"Why Meditate" Question

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

"Why Meditate" Question

Postby PsychedelicSunSet » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:41 am

I've been meditating for about 4 or 5 months, and meditating daily for probably about a month, and a question keeps popping up in my mind. "Why Meditate?" I meditate because of my desire to be happier/a better person. But I think this holds me back, because I want to attain something from my meditation. I always hear that you shouldn't aspire to attain anything/have goals with meditation, as they'll ultimately hold you back in your meditation. This makes the question of why meditate come up in my mind. If fruitful meditation comes from meditating without goals or a wanting of some attainment, where is the drive to meditate? I don't think I've explained this too well, but hopefully you can all fill in the gaps, and show me where my wrong view lies/answer this question.



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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:46 am

Greetings,

The Buddhist path is the Noble Eightfold Path.

If meditation assists in cultivating that path, then that there is the why.

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: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby PsychedelicSunSet » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:01 am

Thank you for your reply. Does wanting your meditation to aid in the Eightfold Path not hinder your mediation by way of wanting? Or is desire used skillfully considered to not have the negative ramifications that a desire such as something like sexual lust would have?



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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:18 am

Greetings,

Unsurprisingly, the answer to that question lies within the Noble Eightfold Path itself, specifically the second element - Samma Sankappa (right intention).

Right Resolve - Study Guide
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... index.html

Right Intention - Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.vipassana.com/resources/8fp3.php

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: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby daverupa » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:22 am

I think you've gotten some conflicting advice on meditation floating around, which is causing some dissonance. Instructions come in sets, rather than in piecemeal items, and so the basic structure of meditation and how it integrates with the rest of ones living is an important consideration.

The whole of sila (conduct) involves setting up favorable conditions for this wholesomely-integrated (samma) effort, and the practice of satisampajanna and satipatthana throughout ones day forms a foundation for transitioning from satipatthana to seated anapanasati(-samadhi).

The culmination is fundamentally the suppression of the five hindrances and the fulfillment by development of the seven factors of awakening.

This is for the purpose of nibbana.
    "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: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby dagon » Wed Oct 16, 2013 2:09 am

"The goal of this meditation is the beautiful silence, stillness and clarity of mind."

http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/articles/i ... ation.html

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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby pegembara » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:13 am

Thank you for your reply. Does wanting your meditation to aid in the Eightfold Path not hinder your mediation by way of wanting? Or is desire used skillfully considered to not have the negative ramifications that a desire such as something like sexual lust would have?




"'This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.'

In other words, the desire to be free leads to freedom from desire.
But regarding lust-

"This body comes into being through sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is to be abandoned. With regard to sexual intercourse, the Buddha declares the cutting off of the bridge.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby seeker242 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:54 pm

As I see it, meditating with no goal does not mean meditating with no goal. :smile: It simply means that when you actually sit down to meditate, you aren't preoccupied with some other thing besides the meditation or meditation object itself, which takes your attention off of the actual meditation you are doing right now. It does not mean there is no reason to meditate to begin with.

Seems to me that "Don't meditate with a goal" is instruction usually given to people who say things like "I did not have any good meditation today! I was just distracted the whole time and didn't feel what I was expecting to feel! My mind did not become quiet like I was expecting it to become! My thinking did not stop like it was supposed to! What happened?! What did I do wrong! etc, etc." And Of course brooding like that only serves to give you even more distractions. So people say "Don't meditate with a goal" for the purpose of helping people stop the unnecessary and counterproductive brooding over what did or did not happen over that 1/2 hour you were sitting on that cushion this morning. It's not talking about the "big picture" reasons to meditate, which of course is to gain insight leading to enlightenment and end suffering, etc.

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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby santa100 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:21 pm

PsychedelicSunSet wrote: Or is desire used skillfully considered to not have the negative ramifications that a desire such as something like sexual lust would have?

The brahmin Unnabha had a similar question which was addressed by Ven. Ananda here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:51 pm

PsychedelicSunSet wrote: I always hear that you shouldn't aspire to attain anything/have goals with meditation, as they'll ultimately hold you back in your meditation.


I think that's a common misconception, and it can lead to a vagueness and lack of direction in one's practice.

As others have suggested it's important to understand the purpose of meditation in a Buddhist context.
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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby IanAnd » Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:38 pm

PsychedelicSunSet wrote:I've been meditating for about 4 or 5 months, and meditating daily for probably about a month, and a question keeps popping up in my mind. "Why Meditate?" I meditate because of my desire to be happier/a better person. But I think this holds me back, because I want to attain something from my meditation. I always hear that you shouldn't aspire to attain anything/have goals with meditation, as they'll ultimately hold you back in your meditation. This makes the question of why meditate come up in my mind. If fruitful meditation comes from meditating without goals or a wanting of some attainment, where is the drive to meditate?
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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby cooran » Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:53 pm

Ian,

Could you please give an exact quote of the Sutta where the Buddha stated this.

With metta,
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:56 pm

cooran wrote:Ian,

Could you please give an exact quote of the Sutta where the Buddha stated this.

With metta,
Chris
That is, of course, not a direct quote from a sutta.
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: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby daverupa » Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:57 pm

cooran wrote:Ian,

Could you please give an exact quote of the Sutta where the Buddha stated this.

With metta,
Chris


No such, I think; we can take it in the spirit of Mahayana Sutras, maybe.
    "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: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby powerofconstancy » Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:54 pm

seeker242 wrote: [meditating with no goal] simply means that when you actually sit down to meditate, you aren't preoccupied with some other thing besides the meditation or meditation object itself, which takes your attention off of the actual meditation you are doing right now.


This is really the essence of it. Meditation might make you happier, but at least initially, it more likely will show you the obstacles that are preventing your happiness, and give you the freedom to change those. If we sit and want X, Y or Z to happen and it doesn't, we get easily frustrated and lose sight of what we're actually trying to do--that is; develop a deeper understanding of the three characteristics.

I've found it really helpful to stop thinking about goals and start thinking in terms of 'direction,' keeping in sight the end of the road, but focusing more on the steps I need to take right now.

Trust that your meditation practice is doing what it should, don't get frustrated if you have weeks or months where you feel crummy (you'd feel crummier if you weren't meditating!) or you can't seem to focus (you'd focus worse if you weren't meditating!). Just keep moving forward, one sit at a time, one breath after the other.
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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby Anagarika » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:12 pm

I always hear that you shouldn't aspire to attain anything/have goals with meditation, as they'll ultimately hold you back in your meditation.


My understanding of what the Buddha taught when he admonished his monks to go, and meditate; go do jhana, was that there is a necessity for the practice of meditation with the goal of concentration and the cultivation of insight. Meditation does have a goal, and it requires skill and effort, but not the kind of goal that causes one to try to squeeze insights from the mind like blood from a stone. The idea is to cultivate the ability to settle the mind, to calm and center focus the mind and then to contemporaneously cultivate insight into the workings of the mind. With this Right Effort, Concentration and MIndfulness, we develop the fertile ground for the comprehension of impermanence, not-self and dukkha/sukkah...leading to release from dukkha and attachment to unskillful ideas.

What I am expressing above is what I have gathered from the teaching of wise Theravada teachers. I have sat in years past with some Zen sanghas where there is much emphasis on "just sitting" and sitting with no goal. Some sitting in these sesshins complain that they sit for hours staring at a wall...for nothing. "That's it" claims the Roshi. "Do nothing. No goals!" This kind of practice may approximate samatha calming meditation, but it is not consistent with the samatha/vipassana practices, nor does it seem to me remotely consistent with the type of meditation that the Buddha encouraged in the Suttas.
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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby SarathW » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:14 pm

Utube video: Why meditate - Four kind of happiness by Ayya Khema.

:meditate:

http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j ... 0276,d.aGc
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Re: "Why Meditate" Question

Postby greenthumb » Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:24 pm

I started meditating because my mind was not well disciplined and I saw at my first Vipassana retreat I was causing a lot of suffering for myself and those around me from constant thoughtless reactions to data that I liked and didn't like. I wanted to be a better mother, level headed and thoughtful, that was the main reason why I started practice and become a Buddhist. Also the Buddhist virtues and a well laid out path were given, something I sorely missed in my education and upbringing. It's been several years since I started meditating and study. I can honestly say I found what I needed to live and good life and be a good person and so much more. Meditation didn't bring me peace, but that's my conditioning. I saw I had a lot of work to do cleaning up my life and sorting through what I needed and didn't need in this life to walk the Eightfold Path. Meditation gave me the discipline and a few powerful insights to face what I needed to do to move on and let go of the past and accept responsibility for me life. Cleaning house is never very peaceful from my experience. I truly believe each person is different regarding their conditioning, they need a teacher to help them sort through what kind of meditation and teachings they need. From what I've seen over the years the virtues coupled with meditation suited to my conditioning really helped smooth out the path and bring wonderful friends to help one out.

This is your practice and I hope my input will not confuse you, this is a very personal experience.
Form is like a glob of foam; feeling, a bubble; perception, a mirage; fabrications, a banana tree; consciousness, a magic trick this has been taught by the Kinsman of the Sun. Phena Sutta: Foam
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