Non-Doing

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Non-Doing

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:30 pm

Greetings All,

My teacher follows, for the most part, the Thai Forest Tradition (being himself a student of Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu). However, every once in awhile he will throw something out there that doesn't quite jibe with my understanding of the Dhamma in the context of Theravada doctrine. The other night during a course he was teaching on Mindfulness of Death he had us all sit and practice non-doing. I believe this was intended to allow us to experience the miracle of the present and to appreciate being alive but I experienced strong resistance and aversion to it. I feel somewhat ashamed to even be writing this as I feel as though I'm slighting a my teacher but the whole thing just seemed kind of New Age-y. Anyway, I would just like to get some thoughts on how the concept or practice of Non-Doing might be received and/or practiced in a Theravadin context.

Metta,

Mike
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148031379279&v=info
Kiva-Theravada Buddhists:http://www.kiva.org/team/theravada_buddhists
Dana on the Interwebs:
http://greatergood.com
http://freerice.com
User avatar
Khalil Bodhi
 
Posts: 1607
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:32 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Non-Doing

Postby bodom » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:40 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Greetings All,

My teacher follows, for the most part, the Thai Forest Tradition (being himself a student of Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu). However, every once in awhile he will throw something out there that doesn't quite jibe with my understanding of the Dhamma in the context of Theravada doctrine. The other night during a course he was teaching on Mindfulness of Death he had us all sit and practice non-doing. I believe this was intended to allow us to experience the miracle of the present and to appreciate being alive but I experienced strong resistance and aversion to it. I feel somewhat ashamed to even be writing this as I feel as though I'm slighting a my teacher but the whole thing just seemed kind of New Age-y. Anyway, I would just like to get some thoughts on how the concept or practice of Non-Doing might be received and/or practiced in a Theravadin context.

Metta,

Mike


Have you discussed your feelings with your teacher?

:namaste:
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
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4579
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Non-Doing

Postby bodom » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:47 pm

I like the concept of doer-less doing from Buddhadasa Bhikkhu:

Please make it a habit to regularly contemplate what is worth having and what is worth being; what is there that once possessed or once become, will not cause us Dukkha. When we discover the truth that there is absolutely nothing that is worthy of the feelings of having or being, then we become even-minded towards all things. Whatever action we perform, be it arranging, having, collecting, using or whatever, we just do what needs to be done. So don't let the mind have or become! Keep in mind the principle of doerless doing:

The doing is done but no doer is there.
The path has been walked but no walker is there.

This verse refers to the arahant, the one who has practiced Dhamma, or who has walked the Noble Path to its very end and who has reached Nibbana, but with no walker and no practicer to be found.

The principle of doerless doing must be taken up and utilized in our daily lives. Whether we're eating, sitting, laying down, standing, walking, using, seeking, whatever we are doing we must have enough truth-discerning awareness to prevent the arising of the feeling of 'I' - the feeling that 'I' am the doer, 'I" am the eater, the walker, the sitter, the sleeper or the user. We must make the mind constantly empty of ego, so that emptiness is the natural state and we abide with the awareness that there is nothing worth having or being.

I think it equates to non-doing.

:namaste:
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
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4579
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Non-Doing

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:49 pm

BBB,

Not yet and I don't know if I should. I guess I'm conflicted about my own motives. Is it a case of the ego wanting to be right and know more or was it something other than that? This is a teacher I've known for years now and he's generally spot on about things. I think maybe I let aversion get the better of me but I was also interested to hear if anyone had encountered this idea of Non-Doing outside of Zen circles. Mettaya.

Mike
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148031379279&v=info
Kiva-Theravada Buddhists:http://www.kiva.org/team/theravada_buddhists
Dana on the Interwebs:
http://greatergood.com
http://freerice.com
User avatar
Khalil Bodhi
 
Posts: 1607
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:32 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Non-Doing

Postby clw_uk » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:03 pm

Did he instruct you just to sit and thats it? If he did it sounds simillar to a Zen practice.

There is a meditation practice taught in the Thai Forest Tradition where you just sit in silent present moment awareness, this is close to non-doing meditation but you are mindful not to think about what is happening or to look to past of future. Its usually taught as a foundation practice to strenghten mindfulness and stop the mind wandering.
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3327
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Non-Doing

Postby bodom » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:10 pm

clw_uk wrote:Did he instruct you just to sit and thats it? If he did it sounds simillar to a Zen practice.

There is a meditation practice taught in the Thai Forest Tradition where you just sit in silent present moment awareness, this is close to non-doing meditation but you are mindful not to think about what is happening or to look to past of future. Its usually taught as a foundation practice to strenghten mindfulness and stop the mind wandering.


From what i understand it is an advanced form of meditation used only after one has gained sufficient concentration to be aware of phenomenon that arises without being caught up in them. No theme is used to keep you anchored in the moment such as the breath is used in anapanasati. I could be wrong though. :shrug:

:namaste:
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
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4579
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Non-Doing

Postby clw_uk » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:30 pm

Its the first chapter of teachings in "Mindfulness, bliss and beyond" so I assume its basic

The basic concept is that meditators tend to think about what is happening "Is this jhana" and then lose concentration, or think about past or future "how much longer" "Im going to do this later", so you learn to abandon these thoughts and focus on the moment, then procede to breath.
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3327
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Non-Doing

Postby bodom » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:39 pm

clw_uk wrote:Its the first chapter of teachings in "Mindfulness, bliss and beyond" so I assume its basic

The basic concept is that meditators tend to think about what is happening "Is this jhana" and then lose concentration, or think about past or future "how much longer" "Im going to do this later", so you learn to abandon these thoughts and focus on the moment, then procede to breath.


It is described as an advanced form of meditation by Larry Rosenberg who studied under Buddhadasa Bhikkhu and is the author of Breath by Breath where he has a whole chapter on this form of meditation in his book. So im not sure where that leaves us?

:namaste:
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
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4579
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Non-Doing

Postby clw_uk » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:42 pm

Quite confused, ive been practising it lately and havent found it massively difficult and find it does help with my mindfulness when i switch to breath. From my practice i certainaly wouldnt call it advanced

Only way round it i can see is that they both have the same name but different techniques somehow.
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3327
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Non-Doing

Postby bodom » Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:20 pm

Choiceless awareness

Choiceless awareness is a type of meditation which arises most prominently from the Theravadan tradition (sometimes also called the Forest tradition) of Buddhism. It is characterized by being aware of whatever is present without choice or preference. IT IS OFTEN THE RESULT OF MATURE PROGRESSION OF PRACTICE. This practice is intended to assist the practitioner in seeing the fundamental insights of Buddhism, which include, anatta, anicca and dukkha (no permanent self, no permanent mind and unsatisfactoriness of life). The term was widely used by Krishnamurti, and is used by Chogyam Trungpa to describe the experience of sunyata in his book Illusion's Game: The Life and Teaching of Naropa.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choiceless_awareness

:namaste:
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
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4579
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Non-Doing

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:11 pm

There must be a difference between the two, i dont think ajahn bram would give advanced meditation teachings to beginners
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3327
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Non-Doing

Postby Prasadachitta » Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:16 pm

Here is a very good ebook which describes the practice of a Forest monk I have respect for. I have posted it before but it is relevant here.

Metta

Gabriel

http://www.abhayagiri.org/index.php/main/book/138/
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
User avatar
Prasadachitta
 
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:52 am
Location: San Francisco (The Mission) Ca USA

Re: Non-Doing

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:38 pm

Gabriel,

Excellent link! Thank you much, this is certainly a way into understanding what my teacher may have been pointing to.

Metta,

Mike
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148031379279&v=info
Kiva-Theravada Buddhists:http://www.kiva.org/team/theravada_buddhists
Dana on the Interwebs:
http://greatergood.com
http://freerice.com
User avatar
Khalil Bodhi
 
Posts: 1607
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:32 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Non-Doing

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:29 am

clw_uk wrote:There must be a difference between the two, i dont think ajahn bram would give advanced meditation teachings to beginners

clw_uk,

My recollection of that part of Ajahn Brahm's book was that this was a technique that could be used when experiencing difficulties in the more routine methods. Constantly "doing" is a huge struggle for me and that point was really driven home when I tried the non-doing approach. It was extremely useful as a counter-point to my regular practice which includes way too much "doer" and nowhere near enough "knower".

Regards: AdvaitaJ
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
Li Bai
User avatar
AdvaitaJ
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 1:17 am
Location: Michigan, USA

Re: Non-Doing

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:16 am

A comment:

Choiceless awareness is a type of meditation which arises most prominently from the Theravadan tradition (sometimes also called the Forest tradition) of Buddhism


Choiceless awareness is a term coined by J. Krishnamurti and adopted and adapted by American vipassana teachers such as Jack Kornfeild and Joseph Goldstein.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19191
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: The Grasslands

Re: Non-Doing

Postby clw_uk » Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:37 pm

My recollection of that part of Ajahn Brahm's book was that this was a technique that could be used when experiencing difficulties in the more routine methods.


He states that each stage needs to be perfected before moving on in his book, so you start with perfecting awareness of the moment, removing thoughts perceptions etc about past and future, then you move on to remove all thinking, then onto silent present moment of the breath and so on up into the immaterial meditations.
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3327
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Non-Doing

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 8:01 pm

clw_uk wrote:
My recollection of that part of Ajahn Brahm's book was that this was a technique that could be used when experiencing difficulties in the more routine methods.


He states that each stage needs to be perfected before moving on in his book, so you start with perfecting awareness of the moment, removing thoughts perceptions etc about past and future, then you move on to remove all thinking, then onto silent present moment of the breath and so on up into the immaterial meditations.

Where does Ajahn Brahm say that you should "perfect" each stage? What he says is to spend enough time on each stage, and not rush it.

He certainly doesn't instruct to "remove all thinking, then...". That would be impossible. He talks about "developing inner silence".

Ajahn Brahm wrote:At the end of each meditation session,spend two or three minutes reviewing
all that has happened during that session. There is no need to “take
notes” (that is, remind oneself to remember) during the meditation, because
you will find it easy to remember the important features at the end.
Was it peaceful or frustrating? Now ask yourself why.What did you do to
experience peace, or what caused the feeling of frustration? If your mind
wandered off into fantasy land,was that peaceful and useful? Such reviewing
and inquiry only at the end of the session generates insight into how to
meditate and what meditation is. No one starts out as a perfect meditator.


Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10112
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Non-Doing

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 8:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Choiceless awareness is a term coined by J. Krishnamurti and adopted and adapted by American vipassana teachers such as Jack Kornfeild and Joseph Goldstein.

That's an interesting observation. Nevertheless, it seems to have become a popular expression in various Asian circles. Not just Thailand, but also various Malaysian teachers.

E.g. Bhante Sujiva, a Mahasi-Style teacher, in "Essentials of insight meditation practice" PDF here: http://www.sujiva.wz.cz/english/books_eng.html
P 90
If one’s mindfulness and concentration do develop, then even
subtle mental phenomena become clear, and subtle aspects
of gross material phenomena are also observed. At those
phases, mental phenomena are watched more frequently.

At such times the effort is made mainly to maintain or
guard the mindfulness to ensure its continuity. The mind is
left to choose its objects, and one has no time to think. With
practice, mindfulness goes on by itself. This is also the time
when labeling is dropped. This type of undirected mindfulness
is called Choiceless Awareness which is often more
stable but comes about only after much practice.

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10112
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Non-Doing

Postby nathan » Sat Feb 14, 2009 9:07 pm

This can be a difficult idea to understand without it's proper context and I'm not sure why it is so often presented without a context. Understanding the place of this kind of mentality and the techniques used to promote it within the overall path of meditative practice may help some to better understand it's importance. I equate this kind of non-doing or choiceless awareness with maintaining access concentration which is of course necessary for the practice of vipassana. This is the fluid and mobile, and so broadly employed, yet highly acute kind of attentiveness which is quite important for the development of insight.

If this kind of awareness feels unnatural it can be helpful to note and promote this quality of mind when and as it arises naturally and when it will not arise naturally with ease it can be helpful to note which hindrances are present at that time and to briefly employ a meditative theme suitable for overcoming any hindrances opposing a natural flow of a mindfulness of body and mind in the ongoing present.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: Non-Doing

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 9:14 pm

Hi Nathan,

Where I've seen it presented (e.g. in Bhante Sujiva's book, or by other teachers) it is considered reasonably "advanced", I think.

My experience is that if I have built up enough mindfulness and concentration (after several days of retreat), then I can sometimes just sit and watch whatever is going past (without any "primary object", in the Mahasi sense, to anchor the attention). However, I notice a danger that if mindfulness is not strong enough I drift off into a rather unhelpful state...

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10112
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Next

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 5 guests