Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

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Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby Jhana4 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:21 am



About the video:


Venerable Vimalaramsi practiced meditation for many years before he began studying the Pali Canon. He discovered that the instructions for meditation differed between the suttas ( Buddhist Discourses ) and the commentaries ( ancient commentaries by scholar monks about the discourses ) and that most meditation teachers used the instructions from the commentaries. According to Venerable Vimalaramsi the instructions from the commentaries leave some important steps out. In this video Venerable Vimalaramsi explains how to meditate using the instructions from the suttas and he explains how to get the extra value from these missing steps.

His views about using the suttas for meditation instructions are discussed at length in his book which is available as a free PDF: The Anapanasati Sutta: A Practical Guide to Mindfulness of Breathingand Tranquil Wisdom Meditation by the Venerable U Vimalaramsi

I haven't read the book, but I watched the video and found it intriguing. I haven't decided what to make of his views yet.

Has anyone tried out "his" method of meditation yet for a significant amount of time?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:37 am

Jhana4 wrote:Has anyone tried out "his" method of meditation yet for a significant amount of time?
There is enough in what he has said, as noted in this thread, to impeach him. As I have said elsewhere, there are far better teachers out there than to waste time with this man.
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.
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:27 am

Greetings Jhana4,

Thanks for sharing!

:meditate:

A very sensible teaching IMO. My experience suggests to me that he's right.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby legolas » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:05 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Jhana4 wrote:Has anyone tried out "his" method of meditation yet for a significant amount of time?
There is enough in what he has said, as noted above, to impeach him. As I have said elsewhere, there are fair better teachers out there than to waste time with this man.


Groannn! And around we go again.

Respect to the sangha and the different Theravadin sangha traditions are surely within the TOS (as I have been told) - yet this does not seem to apply to certain people and their pet hates. It is not that I respect bhante Vimalaramsi views and am upset by someone disagreeing with them, it is the personal nature of the attack that beggars belief. I thought we were all buddhists here. It seems certain lay organisations are better protected. Attack the teachings by all means, but mean spirited personal attacks do not help anyone.

BTW As far as the oriniginal post, yes I have personally found that bhante's teachings have the "taste of dhamma".
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby Jhana4 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:34 am

I'm the original poster. Before posting I ran a search on this monk to see if someone already beat me to posting this video. I found an older thread where his views about other things were discussed. I'm aware that people have problems with his views and I don't want to usurp that thread. As far as this thread goes I'm interested in "his" technique for meditation. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has given his technique a good try about the value of "his" method.

The idea of using anapanasati as described in the suttas has always been interesting to me. Personally, I've found those directions to be too vague. I'm always wondering what to do next or what to do about a certain situation.

- Does one wait until one seems well established in one step before moving onto another?
Example: do you make sure you are aware of each in and out breath solidly, before you begin trying to notice the length or do you go back and forth?

- Does one merely observe the effects of focusing on the breath or do they try to make the effects happen?
Example: does "Breathing in he trains himself to calm the body" does that mean that focusing on the breath brings relaxation or that while focusing on the breath the meditator consciously tries to induce relaxation, say for example thinking "relax"?

- How does one handle distractions according to those directions or is there how? Is it up to the meditator to read the other suttas and figure that out for himself?

I'm guessing the sutta instructions were left deliberately vague for good reasons and that is why the commentaries came into existence.

I'm interested in the value of this particular mediation technique from people who had personal experience with it and opinions about how to interpret the directions in the suttas.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:03 pm

legolas wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Jhana4 wrote:Has anyone tried out "his" method of meditation yet for a significant amount of time?
There is enough in what he has said, as noted above, to impeach him. As I have said elsewhere, there are fair better teachers out there than to waste time with this man.


Groannn! And around we go again.
The gentleman is either deliberately misleading or is simply incompetent. His words here speak for themselves. Also see: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=7375&p=117344#p117374

Respect to the sangha and the different Theravadin sangha traditions
Just because he is a a monk does not mean that one needs to agree with him. Also, just because he is a monk he cannot be called out for his obvious lack of respect for the tradition he is criticizing.

Attack the teachings by all means, but mean spirited personal attacks do not help anyone.
That is exactly the the point in criticizing his attacks on Buddhaghosa and the Visiddhimagga, as is plainly seen in the linked thread: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=7375&start=60#p117469

BTW As far as the oriniginal post, yes I have personally found that bhante's teachings have the "taste of dhamma".
On that, obviously, we are going to disagree.

Since this conversation was originally part of the linked thread when I posted the above msg, but since this has become a new thread, any further discussion of this issue of this gentleman's attack on Buddhaghosa and what that means can be had here: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=7375
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
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby reflection » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:32 pm

Hi jhana4 :hello:

Well, you could just try it out. You don't need to do a practice for years to see whether it works or not. The goal of Buddhism is peace/joy/happiness, so it's quite obvious that that should also be the goal in meditation. I agree on his comments on noting practice. Noting things is not the way to a peaceful mind. A peaceful mind is silent and focused. So if Vimalaramsi has done 20 years of noting practice I can understand he is very thrilled about having found out that meditation can be very happy.. :D Smiling and relaxing are a way to this happiness, yes. I don't follow this man's teachings but I always have done these things (He seems to think he is the only one teaching about relaxing and smiling, but this is not true), so I could say I imply a part of his teachings in my meditation. And it certainly works.

However, meditation is not about "doing this", "going there" etc. So at a certain point deliberately relaxing is only going to cause distractions because the best relaxation comes from doing nothing at all and just being focused on the breath and stopping the doing, wandering mind. Also on what he says about focusing on the body, what he says about jhana and other things I don't agree. Also his interpretation of the sutta might be a bit strange. Anyway.. you can pick out some wise things from almost every teacher.

This is my experience. I'd say get your own and see if you like it.

Also I must say I have not watched the entire video.

Lotsa Metta,
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:04 pm

reflection wrote:Hi jhana4 :hello:

Well, you could just try it out. You don't need to do a practice for years to see whether it works or not. The goal of Buddhism is peace/joy/happiness, so it's quite obvious that that should also be the goal in meditation. I agree on his comments on noting practice. Noting things is not the way to a peaceful mind. A peaceful mind is silent and focused. So if Vimalaramsi has done 20 years of noting practice I can understand he is very thrilled about having found out that meditation can be very happy..
If it took him 20 years to figure out that meditation can be happy, one has to wonder what he was doing for 20 years.
Smiling and relaxing are a way to this happiness, yes. I don't follow this man's teachings but I always have done these things (He seems to think he is the only one teaching about relaxing and smiling, but this is not true), so I could say I imply a part of his teachings in my meditation. And it certainly works.
This "smiling and relaxing" business I was taught by a Mahasi Sayadaw trained teacher, who certainly did not learn if from Vimalaramsi. It has been out there a long time.

As to what is the goal of meditation, is an interesting question. The sort of relaxed happiness can serve a purpose, but it remains a conditioned thing. I would say the goal of meditation is insight, and the joy and happiness that arises from insight is of a different order from smiling and relaxing practice.

Again, for his claim that he has studied with all these Burmese vipassana teachers, it really does not sound like it. His characterization of access concentration and moment-to-moment concentration in the linked PDF does not sound as if it were coming from an actual practice. It certainly does not reflect how I was taught nor my own experience.

However, meditation is not about "doing this", "going there" etc. So at a certain point deliberately relaxing is only going to cause distractions because the best relaxation comes from doing nothing at all and just being focused on the breath and stopping the doing, wandering mind. Also on what he says about focusing on the body, what he says about jhana and other things I don't agree. Also his interpretation of the sutta might be a bit strange. Anyway.. you can pick out some wise things from almost every teacher.
Agreed.
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
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:51 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
reflection wrote:Hi jhana4 :hello:

Well, you could just try it out. You don't need to do a practice for years to see whether it works or not. The goal of Buddhism is peace/joy/happiness, so it's quite obvious that that should also be the goal in meditation. I agree on his comments on noting practice. Noting things is not the way to a peaceful mind. A peaceful mind is silent and focused. So if Vimalaramsi has done 20 years of noting practice I can understand he is very thrilled about having found out that meditation can be very happy..
If it took him 20 years to figure out that meditation can be happy, one has to wonder what he was doing for 20 years.
Smiling and relaxing are a way to this happiness, yes. I don't follow this man's teachings but I always have done these things (He seems to think he is the only one teaching about relaxing and smiling, but this is not true), so I could say I imply a part of his teachings in my meditation. And it certainly works.
This "smiling and relaxing" business I was taught by a Mahasi Sayadaw trained teacher, who certainly did not learn if from Vimalaramsi. It has been out there a long time.
....

Clearly different people do better with different instructions. I've listened to quite a few of Ven V's talks and what he's instructing seems good.

However, I'm not sure why he, and others, have to waste time with negativity about other teachers. Why not just say:
    "This works for me, this didn't work for me..."
which is what most teachers I respect do say.

The idea that a select few teachers have it right, have somehow rediscovered something that everyone else (from the Commentators on down) has got wrong, seems extremely unlikely to me, based on my exposure to a few different teachers and discussions with various spiritual friends.

:anjali:
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:18 pm

mikenz66 wrote:

However, I'm not sure why he, and others, have to waste time with negativity about other teachers.
He rattles off a list of the big names in the Burmese vipassana tradition and essentially states, they got it wrong, but he alone got it right. This is less than convincing when he really seems not to be able to talk about those practices in terms of having actually worked with them.

Why not just say:
    "This works for me, this didn't work for me..."
which is what most teachers I respect do say.
Putting aside all his self-damaging put-down of other teachers, if someone finds Vimalaramsi teachings of interest, then certainly put them to the test.
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
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby Nyana » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:33 am

mikenz66 wrote:The idea that a select few teachers have it right, have somehow rediscovered something that everyone else (from the Commentators on down) has got wrong, seems extremely unlikely to me, based on my exposure to a few different teachers and discussions with various spiritual friends.

Indeed.

All the best,

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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:18 am

Greetings Geoff,

Out of interest, what do you make of Venerable Vimalaramsi's understanding of jhana?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Geoff,

Out of interest, what do you make of Venerable Vimalaramsi's understanding of jhana?

Metta,
Retro. :)

I'm not Geoff, but ironically, given Ven. Vimalaramsi's antipathy towards the Mahasi method, his instructions for attaining Jhana makes it sounds quite similar to the "vipassana jhanas" described by Vens Mahasi and U Pandita, as referenced by Geoff here:
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4597&p=135234#p135205

:anjali:
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:46 am

mikenz66 wrote:I'm not Geoff, but ironically, given Ven. Vimalaramsi's antipathy towards the Mahasi method, his instructions for attaining Jhana makes it sounds quite similar to the "vipassana jhanas" described by Vens Mahasi and U Pandita, as referenced by Geoff here:
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4597&p=135234#p135205
A lot of what he has said has been said by others.
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
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby reflection » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:50 am

tiltbillings wrote:
reflection wrote:Hi jhana4 :hello:

Well, you could just try it out. You don't need to do a practice for years to see whether it works or not. The goal of Buddhism is peace/joy/happiness, so it's quite obvious that that should also be the goal in meditation. I agree on his comments on noting practice. Noting things is not the way to a peaceful mind. A peaceful mind is silent and focused. So if Vimalaramsi has done 20 years of noting practice I can understand he is very thrilled about having found out that meditation can be very happy..
If it took him 20 years to figure out that meditation can be happy, one has to wonder what he was doing for 20 years.

Yes, but we have to admit it's a very brave thing to say you've been doing it wrong for 20 years. The Ven. already deserves some respect just because of that.

:namaste:
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:54 am

reflection wrote:Yes, but we have to admit it's a very brave thing to say you've been doing it wrong for 20 years. The Ven. already deserves some respect just because of that.
Some, maybe.
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
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby Nyana » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:09 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Out of interest, what do you make of Venerable Vimalaramsi's understanding of jhana?

I only ever read what he has to say on the subject briefly, but I would agree with Mike's assessment.

All the best,

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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:51 pm

Thanks Mike & Geoff.

:thumbsup:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby 2600htz » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:25 pm

Hello:

I dont know many teachers, but i found this one and his meditation instructions sound coherent.
Thats why i would love to know the opinion of someone who doesnt agree with his technique...
just his technique, not what he talks about history or any other subject.

What to you think specially on this two definitions that he uses, and in your opinion, why this isnt coherent ?:

1)Mindfulness- (Sati) "The act of remembering to recognize and release any distraction that pulls mind’s attention away from the object of meditation ALL THE TIME; remembering to observe the movements of mind’s attention moment-to-moment ALL THE TIME."

2)calming the bodily formation: "relaxing tension of body and breath".

Much Metta.
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Re: Video: Meditation: Suttas vs Commentaries

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:47 pm

Hi 2600htz,

Yes, that's a key part of Ven Vimalaramsi's instructions:
http://www.dhammasukha.org/Study/study.htm

As I though I said earlier in the thread, I think his instructions are good. His discussion of dealing with the hindrances seems very effective (though, as I have said, not particularly different from others). I listened to a number of his talks a few years ago and found them beneficial. Some would use a different definition for sati, but as a practical instruction, what he says seems fine to me. The (Mahasi) instructions I use are also to pay attention to those things all the time (or as much as possible...).

Where different teachers might have slight disagreements is in the "release" instructions, though my teachers do sometimes recommend some active relaxation of something that is particularly troublesome.

:anjali:
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