Going against the advice of the monk?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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tiltbillings
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Re: Going against the advice of the monk?

Post by tiltbillings »

Paul Davy wrote:Greetings,
hohohodam wrote:May I get some advice on what to do?
I think you need to reflect on whether you want to be wedded to this monk's preferred meditation technique. You'll note that the technique being taught to you was not documented in the suttas... therefore, it is not essential to do it this way.

A "meditation technique" is a pragmatic tool, at best... if this tool doesn't work for you, there are other techniques and other non-technique-based approaches available to you.

All the best.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Even the non-technique approaches are techniques.
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mikenz66
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Re: Going against the advice of the monk?

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi hohohodam,

You have got a lot of good advice in this thread. I hope that it does not seem too confusing.

My experience is that it is very helpful to have a real-life teacher. A teacher can read your needs much better than random people on the internet, and can often give you advice that would otherwise be difficult to accept.

Your teacher is teaching a particular method, based on the satipatthana sutta and extensive practical experience teachers and students. It's a method many of us here use, including me, and it can be very effective. However, there are many other approaches, some of which suit particular practitioners better than others.

My advice would be to examine whether you have confidence in your teacher. If so, follow his advice. If you think that a different approach would be better for you, then by all means try that. However, I would avoid switching between approaches too often. In my opinion a suitable trial period for assessing progress would be measured in months.

I would also avoid mixing the instructions from different teachers until you have a good grasp of one approach. The instructions from different teachers can sound contradictory, simply because they are emphasising a different way of progressing. Some put more emphasis on initially building up calm by focusing on a very specific object (such as the breath at the nostrils). Others (the method your teacher is using) emphasise developing the ability to be aware of changing phenomena as they arise. The end goal is the same, but the approach to it is different.

Best wishes for your practice.

:anjali:
Mike
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Ben
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Re: Going against the advice of the monk?

Post by Ben »

I second Mike's sound advice.
All the best,
Ben
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_anicca_
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Re: Going against the advice of the monk?

Post by _anicca_ »

A lot of great advice given in this thread! I second on the notion of doing what works for you in the present moment, as long as it fits into the dhāmma.

Additionally, you mention "vivid dreams". This is not a sign of progress and could very much be delusion concentration. Mind may be tricking you into thinking that you're actually concentrating on the object of meditation, but you actually have fallen into a (pleasant) state of distractedness after being focused in the breath for a while.

It happens when you develop the calm through concentration, but then lose this and get lost in thoughts. It is not as painful as normal distractedness because you have tranquilized the various fabrications, to a certain extent. Nevertheless, it still is delusion and is not beneficial.

That is what came to mind when you mentioned "vivid dreams".

:anjali:
"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self."

:buddha1:

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Pinetree
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Re: Going against the advice of the monk?

Post by Pinetree »

You'll note that the technique being taught to you was not documented in the suttas... therefore, it is not essential to do it this way.

A "meditation technique" is a pragmatic tool, at best... if this tool doesn't work for you, there are other techniques and other non-technique-based approaches available to you.
The advice: "do what works for you" can be misleading.

Of course, you will ultimately have to make choices. But when we are close to the beginning of learning to use a tool, we are unable to judge what works for us, or how effectively we are making progress. This is why "judging" needs to be put aside while trying to work with the instructions that are received.

And sometimes there is more truth and insight in finding why something doesn't work and learn to overcome difficulties.

Also, for us to benefit from a teaching, we need to follow the teacher. Otherwise, if we practice something other than what he is teaching, he will be unable to guide us or correct our mistakes.
One thing about focusing on abdomen I find is, unlike the nostril because the area of focus is large my weak mind finds it difficult to hold the focus. Can you offer some tips ?
Interesting, you reminded me I had this problem when I started to practice aswell, less than 1 year ago. And almost I can say that the problem went away, simply because I forgot about it.

First question is if you feel your abdomen as it is rising and falling, because some people don't - at the beginning.

Also, if I would tell you to touch right hand to the abdomen, I assume you have no trouble finding it, so you know where it is.

Combining that, all you need to do is simply be aware of the expanding and contracting motion of the abdomen during the breath, without needing to pinpoint a little location to focus your awareness on. So maybe don't try to find your abdomen on purpose, because you already know where it is. And since you do, just be aware of the motion in a general way.
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