How do YOU meditate?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

DooDoot wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:27 am


The suttas say the first jhana only has five factors, which does not include the breathing.
What about all the suttas that describe the first jhana as having 4 factors?
SN 36.11 appears to say (after the predominant rapture & happiness objects cease), there is no awareness of breathing in the 4th jhana.
If we take this to mean something like pranayama, agin this makes sense as the breath does indeed fall still. I'm not convinced that this description means that we are no longer aware of the breath but any motion in it does fall still or imperceptible.
Therefore, the impression is the Anapanasati Sutta described a fruition that is not yet on the level of jhana.
How can this be when the sutta above directly references the in and out breathing in reference to the fourth jhana? I don't find evidence in the canon that anapanasati cannot be used as an object to develop jhana. Specifically in MN118, it's stated as fulfilling the seven factors of enlightenment, one of which is samadhi.
Some monks and meditators who generally reject the commentaries & Visuddhimagga do not reject the commentary teaching of the three levels of concentration, namely, preparatory, neighbourhood & attainment concentration.
I do reject the distinction between the different concentrations, namely because the suttas do not corroborate such a distinction. In SN 36.11, it appears that the distinction between no jhana and first jhana is that speech has ceased. None of the stock four or five factored jhana descriptions include anything like access concentration either.
The commentary doctrine of three levels of concentration supports the view Anapanasati is not yet jhana.
This is my point exactly. If the commentaries don't support the view that anapana can be used to develop jhana, but the suttas and even the VSM do, then where does that leave us?
The SN suttas that refer to the Buddha practising Anapanasati use the term "concentration from Anapanasati", as though Anapanasati was a preliminary practise for the Buddha's jhana concentration.
Can you provide a reference for this? If the term samadhi is used for anapana, shouldn't we consider it to be right concentration? I.e. the four jhanas? Especially given that MN 118 lists anapana as fulfilling the seven factors for enlightenment?
In summary, monks such as Ajahn Buddhadasa and Brahm said either directly or indirectly there is no awareness of breathing in jhana.
I agree with this up to where the suttas support the view, which is that in the fourth jhana, the in and out breath falls totally still
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:41 pm

I hope you would notice that I haven’t once relied upon the Abhidhamma or the commentaries. In comparison, Ven. Thanisarro does via his use of “secluded from sensual pleasures”.
I do see that yes.
I think the difference in readings is relatively minor here. in either reading we are performing the same action of turning away from sense pleasures and indeed sensuality as a whole. We are turning our mind inward and away from worldly affairs and the pleasures associated. Further, as I'm reading thanissaro's translations, they do use the term "secluded from sensuality" for vivicceva kāmehi.
Yet saññāmanasikārā are a hindrance.
Could you post some more references to suttas that contain this term? The reason that the term makes me squirm a little because it isn't one of the five hindrances. Kamehi is though and it's always referenced with the stock jhana formula.
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DooDoot
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by DooDoot »

pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am What about all the suttas that describe the first jhana as having 4 factors?
All jhanas have ekaggata as a factor, which is why it is generally not mentioned. the stock suttas say:
MN 4 wrote:Tireless energy was aroused in me and unremitting mindfulness was established, my body was tranquil and untroubled, my mind concentrated and unified.
:alien:

pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am I'm not convinced that this description means that we are no longer aware of the breath but any motion in it does fall still or imperceptible.
ajahn brahm disagrees with u
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am How can this be when the sutta above directly references the in and out breathing in reference to the fourth jhana?
but it does not. it says the breathing has stopped in the 4th jhana. this does not mean the breathing is known in the 1st or 3rd jhanas because in the lower jhanas rapture & happiness are known
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am I don't find evidence in the canon that anapanasati cannot be used as an object to develop jhana.
i did not say the above. i said anapanasati itself does not include jhana. however it is used to develop jhana
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am Specifically in MN118, it's stated as fulfilling the seven factors of enlightenment, one of which is samadhi.
yes but not on the level of jhana
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am I do reject the distinction between the different concentrations, namely because the suttas do not corroborate such a distinction.
yes, u reject what suspected Noble Sangha say yet claim to be a 100% Theravada despite incomplete refuge
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am In SN 36.11, it appears that the distinction between no jhana and first jhana is that speech has ceased. None of the stock four or five factored jhana descriptions include anything like access concentration either.
access concentration is not any of the 4 jhanas. all jhanas are attainment concentration
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am This is my point exactly. If the commentaries don't support the view that anapana can be used to develop jhana, but the suttas and even the VSM do, then where does that leave us?
the above is non-sequitur, as i already suggested. anapanasati is used to develop jhana but when jhana is reached there ceases to be awareness of breathing therefore it cannot be called "anapanasati".
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am Can you provide a reference for this?
SN 54.11, which uses the term ānāpānassatisamādhi, which is found in 12 suttas
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am If the term samadhi is used for anapana, shouldn't we consider it to be right concentration? I.e. the four jhanas? Especially given that MN 118 lists anapana as fulfilling the seven factors for enlightenment?
there are suttas that literally say the stream-enterer has not fully developed samadhi. bhikkhu bodhi wrote an excellent paper showing why a stream-enterer has not yet reached jhana
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 am I agree with this up to where the suttas support the view, which is that in the fourth jhana, the in and out breath falls totally still
the suttas say the 1st jhana has five factors or four. none of these factors are the breathing
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:54 amMN 119
SN 47.20 uses a metaphor of a bowl full to the brim for ‘kāyagatāsati', which the person must carry. It may not make sense if the person had to carry their whole body :shrug: . it appears the "bowl full to the brim with mindfulness" refers to the mind; thus the "kaya" is the mind
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pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

DooDoot wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:53 am

Hmm okay,

Even if that's the case, if something Ajahn Brahm says contradicts with the canon, I should think that I trust the canon over Ajahn Brahm.

Also, again the suttas say repetitively that the breath falls still during the fourth jhana. This is a bit interesting because of what you said that the jhana descriptions do not include the breath as a factor.

Also, with access concentration, I'm not saying that the distinction is incorrect or not useful. All I'm saying is that I don't really want to make the distinction if the sutta pitaka doesn't. Also, many of who I would consider my teachers don't make the distinction either. I want my practice and my thoughts to be in line with what the canon says.

And with what you're saying about anapanasati being used to develop jhana, I'm not sure I quite understand exactly. If you could please explain a little more, it sounds like you're saying that anapanasati is something of a preliminary exercise for jhana, and that as soon as full absorption into jhana is reached, there is no longer awareness of the breath. Are there suttas that back this view up?

Also, Even though the stock descriptions of jhana don't include the breath, I'm under the impression that jhana can be entered into with a number of different meditation objects. Even the method I describe and use has a similar description of being absorbed into the nimitta to the point that there is no part of the awareness unsaturated with piti-sukha.

Please explain further, I;d like to hear your views on this.
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DooDoot
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by DooDoot »

pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:09 pm
Even if that's the case, if something Ajahn Brahm says contradicts with the canon, I should think that I trust the canon over Ajahn Brahm.
The above claims u understand the canon. Its not really a useful way to start a discussion.
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:09 pm Also, again the suttas say repetitively that the breath falls still during the fourth jhana.
Are you sure the suttas say the above, namely, during the 3rd jhana there is awareness of breathing, which falls still during the 4th jhana? :shrug:

For example, MN 43 says during the cessation of perception & feeling (Nirodha Samapatti), the breathing ceases. Does this mean the breathing is experienced during the previous 8 jhanas, including the 4th? :shrug:
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:09 pm Also, again the suttas say repetitively that the breath falls still during the fourth jhana.
Even if your idea above is true, this shows Anapanasati does not include the 4th jhana. :smile:
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pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

DooDoot wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:49 pm
The above claims u understand the canon. Its not really a useful way to start a discussion.
Hmm perhaps I shouldn't be so hasty in refuting Ajahn Brahm. I do rather respect him as a monastic.

Are you sure the suttas say the above, namely, during the 3rd jhana there is awareness of breathing, which falls still during the 4th jhana? :shrug:
Maybe, I think it may depend on what type of object we're using to develop concentration, but I'll explain later...

For example, MN 43 says during the cessation of perception & feeling (Nirodha Samapatti), the breathing ceases. Does this mean the breathing is experienced during the previous 8 jhanas, including the 4th? :shrug:
I don't think so. In this sutta it says that the verbal and mental sankhara have ceased, and elsewhere in the suttas itt states that the verbal fabrications cease in the first jhana, bodily fabrications cease in the fourth and mental fabrications cease upon nirodha samapatti.

I'm starting to think then that no matter what object is used to develope jhana, the experience of it will be the same, but the preliminary stages will be somewhat different. I think this is probably where the access/absorption disctinction and Cesiwr's reading of namakaya is useful because in full absorption, consciousness is truly glued at the mind door only with the single perception imbued with piti-sukha and vitakka-vicara. What I'm calling "breath energy" may indeed only come to play in access concentration as well, because its tone is rather tame in comparison with the tone of full blown piti-sukha in absorption. I would be lying too if I thought that the "breath energy" is merely connected to the physical body. The breath energy is perceptible when first starting out but as the mind reaches a stillness and it grows to envelope the entirety of awareness, I could not call it a physical phenomena and it would be much more appropriate to call it namakaya.

That being said I still think Thanissaro's method shouldn't be considered incorrect. I think various monks in various traditions will choose to use the distinction between access and full absorption or not. I've even seen a distinction between Thanissaro and his teacher, Ajahn Fuang. Ajahn Fuang teaches a difference between access concentration and absorption but Thanissaro doesn't and they use fundamentally the same instructions for Anapanasati. I think you right in saying that anapanasati will provide instructions up to access concentration as described in MN 118, and I also think the experience of jhana will be the same regardless of the object once one is in complete absorption.

Very interesting conversation Doodoot. I hope to hear back from you!
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:41 pm
Can you take a look at the last thing I replied to DooDoot about?
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DooDoot
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:25 am I don't think so. In this sutta it says that the verbal and mental sankhara have ceased, and elsewhere in the suttas itt states that the verbal fabrications cease in the first jhana, bodily fabrications cease in the fourth and mental fabrications cease upon nirodha samapatti.
The above is incorrect. SN 36.11 says "speech" ends in the 1st jhana rather than the vaci sankhara (poorly translated as "verbal fabrications"). The vaci sankhara is not speech but what conditions speech, namely, vitakka & vicara.
For someone who has attained the first absorption, speech has ceased.

Paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ samāpannassa vācā niruddhā hoti.

SN 36.11
First you place the mind and keep it connected, then you break into speech. That’s why placing the mind and keeping it connected are verbal processes [verbal pre-conditions].

Pubbe kho, āvuso visākha, vitakketvā vicāretvā pacchā vācaṃ bhindati, tasmā vitakkavicārā vacīsaṅkhāro.

MN 44
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:25 am That being said I still think Thanissaro's method shouldn't be considered incorrect.
You seem pretty familiar with Ajahn Ṭhānissaro’s work. Have you read the short essay Jhana Not by the Numbers? I think it does a good job of filling in the background with respect to why he teaches meditation the way he does, and should probably be kept in mind when discussing his views on jhana, and those of his teacher, Ajahn Fuang.
So as a teacher, he [Ajaan Fuang] tried to instill in his students these qualities of self-reliance, ingenuity, and a willingness to take risks and test things for themselves. He did that not only by talking about these qualities, but also by forcing you into situations where you’d have to develop them. Had he always been there to confirm for you that, “Yes, you’ve reached the third jhana,” or, “No, that’s only the second jhana,” he would have short-circuited the qualities he was trying to instill. He, rather than your own powers of observation, would have been the authority on what was going on in your mind; and you would have been absolved of any responsibility for correctly evaluating what you had experienced. At the same time, he would have been feeding your childish desire to please or impress him, and undermining your ability to deal with the task at hand, which was how to develop your own powers of sensitivity to put an end to suffering and stress. As he once told me, “If I have to explain everything, you’ll get used to having things handed to you on a platter. And then what will you do when problems come up in your meditation and you don’t have any experience in figuring things out on your own?”

So, studying with him, I had to learn to take risks in the midst of uncertainties. If something interesting came up in the practice, I’d have to stick with it, observing it over time, before reaching any conclusions about it. Even then, I learned, the labels I applied to my experiences couldn’t be chiseled in rock. They had to be more like post-it notes: convenient markers for my own reference that I might have to peel off and stick elsewhere as I became more familiar with the territory of my mind. This proved to be a valuable lesson that applied to all areas of my practice.
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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DooDoot wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:11 am
The above is incorrect. SN 36.11 says "speech" ends in the 1st jhana rather than the vaci sankhara. The vaci sankhara is not speech but what conditions speech, namely, vitakka & vicara.
My bad, I meant second jhana.

I've been looking a little more into the teaching of anapanasati as a breath energy type thing and it seems Bhikkhu Analayo also teaches a similar method and he seems to be a proponent of the hard jhana approach.

I think I found some evidence in suttas as well for two different ways of developing concentration, one of which would be like breath energy as in MN 118 but also another seems to involve visual signs like what we see in the visuddhimagga, namely MN 128. In that sutta, the "light and visions of forms" figure prominently but also seems to precede jhana formally. That seems to be more in line with Ajahn Brahm's technique and the visuddhimagga in general.

I think maybe it's useful here to use the term access concentration. In this view, both Anapanasati in the breath energy view and the "light and perceptions of forms" view seems to get one near absorption in which the experiences are quite different but the experience of true absorption may be more or less homogenous between the two, regardless of technique use to enter access concentration.

I feel this may harken to the practice of assigning a suitable meditation object which suits one's abilities and one's tendencies. It seems that a visual object may be appropriate for some but a tactile object better for others. Further, I have even heard (I believe Ajahn Sumedho) the use of aural objects to develop concentration. I think what ends up being most important in all of these is that the experience of piti-sukha becomes almost transcendent and completely envelopes and saturates the meditator. I think it's valid here to describe the meditator in this instance as "body" in much the same way that the bath man simile does because it conveys the image rather nice of the meditator being completely absorbed into the jhanic piti-sukha.Upon inspection of the suttas, there does seem to be a logical case for the distinction between access concentration and absorption when describing different techniques, objects and experiences, but these various techniques would be covered under the canonical description of the first jhana in which piti-sukha seems to be in the stage of active consolidation. Given this vagueness, I'm starting to agree with using the term "access concentration" but I have no qualms with not making the distinction.

I think this view reconciles Thanissaro's (where he doesn't make a distinction between access and absorption) and Ajahn Brahm (where there is a rather clear distinction). It also allows for the validity of the experience of absorption described by both sides of the debate and allows for the various readings of the term "kaya" in MN 118, MN 119, et cetera.

Let me know what you think.
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:25 am in full absorption, consciousness is truly glued at the mind door only with the single perception imbued with piti-sukha and vitakka-vicara.
I agree. Very well described.
pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:25 amWhat I'm calling "breath energy" may indeed only come to play in access concentration as well
I agree. But the breath is to be calmed, per step 4 of anapanasti. 'Breath' is the kaya sankhara, as defined in MN 44. If the breath is manipulated too much , it won't calm deeply.

If we breath deeply & deliberately, we will feel good & get a little high.

But the rapture of jhana is "rupa jhana", which probably means the physical body has been calmed & purified (of stored mental sankharas) to such a deep degree that the nervous system of the body starts to bliss out. This i imagine is the source of bliss of rupa jhana.

If you manipulate too much, there will be a suppression that prevents those stored sankharas from escaping or dissolving.
pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:25 am I would be lying too if I thought that the "breath energy" is merely connected to the physical body. The breath energy is perceptible when first starting out but as the mind reaches a stillness and it grows to envelope the entirety of awareness, I could not call it a physical phenomena and it would be much more appropriate to call it namakaya.
Its physical phenomena per strict definition but i personally would not get so strict about it because mind & breath is so interdependent, which is why "kaya" (imo) refers to all of them.
pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:25 amThat being said I still think Thanissaro's method shouldn't be considered incorrect.
My opinion, as expressed, is it will have limited results. It can be used to reach a certain level of concentration, mental purity & calm but there comes a time, once the mind is in control, that the samadhi is developed by lettting go.
pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:25 am Ajahn Fuang.
I imagine most Thai forest teachers teach about access vs attainment concentration because they have experienced both. Someone like Ajahn Brahm appears to belittle access concentration and also shows strong misunderstanding of Anapanasati. This may indicate the mind of young Brahm was naturally lofty and went immediately into jhana after preliminary development. Ajahn Brahm's ideas about the 16 steps of Anapanasati contradict his own teachings about jhana, which shows he doesn't really understand Anapanasati, just like a rich person may not understand how poor people live.
Last edited by DooDoot on Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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Jeff_ wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:32 am
You seem pretty familiar with Ajahn Ṭhānissaro’s work. Have you read the short essay Jhana Not by the Numbers? I think it does a good job of filling in the background with respect to why he teaches meditation the way he does, and should probably be kept in mind when discussing his views on jhana, and those of his teacher, Ajahn Fuang.
Thanks for the reply. I've read the work some time ago but I'll have to read it again now that you've brought it to my attention.

I have to admit, a large part of my reason for following these posts so much is to not only see if I could defend Thanissaro's technique but to see if it can be reconciled with the so-called "competing views". I don't know if I've done that, but I have learned a thing or two from some very learned and very nice people.

Everyone here is so knowledgeable about this and I have to say I'm happy to have found this community!
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:41 am Bhikkhu Analayo also teaches a similar method and he seems to be a proponent of the hard jhana approach.
I doubt Bhikkhu Analayo would depart from the hard jhana view of Ajahn Brahm and Sujato. Also, both of his teachers, formerly Buddhadasa and later Bodhi, would have the hard jhana view. Really, light jhana appears to be a recent concoction of internet bloggers and Leigh Brasington.

In my 1st year of meditation in Thailand, i had good meditation, was sitting for so many hours and walking around looking concentrated and I was asked by a monk have i experienced jhana. Since having many freaky concentration experiences, i replied: "possibly". Then all the monks started making fun of me, saying i was fully enlightened. Every monk would say: "I heard you are fully enlightened" and would laugh a me, Thai style. :jumping:

In other words, jhana was hard jhana for the monks.
pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:41 am MN 128. In that sutta, the "light and visions of forms" figure prominently but also seems to precede jhana formally.
Bhikkhu Analayo's analysis of MN 128 is wrong. MN 128 is not about jhana. It is about Anuruddha's development of the Divine Eye.
pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:41 amI have even heard (I believe Ajahn Sumedho) the use of aural objects to develop concentration.
Sound of silence is good because silence is another word for "vivekka", which MN 118 says anapanasati depends on.

Anyway, you are wearing me out, particularly since i have work to also do (multitasking).

I might ask you to proof read my new booklet about "rebirth" when i finish it, hopefully by next week. :smile:
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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DooDoot wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:07 am
pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:41 am Bhikkhu Analayo also teaches a similar method and he seems to be a proponent of the hard jhana approach.
I doubt Bhikkhu Analayo would depart from the hard jhana view of Ajahn Brahm and Sujato. Also, both of his teachers, formerly Buddhadasa and later Bodhi, would have the hard jhana view. Really, light jhana appears to be a recent concoction of internet bloggers and Leigh Brasington.

In my 1st year of meditation in Thailand, i had good meditation, was sitting for so many hours and walking around looking concentrated and I was asked by a monk have i experienced jhana. Since having many freaky concentration experiences, i replied: "possibly". Then all the monks started making fun of me, saying i was fully enlightened. Every monk would say: "I heard you are fully enlightened" and would laugh a me, Thai style. :jumping:

In other words, jhana was hard jhana for the monks.
pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:41 am MN 128. In that sutta, the "light and visions of forms" figure prominently but also seems to precede jhana formally.
Bhikkhu Analayo's analysis of MN 128 is wrong. MN 128 is not about jhana. It is about Anuruddha's development of the Divine Eye.
pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:41 amI have even heard (I believe Ajahn Sumedho) the use of aural objects to develop concentration.
Sound of silence is good because silence is another word for "vivekka", which MN 118 says anapanasati depends on.

Anyway, you are wearing me out, particularly since i have work to also do (multitasking).

I might ask you to proof read my new booklet about "rebirth" when i finish it, hopefully by next week. :smile:
Wow new booklet coming.. very excited
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by Ceisiwr »

pitithefool wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:29 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:41 pm
Can you take a look at the last thing I replied to DooDoot about?
I’ll try to reply sometime this week. If not, by the weekend at least.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


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