Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

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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mjaviem
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Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by mjaviem »

Hi. I keep struggling to know how to do right meditation, (when and where or why not).

If you are in a monastery I guess it's what you do the whole day, in every posture, until you fall asleep and then again. But what about us the laypeople (when not in a few days retreat)? Is it only in seclusion that is valid to sit in meditation? Does seclusion mean a cave in the mountains or is it just about closing your bedroom's door at home? What level of sense restraint is needed before jumping into formal/sitting meditation? Is there any point in practising meditation at home? I learned in DW that prior to meditation, right view and right mindfulness are needed. How do you know when you have the right amount of these to practise meditation? Is it enough to keep just five precepts or are eight precepts a must? If not meditating with legs crossed focusing on the breath, is one being negligent? What's the difference between practising sitting meditation and practising mindfulness?

I guess without a teacher one can still find meditation manuals or ask the specifics about techniques here at DW, but before all that I am wondering about the basics of meditation. Thanks all in advance.
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

In my opinion, mindfulness is even more important for lay people who do not live secluded lives.

Seclusion may be a requirement for deep absorption (jhāna), but insight meditation relies on moment-to-moment mindfulness.

The simpler life that we monks lead is conducive to mindfulness, even without constant formal meditation exercises such as sitting and walking meditation.
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Alino
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by Alino »

I will try to give some advice.
If you are in a monastery I guess it's what you do the whole day, in every posture, until you fall asleep and then again. But what about us the laypeople (when not in a few days retreat)?
- for a busy but serious lay practitioner 2 sessions of anapanasati or body contemplation, metta is good. The most important session is the morning one, because it starts your day, and you can see benefits of it - more calm, less reactive etc...
Is it only in seclusion that is valid to sit in meditation? Does seclusion mean a cave in the mountains or is it just about closing your bedroom's door at home?
- at the beginning any quite place is good. Personally I use ear plugs even if it's quite. Then, as your awareness of breath, or the body, develops - your mind will be composed around your object of contemplation in every situation.
What level of sense restraint is needed before jumping into formal/sitting meditation? Is there any point in practising meditation at home? I learned in DW that prior to meditation, right view and right mindfulness are needed. How do you know when you have the right amount of these to practise meditation?
- I would say "what level of mental calm is needed?", because sila practice is about creating peacefull secure conditions. Pure sila, for me, is when you have no regrets, shame, there is no bad deed that was hidden or unconfess, you have no social tentions, you asked forgiveness to all people you should, you gave no burden, your sila is pure, you are devoted to goodness - if it is the case so you are sure that when you going to close your eyes your mind will not be tormented by unwholesome thoughts.
- as about Right View and Right Mindfulness - they are developed by observing your mind during formal sessions and then your meditation will continue after formal session. There is no limits to Mindfulness development, unless we are Arahants.
Is it enough to keep just five precepts or are eight precepts a must?
- personally iam fan of 8 precepts. It took some years for me to feel comfort on 8 precepts, but when you get it - its a JackPot. 5 precepts is enought to benefit from meditation and develop mindfulness in daily life. But if you saw the danger is sensual stimulations, if you realised that they can not provide you true joy and happiness - then 8 precepts is for you. At the beginning you will care them for one week or so - then your mind will crush under pressure of old habits and you will come back to sensual sphere. Then, after being desenchanted with senses again and realising that they lead no where, that it's just a waste of time - you will come back to 8 precepts. This time you will care for them about mounth or so. While your mind will forgot unsatisfying nature of sensual stimulations - you will abandon 8 precepts and go back to the senses - its OK, these fallings down are part of practice. For instance you can spend many mounth or even years in sensual sphere, but at one moment you will be fed up, desenchanted and retourn to 8 precepts. Now you care for them for 6 mounth or year... Then you fall again, and come back again... the point here is that at the beginning of your practice periods of 8 precepts will be short sensual sphere long, then you will spend half a year on 8 precepts and half a year in sensual world, then you will fall just for some mounth, weeks, days, moments... At the end even a single thought about returning to the senses will disgust you... Why? Because more you will restrain your senses more settled, unsgitated your mind becomes, and more ductile and profound pleasures he experiances during formal meditation. These joy and hapiness of bright and peaceful mind are much more profound, long-lasting, easy to obtain, unconditioned rather coarse sensual stimulations, that are superficial, brief, difficult to obtain, need a lot if conditions.
So you mind will abandon sensual pursuits because he have something better. Your mind becomes his own drug dealer. And its OK, until we are not Anagami we should be affraid of that joy and happiness.

If we can give an image:
Imagine a man in a dark, cold, wet room. The only light and warmth he knows comes from sparkles of his 5 matchsticks. But more he sparkles them - more his eyes are blinded by its brief light.
But if one day, full of faith in Buddha teaching, we stops to sparkle the matches, and patiently endures the darkness, cold sand wetness without sparkling his 5 sensual matchstick - at some point his eyes will habituate to the darkness and he will start to see in the dark. And looking backwards he will realise that there is an exit door. He will go throught it, and find himself on the sunny, warm, summer beach...
What do you think would this person want to come back in the dark, cold, wet room? No. In the same way if one is courageous enought, and full of faith in the Buddha's teaching, will train himself in abandoning of sensual sphere with Right Intention of renounciation - one day he will cross over the flood of sensual stimulations and find joy and happiness of renounciant life - even as lay. Personally iam lay, but if we focus our mind not on the excuses to avoid practice, but on the opportunities to develop practice - lay status is not so big obstacle, it is said obstacle, but not so unsurmentable as said... Lay life is a forest, Mara forest, with its wild animals and dangers... (PS: iam not saying that lay life is better for practice, at all, but if one have no choice its possible to practice as lay too)
If not meditating with legs crossed focusing on the breath, is one being negligent?
If your mind is clear and bright - posture have no importance. If your mind have tendency to dullness and drowsiness - so posture that provides tonus is a suitable one. Tonus, energised posture is the point. Not to tight not to relax.
What's the difference between practising sitting meditation and practising mindfulness?
Mindfulness of breath during sitting meditation will provide you more deep peace.
Mindfulness of breath during daily life will provide you protection from unwholesome reactions.

The point for both practices is generate wisdom - get a step back from phenomenas and directly observe them as changing, unliable, ownerless...

Imho
We don't live Samsara, Samsara is living us...

"Form, feelings, perceptions, formations, consciousness - don't care about us, we don't exist for them"
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mjaviem
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by mjaviem »

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:07 pm In my opinion, mindfulness is even more important for lay people who do not live secluded lives.

Seclusion may be a requirement for deep absorption (jhāna), but insight meditation relies on moment-to-moment mindfulness.

The simpler life that we monks lead is conducive to mindfulness, even without constant formal meditation exercises such as sitting and walking meditation.
Thank you, Bhante. It happens I'm not concerned about jhanas, I just want to do what is appropriate to my situation (a layman away from monasteries) so your words are encouraging.
To anyone
It's only that I have this concept that we should be meditating without delay ("Meditate bhikkhus lest you regret it later"). But it seems meditation is about cultivation and not about "formal sitting/walking meditation", right? Not practising samma samadhi right now doesn't mean I can not be practising other stages of the path, right?

If you have any advice to practise right mindfulness to have 24/7 Sati-sampajana it would be appreciated. I have bookmarked the following suttas to read about mindfulness: and I know one needs to have Right View, Right Intentions, Right Speech, Action, and Livelihood, and Right Effort to gain Right Mindfulness but I know little more. Perhaps it's that I'm after some technique to train in mindfulness while maybe it's as simple (and hard) as it sounds: One only needs to be watchful of what is going on in the mind concerning unwholesome thoughts and attitudes while reflecting on the Dhamma. Ok?
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mjaviem
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by mjaviem »

Alino wrote: Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:13 am ...
Thank you. So you think in laylife, formal meditation (loving-kindness, breathing mindfulness, body contemplation) are still benefitial in regard to developing deep peace and even mindfulness... (given that you kept eight precepts and also developed sila). Ok, it sounds that it might be like this,yes. I don't know.
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Alino
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by Alino »

mjaviem wrote: Wed Apr 21, 2021 7:25 pm
Alino wrote: Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:13 am ...
Thank you. So you think in laylife, formal meditation (loving-kindness, breathing mindfulness, body contemplation) are still benefitial in regard to developing deep peace and even mindfulness... (given that you kept eight precepts and also developed sila). Ok, it sounds that it might be like this,yes. I don't know.
Meditation is always beneficial.

N8P its a holistic training, it's not a scale with linear steps, but a wheel with 8 spokes. In order to see it rolling its better to develop a little bit of each spoke, rather to develop 1 spoke fully and do nothing about others. 1 spoke wheel don't rolling.

Sila support Samadhi and Panna
Samadhi support Sila and Panna
Panna support Sila and Samadhi
We don't live Samsara, Samsara is living us...

"Form, feelings, perceptions, formations, consciousness - don't care about us, we don't exist for them"
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by DooDoot »

Meditation is an opportunity for a layperson to get to know their mind & rectify faulty behaviours & attitudes.

But sure, it is unlikely an ordinary busy layperson will develop supernormal states of non-sensual happiness.
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Mudita1
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by Mudita1 »

I am a layperson like you, wish I can offer you some ideas...
Is it only in seclusion that is valid to sit in meditation? Does seclusion mean a cave in the mountains or is it just about closing your bedroom's door at home?
Seclusion to me means quiet place, I meditate in a room. During meditation, I hang something outside the door, so if someone really need to come in, they come in not to make so much noise.
What level of sense restraint is needed before jumping into formal/sitting meditation?

I practices mindfulness as much as I can during the daily activities, I typically sitting meditate in the morning before I work. Short and consistent sitting meditation is better than long but not consistent.
Is there any point in practising meditation at home?
Yes, meditation is to cultivate concentration, one of the Noble 8 Folded Path (N8FP). I do understand layperson is difficult to achieve Jhanna at home, but it helps our mind to focus, when we can focus better, we can learn dhamma better, when we learn dhamma better, we deepen our right view gradually.
I learned in DW that prior to meditation, right view and right mindfulness are needed.
I agreed right view and right mindfulness are needed. In fact not only these 2, another 5 N8FP also are needed, as concentration (developed by meditation) is not easy, especially layperson. Typically our mind have too many things to think of, it became a habit.
How do you know when you have the right amount of these to practise meditation?
While all the rest of the 7 N8FP are needed, one do not need to stop meditation if without. The drawback are (1) meditation is not that fruitful and/or (2) the danger of mis-used Jhanna, if one without right view possess Jhanna.
Is it enough to keep just five precepts or are eight precepts a must?
Layperson 5 precepts, best to keep 8 precepts at least once a week.
If not meditating with legs crossed focusing on the breath, is one being negligent?
No, if you are mindful of what you are doing, and mindful on body, feeling, mind, dhamma. e.g. brushing your teeth, you know you are brushing your teeth and nothing else. Yes, if you let your mind wondering e.g. thinking about future and past.
What's the difference between practising sitting meditation and practising mindfulness?
Briefly...
Sitting Meditation:
(1)Practices concentration
(2)Remember to bring our mind back to meditation object
Daily Mindfulness:
(1)Practices awareness of body, feeling, mind, dhamma
(2)Remember to bring our mind back to present and observe what our body is doing, observe what is our present feeling, observe what is our present mind thinking, observe what is our present mind objects
I guess without a teacher one can still find meditation manuals or ask the specifics about techniques here at DW, but before all that I am wondering about the basics of meditation.
I would suggest you explore (1) Sila and (2) Dana (3) Listen/read original sutta/dhamma (4) Meditation need a teacher at the beginning, unless you already fully aware what to do.

Meditation sutta:
MN118
https://suttacentral.net/mn118/en/bodhi

Buddha Teaching materials:
https://vbgnet.org/audio-video-dhamma-talks/
https://suttacentral.net/

Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu
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mjaviem
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by mjaviem »

Mudita1 wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 8:35 am ...
Thank you for your comments.
Mudita1 wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 8:35 am ... Short and consistent sitting meditation is better than long but not consistent.
Good point
Mudita1 wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 8:35 am ... if you are mindful of what you are doing, and mindful on body, feeling, mind, dhamma. e.g. brushing your teeth, you know you are brushing your teeth and nothing else. Yes, if you let your mind wondering e.g. thinking about future and past.
...
Daily Mindfulness:
(1)Practices awareness of body, feeling, mind, dhamma
(2)Remember to bring our mind back to present and observe what our body is doing, observe what is our present feeling, observe what is our present mind thinking, observe what is our present mind objects
...
I'm not sure whether mindfulness is about being aware of the body, feelings and mind or it's more about simply being aware of our intentions, to remember abandoning unwholesome intentions and keeping and cultivating wholesome ones. I think (because I've been reading and listening a little) that mindfulness is more about the latter, to keep always in mind to have good intentions. For example, I think it's not important from the buddhist point of view to be aware we are swinging our arms while walking, and that a car honked its horn and that there's a weird smell and things like that in the present. What is important I think is to know our intention that made us start and keep walking. I think letting go the past and the future may be psychologically beneficial but the buddhist mindfulness practice is more about watching intentions al the time. Isn't it? Or you or anyone think that being aware of body, feelings and mind is the point?
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by Srilankaputra »

your sati will improve and become more consistent, just like the drops of water falling from a kettle. If we tilt the kettle just a little, the drops fall out slowly... plop!... plop!... plop!...
If we tilt the kettle up a little bit more, the drops become more rapid... plop, plop, plop!!...
If we tilt the kettle up even further the “plops”
go away and the water flows into a steady stream. Where do the “plops” go to? They don’t go anywhere, they change into a steady stream of water.

~Ajahn Chah
And again, O king, as the cock, even though persecuted with clods and sticks and clubs and cudgels, will not desert his home; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort—whether he be engaged in robemaking or in building-work, or in any of his daily duties, or in teaching, or in receiving instruction —never give up his presence of mind. For that, O king—his presence of mind—is the home in which he dwells.
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by Haniver »

Meditation is for YOU. If you can find a teacher, please do so. If not, reading the Dhamma and listening to Dhamma talks will be a big help.
Your ditti and your sila don't have to be perfect to start. Saints don't meditate because they're saints. They're saints because they meditate!
Let me recommend you the book Mindfulness in Plain English by Gunaratana. It lays down all these things in good detail.
And if you have a question which needs the answer of a great teacher, you can email Bhante Gunaratana himself, and watch him answer live every Sunday:
https://bhavanasociety.org/news/bhavana ... g-covid-19
May you be well, happy and peaceful :anjali:
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by woodsman »

DooDoot wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:41 am Meditation is an opportunity for a layperson to get to know their mind & rectify faulty behaviours & attitudes.

But sure, it is unlikely an ordinary busy layperson will develop supernormal states of non-sensual happiness.
But this implies that the universe is constructed to allow only those with no job or kids the opportunity to "develop supernormal states of non-sensual happiness"

Nah!
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by Sam Vara »

woodsman wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:30 pm
DooDoot wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:41 am Meditation is an opportunity for a layperson to get to know their mind & rectify faulty behaviours & attitudes.

But sure, it is unlikely an ordinary busy layperson will develop supernormal states of non-sensual happiness.
But this implies that the universe is constructed to allow only those with no job or kids the opportunity to "develop supernormal states of non-sensual happiness"

Nah!
If we consider that the universe is "constructed", then any form of construction would imply some kind of restriction on what could happen; so why not?
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by woodsman »

Sam Vara wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:44 pm
woodsman wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:30 pm
DooDoot wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:41 am Meditation is an opportunity for a layperson to get to know their mind & rectify faulty behaviours & attitudes.

But sure, it is unlikely an ordinary busy layperson will develop supernormal states of non-sensual happiness.
But this implies that the universe is constructed to allow only those with no job or kids the opportunity to "develop supernormal states of non-sensual happiness"

Nah!
If we consider that the universe is "constructed", then any form of construction would imply some kind of restriction on what could happen; so why not?
I didn't mean it literally or in a theistic way - I meant it seems highly unlikely that the only way to achieve liberation (etc.) would be to partake of a lifestyle that involves denying the potential perpetuation of the human race and essentially ruling our workers and people with kids. Seems worryingly insular to me......just sayin'
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Sam Vara
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Re: Is there any point in meditating for unsecluded laypeople?

Post by Sam Vara »

woodsman wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:21 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:44 pm
woodsman wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:30 pm

But this implies that the universe is constructed to allow only those with no job or kids the opportunity to "develop supernormal states of non-sensual happiness"

Nah!
If we consider that the universe is "constructed", then any form of construction would imply some kind of restriction on what could happen; so why not?
I didn't mean it literally or in a theistic way - I meant it seems highly unlikely that the only way to achieve liberation (etc.) would be to partake of a lifestyle that involves denying the potential perpetuation of the human race and essentially ruling our workers and people with kids. Seems worryingly insular to me......just sayin'
Yes, understood. I don't myself know whether householders can attain liberation; I believe the suttas say they can attain stream entry (sotāpatti). But unless all types of activity are equally likely to bring about progress on the path, then it is at least possible that being a worker or a parent or householder is less likely than going forth to live as a monastic.
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