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 chownah » Mon May 27, 2013 2:47 pm

Thanks Sekha and daverupa,
To me the Sutta reference doesn't seem to be describing a way to meditate. I thought that colors would be on the list of 40 meditation objects which Mettafuture mentioned....maybe they are not on the list. Anyone know? Is the list available somewhere? I want to see how the Buddha teaches what is the proper way to meditate using these objects.
chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2410
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

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

Postby Mr Man » Mon May 27, 2013 5:12 pm

User avatar
Mr Man
 
Posts: 1051
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

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

Postby Sekha » Mon May 27, 2013 5:13 pm

The ten kasinas listed at AN 10.25 feature among the 40 meditation objects. I believe this suttas does describe how to meditate with the kasinas, but it is very succinct and not easily understandable to the neophyte, as it is the case for many instructions given by the Buddha. It is the only set of instructions dealing explicitly with the kasinas you will find the suttas. What the Visuddhimagga has to say about them is imo not convincing.

see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamma%E1% ... Dh%C4%81na
Last edited by Sekha on Mon May 27, 2013 8:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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 mettafuture » Mon May 27, 2013 5:30 pm

chownah wrote:I want to see how the Buddha teaches what is the proper way to meditate using these objects.

Ven. Pa-Auk Sayadaw and Wikihow offer an interpretation of the instructions found in the suttas:
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/know-see.pdf
http://www.wikihow.com/Practice-Kasina-Meditation
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

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

Postby daverupa » Mon May 27, 2013 5:35 pm

mettafuture wrote:
chownah wrote:I want to see how the Buddha teaches what is the proper way to meditate using these objects.

Ven. Pa-Auk Sayadaw and Wikihow offer an interpretation of the instructions found in the suttas:
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/know-see.pdf
http://www.wikihow.com/Practice-Kasina-Meditation


Rather, those found in the Visuddhimagga, etc. - the Nikayas do not contain that level of detail about them.

The Buddha doesn't seem to have mentioned them often, perhaps not at all. :shrug:
    "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: 3714
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

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

Postby mettafuture » Mon May 27, 2013 7:36 pm

daverupa wrote:Rather, those found in the Visuddhimagga, etc. - the Nikayas do not contain that level of detail about them.

The Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta (MN 77) explains how to contemplate the color kasinas.

Here's an excerpt on the fifth kasina:

"Not perceiving form internally, one sees forms externally, blue, of blue colour, blue in appearance, with blue luminosity. Just like a flax flower, which is blue, of blue colour, blue in appearance, with blue luminosity, or just like Benares cloth smoothened on both sides, which is blue, of blue colour, blue in appearance, with blue luminosity; so too, not perceiving form internally, one sees forms externally…with blue luminosity; by transcending them, one perceives thus: ‘I know, I see.’ This is the fifth base for transcendence..."

And the summary:

"Again, Udāyin, I have proclaimed to my disciples the way to develop the ten kasina bases. One contemplates the earth kasina above, below, and across, undivided and immeasurable. Another contemplates the water-kasina… Another contemplates the fire-kasina… Another contemplates the air-kasina… Another contemplates the blue-kasina… Another contemplates the yellow-kasina… Another contemplates the red-kasina… Another contemplates the white-kasina… Another contemplates the space-kasina… Another contemplates the consciousness-kasina above, below, and across, undivided and immeasurable. And thereby many disciples of mine abide having reached the perfection and consummation of direct knowledge"

Instructions for the first 4 kasinas (the elements) can also be found in the Cūḷataṇhāsankhaya Sutta (MN 37), the Dīghanakha Sutta (MN 74), and the Dhātuvibhanga Sutta (MN 140).
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

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

Postby Sekha » Tue May 28, 2013 6:02 am

:goodpost:

to understand AN 10.25 directly in Pali: http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/angu ... 0-025.html
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 Spiny Norman » Tue May 28, 2013 10:15 am

daverupa wrote:- the Nikayas do not contain that level of detail about them.


Though to be fair there isn't much detail in the suttas on technique for anapanasati either - basic stuff like whether eyes should be open or closed, whether attention should be at nostrils or abdomen, etc.
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 1767
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

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

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue May 28, 2013 10:31 am

mettafuture wrote:
daverupa wrote:Rather, those found in the Visuddhimagga, etc. - the Nikayas do not contain that level of detail about them.

The Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta (MN 77) explains how to contemplate the color kasinas.


This thread is on the kasinas: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=2041
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 1767
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

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

Postby mettafuture » Tue May 28, 2013 7:04 pm

Sekha wrote::goodpost:

to understand AN 10.25 directly in Pali: http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/angu ... 0-025.html

:hello:

The excerpts were translated by Nanamoli / Bodhi.

A dhamma talk on the Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta, and other suttas from the Majjhima Nikaya, can be found here.
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

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

Postby daverupa » Tue May 28, 2013 8:42 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote:- the Nikayas do not contain that level of detail about them.


Though to be fair there isn't much detail in the suttas on technique for anapanasati either - basic stuff like whether eyes should be open or closed, whether attention should be at nostrils or abdomen, etc.


When comparing the instructions we do have for anapanasati with those for kasinas in the Nikayas, there is a stark imbalance. The steps of anapanasati are quite clear in contrast, and for example confusion over the idiom "parimukham" isn't a fault of the instructions.

Attending to nose or abdomen is a created dilemma, as is eyes open or closed. The instructions don't mention whether the legs, when crossed, should be left atop right or the other way 'round, either. They don't mention if the tongue should be on the roof of the mouth or elsewhere. These are altogether incidental worries (which, by the way, we might ask of kasinas as well, with a similar lack of answers).

They are simply not given equal attention in the Nikayas; after all, the Samyutta Nikaya has an anapanasati samyutta, but no mention of kasinas at all...

:shrug:
    "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: 3714
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

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

Postby mettafuture » Tue May 28, 2013 9:34 pm

daverupa wrote:When comparing the instructions we do have for anapanasati with those for kasinas in the Nikayas, there is a stark imbalance. The steps of anapanasati are quite clear in contrast, and for example confusion over the idiom "parimukham" isn't a fault of the instructions.

The instructions are only clear because we've been told how to utilize them thanks to the commentaries of scholars and teachers. If we were completely new to Buddhism, and read a line like “Breathing in long, he understands: ‘I breathe in long’", I doubt most of us would immediately know what to do.

And I don't think kasina meditation is more complicated. It seems to be centered on "I know, I see", or rather clearly knowing and seeing each element or color, and acknowledging that none of them are self. It's relatively straightforward when you look at it within the context of the rest of the teachings.

They are simply not given equal attention in the Nikayas; after all, the Samyutta Nikaya has an anapanasati samyutta, but no mention of kasinas at all...

"Monks, any brahmans or contemplatives who recollect their manifold past lives all recollect the five clinging-aggregates, or one among them. [...] When recollecting, 'I was one with such a perception in the past,' one is recollecting just perception. [...] And why do you call it 'perception'? Because it perceives, thus it is called 'perception.' What does it perceive? It perceives blue, it perceives yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white. Because it perceives, it is called perception."
-- SN 22.79
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

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

Postby daverupa » Tue May 28, 2013 11:41 pm

mettafuture wrote:The instructions are only clear because we've been told how to utilize them thanks to the commentaries of scholars and teachers. If we were completely new to Buddhism, and read a line like “Breathing in long, he understands: ‘I breathe in long’", I doubt most of us would immediately know what to do. And I don't think kasina meditation is more complicated.


It's a good point; additionally, the primary source materials describing anapanasati and it's relationship to satipatthana far outstrip what exists for kasinas in the Nikayas.

And that is a definition of perception, not a kasina meditation reference.
    "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: 3714
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

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

Postby mettafuture » Wed May 29, 2013 12:24 am

daverupa wrote:It's a good point; additionally, the primary source materials describing anapanasati and it's relationship to satipatthana far outstrip what exists for kasinas in the Nikayas.

The frequency in which something is referenced shouldn't be used to measure its worth.
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

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

Postby daverupa » Wed May 29, 2013 1:19 am

mettafuture wrote:
daverupa wrote:It's a good point; additionally, the primary source materials describing anapanasati and it's relationship to satipatthana far outstrip what exists for kasinas in the Nikayas.

The frequency in which something is referenced shouldn't be used to measure its worth.


:thinking:

It isn't mere frequency. I'm not measuring worth.

There are repeated references to anapanasati in numerous contexts, and the manner in which it fulfills satipatthana is clearly laid out. The Buddha is said to have practiced anapanasati frequently, for example spending the Rains doing so.

I do not see where he is said to have practiced with kasinas in these ways. They form part of a list in MN 77 & DN 33, leaving the AN quote as the best reference because there, at least, we can find a passing instruction with respect to disenchantment & dispassion for comparison (yet we get this instruction with anapanasati as well).

There is simply no parallel.
    "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: 3714
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

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

Postby mettafuture » Wed May 29, 2013 2:10 am

daverupa wrote:There is simply no parallel.

Just a moment ago you claimed that "the Samyutta Nikaya has an anapanasati samyutta, but no mention of kasinas at all...", and yet the kasinas are mentioned in SN 22.79, and the entire Dhatu-samyutta book (SN 14) is dedicated to the first 4 kasinas.

The Buddha is said to have practiced anapanasati frequently...

He sure did. And yet he took the time to teach other types of meditation.
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

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

Postby chownah » Wed May 29, 2013 5:03 am

mettafuture wrote:"Monks, any brahmans or contemplatives who recollect their manifold past lives all recollect the five clinging-aggregates, or one among them. [...] When recollecting, 'I was one with such a perception in the past,' one is recollecting just perception. [...] And why do you call it 'perception'? Because it perceives, thus it is called 'perception.' What does it perceive? It perceives blue, it perceives yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white. Because it perceives, it is called perception."
-- SN 22.79

Mettafuture,
It seems you are presenting this Sutta quote as an indication that kasinas are mentioned there. Upon reading the Sutta it seems obvious that the perceiving of colors it mentions has nothing to do with kasinas at all and is just an explanation of what 'perception' means. It seems that you consider any mention of color whatever to be a talk about kasinas. Is this your stance?....that any mention of color whatever is a talk about kasinas?

I've been reading some of the links people are providing (thanks to all for the links and thoughts) and it seems that the contemplation of the colors is pretty simple and there seems to be no reason why it need be restricted to Buddhist venues in that it seems it can be explained and done with no reference to anything strictly Buddhist in origin or nature. Also, one of the links mentioned that kasina meditation is very much like self hypnosis. Can you explain the difference between kasina contemplation and self hypnosis if in fact you do see a difference?

chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2410
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

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

Postby mettafuture » Wed May 29, 2013 5:47 am

chownah wrote:It seems you are presenting this Sutta quote as an indication that kasinas are mentioned there.

Yes I am.

Upon reading the Sutta it seems obvious that the perceiving of colors it mentions has nothing to do with kasinas at all and is just an explanation of what 'perception' means.

Perception is being explained within the context of the kasinas.

It seems that you consider any mention of color whatever to be a talk about kasinas. Is this your stance?....that any mention of color whatever is a talk about kasinas?

The 5th kasina is blue, the 6th is yellow, the 7th is red, and the 8th is white.

"And why do you call it 'perception'? Because it perceives, thus it is called 'perception.' What does it perceive? It perceives blue, it perceives yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white. Because it perceives, it is called perception."

Can you explain the difference between kasina contemplation and self hypnosis if in fact you do see a difference?

No I won't explain it because it has nothing to do with the original topic of this discussion. If you'd like to discuss and debate the color kasinas, you should probably start a new thread. Personally, I only meditate on the first 4 kasinas (the elements), metta, and the breath.
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

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

Postby Sekha » Wed May 29, 2013 6:32 am

mettafuture wrote: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.

The very weak point of your assertion here is that you consider that the public should adapt itself to the teaching (which is a very common approach in Asia, adopted by a majority of native monk teachers, but is totally against the most basic laws of pedagogy and is exactly the opposite of the example that the Buddha himself gave), rather than the teaching be wisely formatted to be useful for the public. It does not make sense. You cannot change the whole western culture to make it adaptable to the ways in which asian buddhist teachers like to teach. Remember the Buddha did not teach all the suttas to all his disciples. Many of them are reported to have become arahants through one single short teaching they practiced with, which demonstrates that all the techniques taught by the Buddha are not necessary to everyone.


mettafuture wrote:I also feel that it may be a mistake to introduce breath meditation to every new Buddhist as their first meditation object.

Well, there are not many cases of people complaining about this. And even if there are, they are still in number small enough to consider it acceptable for a teacher who doesn't have the time or capacities to make personal evaluations and tailor a personalized teaching for everyone to choose the breath by default.
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 mettafuture » Wed May 29, 2013 7:14 am

Sekha wrote:The very weak point of your assertion here is that you consider that the public should adapt itself to the teaching

Practice can't do any good if we insist on clinging to the sense pleasures of our cultures.

You cannot change the whole western culture to make it adaptable to the ways in which asian buddhist teachers like to teach.

That wasn't my point. My point: We shouldn't selfishly care only about the meditations that appeal to the majority. More meditation objects should be presented as options because there may be people who could benefit from them.

Remember the Buddha did not teach all the suttas to all his disciples.

337 suttas in the Tipitaka directly address the laity.

Sekha wrote:
mettafuture wrote:I also feel that it may be a mistake to introduce breath meditation to every new Buddhist as their first meditation object.

Well, there are not many cases of people complaining about this.

Good.
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: cooran, MSNbot Media and 12 guests