What is Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) ?

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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exist
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What is Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) ?

Post by exist »

By: (Late) Hudoyo Hupudio

Introduction

The word 'meditation' contains many meanings for the users of the word and for the listeners. There are many reasons people meditate; Thus, there are many ways or techniques of meditation. There is meditation that aims to achieve worldly things—such as supernatural powers, healing, seeing the supernatural, and so on—and there is also meditation that has spiritual goals, such as achieving or uniting with principles that are considered "supreme", such as God, Nirvana , Moksha, Universe, and so on. In general, meditation involves focusing attention (concentration) on a particular object—such as: breath, visualization, words/mantras, and so on—for a long time, with the hope of ultimately achieving a desired goal. Thus, the common characteristic of most types of meditation is an achievement, which is of course understood to be achieved in the future.

There is one type of meditation that is different from most other meditations. This meditation taught by Gotama Buddha, more than 2500 years ago, is called vipassana meditation. This meditation come from the existential facts taught by the Buddha, namely that everything in life or existence is impermanent, constantly changing, and unsatisfying; This fact causes suffering to the person who does not understand it: he is attached to his body and mind, and seeks a happiness and immortality that he will never know or experience. The Buddha also taught that the cause or source of existential suffering is because humans do not understand themselves, especially their thoughts and desires, which always seek happiness and eternity (Anatta-lakkhana-sutta, Samyutta Nikaya, 22.59). To achieve happiness and immortality, humans are always involved in conflict within themselves and with other people around them; he is involved in a conflict between what exists now and what he envisions in the future in his mind.

The Buddha taught that by vipassana meditation—that is, passively observing every physical and mental movement (thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, hopes, despair, pleasure, suffering, and so on)—humans can gain enlightenment about the true nature of life, which is impermanent and unsatisfying existence. By achieving enlightenment, humans are free from attachment to their body and mind; thus, liberated from suffering (dukkha). However, liberation from this suffering cannot be achieved with an active effort from me/self to achieve it, because it is precisely this I/self that is the source or cause of the suffering—I/self cannot possibly eliminate me/self.

In fact, the special characteristics of Vipassana meditation are the opposite of everyday life: passive, stopping, still, detached, being in the present moment. As the Buddha said to Angulimala, the robber and murderer: “I stopped long ago. You are the one who is still running. Stop!” Being in the present moment continuously, where the I/self and the mind stop, is the door to liberation, according to the Buddha. (Mulapariyaya-sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, 1 and Bahiya-sutta, Udana, 1.10).

However, it is unfortunate that, with the passage of time, in many vipassana meditation practices taught in the world today, the principles of vipassana meditation taught by the Buddha have shifted: from renunciation to attainment, from passivity to effort and active concentration. For many vipassana practitioners, this shift may not be felt at first; However, for some Vipassana practitioners, they have difficulty truly understanding these physical and mental movements passively if they are required to make effort, especially concentrating, to achieve them. For these latter practitioners, in the last few years, Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) has been developed, which is a type of vipassana meditation which is believed to have returned to the special properties of vipassana meditation taught by the Buddha.

Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD)
The understanding that the Vipassana meditation practice that is widely taught today has shifted far from what the Buddha actually intended was inspired by the meditation practice taught by J. Krishnamurti in the 20th century. J. Krishnamurti criticized most meditation techniques which all emphasize concentration, effort and meditation technique. This includes many Buddhist vipassana techniques.

According to J. Krishnamurti, any meditation technique in no way liberates, does not transform the human mind; instead, it makes the mind more deeply entangled in its conditioning and limitations. Any concentration technique simply brings the practitioner into a state of intense mental concentration, which may give an intense sense of pleasure and happiness, so easily mistaken for freedom, but actually entangles the mind in more subtle conditioning and unfreedom.

Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) is a version of vipassana meditation that over the last few years has been developed from the “traditionally” taught vipassana. In MMD, “traditional” vipassana meditation has been greatly modified based on J. Krishnamurti's teachings about passive awareness or choiceless awareness, which is actually a return to the characteristics of the pure vipassana meditation practice of the Buddha's own teachings. Thus, there are several important differences between the MMD version of vipassana meditation and “traditional” vipassana meditation:

(1) The purpose of vipassana meditation
When a "traditional" Vipassana practitioner is asked what the purpose of Vipassana meditation is, the answer is usually: to eliminate greed (lobha), hatred (dosa), and mental darkness (moha), thereby achieving liberation from attachment to the body and mind (nama-rupa ); That liberation is called 'Nibbana/Nirvana'. Thus, the goals of “traditional” vipassana originate from Buddhist religious doctrine. The goal of Vipassana meditation is understood to be achieved at some point in the future.

What is the purpose of MMD? The aim of MMD contains a paradox. On the one hand, the goal of MMD is the radical ending of the I/self, which means the complete ending of suffering (dukkha)—theoretically, of course, this will be achieved in the future. On the other hand, in actual practice, the goal of MMD is not seen as being in the future, but must occur in the present moment, as an inner transformation that can only be approached through the present moment. In actual practice, the goal of MMD is to be as deeply and continuously aware of these physical and mental movements as they arise, from moment to moment, now and here.

Thus, theoretically, the goals of MMD are no different from those of “traditional” vipassana meditation; However, in actual practice, it turns out that there are fundamental differences between the two types of Vipassana meditation.

The definition of 'goal' always refers to a state to be achieved in the future; but, as said above, paradoxically the goal of MMD is to be in the present moment constantly. Thus, in MMD it is no longer relevant for people to talk about a 'goal' in the future, in MMD there is no 'goal'.

Moreover, the 'goal' of MMD is identical/the same as its 'method', namely being in the continuous present moment, which is the 'non-method' (see below).

This paradox of MMD's goals is not present in the “traditional” teaching of Vipassana to its practitioners. The goal of “traditional” vipassana, namely nibbana, is placed in the future, and it is often shown that this goal can only be achieved in the distant future, not in this life.

The paradox of a transcendental goal/state as described above is also seen in the Mahaprajnaparamita books of Mahayana Buddhism, such as the Diamond Sutra, Heart Sutra, and so on.

Again, the goal of MMD is to be in the present moment continuously; in MMD people do not look to the future. If people could remain in that state continuously, there would be the possibility—that would be the door—to the end of human existential conflict and suffering; this is what mankind has been looking for throughout the ages.

What and how the end of human existential conflict and suffering is not discussed and not conceptualized in the practice of MMD, because that would be another thought discourse, which would inevitably become one more doctrine among the many existing spiritual doctrines, and only hinder people. to be in the present moment continuously, seeing what is (yathabhutam nyanadassanam) without being interfered with by mind-created concepts.

The goal of MMD is not only to eliminate negative mental states, such as lobha, dosa, and moha as in “traditional” vipassana, but also to understand positive mental states, such as love (metta), compassion (karuna), sympathy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha). When all negative and positive mental states are understood/realized, the meditator will not reject negative mental states and/or cling to positive mental states.

(2) Vipassana meditation techniques/methods
The differences in meditation goals between “traditional” vipassana meditation and MMD lead to fundamental differences in practice between the two versions of vipassana. In most “traditional” vipassana meditations, various techniques are taught that the meditator must carry out if he wants to achieve the desired results. For example, in Mahasi Sayadaw's version of vipassana meditation, the following techniques are emphasized:

* concentrate for a long time on a “main object”;

* note down/label everything observed in meditation (at least in the “initial stages” of practice);

* alternating sitting meditation and walking meditation in formal meditation sessions;

* slow down as far as possible all body movements so that they can be observed strongly.

All of this is done, and is based on maximum effort (viriya), with the aim that concentration develops optimally, so that various enlightenments (nyana) are achieved, the theory of which has been previously known, and finally liberation (nibbana) is achieved.

On the other hand, in MMD:

* no concentration on any ‘main object’—because passively developed awareness will also develop strong attention (sati), but not concentration. Instead of concentrating narrowly on one object, attention is allowed to open as widely as possible, naturally covering all the senses, so that it can be aware of stimuli that enter through all the senses, including the mind (the entry point for memories from the past);

* all phenomena that arise in the body and mind are simply passively realized, without any effort to note/label them, which are nothing but movements of the mind;

* the conscious/aware mental state can be developed in any situation or activity: sitting, standing, walking, lying down, without distinguishing and separating formal meditation activities from daily activities - thus the meditative mental state develops naturally into a mental state all the time when the mind/I is not needed;

* body movements do not need to be deliberately and artificially slowed down - if attention becomes strong, then body movements will slow down by themselves, even if the slowing down of body movements was not developed deliberately as a meditation technique.

In short, in MMD there is no meditation technique of any kind, including no continuous concentration on one object. Moreover, in MMD there is no effort (viriya) at all—to be in the present moment requires no effort whatsoever.

Exertion of effort will actually prevent the mind and I/self from stopping naturally, preventing liberation. This is clearly seen in the experience of Bhikkhu Ananda (the Buddha's cousin) before the First Sangha Council, not long after the Buddha died. The council could only be attended by arhats, so he—who at that time was still not completely free—strove to attain arhatship overnight. It turns out that this hard effort actually prevents achieving liberation. It was precisely when he stopped his efforts altogether, when the night was approaching dawn, that the final liberation appeared in his mind. (Vinaya Pitaka, Culavagga, Khandaka, 11)

Because there is no meditation technique whatsoever, and there is no effort to achieve anything, the meditator is free from the burden of meditation, so he is aware/aware of the present moment, continuously, without expecting anything in the future, which is a state of stillness, rest, and stops completely.

(3) References from scriptures
Almost all “traditional” vipassana techniques use the famous Mahasatipatthana-sutta (Digha Nikaya, 22) as their reference. The suttas are full of Buddhist doctrine, so that the meditator finds it difficult to distinguish between what is doctrine and what is personal experience in meditation when he applies it in practice. Contemplation of the four groups of dhammas (physical and mental phenomena) taught in the Mahasatipatthana-sutta is nothing more than a purely intellectual analytical activity and not an actual conscious/aware state that is passively aware of phenomena that arise in the here and now. The late Ajahn Buddhadasa Mahathera called the Mahasatipatthana-sutta nothing more than a “long list of objects of Buddhist meditation”—instead of using the sutta as a reference for teaching vipassana meditation leading to liberation/nibbana, he used the Anapanasati-sutta (Majjhima Nikaya, 118).

On the other hand, the MMD uses the Bahiya-sutta, in which the Buddha gives direct and brief vipassana instruction to Bahiya (Bahiya-sutta, Udana 1.10). Bahiya was an ascetic, not a monk disciple of the Buddha, and in his lifetime had never heard any Buddhist doctrine. But the Buddha did not teach any “doctrine of Buddhism” to Bahiya; instead the Buddha taught vipassana purely without being based on any doctrine; and at that very moment, when the Buddha's discourse was finished, Bahiya attained final enlightenment. The same Vipassana instructions were also taught by the Buddha to Malunkuyaputta, an old monk; and finally the Bhikkhu Malunkyaputta attained final enlightenment after practicing for some time (Malunkyaputta-sutta, Samyutta Nikaya, 35.95).

Because the Buddha's vipassana guidance to Bahiya is free from Buddhist doctrine, it is suitable to be used as a reference for teaching MMD to non-Buddhist MMD enthusiasts as well as to Buddhists themselves.

(4) Ritualism
Because most "traditional" vipassana techniques are taught in the context of Buddhism and held in a monastery, inevitably there is still ritualism in practice. An exception to this is in S.N.'s Vipassana retreat. Goenka, where there are no religious symbols at all, so meditators are not encouraged to carry out any rituals in their retreat practices. Attachment to ritualism itself is actually one of the shackles that must be broken before people can achieve liberation.

In MMD, even if the retreat is held in the Dharmasala (Devotion Hall) of a monastery, during the retreat participants are strongly advised not to carry out any Buddhist religious rituals, such as prostrating (namaskara) to the Buddha statue (buddharupam) there, reciting chants , etc.

Meanwhile, for MMD retreat participants who are Muslim, they are still allowed to perform the obligatory prayers according to the teachings of their religion.
SarathW
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Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What is Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) ?

Post by SarathW »

Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD)
The understanding that the Vipassana meditation practice that is widely taught today has shifted far from what the Buddha actually intended was inspired by the meditation practice taught by J. Krishnamurti in the 20th century. J. Krishnamurti criticized most meditation techniques which all emphasize concentration, effort and meditation technique. This includes many Buddhist vipassana techniques.
I personally do not agree that J. Krishnamurti taught Satipathana as taught by Buddha.
His teaching somewhat mixed with Hinduism.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
exist
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Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:14 am

Re: What is Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) ?

Post by exist »

But I personally see that JK is not adhere to any 'isms' :)
SarathW
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Re: What is Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) ?

Post by SarathW »

exist wrote: Fri Nov 17, 2023 12:40 am But I personally see that JK is not adhere to any 'isms' :)
I think he (or his supporters) tried to create his own ísm?
What I can recall is he said he enlightened on in his own effort.
End of the day we all have to be enlightened by our own effort but we acknowledge that we have a teacher.
:D
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
exist
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:14 am

Re: What is Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) ?

Post by exist »

I've read some books by JK and it is my conclusion that he does not try to create more 'isms'. Maybe his supporters misunderstood his 'teachings'.
And the connection between the exposition by JK and the teaching of Buddha especially Vipassana is already elaborated in my OP.
pegembara
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Re: What is Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) ?

Post by pegembara »

On the other hand, the MMD uses the Bahiya-sutta, in which the Buddha gives direct and brief vipassana instruction to Bahiya (Bahiya-sutta, Udana 1.10). Bahiya was an ascetic, not a monk disciple of the Buddha, and in his lifetime had never heard any Buddhist doctrine. But the Buddha did not teach any “doctrine of Buddhism” to Bahiya; instead the Buddha taught vipassana purely without being based on any doctrine; and at that very moment, when the Buddha's discourse was finished, Bahiya attained final enlightenment. The same Vipassana instructions were also taught by the Buddha to Malunkuyaputta, an old monk; and finally the Bhikkhu Malunkyaputta attained final enlightenment after practicing for some time (Malunkyaputta-sutta, Samyutta Nikaya, 35.95).

Because the Buddha's vipassana guidance to Bahiya is free from Buddhist doctrine, it is suitable to be used as a reference for teaching MMD to non-Buddhist MMD enthusiasts as well as to Buddhists themselves.
Bahiya practice is pretty much shikantaza/silent illumination IMO.
Choiceless awareness.
Master Shengyen

"While you are practicing just sitting, be clear about everything going on in your mind. Whatever you feel, be aware of it, but never abandon the awareness of your whole body sitting there. Shikantaza is not sitting with nothing to do; it is a very demanding practice, requiring diligence as well as alertness. If your practice goes well, you will experience the 'dropping off' of sensations and thoughts. You need to stay with it and begin to take the whole environment as your body. Whatever enters the door of your senses becomes one totality, extending from your body to the whole environment. This is silent illumination."
Suzuki Roshi explains that the purpose of Shikantaza — a practice commonly known as “just sitting” — is to actualize emptiness and move beyond our interpretations of reality.

"When we analyze our experience, we have ideas of time or space, big or small, heavy or light. A scale of some kind is necessary, and with various scales in our mind, we experience things. Still the thing itself has no scale. That is something we add to reality. Because we always use a scale and depend on it so much, we think the scale really exists. But it doesn’t exist. If it did, it would exist with things. Using a scale you can analyze one reality into entities, big and small, but as soon as we conceptualize something it is already a dead experience."

Our effort is to get rid of self-centered activity. That is how we purify our experience.
Zen master Dae Kwang was giving a speech.

Halfway through, the thunder started to sound.. Someone asked a question, he said "can you hear the thunder?" *thunder claps* "that is it! that is the answer from Buddha (laughter)" And five more questions came - what is enlightened person, who can become enlightened, how to practice and become enlightened, all dharmas return to one one returns to what?, etc.

And his answer to each question was, "did you hear the thunder?"

Then it started to rain, it got so loud that he stopped speaking and we just sat there. The rain itself becomes the dharma talk... so everyone sat there in meditation... the zen master sat very still. Just the sound of dripping rain filling the whole universe... the sound enjoying and hearing itself... that's Buddha, clear and blissful.

Then after 20 minutes he began to speak. He said you don't need to remember anything I said... the rain is the best dharma talk. So the talk ended, 15 minutes early.


" Non duality means to stay with whatever arises so that there is no subject and no object. "
Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
When your eyes see a form, just see.

When your ears hear a sound, just hear.

When your nose smells a smell, just smell.

When your tongue tastes a taste, just taste.

When your body feels a touch, just feel.

When your mind knows a thought, just know.
'
In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized.'
Bahiya Sutta
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
exist
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Re: What is Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) ?

Post by exist »

Yes, it is kind of like shikantaza. But it is passive awareness, different from shikantaza that is to do something. It is actually 'nothing to do'.
Because the doer is major obstacle to the stopping of movement of mind (i.e. the movement of 'I').

Yes, it is kind of like 'technique' used by Zen master Dae Kwang's 'hearing' the rain, but it is happening when the doer is completely stops in the act of hearing the rain.

Note the difference:
- 'Hearing' the rain when the movement of 'I' (i.e. doer) stops.
- Hearing the rain when there are still movement of 'I'.

rgds
exist
exist
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:14 am

Re: What is Self-Knowing Meditation (MMD) ?

Post by exist »

Actually you can call it anything such as Choiceless Awareness, Bare Attention, etc, as long as there is no doer, method and goal. Just like JK said, the first step is last step.
It is like Zen without koan, because presence of koan implies the doer and goal.
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