Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:23 pm

Sobeh wrote:Is it a roughly accurate generalization to say that Vipassana folk are generally accepting of the Commentaries and Abhidhamma, while Jhana folk are generally not?
It depends upon which jhana folk we are talking about. You have jhana folk who rely on the commentaries and the Visuddhimagga and you have the jhana folk who rely solely on the suttas, but of course, among these different camps, it is not that starkly black and white as to what texts are relied upon. And, of course, these different camps give us very different interpretations of what jhana is.

And among the vipassana crowd, there is a strong contingent who focus primarily on the suttas; there are those who rely solely on the teachings of their teacher. It can vary.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:26 pm

legolas wrote: I think it also could be said in a very general way and only based on my own experience that Jhana folk [as compared with vipassana folk] are more accepting of the Suttas.
The implication of this, if the bracketed material is an accurate reflection of what is implied in the quote, is unfortunate and wrong, in my experience, and from what I have seen here on DW.
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.

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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby Ben » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:17 pm

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
legolas wrote: I think it also could be said in a very general way and only based on my own experience that Jhana folk [as compared with vipassana folk] are more accepting of the Suttas.
The implication of this, if the bracketed material is an accurate reflection of what is implied in the quote, is unfortunate and wrong, in my experience, and from what I have seen here on DW.

Its not the first. Legolas' earlier statement that vipassana traditions are somehow "anti" jhana reflects his own bias and assumptions rather than reality.
There are a few negative ninnies out there who seem to thrive on being glum and closed to changes in their own views.
I suspect he is aiming this innuendo at present company,which if that is the case, is patently wrong.
The idea of what constitutes a "body" in the "ambulance tradition" would be laughable if it was not so serious.

However, legolas' distate isn't limited to 'vipassana traditions',but to other jhana teachers who teach something different to what he believes is the One True Path.
If people really want to get a grasp on the Dhamma then with an open mind and an inquisitive nature, not being tied to tradition or a teacher...

Nothing I have seen from legolas demonstrates an open mind nor an inquisitive nature,lest I am mistaking ad hominem remarks, innuendo and blatently incorrect assumptions as not being evidence of such.
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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby Nyana » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:12 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Naughty me. I forced you to act badly. Well, I don't think so, unless you are a milquetoast.

Now I acted badly? I don't think so.

tiltbillings wrote:
Good to see that Tilt deems fit to designate everyone's practice marginal but his own.
Goodness. Please quote what I said that warrants this comment.

This: "And for me jhana practice, while interesting, was more of a distraction. Certainly not an absolute necessity for practice or awakening, unless one is talking about something such as the vipassana jhanas, but then we are still within the framework of vipassana."

There is really no longer any need to debate what is taught as the gradual path of training in the suttas. It's much like the climate change issue though, the global warming deniers continue presenting the illusion of a debate when in point of fact that debate is long over.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby Nyana » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:39 pm

tiltbillings wrote:I do not see here vipassana students pushing vipassana with the stridency as some jhana practitioners.

Vipassanā as a meditation method has come to be considered by many as the defacto dominant form of meditation in modern Theravāda, thought to be sanctioned with all the authority that a "vāda" can muster. One only need to look at the countless number of books that have been published which declare vipassanā as the one and only true form of Buddhist meditation. Ven. Thanissaro summarizes this state of affairs accurately as follows:

    Almost any book on early Buddhist meditation will tell you that the Buddha taught two types of meditation: samatha and vipassana. Samatha, which means tranquillity, is said to be a method fostering strong states of mental absorption, called jhana. Vipassana — literally "clear-seeing," but more often translated as insight meditation — is said to be a method using a modicum of tranquillity to foster moment-to-moment mindfulness of the inconstancy of events as they are directly experienced in the present. This mindfulness creates a sense of dispassion toward all events, thus leading the mind to release from suffering. These two methods are quite separate, we're told, and of the two, vipassana is the distinctive Buddhist contribution to meditative science. Other systems of practice pre-dating the Buddha also taught samatha, but the Buddha was the first to discover and teach vipassana. Although some Buddhist meditators may practice samatha meditation before turning to vipassana, samatha practice is not really necessary for the pursuit of Awakening. As a meditative tool, the vipassana method is sufficient for attaining the goal. Or so we're told.

    But if you look directly at the Pali discourses — the earliest extant sources for our knowledge of the Buddha's teachings — you'll find that although they do use the word samatha to mean tranquillity, and vipassana to mean clear-seeing, they otherwise confirm none of the received wisdom about these terms. Only rarely do they make use of the word vipassana — a sharp contrast to their frequent use of the word jhana. When they depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana." And they never equate the word vipassana with any mindfulness techniques. In the few instances where they do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together.

And so with this modern state of affairs as it is, anyone who wants to talk about what is actually taught as the path of gradual training in the canon is going to have to face unquestioned assumptions about what sati, vipassanā, and jhāna mean in the canon and beyond.

tiltbillings wrote:And then, of course, there are the internecine battles within the jhana practitioners camps.

Oh please. One only need to survey the literature from Burma to see that there was plenty of debate over this vipassanā issue during the course of the past 100 years. And in the recent past I seem to recall some quite lengthy threads positioning one Burmese vipassanā camp against one Thai vipassanā camp.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:44 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Naughty me. I forced you to act badly. Well, I don't think so, unless you are a milquetoast.

Now I acted badly? I don't think so.
By your own admission, you are the one who took this thread off on an Visuddhimagga tangent. No one forced you to act in any way, unless you are a milquetoast.

geoff wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Good to see that Tilt deems fit to designate everyone's practice marginal but his own.
Goodness. Please quote what I said that warrants this comment.

This: "And for me jhana practice, while interesting, was more of a distraction. Certainly not an absolute necessity for practice or awakening, unless one is talking about something such as the vipassana jhanas, but then we are still within the framework of vipassana."
This not marginalizing anyone. It is merely describing my practice in response to our elfin friend's comments:
tiltbillings wrote:
legolas wrote:
I respect your concern and am always willing to accept that there are certain elements within the traditions you mentioned as being very beneficial and valid. However I have actually been there and done that, it just did'nt cut the mustard for me personally and I felt that there was something missing.
And for me jhana practice, while interesting, was more of a distraction. Certainly not an absolute necessity for practice or awakening, unless one is talking about something such as the vipassana jhanas, but then we are still within the framework of vipassana.


There is really no longer any need to debate what is taught as the gradual path of training in the suttas. It's much like the climate change issue though, the global warming deniers continue presenting the illusion of a debate when in point of fact that debate is long over.
I would find you claim a bit more believable if you actually engaged those who carefully object various points you raise.
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: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby Nyana » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:48 pm

tiltbillings wrote:By your own admuission, you are the one who took this thread off on an Visuddhimagga tangent.

No -- you're the one who told me I had somehow taken this thread off topic.
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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:56 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I do not see here vipassana students pushing vipassana with the stridency as some jhana practitioners.

Vipassanā as a meditation method has come to be considered by many as the defacto dominant form of meditation in modern Theravāda, thought to be sanctioned with all the authority that a "vāda" can muster. One only need to look at the countless number of books that have been published which declare vipassanā as the one and only true form of Buddhist meditation.
Actually, I would say a very large number of active participants here om DW are not coming from a vipassana tradition. But one does not see these folk badgered by the vipassana folks, if at all, in the way we see some jhana folk insisting that theirs is the way to go.
Geoff wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And then, of course, there are the internecine battles within the jhana practitioners camps.

Oh please. One only need to survey the literature from Burma to see that there was plenty of debate over this vipassanā issue during the course of the past 100 years. And in the recent past I seem to recall some quite lengthy threads positioning one Burmese vipassanā camp against one Thai vipassanā camp.
The debates over the Mahasi Saydaw tradition have been talked about here. And such squabbling among the vipassana people happens, but it is not an ongoing featrure that we get with the jhana-wallahs these days, which will likely abate in time.
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: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby Nyana » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:00 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:There is really no longer any need to debate what is taught as the gradual path of training in the suttas. It's much like the climate change issue though, the global warming deniers continue presenting the illusion of a debate when in point of fact that debate is long over.
I would find you claim a bit more believable if you actually engaged those who carefully object various points you raise.

I don't really care what you or anyone else believes Tilt. Believe whatever you want. It isn't my concern, nor should it be. As I tried to outline on another thread, we can remove all the potentially loaded terms (although they need not be considered loaded at all) and recognize that there are basically three approaches to mental development in the context of meditation:

    (i) attention training where one absorbs into a single object and thereby stills all mental factors to the point where, as Ajahn Brahmavamso explains, “Consciousness is so focused on the one thing that the faculty of comprehension is suspended … there is no comprehension of what is going on.”

    (ii) attention training where one attends to a single object and thereby calms and unifies all mental factors to the point where, as Leigh Brasington explains, “It is possible to examine the experience because the state is so stable and self sustaining on its own.”

    (iii) attention training where one attends to whatever occurs in the present moment (either with the aid of a support object such as abdominal movement, or choiceless awareness without the aid of a support object).

Obviously, everyone is free to practice whichever approach they deem helpful. It should really be more about skillfully developing one's own practice than about dividing into cliques like a bunch of adolescents. But human beings have a great penchant for dividing into cliques. Hence all the Buddhist "vādas" and "yānas" which have emerged over the past 2400 years.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:08 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:There is really no longer any need to debate what is taught as the gradual path of training in the suttas. It's much like the climate change issue though, the global warming deniers continue presenting the illusion of a debate when in point of fact that debate is long over.
I would find you claim a bit more believable if you actually engaged those who carefully object various points you raise.

I don't really care what you or anyone else believes Tilt.
I figured that out just recently.
    (i) attention training where one absorbs into a single object and thereby stills all mental factors to the point where, as Ajahn Brahmavamso explains, “Consciousness is so focused on the one thing that the faculty of comprehension is suspended … there is no comprehension of what is going on.”

    (ii) attention training where one attends to a single object and thereby calms and unifies all mental factors to the point where, as Leigh Brasington explains, “It is possible to examine the experience because the state is so stable and self sustaining on its own.”

    (iii) attention training where one attends to whatever occurs in the present moment (either with the aid of a support object such as abdominal movement, or choiceless awareness without the aid of a support object).
Which is a decent outline.

Obviously, everyone is free to practice whichever approach they deem helpful. It should really be more about skillfully developing one's own practice than about dividing into cliques like a bunch of adolescents. But human beings have a great penchant for dividing into cliques. Hence all the Buddhist "vādas" and "yānas" which have emerged over the past 2400 years.
And despite this, you do not come across as dispassionate towards points of view with which you disagree, as we have seen all too graphically illustrated in this thread.
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.

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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:22 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:By your own admuission, you are the one who took this thread off on an Visuddhimagga tangent.

No -- you're the one who told me I had somehow taken this thread off topic.
Holy crap, but do you shift the ground.
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.

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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:36 pm

Given this thread has moved way beyond the OP and is not covering any new ground, time to shut it down.

A note to Ian: Obviously your thread has gotten away from you and what you wanted to do, which is why it ended up in the debate section. If you want to discuss jhana meditation in terms of actual practice, then please feel free to do so in the mediation forum, but I would suggest without the comments about other teachers and other methods that invite debate. While we cannot control what you say as long as it is within the TOS, we cannot control how others respond as long as they are within the TOS. Perceived contentious comments, intended or not, and the responses to them simply make for moderating difficulty and for a lack of flow in the thread. Also, I would strongly recommend keeping your comments concise and clear.
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.

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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:59 am

A complaint has been lodged about the closing of this thread. My idea in closing it was to allow Ian a fresh start with discussing jhana practice in the meditation section. This thread was moved from the meditation section to here after complaints about its debate-ishness, to make a clumsy word. Complaints all around. Now, to stay with this thread or start a new one is Ian's choice.
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.

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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby IanAnd » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:21 am

With all that has transpired with this thread, I think Tilt's inclination to close it was probably the best choice.

If people want to ask questions about it or civilly hold discussions about it without going off topic, they can do so in the new meditation forum setup by starting a thread there. Vepacitta has posted an interesting question in this thread, which may become a jumping off point in that thread to carry on and continue this discussion.

I stated plainly in the thread I started that:

    "This isn't meant to be combative or to offer up for debate any of the ideas express here. It's meant to allow others, who might perhaps have had similar experiences to the ones being described, a place to voice the discernment of their experiences and to confirm, correct, or add to the possibilities being explored here."
But, clearly, this had no effect, and people's passions got the better of them. Geoff posted a similar disclaimer in his most recently posted thread, and things were looking as though they might be repeated there (in terms of the thread becoming a debate, too).

I'm sorry for the way this turned out, for those who were genuinely interested in exploring the content of the thread. As Tilt suggests, probably better to start over on even ground.
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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:24 am

IanAnd wrote:I'm sorry for the way this turned out, for those who were genuinely interested in exploring the content of the thread. As Tilt suggests, probably better to start over on even ground.
I am glad you are starting anew and let me extend my apologies to you and everyone else for my part in this convoluted mess-up.
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: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby Ville N » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:28 pm

Hmm...such a great start for this thread, and then it turned out like this...Tilt, seems to me that you overreacted a bit. I think Ian was quite respectful in his posts, just sharing his own experiences...which are more than welcome. Everyone should know that such accounts have to be taken with a grain of salt anyway, so I see no harm in them...on the contrary, they have the potential to motivate others and help understand their own process better.

Anyway, thanks for the posts Ian. I do get what you were trying to say...not to diss authorities, but emphasise the fact that every "truth" has to be verified through your own experience. I've taken stuff for granted myself just based on authority, even though it wasn't appropriate for me. Like the simile of people travelling on a road: some need to be told to go left, some right, depending on which side they are...

Thus far, my "map" of the jhanas has been the one proposed by Ajahn Brahm. Hence it was quite interesting to consider the idea that there are also other kinds of classifications...

I don't think there's a real "sequel" for this post, is there? This is a very interesting topic and I'd have more stuff to write and ask, but I see little point in continuing here, since it's basically a dead thread...
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Re: Not Everything Is Written In Stone. . .

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 17, 2010 10:37 pm

Ville N wrote:Hmm...such a great start for this thread, and then it turned out like this...Tilt, seems to me that you overreacted a bit. I think Ian was quite respectful in his posts, just sharing his own experiences...which are more than welcome.
Over reacted? Maybe, but Ian was doing a bit more than simply sharing his experiences, but that has already been litigated and there is no need to pursue it further. The sharing of experiences has been started in the so-called Meditation (Suttanta method) section in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=5761

Everyone should know that such accounts have to be taken with a grain of salt anyway, so I see no harm in them...on the contrary, they have the potential to motivate others and help understand their own process better.
The potential for motivating others is there as is the potential harm in various ways. The grain of salt comment is good.

Thus far, my "map" of the jhanas has been the one proposed by Ajahn Brahm. Hence it was quite interesting to consider the idea that there are also other kinds of classifications...
Ajahn Brahm's take on jhana does not find a lot of favor among some of the jhana-advocates here. One of the things this points, which has been discussed at length in other threads, is that jhana has not solid set definition. It covers a fairly wide range of experiences.

I don't think there's a real "sequel" for this post, is there? This is a very interesting topic and I'd have more stuff to write and ask, but I see little point in continuing here, since it's basically a dead thread...
It is a dead thread. It was locked at one time, but re-opened at a request, but until your posting, it was slowly sinking downwards. The above linked thread is still active; Ian and Nana are knowledgeable contributors in the thread.

And one non sequitur, I really enjoyed your pronunciation video:
http://www.youtube.com/villevn
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.

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