An attempt at a catharsis!

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

Post by Myotai »

Hi,

I am at a crossroads and have been for a while now...possibly years.

Torn between two traditions, Zen/Chan and the Theravada.

My daily morning practice has of late become an academic exercise in weighing up the respective virtues of both traditions and in particular the practices of Shikantaza and that of Vipassana/Samatha.

I get Shikantaza…just sitting with no attachment to anything…its nice  feels good to drop all thoughts of this and that. However…what I don’t get is what I see as the apparent divergence from what the Buddha taught. I know that we can find parallels in the two, but they’re tentative from what I can see. I also struggle with the vehement lack of a path or agenda in Zazen. Dogen infuriates me too….just sitting is enough. No Jhana, no object of concentration at all….merely sitting is enlightenment itself and nothing more is needed. Unless I have utterly misinterpreted him, this doesn’t sit well with me at all.

I also get the Theravadin practices. Classical, from the horse’s mouth (maybe). A structured path to Nibbana with signposts that I have personal experience of. There is of course the argument that ‘Me’ following this path accentuates the sense of ‘self’…but I bring to mind the metaphor of using two sticks to light a fire [never seen it done though I hasten to add]..they’re needed in order to achieve the end and are ultimately consumed too – method and wisdom? On the negative side I am confused at what seems to be an annihilistic stance by some in terms on Nibbana...surely not - if thats the case then I might as well be an Hedonist!

I just need to make a commitment to a practice and move on now – otherwise I am going to become an academically wise old fart full of shit!

My question to you is….

…what made you commit to the Theravada and what keeps you there?

Thanks in advance!

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Mkoll
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by Mkoll »

Myotai wrote:…what made you commit to the Theravada and what keeps you there?
I feel at home with these teachings whereas others feel decidedly foreign. It's not a struggle to "stay here" for me because it feels like home and I've always been a bit of a homebody. ;)

That's the best metaphor I could think of. :smile:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Azramin
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by Azramin »

Excuse my great ignorance, but your dilemma kind of reminds me of the person crossing the river in a boat, but becomes so engrossed in the structure and function of the boat, they completely lose sight of the fact the purpose of the boat in the first place was to cross the river.

I have seen and experienced many religions, and countless times I’ve seen people get so caught up in the religion, it’s finer details etc, they lose all sight of their actual objective. IE: Why they embarked upon the religion in the first place.

I’m not necessarily implying that you are in that situation. Faced with your dilemma however, I think I’d be asking myself, what am I trying to accomplish, and what’s actually going to accomplish it? What vessel will get me to enlightenment, or at the least a better understanding of it.

Zen Buddhism appealed to me a great deal. I quickly realised however my Western mind couldn’t quite wrap itself around the cultural concepts as greatly appealing as the ten gates and the like were. Having studied the teachings of Chôgyam Trungpa and Traleg Kyabgon among others, I’ve found this a lot easier to relate to and understand. It’s made immense difference in my day to day life as well.

From my naive perspective I’d have thought that getting where you want and need to get would take precedence over the means by which you get there. I suspect that being somewhat untraditional in my attitude and approach, if not completely unconventional, it is perhaps a far simpler prospect for me personally.

I think one thing’s for certain, I would be as keen to avoid being “an academically wise old fart full of shit!” I think that’s an easy trap to fall into when you have the ability to consume vast amounts of information as I have done over the years :)
Truth doesn't require belief in order to be true. Only untruth relies on faith to survive.

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Myotai
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by Myotai »

Azramin wrote:Faced with your dilemma however, I think I’d be asking myself, what am I trying to accomplish, and what’s actually going to accomplish it? What vessel will get me to enlightenment, or at the least a better understanding of it
That's something I think I have realized too over recent months. I have often found myself say in the early morning dark thinking ..."what on earth are you doing...?" I should clarify this with myself.

What I do know is that the teachings that have made most of an impression on me are those of Nargajuna and the Prasangika schools descriptions of the Madhyamika. However, the Tibetan schools are too rife with politics and I cannot cope with all the bells and whistles anymore. Hence feeling the need for the much more quieter practices of Theravada/Zen.

That’s really helpful thanks...

dhammarelax
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by dhammarelax »

Hi Azramin
…what made you commit to the Theravada and what keeps you there?
For many years I practiced following the probably unorthodox Zen teachings of Osho (Baghwan Rajnesh) which consists of, being a non judgmental witness, without looking for any result, having fun with it and being patient, this teaching led me to the 2nd Jhana but I couldn't progress for a long time, then I looked at Thanissaros teachings and progressed a little bit but the ups and downs of the one pointed concentration were tiring and lacked solidity, then I looked at Vimalaramsis teachings went though all the Jhanas and reached the Cessation of Perception and feeling and saw Dependent Origination, after that I can see the permanent positive effects of the fruition in my personality, so what made me commit is the promise of receiving the original teachings and what keeps me here is the effectiveness of the teachings.

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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tiltbillings
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by tiltbillings »

dhammarelax wrote:Hi Azramin
…what made you commit to the Theravada and what keeps you there?
For many years I practiced following the probably unorthodox Zen teachings of Osho (Baghwan Rajnesh) which consists of, being a non judgmental witness, without looking for any result, having fun with it and being patient, this teaching led me to the 2nd Jhana but I couldn't progress for a long time, then I looked at Thanissaros teachings and progressed a little bit but the ups and downs of the one pointed concentration were tiring and lacked solidity, then I looked at Vimalaramsis teachings went though all the Jhanas and reached the Cessation of Perception and feeling and saw Dependent Origination, after that I can see the permanent positive effects of the fruition in my personality, so what made me commit is the promise of receiving the original teachings and what keeps me here is the effectiveness of the teachings.

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
Looks like you are claiming ariya status for yourself.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

dhammarelax
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by dhammarelax »

tiltbillings wrote:
dhammarelax wrote:Hi Azramin
…what made you commit to the Theravada and what keeps you there?
For many years I practiced following the probably unorthodox Zen teachings of Osho (Baghwan Rajnesh) which consists of, being a non judgmental witness, without looking for any result, having fun with it and being patient, this teaching led me to the 2nd Jhana but I couldn't progress for a long time, then I looked at Thanissaros teachings and progressed a little bit but the ups and downs of the one pointed concentration were tiring and lacked solidity, then I looked at Vimalaramsis teachings went though all the Jhanas and reached the Cessation of Perception and feeling and saw Dependent Origination, after that I can see the permanent positive effects of the fruition in my personality, so what made me commit is the promise of receiving the original teachings and what keeps me here is the effectiveness of the teachings.

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
Looks like you are claiming ariya status for yourself.
No I am not, I have heard an interpretation that only Anagamis and Arahants can reach Cessation but from my practice I can tell that is not correct.

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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Myotai
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by Myotai »

Uh Ho...... chill Tilts back away slowly ..... :guns:

Don't forget my OP....I need a little advice not a ringside seat :thumbsup:

dhammarelax
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by dhammarelax »

tiltbillings wrote:
dhammarelax wrote:Hi Azramin
…what made you commit to the Theravada and what keeps you there?
For many years I practiced following the probably unorthodox Zen teachings of Osho (Baghwan Rajnesh) which consists of, being a non judgmental witness, without looking for any result, having fun with it and being patient, this teaching led me to the 2nd Jhana but I couldn't progress for a long time, then I looked at Thanissaros teachings and progressed a little bit but the ups and downs of the one pointed concentration were tiring and lacked solidity, then I looked at Vimalaramsis teachings went though all the Jhanas and reached the Cessation of Perception and feeling and saw Dependent Origination, after that I can see the permanent positive effects of the fruition in my personality, so what made me commit is the promise of receiving the original teachings and what keeps me here is the effectiveness of the teachings.

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
Looks like you are claiming ariya status for yourself.
No I am not, I have heard an interpretation that only Anagamis and Arahants can reach Cessation but from my practice I can tell that is not correct.

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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Myotai
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by Myotai »

We got that......

:focus:

daverupa
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by daverupa »

May I ask, why that dichotomy of Zen v Theravada? Isn't it possible to approach the Path prior to a commitment to either one?
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Myotai
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by Myotai »

daverupa wrote:May I ask, why that dichotomy of Zen v Theravada? Isn't it possible to approach the Path prior to a commitment to either one?
Possibly due to the accutriments that I see as inseparable. Thai Zen....? Japanese Theravada....like oil and water.....!

There is more to it than that of course but the practices are IMO hugely different - contentious maybe but apart from parallels and the odd correlated link I don't think they're at all the same and share different agendas.

daverupa
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by daverupa »

So, is satipatthana practice a Theravada practice or a Zen practice? Neither: it's an earlier practice than either of them. So you see why I'm puzzled at the idea that one or another centuries-long cultural compilation is the place to put one's bet. Rather, accept that you're already doing modern Buddhism by asking the question "Theravada or Zen?" and get back to basics, using these later exegeses (Theravada, Zen, & everything in between) as various types of support for your ladder, rather than as the ladder in and of themselves.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Aloka
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by Aloka »

Myotai wrote: My question to you is….

…what made you commit to the Theravada and what keeps you there?

Thanks in advance!
Hi Myotai,

I was a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for a long time, and then became interested in the teachings of Ajahn Chah and also began reading the suttas. The transition from one to the other wasn't a struggle at all. I felt a lot more comfortable with the Theravada Thai Forest tradition as soon as I went to a monastery and listened to the teachings. I still appreciate some of the things I learned from practising TB though.

I think there's always a possibility that being too rigid in one's outlook could eventually become an obstacle.

Kind regards,

Aloka :anjali:

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tiltbillings
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Re: An attempt at a catharsis!

Post by tiltbillings »

dhammarelax wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Looks like you are claiming ariya status for yourself.
No I am not, I have heard an interpretation that only Anagamis and Arahants can reach Cessation but from my practice I can tell that is not correct.

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
That is probably a good thing, but when I see someone trot out a list of accomplishments such as you did above, it brings to this to mind:

      • After only a year and a half of practice at Wat Ba Pong, one American [Jack Kornfield] asked and received permission [from Ajahn Chah] to travel and study with other Thai and Burmese teachers. A year or two later, he returned full of tales of his travels, of many months of extraordinary and intensive practice and of a number of remarkable experiences. . . . Then the Western monk went to the cottage of Achaan Sumedho, the senior Western disciple of Achaan Chah, and told all his stories and adventures, his new understandings and great insights into practice. Sumedho listened in silence and prepared afternoon tea from the roots of certain forest plants. When the stories were completed and the insights recounted, Sumedho smiled and said, "Ah, how wonderful. Something else to let go of."
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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