Modern Techniques?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Modern Techniques?

Postby SamKR » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:52 am

Nice to see four sub-forums on Theravada Meditation.
:twothumbsup:
But I was just wondering if Mahasi and Goenka methods are really modern techniques, or if the teachers in those traditions would say that they teach modern techniques.
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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:59 am

Greetings Sam,

Nice to see four sub-forums on Theravada Meditation.

It's a bit of a working prototype at the moment - subject to change and subject to potential dissolution back to one forum... a true working model of anicca. :tongue: We'll see how it goes.

But I was just wondering if Mahasi and Goenka methods are really modern techniques, or if the teachers in those traditions would say that they teach modern techniques.

By my logic, if the Buddha hadn't heard of them, and Buddhaghosa hadn't heard of them, then they would constitute "modern". Which, of course, isn't to say they conflict with meditation methods found in the suttas or in the commentaries per se, but if they need a modern name to define the practice and the techniques introduced, then it's a modern technique.

I'd welcome other opinions however, as such discussion may help shape how the Meditation section looks.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:15 am

Great to see the changes.
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: Modern Techniques?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:37 am

Greetings,

Incorporating feedback from this topic and elsewhere, this forum has now been renamed from Meditation (Modern Techniques) to Meditation (Vipassana Techniques).

As mentioned, this is a work in progress, so if you think there's any tweaking required, please let us know.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby Reductor » Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:40 am

Look at this. This was just the solution I that I was hoping for :smile:
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby SamKR » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:55 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Incorporating feedback from this topic and elsewhere, this forum has now been renamed from Meditation (Modern Techniques) to Meditation (Vipassana Techniques).

As mentioned, this is a work in progress, so if you think there's any tweaking required, please let us know.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Thanks retro. It sounds better to me.
:namaste:
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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:12 am

To a certain degree the Mahasi technique could be called an old technique with some modern additives.
Lord Buddha spoke of a walking meditation that uses 3 steps.Lifting-moving-putting.
Many Mahasi schools use 6 steps.Lifting heel-lifting-moving-lowering-touching-pressing and some use 18 steps
Intending to lift heel-lifting heel-knowing heel has been lifted,intending to raise etc.
I will leave Ben to discuss the Goenka style. :meditate:
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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby Ben » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:00 pm

Nanadhaja wrote:I will leave Ben to discuss the Goenka style. :meditate:
With metta


Thanks Nanadhaja.
I have already given feedback to the structure of the meditation forum and potential classification issues within DW's administration forum. Having already said my piece, I was wishing to stand back so that you and our other members can have an opportunity to contribute.
kind regards

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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby Sylvester » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:04 am

I wonder how many people would agree with Gethin here -

http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg. ... Gethin.pdf

when he says that the suttas actually give relatively sparse instructions compared to the later literature on how to get into samadhi. He thinks that the actual instructions were probably too important to be redacted and was best left to an oral transmission via the teacher-pupil relationship. He does feel that the Satipatthana Sutta is pivotal to what he calls the "Samannaphala" schema.

If his characterisation of the dearth of "how to" material in the Nikayas is cogent, then it probably means that there was no "closed" or "official" methodology to bhavana. That leaves open the possibility that techniques should not be assessed by their compliance with the Visudhimagga etc, but how nicely the technique fits into the "Samannaphala" scheme.

I hope the initial query is not going to lead to a reiteration of that famous 1966 debate between the Mahasi school and some Lankan monks on the "canonicity" of Mahasi vipassana.
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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:11 am

Greetings Sylvester,

Sylvester wrote:He thinks that the actual instructions were probably too important to be redacted and was best left to an oral transmission via the teacher-pupil relationship.

Whether one accepts or rejects this assumption seems quite significant in terms of where one actually ends up. It's quite central and pivotal to the whole matter.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby bodom » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:49 am

Hi Nanadhaja

Lord Buddha spoke of a walking meditation that uses 3 steps.Lifting-moving-putting.


Do you have the source?

: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: Modern Techniques?

Postby Sylvester » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:58 am

I agree with your assessment.

I have to confess that having compared the Vsm to the suttas, the suttas do seem to miss a big chunk of the "how to". This perception is of course only relative and a closer examination of the suttas actually show that there are places where they do not shy from explicitly detailing what needs to be done to get to samadhi. Of course, my perception about the centrality of the satipatthanas to getting to samadhi is based on MN 44's dictum that the satipatthanas are the nimitta (basis/cause) of samadhi.

But I'm also not unsympathetic to Gethin suspecting that the suttas adopted a broad-brush approach to be filled in by a teacher personally. I get the nagging feeling that meditators are such a variegated lot, that it makes sense to redact the most common denominator, which a skilled teacher could then employ to flesh out the details.

Mettabhavana springs to mind as such an example. Beyond a link of the Third Vimokkha (Deliverance by being resolved on the Beautiful) to the Form Jhanas in the Mettasahagata Sutta (ie metta is the Beautiful Deliverance), there really isn't any meaty instruction in the suttas of how one starts mettabhavana and get into the Jhanas. It gets even more scanty when the same sutta mentions the Formless Attainments in relation to the other 3 brahmaviharas, and we are left wondering, how do I get from karunabhavana to the Attainment of Infinite Space?

The skill of a teacher who elects to teach outside of the Vsm scheme will probably be tested by whether he/she can see what was fundamentally important in the sutta instructions and tailoring another way to bridge point A to point B.
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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:58 am

Greetings Bodom,

bodom wrote:Do you have the source?

That's a very good question. I actually recall that in the suttas, walking meditation is simply another posture in which to undertake satipatthana (i.e. "mindfulness with walking"), rather than the more prescripive "mindfulness of walking" that we see prescribed nowadays. Apologies I'm unable to verify that with a direct quotation - I wouldn't know where to start looking.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby bodom » Fri Oct 01, 2010 2:26 am

Hi Retro

I have looked and have never found any explicit instruction for walking meditation.

This is from Analayo's Satipatthana commentary...

Unlike the way in which walking meditation is practiced nowadays, the standard instructions for walking meditation found in the discourses take mental events as their main observation. The instructions in this context do not mention awareness of one's bodily posture or of the dynamics of walking, but speak of purifying the mind from obstructive states.- pg 140


This is the standard instruction found in the suttas...

Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will be devoted to wakefulness. During the day, while walking back and forth and sitting, we will purify our minds...


: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: Modern Techniques?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 01, 2010 2:28 am

Greetings Bodom,

Ah, that's very likely where I originally obtained this perspective.

Nice detective work!

:spy:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:15 am

I don't understand the comment about mental events, and lack of instructions for being mindful of what the body is doing. It seems to me to be quite clear in the Suttas.

In the Body section of the Satipatthana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html we have detailed instructions for discerning exactly how one is breathing:
"Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.'

So, one should be mindful of the nature of the breath (long and short seem to me to be just some of the things that could be noticed).

And it seems obvious to me that this extends on to the other instructions, where even less detail is given. Surely this passage is talking about the walking itself, not the mind states (since this is in the body section):
"Furthermore, when walking, the monk discerns, 'I am walking.' When standing, he discerns, 'I am standing.' When sitting, he discerns, 'I am sitting.' When lying down, he discerns, 'I am lying down.' Or however his body is disposed, that is how he discerns it.

And so on for eating, urinating, and so on.

And then the elements, including wind element (motion), of the body:
"Furthermore...just as a skilled butcher or his apprentice, having killed a cow, would sit at a crossroads cutting it up into pieces, the monk contemplates this very body — however it stands, however it is disposed — in terms of properties: 'In this body there is the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, & the wind property.'

So one should notice hardness (earth), heat (fire), motion (wind) and cohesion (water) in the body.
"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or externally on the body in & of itself, or both internally & externally on the body in & of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to the body. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a body' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself.

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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:05 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:I don't understand the comment about mental events, and lack of instructions for being mindful of what the body is doing.

I don't see what this is in connection to. All I saw were comments suggesting that the lifting, moving forward, and placing of the feet (whether in 3-step, 6-step or any other classificatory scheme) which is explicitly emhasised in prescriptive vipassana instruction is not explicitly found in such form in the suttas... or even to the best of my knowledge, in the ancient commentaries. The act of making it an explicit teaching instruction by modern vipassana teachers, makes it a "modern technique" (not inconsistent with the suttas).

As you skilfully point out, there are plenty of explicit instructions about being mindful of what the body is doing, in whatever posture the body may be.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:30 am

Hi Retro,

I was responding to:
bodom wrote:This is from Analayo's Satipatthana commentary...

Unlike the way in which walking meditation is practiced nowadays, the standard instructions for walking meditation found in the discourses take mental events as their main observation. The instructions in this context do not mention awareness of one's bodily posture or of the dynamics of walking, but speak of purifying the mind from obstructive states.- pg 140


Which seems inconsistent with what I quoted from the Satipatthana Sutta.

My interpretation of what I quoted was "be mindful of all of what is going on in the body".

Which is all the "modern" instructions are. Whether you call that "adding something" is a matter of taste. I don't see it as an "addition", just a "suggestion for how to get started". After a time on retreat one just notices everything, as in the Sutta.

[The six phases suggestion is in the Visuddhimagga, by the way.]

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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:33 am

Thanks for the info, Mike.

:thumbsup:

As for Analayo, it would help to know if he was referring specifically to the Satipatthana Sutta, or perhaps some other sutta in the Sutta Pitaka, specifically addressing the subject of walking meditation.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Modern Techniques?

Postby Ben » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:37 am

Hi Retro,

retrofuturist wrote:As for Analayo, it would help to know if he was referring specifically to the Satipatthana Sutta, or perhaps some other sutta in the Sutta Pitaka, specifically addressing the subject of walking meditation.

Metta,
Retro. :)


I would say it was with respect to the Satipatthana. My copy of Analayo's landmark work is at home, but I should be able to confirm when I get home later on this afternoon/early evening/
kind regards

Ben
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