » Fri May 28, 2010 7:28 pm

Animitto Sutta: The Signless SN 40.9
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: concentration without object

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri May 28, 2010 7:30 pm

I had to look in wikipedia what that is and yes that is what I meant. The method it seems (I'm not well informed about this so correct me if I'm wrong) is to try to have no thoughts. is it a good method? it seems to me like an ilusorily direct way of getting into this state.
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: concentration without object

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri May 28, 2010 7:39 pm

bodom wrote:Animitto Sutta: The Signless SN 40.9
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

:anjali:


So if I understand it correctly, Moggallana attained nibbana while in this state?
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: concentration without object

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 28, 2010 7:40 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:I had to look in wikipedia what that is and yes that is what I meant. The method it seems (I'm not well informed about this so correct me if I'm wrong) is to try to have no thoughts. is it a good method? it seems to me like an ilusorily direct way of getting into this state.

Well, it is not to try to have no thoughts; it is, rather, not to be fixed on any one thing. You cannot have concentration or consciousness with an object, but the object can changed very, very rapidly. It is what is called moment-to-moment concentration or bare attention in vipassana practice.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: concentration without object

Postby Shonin » Fri May 28, 2010 8:02 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:I had to look in wikipedia what that is and yes that is what I meant. The method it seems (I'm not well informed about this so correct me if I'm wrong) is to try to have no thoughts. is it a good method? it seems to me like an ilusorily direct way of getting into this state.


No, it isn't about having no thoughts. It is remaining anchored in the reality of the present moment, yet with an open, allowing awareness rather than a narrow, focussed one. Phenomena (including thoughts) are allowed to appear, change and disappear, without identification.

"The signless concentration of heart." sounds much the same. Mahamudra and Dzogchen meditation is similar too.
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Re: concentration without object

Postby PeterB » Fri May 28, 2010 8:10 pm

In actuality Mahamudra and probably Dzogchen, are the same...what distinguishes them is the mythological constructs around them like "empowerments ". Essentially they are bare attention practices .
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Re: concentration without object

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri May 28, 2010 8:14 pm

So the method to get there is to just trying remain fully aware of what's happening? I thought the method to get there was to try to have no thoughts because in karate dojos, the instructions for meditation are these: to try to have no thoughts.
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: concentration without object

Postby m0rl0ck » Fri May 28, 2010 8:19 pm

Suzukis comment about thoughts was "when they come in the front door let them go out the back, dont invite them for tea." Thats a paraphrase.
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Re: concentration without object

Postby Shonin » Fri May 28, 2010 8:21 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:So the method to get there is to just trying remain fully aware of what's happening? I thought the method to get there was to try to have no thoughts because in karate dojos, the instructions for meditation are these: to try to have no thoughts.


No, but the idea that Zen is about 'having no thoughts' is a popular myth. Thoughts come and go, without being suppressed or chased.
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Re: concentration without object

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 28, 2010 8:38 pm

An expression borrowed from Krishnamurti - choieless awareness - has been taken over by Western vipassana teachers, fits here.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: concentration without object

Postby Goofaholix » Fri May 28, 2010 8:39 pm

This style of practice is quite common these days in the insight meditation and theravada communities, particularly in the West.

However the phrase "concentration without object" is a bit of an oxymoron, Awareness is a better term.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: concentration without object

Postby Shonin » Fri May 28, 2010 9:41 pm

tiltbillings wrote:An expression borrowed from Krishnamurti - choieless awareness - has been taken over by Western vipassana teachers, fits here.


I've practiced 'choiceless awareness' and shikantaza and they are essentially the same, except that in Zen they are more strict about how you sit.
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Re: concentration without object

Postby Freawaru » Sat May 29, 2010 7:02 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:Hello

I wanted to ask what is the role of the meditative state of concentration without object in Theravada. Is it mentioned in the suttas? What is its purpose?


As in the link bodom gave "Animitto Sutta: The Signless" the goal is "great super-knowledge".

How is it achieved? Zazen AFAIK is a way of cultivating this state, but I don't know if it's the right method. Something like going into jhana and then droping the object would be a easier way than the zazen aproach; at least that's what I think.


Yes, I agree. As the sutta stated the object is droped after reaching the "sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception".

Concentration without an object (signless concentration) in Theravada is very different from the "bare attention" or mindfulness or trying to remain fully aware of what's happening (these are known in Theravada, too, of course). It is neither insight with concentration on a stable object (such as breath) nor insight with an object changing from moment to moment (momentary concentration as in Mahasi method).
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Re: concentration without object

Postby Shonin » Sat May 29, 2010 7:07 am

Freawaru wrote:Concentration without an object (signless concentration) in Theravada is very different from the "bare attention" or mindfulness or trying to remain fully aware of what's happening (these are known in Theravada, too, of course). It is neither insight with concentration on a stable object (such as breath) nor insight with an object changing from moment to moment (momentary concentration as in Mahasi method).


So what IS it then? BTW, shikantaza is also 'neither insight with concentration on a stable object (such as breath) nor insight with an object changing from moment to moment'.
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Re: concentration without object

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat May 29, 2010 7:29 am

in zen (soto-shu) we were taught not to have no thoughts, but rather to just not attach to thoughts, we called it "opening the hand of thought". this is essentially the same as some vipassana meditation techniques i've seen taught in some of the thai traditions. i wouldn't pay too much thought to anything a karate teacher says.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: concentration without object

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat May 29, 2010 7:40 am

bodom wrote:Animitto Sutta: The Signless SN 40.9
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

:anjali:


Hey :) call me slow or heedless, but i just actually read the linked sutta. Are there other possible translations for the pali word for heart? The sutta reminds me of concentration on the Witness or awareness, sort of like koan or huatou practice. Is pali one of those languages where heart can also be translated as self or mind or soul?
Would that be considered signless concentration?
Last edited by m0rl0ck on Sat May 29, 2010 7:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
There is no comfort without pain; thus
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Re: concentration without object

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat May 29, 2010 7:48 am

heart and mind are sometimes interchangeable yes
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: concentration without object

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat May 29, 2010 7:56 am

jcsuperstar wrote:heart and mind are sometimes interchangeable yes



Hmm, in that case, i can hardly think of a better description of some huatou or koan practice than the linked doc.

"And then, friends, the Blessed One came to me by his powers[6] and said: 'Moggallaana, Moggallaana, Brahman,[7] do not slacken off in the signless concentration, make your mind steady, make the mind one-pointed, concentrate your mind in the signless concentration!'


I guess the direct sudden path is not new if the buddha was teaching a non developmental path even then.
There is no comfort without pain; thus
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