contemplation and meditation

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

contemplation and meditation

Postby no mike » Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:40 pm

I see a lot of instructions for establishing the four foundations of mindfulness, as well as other Dhamma subjects, which indicate: "contemplate on...."

Should these "contemplation subjects" be subjects of formal seated meditation?

(At this point, my only targeted "subject" for seated meditation has been "breath," and for walking meditation I have focussed on mindfulness of mental intent, physical movements of body parts, etc., observing rising and falling, etc.; however, the contemplation subjects of the four foundations of mindfulness, as well as other Dhamma subjects, and cultivating mindfulness in general, are things I have been working on or reflecting/pondering during day-to-day activities, such as morning coffee, driving around, chores, quiet time, whenever.)
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Re: contemplation and meditation

Postby Mkoll » Sun Nov 24, 2013 2:27 am

Dear no mike,

I will speak from my limited experience. I do contemplate the doctrinal aspects of the Dhamma in formal seated meditation. When sitting in a quiet place with closed eyes, I find the mind naturally becomes more clear and thus whatever the mind is applied to becomes more clear. I find that reflecting on the Dhamma gives me a deeper understanding when I'm meditating than when I reflect in an ordinary waking state. An added benefit is that this understanding usually makes the mind more calm which then makes following the breath or cultivating metta easier or more enjoyable. And then maybe I'll get an urge to ponder something while following the breath and go back to contemplation, then back to the breath, etc.

And in terms of the four foundations, the Buddha said that if one practices with unyielding energy, one can become a non-returner or arahant in 7 days-7 years. I imagine this entails being mindful at every single moment and thus one is contemplating or practicing a foundation in all the postures during every conscious moment.

Good luck in your practice.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: contemplation and meditation

Postby no mike » Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:22 pm

Mkoll wrote:I do contemplate the doctrinal aspects of the Dhamma in formal seated meditation. When sitting in a quiet place with closed eyes, I find the mind naturally becomes more clear and thus whatever the mind is applied to becomes more clear. I find that reflecting on the Dhamma gives me a deeper understanding when I'm meditating than when I reflect in an ordinary waking state. An added benefit is that this understanding usually makes the mind more calm which then makes following the breath or cultivating metta easier or more enjoyable. And then maybe I'll get an urge to ponder something while following the breath and go back to contemplation, then back to the breath, etc.


This makes sense, thank you.

I think I need some more instruction on sitting meditation techniques during insight practice.
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Re: contemplation and meditation

Postby Zom » Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:52 pm

And in terms of the four foundations, the Buddha said that if one practices with unyielding energy, one can become a non-returner or arahant in 7 days-7 years.


To become non-returner you need to master jhanas (MN 64). And satipatthana with many preliminary exercises (MN 107) eventually leads to jhana. Good thing to keep in mind that these preliminary things may take all your lifetime to practise, and without them satipatthana won't get enough power to lead you to a jhana, even in you practise it lets say for 70, not 7 years -)
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Re: contemplation and meditation

Postby no mike » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:00 pm

Zom wrote:
And in terms of the four foundations, the Buddha said that if one practices with unyielding energy, one can become a non-returner or arahant in 7 days-7 years.


To become non-returner you need to master jhanas (MN 64). And satipatthana with many preliminary exercises (MN 107) eventually leads to jhana. Good thing to keep in mind that these preliminary things may take all your lifetime to practise, and without them satipatthana won't get enough power to lead you to a jhana, even in you practise it lets say for 70, not 7 years -)


If a particular person were to achieve non-returner status within seventy (70) years, imagine what that person's satipatthana practice with many preliminary exercises would look, in terms of actual activities and schedule. Now, if that same person were to reach non-returner status in seven (7) years, how might that person's daily schedule and practice look? Let's say that same person attains non-returner status in seven (7) days. What might be the difference in that person's satipatthana practice and preliminary exercises?

Let me re-phrase my original question: What is the best way to contemplate the essence of each of the four foundations of mindfulness? During seated meditation, walking meditation, or while drinking coffee, driving around, doing chores? A combination of the above, or none of the above?

A particular thing that has me confused is whether there are structured exercises specifically for a "satipatthana seated meditation." Or, does one just continue on with following the breath during one hour of seated meditation, and the mere act of using mindfulness techniques to deal with the hindrances make it satipatthana meditation?

Thank you :)
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Re: contemplation and meditation

Postby daverupa » Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:18 pm

no mike wrote:A particular thing that has me confused is whether there are structured exercises specifically for a "satipatthana seated meditation."


Anapanasati. Otherwise, any number of other methods for satipatthana can be employed, whether sitting or standing or walking around, or lying prone.

I'm not sure what you mean by "essence", however. For body, for example, you just tune in to the proprioception of having a body to the extent necessary to be mindful of its posture, say. You can use a phrase if this helps, but it can also be nonverbal when you're aware of 'sitting' or 'standing'. It's just a body there.

Something is pleasant? It's just a feeling there, temporary, etc.

Try considering satipatthana as a lifestyle you're internalizing, rather than a practice you're adding to your life. You might find that it goes against the grain, where most of the time one's life is going along with the sensual grain...
    "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]
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Re: contemplation and meditation

Postby no mike » Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:29 pm

daverupa wrote:
no mike wrote:A particular thing that has me confused is whether there are structured exercises specifically for a "satipatthana seated meditation."


Anapanasati. Otherwise, any number of other methods for satipatthana can be employed, whether sitting or standing or walking around, or lying prone.

I'm not sure what you mean by "essence", however. For body, for example, you just tune in to the proprioception of having a body to the extent necessary to be mindful of its posture, say. You can use a phrase if this helps, but it can also be nonverbal when you're aware of 'sitting' or 'standing'. It's just a body there.

Something is pleasant? It's just a feeling there, temporary, etc.

Try considering satipatthana as a lifestyle you're internalizing, rather than a practice you're adding to your life. You might find that it goes against the grain, where most of the time one's life is going along with the sensual grain...


Okay, making more sense to me, thank you!

If I am in correct view:

There is not a necessary separate "sitting practice" for insight meditation. Insight meditation happens as "mindfulness" during any conscious moment. It is a development of awareness we use to strengthen concentration (and anapanasati), and to help us gain clear comprehension.

The strengthening of our mindfulness occurs as we contemplate the various components of its four foundations. Contemplation is another word for meditation, concentrating on a subject. Contemplation of the four foundations does not have to occur during any specific posture or activity, or during a structured sitting meditation, but any of the latter. That is, contemplation of the four foundations can be during some of our "mindfulness of breathing" meditation (preferably without internal dialog), or while having coffee in the morning, driving, or while sitting in a cemetery, or while in the lying posture or during a walk (whether it's a casual walk or a more structured walking meditation).

Which is actually very interesting, using a focussed concentration to study the foundations of an overall bare awareness. And, during concentration, using mindful awareness to observe oneself early from getting off concentration, and then mindfully employing effort and thinking skills, if needed, to get back on the subject.

So, I can stop looking for a separate program of formal exercises in seated meditation, designed exclusively for, and known as, "insight meditation."
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Re: contemplation and meditation

Postby bodom » Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:10 pm

Some questions and answers with Ajahn Chah that you may find helpful:

Question: When you teach about the value of contemplation, are you speaking of sitting and thinking over particular themes - the thirty-two parts of the body, for instance ?

Answer: That is not necessary when the mind is truly still. When tranquillity is properly established the right object of investigation becomes obvious. When contemplation is ’True’, there is no discrimination into ’right’ and ’wrong’. ’good’ and ’bad’ ; there is nothing even like that. You don’t sit there thinking, ’Oh, this is like that and that is like this’ etc. That is a coarse form of contemplation. Meditative contemplation is not merely a matter of thinking — rather it’s what we call ’contemplation in silence’. Whilst going about our daily routine we mindfully consider the real nature of existence through comparisons. This is a coarse kind of investigation but it leads to the real thing.

Question: When you talk about contemplating the body and mind, though, do we actually use thinking ? Can thinking produce true insight ? Is this vipassana ?

Answer: In the beginning we need to work using thinking, even though later on we go beyond it. When we are doing true contemplation all dualistic thinking has ceased ; although we need to consider dualistically to get started. Eventually all thinking and pondering comes to an end.

Question: You say that there must be sufficient tranquillity (samadhi) to contemplate. Just how tranquil do you mean ?

Answer: Tranquil enough for there to be presence of mind.

Answer: Do you mean staying with the here-and-now, not thinking about the past and future ?

Answer: Thinking about the past and future is all right if you understand what these things really are, but you must not get caught up in them. Treat them the same as you would anything else — don’t get caught up. When you see thinking as just thinking, then that’s wisdom. Don’t believe in any of it ! Recognize that all of it is just something that has arisen and will cease. Simply see everything just as it is — it is what it is — the mind is the mind — it’s not anything or anybody in itself. Happiness is just happiness, suffering is just suffering — it is just what it is. When you see this you will be beyond doubt.

Question: I still don’t understand. Is true contemplating the same as thinking ?

Answer: We use thinking as a tool, but the knowing that arises because of its use is above and beyond the process of thinking ; it leads to our not being fooled by our thinking any more. You recognize that all thinking is merely the movement of the mind, and also that knowing is not born and doesn’t die. What do you think all this movement called ’mind’ comes out of ? What we talk about as the mind — all the activity — is just the conventional mind. It’s not the real mind at all. What is real just IS, it’s not arising and it’s not passing away.

Trying to understand these things just by talking about them, though, won’t work. We need to really consider impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and impersonality ( anicca, dukkha, anatta) ; that is, we need to use thinking to contemplate the nature of conventional reality. What comes out of this work is wisdom — and emptiness. Even though there may still be thinking, it’s empty — you are not affected by it.


http://www.buddhaline.net/What-Is-Contemplation

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: contemplation and meditation

Postby no mike » Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:05 am

bodom wrote:Some questions and answers with Ajahn Chah that you may find helpful...."


Yes, very much.

Thank you
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Re: contemplation and meditation

Postby no mike » Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:24 pm

(follow-up)

Interesting. I didn't realize I posted this exactly a year ago--my how time flies (especially when one is a slow reader, haha)!

The essence of what I was looking for has found me. While voyaging along each of the suttas of the Majjhima Nikaya, I finally landed on the Anapanasati Sutta, re-read it (having been there before) with a fresh perspective, and noticed words that I've read earlier, but somehow didn't see or connect. Mindfulness of breathing is an excellent setting for "contemplating" the four foundations of mindfulness, enroute to ones development of deeper concentration.

So yes, I gather, that during seated meditation, one may fruitfully contemplate the foundations of mindfulness, while connecting them with the in and out breath. This in addition to observing and investigating internally and externally in day-to-day life.

I guess the challenge and benefit during meditation would come from keeping focussed and specific, and not wandering off the subject (be it body, feelings, mind, dhamma, etc.).
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