The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 25, 2013 6:49 pm

mettafuture wrote:I never said teaching anapanasati to everyone was inaccurate. I said that anapanasati may not have been the meditation object that the Buddha wanted the laity to start with because there's little evidence in the Tipitaka to suggest this. But you do find several suttas where the Buddha prescribes devotional practices to the laity.
And you also find the Buddha chewing out Sariputta for not teaching the hardcore Dhamma to a layperson. We find in the commentary to the Satipatthana Sutta lay people are very actively doing that practice, which is a great more than mere devotional practices. That monks over the last 100 years have seen fit to teach the laity more hard core practices is a good thing. Also, I'd be a bit more careful about maligning lay meditation teachers because they do not quite fit your idea of how things should be.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Sat May 25, 2013 7:08 pm

reflection wrote:@mettafuture, I think we agree on the essentials indeed. Perhaps its just our experience with teachers that differs. A nice sutta is this one, about picking up the right object at the right time.

I'll give the Suda Sutta a gander.

tiltbillings wrote:
mettafuture wrote:Yes it has. They've given up their hair, clothes, homes, possessions, etc, many things that householders are still attached to.
And what do they get in turn?

A frugal life with fewer of the material and sensual distractions that can impede practice.

And all monks teach the Dhamma in the pure way that you seem to think it should be taught? And all lay teachers dilute the Dhamma from what you think it should be?

I'm objecting to the teachers who do dilute the Dhamma.

And you also find the Buddha chewing out Sariputta for not teaching the hardcore Dhamma to a layperson. -- I'd be a bit more careful about maligning lay meditation teachers because they do not quite fit your idea of how things should be.

Your start your reply by saying that the Buddha wanted his teachings presented in a certain way, and then you end your reply by saying that I'm the one who wants the teachings presented in a certain way.
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 25, 2013 7:17 pm

mettafuture wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
mettafuture wrote:Yes it has. They've given up their hair, clothes, homes, possessions, etc, many things that householders are still attached to.
And what do they get in turn?

A frugal life with fewer of the material and sensual distractions that can impede practice.
For those monks who want and understand that. That a person is a monstic is no guarantee.

And all monks teach the Dhamma in the pure way that you seem to think it should be taught? And all lay teachers dilute the Dhamma from what you think it should be?

I'm objecting to the teachers who do dilute the Dhamma.
And who determines that the Dhamma has been diluted?

And you also find the Buddha chewing out Sariputta for not teaching the hardcore Dhamma to a layperson. -- I'd be a bit more careful about maligning lay meditation teachers because they do not quite fit your idea of how things should be.

Your start your reply by saying that the Buddha wanted his teachings presented in a certain way, and then you end your reply by saying that I'm the one who wants the teachings presented in a certain way.
I started by showing that the Buddha was not limiting his teachings to devotionalism for the laity as you have suggested.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 25, 2013 7:29 pm

mettafuture wrote: But does it really make sense to skip developing at least a rudimentary understanding of the body, feelings, consciousness, and mental objects before jumping ahead to the breath?
Interestingly enough, in doing breath awareness the body, feelings, consciousness, and mental objects all come directly into play. As one's practice progresses these things become clearer and more direct, enlivening the teachings, bringing them beyond mere theory and doctrine. And of course, it helps to have -- if not actually a requirement -- a good teacher, lay or monastic.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Sat May 25, 2013 7:38 pm

tiltbillings wrote:And who determines that the Dhamma has been diluted?

Buddhist scholars.

"Through the centuries the most popular meditation subjects among lay Buddhists have probably been the six recollections (anussati): of the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, morality, generosity, and the devas."
--- Bhikkhi Bodhi, In The Buddha's Words.

Considering that the recollections have been taught for "centuries", it would be kind of strange for a teacher to not mention the them, wouldn't it?

I started by showing that the Buddha was not limiting his teachings to devotionalism for the laity as you have suggested.

Where did I say that?

Interestingly enough, in doing breath awareness the body, feelings, consciousness, and mental objects all come directly into play.

Right. Or you can meditate on these objects individually, as the Buddha suggests in the Satipatthana Sutta. One way isn't particularly better than the other. The Buddha laid forth many paths to enlightenment, and each path should be presented as an option.
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 25, 2013 7:49 pm

mettafuture wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And who determines that the Dhamma has been diluted?

Buddhist scholars.
And they are all in complete agreement? Buddhist scholar/meditation practitioners have also suggested otherwise, in line with the Buddha's admonition to Sariputta.



One way isn't particularly better than the other. The Buddha laid forth many paths to enlightenment, and each path should be presented as an option.
You answered your own question. There are differing ways to practice. If one does not want to do vipassana, for example, then one finds a teacher who will teach something else.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Sat May 25, 2013 7:50 pm

tiltbillings wrote:And they are all in complete agreement?

Name one who doesn't agree that the recollections should be taught.
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 25, 2013 8:13 pm

mettafuture wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And they are all in complete agreement?

Name one who doesn't agree that the recollections should be taught.
No one is saying that the "recollections" shouldn't be taught, but are you arguing that they are necessary, that one must do those as a formal meditation practice?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Sat May 25, 2013 8:18 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And they are all in complete agreement?

Name one who doesn't agree that the recollections should be taught.
No one is saying that the "recollections" shouldn't be taught, but are you arguing that they are necessary, that one must do those as a formal meditation practice?

"The Buddha laid forth many paths to enlightenment, and each path should be presented as an option."
-- Me, 2 hours ago.
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 25, 2013 8:30 pm

mettafuture wrote:"The Buddha laid forth many paths to enlightenment, and each path should be presented as an option."
-- Me, 2 hours ago.
The OP:

    So why is it that Western Buddhists focus on just 1 or 2 of these objects (eg. anapanasati and metta)? Is it because our dhamma teachers don't feel that contemplating the elements or recalling the qualities of the Buddha could be compatible with our cultural sensibilities? Perhaps they aren't. But if that's the case, maybe we need to change something about ourselves rather than continue to selectively disregard large portions of the dhamma.

    I also feel that it may be a mistake to introduce breath meditation to every new Buddhist as their first meditation object. I've heard people try to make the point that anapanasati can fulfill all four satipatthanas, therefore special attention doesn't need to be given to the individual satipatthanas. But does it really make sense to skip developing at least a rudimentary understanding of the body, feelings, consciousness, and mental objects before jumping ahead to the breath?

So, one can teach the Dhamma is a variety of differing way. And it would seem that the OP is worrying about nothing, really.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat May 25, 2013 8:59 pm

I think one of the advantages of Dhamma in the West is that we actually do have a fair amount of choice. If you're inclined to a more devotional type of practice, you can find it; if you're more of a secularist or rationalist, you can find it; if you prefer a meditation-centered approach you can find it, etc etc. Pretty much every strain of Buddhism is represented, especially in the major urban areas where you can find a traditional Thai Wat in one neighborhood and a Western-style dharma center in the next.

I'm not sure the traditional Buddhist cultures in Asia offer a similar range of choice. Though my experience is limited (and based only on what I saw at Mahayana temples in East Asia), my impression is that devotions and prostrations are far more the norm, and meditation for laypeople a relatively new thing.
User avatar
Lazy_eye
 
Posts: 733
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Sat May 25, 2013 9:08 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:I think one of the advantages of Dhamma in the West is that we actually do have a fair amount of choice. If you're inclined to a more devotional type of practice, you can find it; if you're more of a secularist or rationalist, you can find it; if you prefer a meditation-centered approach you can find it, etc etc.

I completely agree. The fact that the Dhamma has teachings for every type of person is a testament to the Buddha's wisdom and genius. My main issue is with how some teachers don't inform students of the meditative options that are available. I had to discover the teachings on the recollections and the elements on my own.
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 25, 2013 10:25 pm

mettafuture wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:I think one of the advantages of Dhamma in the West is that we actually do have a fair amount of choice. If you're inclined to a more devotional type of practice, you can find it; if you're more of a secularist or rationalist, you can find it; if you prefer a meditation-centered approach you can find it, etc etc.

I completely agree. The fact that the Dhamma has teachings for every type of person is a testament to the Buddha's wisdom and genius. My main issue is with how some teachers don't inform students of the meditative options that are available. I had to discover the teachings on the recollections and the elements on my own.
You might find this book of interest:

http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/book-revi ... -u-pandita
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby marc108 » Sun May 26, 2013 1:44 am

I'm not sure how much this matches up to reality, but I think that the laity at large during the time of the Buddha likely was not practicing with the same scope and intensity as the laity is now. The serious modern day practitioner is probably much closer in terms of practice to a monastic than they were in the distant past. We have full and instant access to the entire Canon, we have great masters, both lay and monastic, giving advanced teachings in prolific amounts to the public... etc etc


mettafuture wrote:I had to discover the teachings on the recollections and the elements on my own.



I don't mean this in an offensive way, but perhaps that is just a result of your limited exposure? I said this before but nearly all of the lay and monastic teachers giving teachings to the west are giving a fairly diverse range of teachings on meditation.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
User avatar
marc108
 
Posts: 464
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:10 pm

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Sun May 26, 2013 2:11 am

tiltbillings wrote:You might find this book of interest:

http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/book-revi ... -u-pandita

I'll check it out.

marc108 wrote:I don't mean this in an offensive way, but perhaps that is just a result of your limited exposure?

When I started practice, my teachers only taught breath meditation. Many important topics were first introduced to me through the suttas.

"For that which I have proclaimed and made known as the Dhamma and the Discipline, that shall be your Master when I am gone."
-- Maha-parinibbana Sutta (DN 16)
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby marc108 » Sun May 26, 2013 2:15 am

Lazy_eye wrote:I think one of the advantages of Dhamma in the West is that we actually do have a fair amount of choice. If you're inclined to a more devotional type of practice, you can find it; if you're more of a secularist or rationalist, you can find it; if you prefer a meditation-centered approach you can find it, etc etc. Pretty much every strain of Buddhism is represented, especially in the major urban areas where you can find a traditional Thai Wat in one neighborhood and a Western-style dharma center in the next.

I'm not sure the traditional Buddhist cultures in Asia offer a similar range of choice. Though my experience is limited (and based only on what I saw at Mahayana temples in East Asia), my impression is that devotions and prostrations are far more the norm, and meditation for laypeople a relatively new thing.


:goodpost:
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
User avatar
marc108
 
Posts: 464
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:10 pm

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun May 26, 2013 9:47 am

mettafuture wrote:My main issue is with how some teachers don't inform students of the meditative options that are available.


Yes, I think that is a problem in some cases, and I think beginners would benefit from a clear introduction to the different approaches that are available.
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 1761
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby chownah » Sun May 26, 2013 3:41 pm

I think that colors can be used as an object for meditation. Can someone give me a link to a Sutta where the Buddha teaches the proper way to use color for meditation?
chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2410
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Sekha » Sun May 26, 2013 3:52 pm

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org
User avatar
Sekha
 
Posts: 729
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:32 am

Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby daverupa » Sun May 26, 2013 3:57 pm

chownah wrote:I think that colors can be used as an object for meditation. Can someone give me a link to a Sutta where the Buddha teaches the proper way to use color for meditation?
chownah


Something along these lines, though mentioned only a handful of times in the Nikayas:

AN 10.29 wrote:"There are these ten totality-dimensions. Which ten? One perceives the earth-totality above, below, all-around: non-dual, unlimited. One perceives the water-totality... the fire-totality... the wind-totality... the blue-totality... the yellow-totality... the red-totality... the white-totality... the space-totality... the consciousness-totality above, below, all-around: non-dual, unlimited. These are the ten totalities. Now, of these ten totalities, this is supreme: when one perceives the consciousness-totality above, below, all-around: non-dual, unlimited. And there are beings who are percipient in this way. Yet even in the beings who are percipient in this way there is still aberration, there is change. Seeing this, the instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with that. Being disenchanted with that, he becomes dispassionate toward what is supreme, and even more so toward what is inferior.
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 3698
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: BlueLotus, fivebells, Kasina, Lazy_eye, MSNbot Media, Shaswata_Panja and 7 guests