best book on meditation???

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

best book on meditation???

Postby dhammastudier » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:05 pm

i've read many. unfortunately this was over a course of many years and a lot of them were before i was really clear about what traditions these books came from. therefore the techniques are all over the place. i have read a few that are what i would consider to be accurate theravada meditation books but none that are very in depth. they are all good stuff but i'm looking for something with a trouble shooting approach. most give wonderful initial explanations and methods and reasoning behind the methods and even how to integrate these techniques into your daily life. but what they don't include is a section on what to do when it's not working for you or when you have additional questions or clarification on the method.

for example one might ask:
and please don't try to school me on these questions yourself, these are just examples and not ones that i need to know.
"am i supposed to let thoughts float by and keep returning to the breath or view each thought to it's finish and then return?"
"is it better to meditate before or after a meal?"
"what do i do when i get sleepy while meditating?"

stuff like that. in so many books the technique is given in depth, an overview of buddhism, and nothing else. no q and a section or trouble shooting.

anything you could recommend?

thanx :smile:
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby bodom » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:17 pm

Mindfulness In Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. I recommend this first to all who ask for an introductory book on meditation. It contains the clearest instructions I have ever read of any book of meditation.

You can read it here:
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe.html

And buy it here:
http://www.wisdompubs.org/Pages/display ... alue=32800

: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: best book on meditation???

Postby dhammastudier » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:21 pm

bodom wrote:Mindfulness In Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. I recommend this first to all who ask for an introductory book on meditation. It contains the clearest instructions I have ever read of any book of meditation.

You can read it here:
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe.html

And buy it here:
http://www.wisdompubs.org/Pages/display ... alue=32800

:anjali:


that's funny because i just read a review on this book on amazon that said almost exactly your words here!

thanx bodom! :thanks:
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:25 pm

I think it's a hard question to answer without knowing what sort of approach is being taken.

For Mahasi-style practise Bhante Sujiva's book:
Essentials of Insight Meditation Practice - A Pragmatic Approach to Vipassana.
http://buddhistinformation.blogspot.com ... ujiva.html
has a lot of "troubleshooting" of the sort you are asking about.
I used it extensively when I was away from home for a year and didn't have access to my usual teachers.

But if that's not the approach you are using, it's probably not very good...

If you are interested in jhana practise then Ajahn Brahm's book or Shaila Catherine's book seem good...

Mike
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby cooran » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:48 pm

Thanks Mike - the books and mp3's are downloadable .... I look forward to reading his book on Metta meditation ~ must be the fastest download of a book I've had ever.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:08 pm

Thanks Chris, Since I know you've done retreats with Patrick Kearney using such techniques I think you'd find parts of Bhante Sujiva's book on insight helpful. It certainly has some troubleshooting. Here is an example:
How does one handle this sloth and torpor? Let us see some
ways. In the first one or two days, sloth and torpor is usually of a
very heavy kind of mental state. Very often, there is nothing you
can do but just sit and ride through the storm. It is so heavy. The
moment you sit, your mind is blank. If you had been rushing out
a lot of work and you are very tired or you have had a long journey,
it can be really heavy.

However, it is not altogether a permanent feature. If you sit long
enough and if you try long enough, it will usually pass. Worse comes
to worst, if you cannot sit any more, get up and walk. Nevertheless,
after a few days of trying, it will become less and the sloth and torpor
attacks will be more of the milder kind. It will be of the softer type.
It is just like in the early morning when you are watching “rising,
falling, rising, falling…” it is so clear and peaceful. But, somewhere
along the line, everything has gone blank. Why? Because the sloth
and torpor has crept in without you knowing. You said “I was very
mindful but suddenly where did it go?” This is more of the softer
kind of sloth and torpor and it can come on fast and attack
suddenly.

So, when your mind is very peaceful, you have to especially stir
up the energy or if you feel your mind is a bit slow, hazy, and fuzzy,
then it is time to stir up the energy. The factor to counteract this
sloth and torpor is energy or effort. The question is not whether we
have energy or not. Mental energy is always there.

Here is an example. If you have overslept and you would be late
for work but you did not know it, you would not be willing to get
up. However, the moment you realised that you were late for work,
or you were late for your examinations, all of a sudden within five
minutes, you would be ready to go.

Where did the energy come from? The energy is always there. So,
it is a matter of calling it up and a matter of will power to stir up
and arouse the mindfulness. That is what we have to learn to do; to
connect with the proper will power that can arouse the energy
whenever we want. Of course, there are other ways of bringing up
this energy. Energy comes with what we call initial application, vitakka,
that is, increased noting.

Therefore, when you cannot find the “rising” and “falling”
because you are so sleepy, it may be wiser to use the “sitting” and
“touching” method. Of course, because of the sleepiness, your
“sitting” and “touching” objects are also not clear. Therefore, you hold
on to a larger mass, the whole mass of the body as "sitting" and the
contact point as “touching.” So, you continue noting at a regular pace,
“sitting, touching, sitting, touching, sitting, touching…”

Another alternative is to use more touch points ie “sitting,
touching, touching, touching…” Examples of the touch points
are the contact points at the posterior, legs and hands. You
can also alternate the touch points in a rhythm or in an order.
Usually, in the case of very heavy sloth and torpor, it may not
work at all unless you are persistent.

Now, as I said, that won't be of much use to meditators using a different approach, but for me it is very useful. The point that I was trying to make to Zac was that if you really want detailed troubleshooting instructions they need to match the approach you are using. If you are doing jhana-oriente practise then Ajahn Brahm's discussion of the hindrances http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/books.html would, I think, be more helpful.

The Third Hindrance—Sloth and Torpor

The third hindrance is sloth and torpor. I don’t need to describe it in
detail, because I’m sure we know it all too well through our experience
of meditation.We sit in meditation and don’t really know what we are
watching, whether it’s the present moment, silence, the breath, or whatever.
This is because the mind is dull. It’s as if there are no lights turned
on inside. It’s all gray and blurry.

Making Peace with Sloth and Torpor

The most profound and effective way of overcoming sloth and torpor is
to make peace with the dullness and stop fighting it! When I was a young
monk in the forest monasteries in Thailand and became sleepy during the
3:15 a.m. sitting, I would struggle like hell to overpower the dullness. I
would usually fail. But when I did succeed in overcoming my sleepiness,
restlessness would replace it. So I would calm down the restlessness and
fall back into sloth and torpor. My meditation was like a pendulum
swinging between extremes and never finding the middle. It took many
years to understand what was going on.

The Buddha advocated investigation, not fighting. So I examined
where my sloth and torpor came from. I had been meditating at 3:15 in
the morning, having slept very little, I was malnourished, an English
monk in a hot tropical jungle—what would you expect! The dullness was
the effect of natural causes. I let go and made peace with my sleepiness.
I stopped fighting and let my head droop.Who knows, I might even have
snored. When I stopped fighting sloth and torpor it did not last all that
long. Moreover, when it passed I was left with peace and not with restlessness.
I had found the middle of my pendulum swing and I could
observe my breath easily from then on.

Dullness in meditation is the result of a tired mind, usually one that
has been overworking. Fighting that dullness makes you even more
exhausted. Resting allows the energy to return to the mind. To understand
this process, I will now introduce the two halves of the mind: the
knower and the doer.The knower is the passive half of the mind that simply
receives information. The doer is the active half that responds with
evaluating, thinking, and controlling.The knower and the doer share the
same source of mental energy. Thus, when you are doing a lot, when
you have a busy lifestyle and are struggling to get on, the doer consumes
most of your mental energy, leaving only a pittance for the knower.
When the knower is starved of mental energy you experience dullness.

At a retreat I led in Sydney a few years ago, a retreatant arrived late
from her high-stress job as an executive in the city. In her first sitting that
evening her mind was almost as dead as a corpse. So I gave her my special
teaching on how to overcome her sloth and torpor: I told her to rest.
For the next three days she slept in until dawn, went back to bed again
after breakfast, and had a long nap after lunch. What a brilliant meditator!
After three days of no fighting, giving hardly any mental energy to
the doer but letting it flow to the knower, her mind brightened up. In
another three days she had caught up with the rest of the group in her
progress through the stages. By the end of the retreat she was way ahead
and one of the star meditators of that retreat.

The most profound and effective way to overcome sloth and torpor
is to stop fighting your mind. Stop trying to change things and instead
let things be. Make peace not war with sloth and torpor. Then your
mental energy will be freed to flow into the knower, and your sloth and
torpor will naturally disappear.

Giving Value to Awareness

Another method for overcoming sloth and torpor is to give more value
to awareness. All Buddhist traditions say that human life is valuable and
precious, especially a life like this one where you have encountered the
Buddha’s teachings.Now you have the opportunity to practice.You may
not realize how many lifetimes it has taken and how much merit you’ve
had to accumulate just to get where you are now.You’ve invested lifetimes
of good karma to get this close to the Dhamma. Reflecting like
this means you will incline less to sloth and torpor and more to bright
awareness.

The path of meditation sometimes comes to a fork in the road. The
left path leads to sloth and torpor while the right path leads to bright
awareness.With experience you will recognize this fork. This is the point
in meditation where you can choose between the alley to sloth and torpor
or the highway to mindful stillness.Taking the left path you give up
both the doer and the knower. Taking the right path you let go of the
doer but keep the knower. When you value awareness you will automatically
choose the right path of bright awareness.


Mike


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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby dhammastudier » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:20 am

mikenz66 wrote:I think it's a hard question to answer without knowing what sort of approach is being taken.

For Mahasi-style practise Bhante Sujiva's book:
Essentials of Insight Meditation Practice - A Pragmatic Approach to Vipassana.
http://buddhistinformation.blogspot.com ... ujiva.html
has a lot of "troubleshooting" of the sort you are asking about.
I used it extensively when I was away from home for a year and didn't have access to my usual teachers.

But if that's not the approach you are using, it's probably not very good...

If you are interested in jhana practise then Ajahn Brahm's book or Shaila Catherine's book seem good...

Mike


see i'm not sure what approach i'm using. basically i read what the buddha said to do and that's my practice. the Anapanasati sutta is where i take my method from. i was wanting some trouble shooting on that really but a book on mindfulness of breathing meditation in general with a good trouble shooting approach should work because that sutta is midfulness of breathing. i didn't even know it was broken down into different techniques. are the different approaches still considered mindfulness of breathing meditation? i know there's countless different ways to meditate in the buddhist tradition but i'm specifically talking about this type.
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:11 am

zac wrote:see i'm not sure what approach i'm using. basically i read what the buddha said to do and that's my practice. the Anapanasati sutta is where i take my method from. i was wanting some trouble shooting on that really but a book on mindfulness of breathing meditation in general with a good trouble shooting approach should work because that sutta is midfulness of breathing. i didn't even know it was broken down into different techniques. are the different approaches still considered mindfulness of breathing meditation? i know there's countless different ways to meditate in the buddhist tradition but i'm specifically talking about this type.

Well, what do you understand the Sutta to be instructing?

The first tetrad involves the development of some preliminary mindfulness and calm:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.'[3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'


The second and third tetrad are usually interpreted to be describing the attainment a high level of concentration, probably jhana:
"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.'[4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

"[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' [10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.' [11] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind.' [12] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'[5]

And the last tetrad describes insight practice:
"[13] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' [14] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.' [15] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.' [16] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'

Those are not simple instructions to understand and follow. It would take months or years to get through all that. There are numerous other Suttas that expand on various aspects of this method.

If you are trying to follow an approach using mostly mindfulness of breathing then Bodom's suggetion of "Mindfulness in Plain English", or Ajahn Brahm's or Shaila Catherine's books would probably be good choices.

Mike
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby dhammastudier » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:42 am

mikenz66 wrote:
zac wrote:see i'm not sure what approach i'm using. basically i read what the buddha said to do and that's my practice. the Anapanasati sutta is where i take my method from. i was wanting some trouble shooting on that really but a book on mindfulness of breathing meditation in general with a good trouble shooting approach should work because that sutta is midfulness of breathing. i didn't even know it was broken down into different techniques. are the different approaches still considered mindfulness of breathing meditation? i know there's countless different ways to meditate in the buddhist tradition but i'm specifically talking about this type.

Well, what do you understand the Sutta to be instructing?

The first tetrad involves the development of some preliminary mindfulness and calm:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.'[3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'


The second and third tetrad are usually interpreted to be describing the attainment a high level of concentration, probably jhana:
"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.'[4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

"[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' [10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.' [11] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind.' [12] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'[5]

And the last tetrad describes insight practice:
"[13] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' [14] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.' [15] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.' [16] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'

Those are not simple instructions to understand and follow. It would take months or years to get through all that. There are numerous other Suttas that expand on various aspects of this method.

If you are trying to follow an approach using mostly mindfulness of breathing then Bodom's suggetion of "Mindfulness in Plain English", or Ajahn Brahm's or Shaila Catherine's books would probably be good choices.

Mike


appreciate it! but see that's the thing, the breathing section you just quoted is pretty simple (could still use a good trouble shooting section in a book) but then it goes on... much more complicated... maybe i'm looking for a commentary on this sutta eh? is all the stuff you just quoted from anapanasati sutta? it's been a while since i've read it.
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:55 am

Hi Zac,

Yes, of course, that's the core of the Sutta. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Here are some commentaries on the Sutta and on Samatha vs Vipassana
Ledi Sayadaw: http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Ledi/Anapa ... asati.html
Ven. Mahathera Nauyane Ariyadhamma: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... bl115.html
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... f-Life.pdf
Chanmyay Sayadaw http://www.chanmyay.org/anapanasati.htm

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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby dhammastudier » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:32 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Zac,

Yes, of course, that's the core of the Sutta. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Here are some commentaries on the Sutta and on Samatha vs Vipassana
Ledi Sayadaw: http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Ledi/Anapa ... asati.html
Ven. Mahathera Nauyane Ariyadhamma: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... bl115.html
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... f-Life.pdf
Chanmyay Sayadaw http://www.chanmyay.org/anapanasati.htm

MIke


thanx mike, one more thing. what exactly is the difference between vipassana and samatha??? are they both included in the anapanasati sutta??? i'm a little confused on that part.
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:21 am

Hi Zac,
zac wrote:thanx mike, one more thing. what exactly is the difference between vipassana and samatha??? are they both included in the anapanasati sutta??? i'm a little confused on that part.

Hmm, that's why I gave you the references... :reading:

This essay by Thanissaro Bhikkhu may help: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... etool.html
From this description it's obvious that samatha and vipassana are not separate paths of practice, but instead are complementary ways of relating to the present moment: samatha provides a sense of ease in the present; vipassana, a clear-eyed view of events as they actually occur, in and of themselves. It's also obvious why the two qualities need to function together in mastering jhana. As the standard instructions on breath meditation indicate (MN 118 [Anapanasati Sutta]), such a mastery involves three things: gladdening, concentrating, and liberating the mind. Gladdening means finding a sense of refreshment and satisfaction in the present. Concentrating means keeping the mind focused on its object, while liberating means freeing the mind from the grosser factors making up a lower stage of concentration so as to attain a higher stage. The first two activities are functions of samatha, while the last is a function of vipassana. All three must function together. If, for example, there is concentration and gladdening, with no letting go, the mind wouldn't be able to refine its concentration at all. The factors that have to be abandoned in raising the mind from stage x to stage y belong to the set of factors that got the mind to x in the first place (AN 9.34). Without the ability clearly to see mental events in the present, there would be no way skillfully to release the mind from precisely the right factors that tie it to a lower state of concentration and act as disturbances to a higher one. If, on the other hand, there is simply a letting go of those factors, without an appreciation of or steadiness in the stillness that remains, the mind would drop out of jhana altogether. Thus samatha and vipassana must work together to bring the mind to right concentration in a masterful way.


Try reading Chanmyay Sayadaw's essay that I linked to above: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/
What we should know is that the object of Samatha Meditation can either be pannatti or paramattha. Pannatti means concept, paramattha means absolute or ultimate reality. The object of Samatha Meditation may be concept or ultimate reality. When we take Kasina as the object of Samatha Meditation, the object is just concept, not absolute reality.
...
However in Vipassana Meditation every object of meditation must be absolute reality, ultimate reality, paramattha. In Vipassana Meditation no concept can be the object of meditation. Concept cannot be the object of Vipassana Meditation because Vipassana meditators need to realize the specific characteristics and general characteristics of mental and physical phenomena which is absolute reality. So the object must be either mental or physical processes which are ultimate reality. If concept is the object of Vipassana Meditation, Vipassana meditators can't realize any characteristics of mental and physical processes because you can't find any real characteristics in concepts. Concepts are made up by the mind.


And this from U Pandita: http://aimwell.org/Books/Other/Questions/questions.html
“Why did Mahāsi Sayādaw ignore ānāpānasati, which was directly taught by the Buddha, but introduced the rising-falling method?”

“Is ānāpānasati the same in essence as vipassanā and meditating on rising and falling, and able to lead to magga-phala and nibbāna?”

In answering these questions, Panditārāma Sayādaw explained the teachings of the Mahāsi Sayādaw as follows.

Ānāpānasati can take two directions. If the meditator strives to be mindful of the form or manner of the in-breath and the out-breath, then it is samatha meditation and leads to one-pointedness of mind. On the other hand, if the meditator notes the sensation of the in-breath and out-breath as it moves and touches, then it is vipassanā meditation. The element of wind or motion (vayo-dhātu) is rūpa or matter, while the awareness or consciousness of the sensation is nāma or mind. Therefore, ānāpānasati can be considered as vipassanā, and can lead to high levels of insight wisdom. However, in the Visuddhimagga, in the section on kāyānupassana, or mindfulness of body, fourteen objects of meditation are discussed, and further subdivided into objects for samatha and vipassanā meditation. In the Visuddhimagga, ānāpānasati is presented as an object of samatha meditation. Consequently, if we are to instruct meditators to develop ānāpānasati as part of vipassanā meditation, we will be inviting much unwanted and unwarranted criticism and controversy. And neither Mahāsi Sayādaw or myself would want to argue here that the Visuddhimagga, the rightly venerated classic, is at fault here.

It has been said that by noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, meditators are distancing themselves from the teachings of the Buddha. The answer to this is a firm and definite “no.” Quite apart from the success that meditators have achieved by noting rising-falling, there is much solid evidence in the Buddhist scriptures, such as Salāyatana Vagga Samyutta, to show that the method is very much a part of the Buddha’s teachings regarding mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of the elements (dhātu), and mindfulness of the five aggregates (khandhas).

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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby dhammastudier » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:35 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Zac,
zac wrote:thanx mike, one more thing. what exactly is the difference between vipassana and samatha??? are they both included in the anapanasati sutta??? i'm a little confused on that part.

Hmm, that's why I gave you the references... :reading:

This essay by Thanissaro Bhikkhu may help: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... etool.html
From this description it's obvious that samatha and vipassana are not separate paths of practice, but instead are complementary ways of relating to the present moment: samatha provides a sense of ease in the present; vipassana, a clear-eyed view of events as they actually occur, in and of themselves. It's also obvious why the two qualities need to function together in mastering jhana. As the standard instructions on breath meditation indicate (MN 118 [Anapanasati Sutta]), such a mastery involves three things: gladdening, concentrating, and liberating the mind. Gladdening means finding a sense of refreshment and satisfaction in the present. Concentrating means keeping the mind focused on its object, while liberating means freeing the mind from the grosser factors making up a lower stage of concentration so as to attain a higher stage. The first two activities are functions of samatha, while the last is a function of vipassana. All three must function together. If, for example, there is concentration and gladdening, with no letting go, the mind wouldn't be able to refine its concentration at all. The factors that have to be abandoned in raising the mind from stage x to stage y belong to the set of factors that got the mind to x in the first place (AN 9.34). Without the ability clearly to see mental events in the present, there would be no way skillfully to release the mind from precisely the right factors that tie it to a lower state of concentration and act as disturbances to a higher one. If, on the other hand, there is simply a letting go of those factors, without an appreciation of or steadiness in the stillness that remains, the mind would drop out of jhana altogether. Thus samatha and vipassana must work together to bring the mind to right concentration in a masterful way.


Try reading Chanmyay Sayadaw's essay that I linked to above: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/
What we should know is that the object of Samatha Meditation can either be pannatti or paramattha. Pannatti means concept, paramattha means absolute or ultimate reality. The object of Samatha Meditation may be concept or ultimate reality. When we take Kasina as the object of Samatha Meditation, the object is just concept, not absolute reality.
...
However in Vipassana Meditation every object of meditation must be absolute reality, ultimate reality, paramattha. In Vipassana Meditation no concept can be the object of meditation. Concept cannot be the object of Vipassana Meditation because Vipassana meditators need to realize the specific characteristics and general characteristics of mental and physical phenomena which is absolute reality. So the object must be either mental or physical processes which are ultimate reality. If concept is the object of Vipassana Meditation, Vipassana meditators can't realize any characteristics of mental and physical processes because you can't find any real characteristics in concepts. Concepts are made up by the mind.


And this from U Pandita: http://aimwell.org/Books/Other/Questions/questions.html
“Why did Mahāsi Sayādaw ignore ānāpānasati, which was directly taught by the Buddha, but introduced the rising-falling method?”

“Is ānāpānasati the same in essence as vipassanā and meditating on rising and falling, and able to lead to magga-phala and nibbāna?”

In answering these questions, Panditārāma Sayādaw explained the teachings of the Mahāsi Sayādaw as follows.

Ānāpānasati can take two directions. If the meditator strives to be mindful of the form or manner of the in-breath and the out-breath, then it is samatha meditation and leads to one-pointedness of mind. On the other hand, if the meditator notes the sensation of the in-breath and out-breath as it moves and touches, then it is vipassanā meditation. The element of wind or motion (vayo-dhātu) is rūpa or matter, while the awareness or consciousness of the sensation is nāma or mind. Therefore, ānāpānasati can be considered as vipassanā, and can lead to high levels of insight wisdom. However, in the Visuddhimagga, in the section on kāyānupassana, or mindfulness of body, fourteen objects of meditation are discussed, and further subdivided into objects for samatha and vipassanā meditation. In the Visuddhimagga, ānāpānasati is presented as an object of samatha meditation. Consequently, if we are to instruct meditators to develop ānāpānasati as part of vipassanā meditation, we will be inviting much unwanted and unwarranted criticism and controversy. And neither Mahāsi Sayādaw or myself would want to argue here that the Visuddhimagga, the rightly venerated classic, is at fault here.

It has been said that by noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, meditators are distancing themselves from the teachings of the Buddha. The answer to this is a firm and definite “no.” Quite apart from the success that meditators have achieved by noting rising-falling, there is much solid evidence in the Buddhist scriptures, such as Salāyatana Vagga Samyutta, to show that the method is very much a part of the Buddha’s teachings regarding mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of the elements (dhātu), and mindfulness of the five aggregates (khandhas).

Mike


sorry mike, i read your post just before bed and didn't have time to check the links, thank you:) i read up on the links and i get it. it sounds though like samatha can easily be learned from a book and vipassana must be taught unless one is to read a verrrrrrrrrry in depth book about it? samatha is mindfulness and steadying the mind and vipassana is looking into the mind and it's workings with regards to different buddhist teachings. i'm going to see the abbot of a nearby temple tomorrow and i will ask him:) thanx again.
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby dhammastudier » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:53 pm

ok so i think bodom gave me a link for a book on mindfulness meditation (thanx again) and now it seems i need to ask: anyone know of a good, in depth, trouble shooting book on vipassana?
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby bodom » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:59 pm

zac wrote:ok so i think bodom gave me a link for a book on mindfulness meditation (thanx again) and now it seems i need to ask: anyone know of a good, in depth, trouble shooting book on vipassana?


Mindfulness in Plain English. :thumbsup:
It is all in this book. How to overcome the hindrances and deal with various problems that arise in meditation, explanation of vipassana and samatha, anapanasati etc. etc.

: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: best book on meditation???

Postby dhammastudier » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:00 pm

bodom wrote:
zac wrote:ok so i think bodom gave me a link for a book on mindfulness meditation (thanx again) and now it seems i need to ask: anyone know of a good, in depth, trouble shooting book on vipassana?


Mindfulness in Plain English. :thumbsup:
It is all in this book. How to overcome the hindrances and deal with various problems that arise in meditations, explanation of vipassana and samatha, anapanasati etc. etc.

:anjali:


nice! thanx twice then bodom! :clap: :thanks:
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby bodom » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:03 pm

zac wrote:
bodom wrote:
zac wrote:ok so i think bodom gave me a link for a book on mindfulness meditation (thanx again) and now it seems i need to ask: anyone know of a good, in depth, trouble shooting book on vipassana?


Mindfulness in Plain English. :thumbsup:
It is all in this book. How to overcome the hindrances and deal with various problems that arise in meditations, explanation of vipassana and samatha, anapanasati etc. etc.

:anjali:


nice! thanx twice then bodom! :clap: :thanks:


No problem man. I won't steer you wrong.

: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: best book on meditation???

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:00 pm

HI zac,
zac wrote:sorry mike, i read your post just before bed and didn't have time to check the links, thank you:) i read up on the links and i get it. it sounds though like samatha can easily be learned from a book and vipassana must be taught unless one is to read a verrrrrrrrrry in depth book about it? samatha is mindfulness and steadying the mind and vipassana is looking into the mind and it's workings with regards to different buddhist teachings. i'm going to see the abbot of a nearby temple tomorrow and i will ask him:) thanx again.

I really don't think any of it "can be easily learned", from a book or otherwise. Sure you can do some basic calming meditation, but getting to deep states of samatha is not an easy task.

Mike
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Re: best book on meditation???

Postby dhammastudier » Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:18 pm

mikenz66 wrote:HI zac,
zac wrote:sorry mike, i read your post just before bed and didn't have time to check the links, thank you:) i read up on the links and i get it. it sounds though like samatha can easily be learned from a book and vipassana must be taught unless one is to read a verrrrrrrrrry in depth book about it? samatha is mindfulness and steadying the mind and vipassana is looking into the mind and it's workings with regards to different buddhist teachings. i'm going to see the abbot of a nearby temple tomorrow and i will ask him:) thanx again.

I really don't think any of it "can be easily learned", from a book or otherwise. Sure you can do some basic calming meditation, but getting to deep states of samatha is not an easy task.

Mike


right on, i'm going to see the abbot who i see from time to time tomorrow, like i said, so i think i'll be ok:) thanx
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