vipassana craziness

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: vipassana craziness

Postby Mr Man » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:02 am

Ben wrote:
Mr Man wrote:One ot the things I really liked about U Ba Khin tradition retreats was the feeling that I was really doing work.

And what is the difference between U Ba Khin (IMC) tradition retreats and SN Goenka tradition retreats?


I think they are essentially the same.
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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby Ben » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:12 am

That is right, they are.
I had the great good fortune to spend an afternoon with Sayagi U Ba Khin's son and his wife in Yangon two years ago and some time at IMC Yangon, VMC Dhamma Joti, Saya Thet gyi's meditation centre at Pyawbwegyi and Ledi Sayadaw's meditation cave on the banks of the Chitwin River near Monywa. It gave me an invaluable insight into the 'tradition'.
kind regards,

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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:09 pm

convivium wrote:
even hardline Sutta-based teachers like Taan Geoff say that Goenkas sweeping techniques are in line with the Buddhas approach to meditation... ardency, mindfulness and alertness. although i dont know much about the format and theories, or anything beyond the technique it self.

it's strange that you would mention ajahn thanissaro as a justification for goenka. he would never recommend goenka retreats to anyone.

Not strange at all. In the following passage Ven Thanissaro discusses several modern approaches (including his own, since the third seems to be the one he seems to teach), and how he interprets them:

Thanissaro Bhikku wrote:These points may be illustrated with some meditation techniques that are currently popular in the West: In a "mental noting" practice, mindfulness is a matter of remembering to keep up the noting, alertness means seeing whatever phenomena arise to be noted, and ardency is a matter of sticking with the noting relentlessly and being ever more quick and precise in one's alertness. In terms of the factors constituting jhāna practice, the mindfulness and alertness here would be related to directed thought, ardency to singleness of preoccupation, while alertness aimed at evaluating the results of the noting — and ardency in keeping the "pressure" of the noting just right — would be related to evaluation. If this practice is then conducted in line with the texts, it should reach a stage where the mind settles down into the singleness of the first jhāna. Then the meditator would be encouraged to stop the noting, so that the mind could engage in the subtler mindfulness and alertness leading to the second jhāna.

In a "scanning" or "body sweep" practice, mindfulness means remembering to stick with the process of scanning the body, while alertness would mean seeing the subtle sensations of the body being scanned. Ardency would mean sticking with the scanning process and trying to be ever more sensitive to the subtlest sensations. As in the previous case, these activities are related to factors of jhāna, and the process, if conducted in line with the texts, should culminate in a state of full-bodied singleness, at which time the motion of the scanning can be brought to stillness, and the mind can enter deeper concentration.

In "breath" practice, mindfulness means keeping the breath in mind as the theme of the meditation, alertness means being sensitive to the sensations of the breath. Ardency means sticking with the process relentlessly, as well as taking up the stages of "training" [§31; III/E], in which one tries to be aware of the entire body with each in and out breath, and to let the breath sensations grow calm. In terms of jhāna factors, mindfulness would be related to directed thought, alertness to evaluation, and ardency to singleness of preoccupation. As awareness fills the body and the breath grows calm, one's alertness stays steadily with the breath, and the mind enters the singleness of jhāna. At this point, one no longer needs consciously to direct the mind to the breath or to enlarge one's awareness any further. Thus the mind, as above, can develop subtler mindfulness and alertness to enter the second jhāna.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... part2.html


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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby Monkey Mind » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:10 am

Mr Man wrote:Monkey Mind, It's not just the "technique" as such but the emphasis on the "technique" and structure, which I think are worth exploring.

Do you propose that meditators should not utilize a technique? That does not seem congruent with what most meditation teachers in the Theravada tradition seem to be advocating.

Also I find Ideas like "Anapanna was doing its work and bringing the gross level impurities to the surface" (from the OP) odd.

I don't understand what you are suggesting here. Do you propose that meditators wouldn't notice major or subtle changes as a result of practicing meditation?
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:28 am

Greetings,

Monkey Mind wrote:Do you propose that meditators should not utilize a technique?

This question would probably be a bit more interesting if "should not" were replaced by "need not"...

:stirthepot:

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: vipassana craziness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:35 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Monkey Mind wrote:Do you propose that meditators should not utilize a technique?

This question would probably be a bit more interesting if "should not" were replaced by "need not"...

:stirthepot:

Metta,
Retro. :)
As has been pointed out, one is going to use a technique. It may be borrowed from someone else's interpretation of the suttas, or it may be of one's own devising.
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: vipassana craziness

Postby SamKR » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:22 am

tiltbillings wrote:As has been pointed out, one is going to use a technique. It may be borrowed from someone else's interpretation of the suttas, or it may be of one's own devising.

Agree.

A technique means "a method of accomplishing a desired aim". Every practicing Buddhist uses a technique whether he/she calls it a technique or not.
Some techniques are systematic while others may not be. A technique may be devised by someone else and then practiced by many people in almost same way; or it may be devised by an individual and practiced only by him/her or a small group of people.
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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:34 am

Greetings,
If you accept samma sati as a technique then i accept the necessity of a technique.
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: vipassana craziness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:41 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
If you accept samma sati as a technique then i accept the necessity of a technique.
Metta, Retro.
The question is, of course, how one understands "samma sati" and then how one tries to put it into practice. Even among the sutta-only-ist there is certainly considerable variation on both accounts, which is to say that one develops a technique based upon one's understanding.
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: vipassana craziness

Postby Mr Man » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:19 am

Monkey Mind wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Monkey Mind, It's not just the "technique" as such but the emphasis on the "technique" and structure, which I think are worth exploring.

Do you propose that meditators should not utilize a technique? That does not seem congruent with what most meditation teachers in the Theravada tradition seem to be advocating.


As I said it's the emphasis. structure and context and keeping it all in perspective. My perception is that sometimes a technique can be over empowered. We think that by performing a certain technique the work is being done - like a mantra were the sacred sound is said to be actually performing the transformation. That technique is put into a context and structure which creates a certain situation.

The above quote from Ven Thanisaro is interesting as it gives the sweeping technique a context which is, in my opinion, slightly different to how it is taught or perceived in the U Ba Khin traditions.

Also I find Ideas like "Anapanna was doing its work and bringing the gross level impurities to the surface" (from the OP) odd.

I don't understand what you are suggesting here. Do you propose that meditators wouldn't notice major or subtle changes as a result of practicing meditation?


I don't perceive Anapanna as an agent for "bringing the gross level impurities to the surface". I think the whole retreat package is what really causes a lot of the things to come up on retreats and that needs to be acknowledged (not a specific practice doing it's work). I don't really go with the idea that it some kind of deep work is being done in an intense and specific time frame although it can seem like that.

I would add that I am not trying to discourage any particular practice. I'm just sharing my thoughts and exploring. To me a benificial use of retreat practice could be to provide a grounding in the Eight fold path.
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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:39 am

Mr Man wrote:As I said it's the emphasis. structure and context and keeping it all in perspective. My perception is that sometimes a technique can be over empowered. We think that by performing a certain technique the work is being done - like a mantra were the sacred sound is said to be actually performing the transformation. That technique is put into a context and structure which creates a certain situation.
Do you know all this from direct experience?
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: vipassana craziness

Postby Mr Man » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:54 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:As I said it's the emphasis. structure and context and keeping it all in perspective. My perception is that sometimes a technique can be over empowered. We think that by performing a certain technique the work is being done - like a mantra were the sacred sound is said to be actually performing the transformation. That technique is put into a context and structure which creates a certain situation.
Do you know all this from direct experience?

Yes
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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:55 am

Mr Man wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:As I said it's the emphasis. structure and context and keeping it all in perspective. My perception is that sometimes a technique can be over empowered. We think that by performing a certain technique the work is being done - like a mantra were the sacred sound is said to be actually performing the transformation. That technique is put into a context and structure which creates a certain situation.
Do you know all this from direct experience?

Yes
Of course, there is nothing is one's practice that is not susceptible to this problem.
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: vipassana craziness

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:02 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
If you accept samma sati as a technique then i accept the necessity of a technique.
Metta, Retro.

Well, that brings up a good point. How is samma sati to be cultivated? In the absence of a clear explanation of that [something more specific than "by following the instructions in the satipatthana sutta"], I would personally discount any criticism of "techniques".

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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby robertk » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:34 am

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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:11 pm

Thanks Robert,

You have set an admirable example. Since you have been very clear about what your approach is, I always read your comments with interest. :reading:

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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:33 pm

Greetings Mike,

retrofuturist wrote:If you accept samma sati as a technique then i accept the necessity of a technique.

mikenz66 wrote:Well, that brings up a good point. How is samma sati to be cultivated?

To quote Robert from the aforementioned linked topic "Sati of satipatthana always arises with sampajanna, wisdom, and specifically wisdom related to anatta."

Note, that as Robert represents it, "wisdom related to anatta" is actually a cause or support for sati. Any "techniques" I've encountered tend to reverse that causality, and present "wisdom related to anatta" as an effect or consequence of the "technique", which for all intents and purposes is represented as a proxy for sati (or sometimes the entire N8P).

Personally, I don't see support for that reversal of cause and effect in the pre-commentarial scriptures - yet on the subject of contemporary vipassana it seems to be taken as a given - which can be somewhat alienating. That's not a criticism of "techniques" ~ just a questioning of the assumed contemporary position that mental cultivation necessarily depends upon them. As I understand them, "techniques" seem to be a methodological set of activities undertaken in the quest for this "wisdom related to anatta", whereas I see samma sati as the present mindful application of existing wisdom pertaining to anatta/dukkha/anicca etc. which, yes... can be learned from the Buddha from the suttas. It's a case of experiencing according to that tilakkhana reality... and simply experiencing life according to that reality doesn't seem to require any "technique" (or any intentional form of 'doing' for that matter) over and above samma sati. Have all 8 path components "samma" and the specifics of the activities being undertaken don't matter one bit.

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: vipassana craziness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:01 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,

retrofuturist wrote:If you accept samma sati as a technique then i accept the necessity of a technique.

mikenz66 wrote:Well, that brings up a good point. How is samma sati to be cultivated?

To quote Robert from the aforementioned linked topic "Sati of satipatthana always arises with sampajanna, wisdom, and specifically wisdom related to anatta."
Which, of course, raises the question of how does this happen?

Note, that as Robert represents it, "wisdom related to anatta" is actually a cause or support for sati.
And this is sutta based?

Any "techniques" I've encountered tend to reverse that causality, and present "wisdom related to anatta" as an effect or consequence of the "technique", which for all intents and purposes is represented as a proxy for sati (or sometimes the entire N8P).
The technique is not going to give one insight into anatta, but the technique will help set up the conditions for insight to arise.

Personally, I don't see support for that reversal of cause and effect in the pre-commentarial scriptures - yet on the subject of contemporary vipassana it seems to be taken as a given - which can be somewhat alienating.
I do not see that to be the case at all.

That's not a criticism of "techniques" ~ just a questioning of the assumed contemporary position that mental cultivation necessarily depends upon them. As I understand them, "techniques" seem to be a methodological set of activities undertaken in the quest for this "wisdom related to anatta", whereas I see samma sati as the present mindful application of existing wisdom pertaining to anatta/dukkha/anicca etc. which, yes... can be learned from the Buddha from the suttas. It's a case of experiencing according to that tilakkhana reality... and simply experiencing life according to that reality doesn't seem to require any "technique" (or any intentional form of 'doing' for that matter) over and above samma sati. Have all 8 path components "samma" and the specifics of the activities being undertaken don't matter one bit.
You are simply describing a different technique.

And what exactly is "samma sati" according to your point of view? How is it put into practice?


What does "application of existing wisdom" actually look like in actual 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
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Re: vipassana craziness

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:13 pm

Greetings Tilt,

retrofuturist wrote:To quote Robert from the aforementioned linked topic "Sati of satipatthana always arises with sampajanna, wisdom, and specifically wisdom related to anatta."

tiltbillings wrote:Which, of course, raises the question of how does this happen?

With Right View as the forerunner.

retrofuturist wrote:Note, that as Robert represents it, "wisdom related to anatta" is actually a cause or support for sati.

tiltbillings wrote:And this is sutta based?

Yes, and once again Right View is the forerunner.

MN 117 wrote:"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view.

tiltbillings wrote:And what exactly is "samma sati" according to your point of view? How is it put into practice?

DN 22 wrote:"And what is right mindfulness? There is the case where a monk remains focused on body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... the mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. This is called right mindfulness.

tiltbillings wrote:What does "application of existing wisdom" actually look like in actual practice?

As per DN 22 quote above... and this from MN 117, "One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness".

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: vipassana craziness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:16 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

retrofuturist wrote:To quote Robert from the aforementioned linked topic "Sati of satipatthana always arises with sampajanna, wisdom, and specifically wisdom related to anatta."

tiltbillings wrote:Which, of course, raises the question of how does this happen?

With Right View as the forerunner.

retrofuturist wrote:Note, that as Robert represents it, "wisdom related to anatta" is actually a cause or support for sati.

tiltbillings wrote:And this is sutta based?

Yes, and once again Right View is the forerunner.

MN 117 wrote:"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view.


tiltbillings wrote:And what exactly is "samma sati" according to your point of view? How is it put into practice?

DN 22 wrote:"And what is right mindfulness? There is the case where a monk remains focused on body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... the mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. This is called right mindfulness.


tiltbillings wrote:What does "application of existing wisdom" actually look like in actual practice?

As per DN 22 quote above.

Metta,
Retro. :)
What you say makes my point: it is a matter of interpretation and then it becomes a matter of how that interpretation is put into practice via whatever technique one devises.
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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