Questions on Mahasi Method?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Questions on Mahasi Method?

Postby Micheal Kush » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:39 pm

Hey all,

In my practice, I do a formal sitting consisting of focusing my awareness or attention to the breath at the abdomen, noting it every time it rises and falls, continuing with that. Aside with that, I also note every sensation or feeling or object that arises out of the six senses, doing this until a great degree of calmness arises. However, I am a bit confused regarding the alternative practices concerning them.

I was told that if one wishes, one may choose to do external noting: noting everything from the six sense in continuity or internal: expansion and contraction of abdomen. Also, it has been regarded that this Mahasi Method isn't so dry as some proclaim to be and that samatha can work together in a unified manner with vipassana thus rendering them vipassana jhanas. Even Joseph Goldstein in his Sattipathana sutta series teaches of this technique.

So my question is, if one chooses to do the external noting which consist of noting every object of the six sense media in the open, can they still attain concentration or jhana for that matter? I always hear from the majority that focusing solely on the breath can sufficiently enhance concentration, I was just wondering can this external noting do it too.

With metta, mike
Micheal Kush
 
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:47 pm

Re: Questions on Mahasi Method?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:06 am

Micheal Kush wrote:
So my question is, if one chooses to do the external noting which consist of noting every object of the six sense media in the open, can they still attain concentration or jhana for that matter? I always hear from the majority that focusing solely on the breath can sufficiently enhance concentration, I was just wondering can this external noting do it too.

With metta, mike
It depends upon the situation. If you are in a meditation hall during a retreat and you hear your neighbor's breathing, the sound of that can be used as an object of practice to good effect, but other noting might be a bit too busy with too many distractions.

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... nal#p14316
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: 19564
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Questions on Mahasi Method?

Postby Micheal Kush » Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:25 pm

Well according to the practice and what I've heard and read is that one, if wills, can note the arising and passing of feelings, six sense media etc. and still attain concentration. During my practice, I can definitely say that noting pain, pleasure and all types of things arising has certaintly created more calm and stilling but I am stuck on its conducive cirtieria to jhana. Some call it vipassana jhanas, wjere one uses the vipassana practice to attain concentration.

A clarification would help and I agree that at times like a retreat can be distracting.

I dont mind noting the abdomen rising and falling but when I heard Joseph Goldstein talk of this other activity, It correlated with Mahasis' method of keeping open to the six senses. Perhaps I should just practice and see.

With metta, mike
Micheal Kush
 
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:47 pm

Re: Questions on Mahasi Method?

Postby Micheal Kush » Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:38 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Micheal Kush wrote:
So my question is, if one chooses to do the external noting which consist of noting every object of the six sense media in the open, can they still attain concentration or jhana for that matter? I always hear from the majority that focusing solely on the breath can sufficiently enhance concentration, I was just wondering can this external noting do it too.

With metta, mike
It depends upon the situation. If you are in a meditation hall during a retreat and you hear your neighbor's breathing, the sound of that can be used as an object of practice to good effect, but other noting might be a bit too busy with too many distractions.

viewtopic.php?f=44&t=1122&p=14316&hilit=+external#p14316


Tiltbillings, Judging from the post you gave you, I feel like I gave you the wrong idea of what I am talking about and I've probably used the word "externally" in the wrong context. So, for the sake of reiterating myself, let me explain:

The other alternative to the falling and rising of the abdomen is what I call external noting, where when one is set to meditate and whenever one hears a sound, one labels "sound" and so on to each every six sense that arise, doing just that. This is my main concern, If one sat down to say, just note the arising and passing away of the six sense media(mostly used in vipassana practice), can this constant noting of hearing sounds, seeing thoughts, focusing on feels and their impermanence, can that be a good tool to reach concentration(Jhana). I know you, reading from numerous posts, that you clarify that the dry insight method isn't so dry at all and that vipassana and samatha work in a interwoven fashion.

Sorry if when I used "external". I didn't intend it to mean, looking at others postures, their feelings etc. but just to the practice up above. Sorry I needed to clarify again.

With metta, Mike
Micheal Kush
 
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:47 pm

Re: Questions on Mahasi Method?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:28 pm

Hi Michael,
Micheal Kush wrote:The other alternative to the falling and rising of the abdomen is what I call external noting, where when one is set to meditate and whenever one hears a sound, one labels "sound" and so on to each every six sense that arise, doing just that.

The usual Mahasi approach is to have the rising/falling (or walking sensations) as the "primary" object, and switch to those other objects as they arise. After a few days of retreat there is not so much need for a primary object, and just watching whatever comes up also gives good concentration.

So, as you say, this isn't "dry", in the sense of no concentration, and the jhana factors are certainly being developed. However, regular jhana tends to require a fixed, "conceptual", object, so I'd say if you want to do regular jhana practice, do that.

You may find some clarification in U Pandita's In This Very Life in the "Vipassana Jhanas" chapter: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... hanas.html

Samatha Jhāna

There are two types of jhāna: samatha jhāna and vipassanā jhāna. Some of you may have read about the samatha jhānas and wonder why I am talking about them in the context of vipassanā. Samatha jhāna is pure concentration, fixed awareness of a single object — a mental image, for example, such as a colored disk or a light. The mind is fixed on this object without wavering or moving elsewhere. Eventually the mind develops a very peaceful, tranquil, concentrated state and becomes absorbed in the object. Different levels of absorption are described in the texts, each level having specific qualities.

Vipassanā Jhāna

On the other hand, vipassanā jhāna allows the mind to move freely from object to object, staying focused on the characteristics of impermanence, suffering and absence of self that are common to all objects. Vipassanā jhāna also includes the mind which can be focused and fixed upon the bliss of nibbāna. Rather than the tranquility and absorption which are the goal of samatha jhāna practitioners, the most important results of vipassanā jhāna are insight and wisdom.

Vipassanā jhāna is the focusing of the mind on paramattha dhammas. Usually these are spoken of as “ultimate realities,” but actually they are just the things we can experience directly through the six sense doors without conceptualization. Most of them are saṅkhāra paramattha dhamma, or conditioned ultimate realities; mental and physical phenomena which are changing all the time. Nibbāna is also a paramattha dhamma, but of course it is not conditioned.

Breathing is a good example of a conditioned process. The sensations you feel at the abdomen are conditioned ultimate realities, saṅkhāra paramattha dhamma, caused by your intention to breath. The whole purpose of concentrating one’s attention on the abdomen is to penetrate the actual quality and nature of what is happening there. When you are aware of movement, tension, tautness, heat or cold, you have begun to develop vipassanā jhāna.

Mindfulness at the respective sense doors follows the same principle. If there is diligent effort and penetrative awareness, focusing on what is happening in any particular sense process, the mind will understand the true nature of what is happening. The sensing processes will be understood in individual characteristics as well as common ones.

According to the fourfold way of reckoning, which admits of four levels of jhāna, the first jhāna possesses five factors which we will describe below. All of them are important in vipassanā practice.

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10394
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Questions on Mahasi Method?

Postby Micheal Kush » Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:36 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Michael,
Micheal Kush wrote:The other alternative to the falling and rising of the abdomen is what I call external noting, where when one is set to meditate and whenever one hears a sound, one labels "sound" and so on to each every six sense that arise, doing just that.

The usual Mahasi approach is to have the rising/falling (or walking sensations) as the "primary" object, and switch to those other objects as they arise. After a few days of retreat there is not so much need for a primary object, and just watching whatever comes up also gives good concentration.

So, as you say, this isn't "dry", in the sense of no concentration, and the jhana factors are certainly being developed. However, regular jhana tends to require a fixed, "conceptual", object, so I'd say if you want to do regular jhana practice, do that.

You may find some clarification in U Pandita's In This Very Life in the "Vipassana Jhanas" chapter: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... hanas.html

Samatha Jhāna

There are two types of jhāna: samatha jhāna and vipassanā jhāna. Some of you may have read about the samatha jhānas and wonder why I am talking about them in the context of vipassanā. Samatha jhāna is pure concentration, fixed awareness of a single object — a mental image, for example, such as a colored disk or a light. The mind is fixed on this object without wavering or moving elsewhere. Eventually the mind develops a very peaceful, tranquil, concentrated state and becomes absorbed in the object. Different levels of absorption are described in the texts, each level having specific qualities.

Vipassanā Jhāna

On the other hand, vipassanā jhāna allows the mind to move freely from object to object, staying focused on the characteristics of impermanence, suffering and absence of self that are common to all objects. Vipassanā jhāna also includes the mind which can be focused and fixed upon the bliss of nibbāna. Rather than the tranquility and absorption which are the goal of samatha jhāna practitioners, the most important results of vipassanā jhāna are insight and wisdom.

Vipassanā jhāna is the focusing of the mind on paramattha dhammas. Usually these are spoken of as “ultimate realities,” but actually they are just the things we can experience directly through the six sense doors without conceptualization. Most of them are saṅkhāra paramattha dhamma, or conditioned ultimate realities; mental and physical phenomena which are changing all the time. Nibbāna is also a paramattha dhamma, but of course it is not conditioned.

Breathing is a good example of a conditioned process. The sensations you feel at the abdomen are conditioned ultimate realities, saṅkhāra paramattha dhamma, caused by your intention to breath. The whole purpose of concentrating one’s attention on the abdomen is to penetrate the actual quality and nature of what is happening there. When you are aware of movement, tension, tautness, heat or cold, you have begun to develop vipassanā jhāna.

Mindfulness at the respective sense doors follows the same principle. If there is diligent effort and penetrative awareness, focusing on what is happening in any particular sense process, the mind will understand the true nature of what is happening. The sensing processes will be understood in individual characteristics as well as common ones.

According to the fourfold way of reckoning, which admits of four levels of jhāna, the first jhāna possesses five factors which we will describe below. All of them are important in vipassanā practice.

:anjali:
Mike


Thank you for the link and the confirmation of the technique. My doubts have been cleared, and my little misunderstanding has been erased with your elaboration.

With metta, mike
Micheal Kush
 
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:47 pm


Return to Insight Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], robertk and 4 guests