The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

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

Postby Sekha » Thu May 30, 2013 10:53 am

mettafuture wrote:
The minimal goal maybe to introduce someone to the teaching of the Buddha. That alone is a big achievement.

I don't proselytize.

Well, you don't seem to give much importance to the process through which people may come to discover the Buddha's teaching, which is a very important point when it comes to teaching in western countries. Yet, you criticize the choices made by those who attempt to deal with this problem and regard them a "not good enough". This is how burmese Theravada, imo, is for a large part crippled by elitism and superiority complexes. But some people are more primarily driven by loving-kindness and take people as they are to make them achieve what is at their reach.

Besides, it has little to do with proselytism, because in the general case, people come to courses and retreats, not the contrary.

mettafuture wrote:But if someone shows an interest in Buddhism, I believe it's important that they get an authentic, gradual, and complete overview of the teachings.

You repeat the same arguments, so I have to repeat the same counter-arguments: do you think that teaching anapanassati is not being authentic? Also, someone may be very interested in the teachings of the Buddha and yet not feel interested in the widely corrupt, dogmatized and ritualized religion that Buddhism is. This is my case, and I know there are a great many like me out there.

For the rest, I agree that people who want to dig deeper should get a complete overview of the Buddha's teaching, but that comes over time, as and when they get ready for it (unless of course they look it up themselves, which is also the case of many). But that excludes buddhist teachings that aren't the Buddha's teaching, like the abhidhamma, or the visuddhimagga.
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As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu May 30, 2013 1:35 pm

chownah wrote:I'm still wondering about the difference between kasina contemplation and self hypnosis.


Traditionally kasina practice is samatha bhavana - so the kasina becomes the object of concentration, instead of say the breath. I have periods when I do samatha with open eyes, and have taken to using a blue disc as an object of concentration - it works quite well.
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Thu May 30, 2013 9:21 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:Traditionally kasina practice is samatha bhavana - so the kasina becomes the object of concentration, instead of say the breath. I have periods when I do samatha with open eyes, and have taken to using a blue disc as an object of concentration - it works quite well.

I haven't spent much time with the kasinas, but some of the observations made here have peeked my interest. They could be a nice addition to a meditator's toolkit (breath, recollections, divine abodes, elements, etc). I like the idea of confronting the fetters from multiple angles using a variety of techniques.
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Sekha » Fri May 31, 2013 5:02 am

As a matter of fact, my practice is derived from the space kasina, which was recommended to me by a Pa Auk instructor to counteract the particular type of hindrance I have been confronted to, and it has proven in my case to be much easier to practice and much more efficient than anapanassati. Yet, I don't have the pretentiousness to go publicly criticize the teachers who would not have performed such an accurate diagnosis on my particular situation, as if I knew better than them what they have to do. And I could even criticize that same instructor on various other grounds, because of which I eventually decided to walk away from him, but that would just be very mean.
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As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Fri May 31, 2013 7:24 am

Some resources on traditional practices that may be of interest to the members here.

Audio Talks:
Devotional Practices by James Baraz
The Six Recollections by Gil Fronsdal
The Divine Abodes by Jack Kornfield

Essays:
A Look at the Kalama Sutta by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Lay Buddhist Practice by Bhikkhu Khantipalo
A Study Guide on the Ten Recollections by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Meditations:
How to Practice Meditation on Elements edited by George AP, others
How to Practice Kasina Meditation edited by George AP, others

[link to this post]
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Mr Man » Fri May 31, 2013 7:47 am

At one time I had the good fortune to meet Bhante Dharmawara, who used to teach colour meditation in the west http://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/18/us/bellong-mahathera-is-dead-cambodian-monk-was-110.html
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby daverupa » Fri May 31, 2013 11:54 am

Spiny Norman wrote:Traditionally kasina practice is samatha bhavana...


Before that tradition, though, there wasn't a distinction between bhavana types in that way.

What does cherry-picking really mean?
    "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: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri May 31, 2013 1:40 pm

daverupa wrote:What does cherry-picking really mean?


I suppose it means choosing the bits that one likes. But in order to choose one needs to know what the choices are, rather than just being presented with one option.
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Mr Man » Fri May 31, 2013 2:08 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote:What does cherry-picking really mean?


I suppose it means choosing the bits that one likes. But in order to choose one needs to know what the choices are, rather than just being presented with one option.


Presenting just the pieces that one likes as if it is the entirety.
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby daverupa » Fri May 31, 2013 5:52 pm

So, to be clear:

When newcomers take up seated meditation and play with the many varieties on offer, yet ignore (or aren't taught) the preceding requirements e.g. satisampajanna, wakefulness, guarded sense gates, sila - this is cherry-picking?

Or does the cherry-picking occur when one or another meditation method is taken up in preference to others?

Or does cherry-picking only occur amongst Western Buddhists, somehow?
    "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: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Sekha » Fri May 31, 2013 6:08 pm

Cherry picking, suppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.

It does not apply in case one would teach "partially" the teaching of the Buddha, because different part of his teaching do not contradict one another.

I think it was mentioned in the OP about people who quote the Anapanassati Sutta where the Buddha states that all the satipatthana can be practiced within anapanassati, and who would conclude that nothing else than anapanassati is required. This is actually true in theory because one focusing only on the breath, as recommended by the Webu Sayadaw, can reach all the way to Nibbana. In practice though, it is also true that people generally need more teachings. Anyway, the expression "cherry picking" does not apply here.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Fri May 31, 2013 6:22 pm

Mr Man wrote:At one time I had the good fortune to meet Bhante Dharmawara, who used to teach colour meditation in the west
http://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/18/us/bellong-mahathera-is-dead-cambodian-monk-was-110.html

He lived to be 110... :shock:

daverupa wrote:Or does cherry-picking only occur amongst Western Buddhists, somehow?

http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/2505.html
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby daverupa » Fri May 31, 2013 7:20 pm

mettafuture wrote:
daverupa wrote:Or does cherry-picking only occur amongst Western Buddhists, somehow?

http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/2505.html


Would you like to summarize the aspects you're thinking about?
    "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: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Fri May 31, 2013 7:40 pm

daverupa wrote:Would you like to summarize the aspects you're thinking about?

The audio clip summarizes many of my thoughts on this matter.
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby daverupa » Fri May 31, 2013 8:44 pm

mettafuture wrote:
daverupa wrote:Would you like to summarize the aspects you're thinking about?

The audio clip summarizes many of my thoughts on this matter.


...so, that's a 'no', then. Very well. :broke:
    "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: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:43 am

daverupa wrote:Or does the cherry-picking occur when one or another meditation method is taken up in preference to others?


But as I said to cherry-pick one needs to be aware of a choice. In some cases people are taught breathing meditation as if it's the only vehicle for samatha bhavana, or indeed any kind of bhavana. People are different, and their needs change over time, so I think it's preferable if a range of methods are taught.
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:46 am

daverupa wrote:When newcomers take up seated meditation and play with the many varieties on offer, yet ignore (or aren't taught) the preceding requirements e.g. satisampajanna, wakefulness, guarded sense gates, sila - this is cherry-picking?


Are some teachers and students prone to oversimplification? Yes, I think they are.
But I also think some teachers and students are prone to promoting their preferred method and understanding as the only one which is really valid and authentic
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:18 pm

daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Traditionally kasina practice is samatha bhavana...


Before that tradition, though, there wasn't a distinction between bhavana types in that way.


I'm not clear what tradition you mean Dave. In any case there clearly is a distinction in the suttas between tranquillity and insight - see for example the Samadhi Sutta, AN4.94, the Yaganadda Sutta AN4.170 and the "Tranquillity and Insight" section at AN2:2.9
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby daverupa » Sat Jun 01, 2013 5:14 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Traditionally kasina practice is samatha bhavana...


Before that tradition, though, there wasn't a distinction between bhavana types in that way.


I'm not clear what tradition you mean Dave.


Your reference to tradition is Theravada, I expect; I am referring to the fact that early materials primarily define samatha-vipassana as paired qualities, not different paths of practice, and was sort of wondering about the issue of the 'cherry-pick' that such a Theravada interpretation of these qualities represents. But it's been discussed elsewhere at length, and might easily derail this thread...

"Cherry-picking" simply needed definition; Sekha pointed out the term was a little mis-used, so I sought clarity. As things stand, I get the impression that there are unsatisfactory teachers in the world, and that people are often upset when the practice they come to prefer isn't the first one they learn about - indeed, dissatisfaction with one or another sort of anapanasati seems to be common, but I wonder if this is simply the result of deficient instruction, or perhaps deficient foundation...

There are some vague aspersions to do with some sort of cultural commentary, as well.
    "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: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Postby mettafuture » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:27 pm

daverupa wrote:people are often upset when the practice they come to prefer isn't the first one they learn about

Or when that practice is never mentioned, or when only one practice is taught.
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