Practices as preliminary to meditation

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Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby Bodharma » Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:30 pm

I am new to Theravada Buddhism, but I have practiced and studied other forms such as Zen and Tibetan Buddhist meditation. I am attracted to Theravadin Buddhism because of the simplicity and the focus on what Buddha taught. I have read a bit online about vipassana, believe this type of meditation would be most beneficial to me in dealing with chronic pain and illness. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative colitis! and fibromyalgia.

My question is : Are there any preliminary or dedication before and after practices of Theravadin Buddhist meditation?

I plan read Jack kornfield's book, "Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation."

Can anyone recommend a good book for me as someone who has meditation experience, but is new to Vipassana?

Thank you so much for this online community. Due to my illnesses, I will not be able to go to any Temple or attend retreat and meditation classes. This will be my Sangha.

Sincerely, John R.
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 7:20 pm

Hi Bodharma,

Traditional preliminaries are discussed by Mahasi Sayadaw here:
http://aimwell.org/practical.html#PreparatoryStage

There are other useful resources on that site, including:
http://aimwell.org/vipassana.html
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pandita/

And this site is also a great resource: http://buddhanet.net/insight.htm

:anjali:
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby Bodharma » Fri Nov 08, 2013 7:58 pm

Thanks so much for the useful links :anjali:
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby Anagarika » Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:21 pm

John, as you point out in your original posting, there can be a simplicity to Theravada practice that you may find very appealing. Like an onion, there are many, many layers and one can explore deeply in Theravada texts and traditions, but for many people, including people with issues of pain and physical limitations, simple breath meditation in the form the Buddha taught can be very useful. You needn't worry about perfect posture, and you need not be sitting on a cushion. Even a chair works just fine. Using the breath as your focus and your anchor, you can work to calm and steady the mind, and then contemporaneously work on the vipassana/insight side of the coin. Some of this teacher's talks have been helpful for new adherents to Theravada as well as longtime practitioners: http://youtu.be/nCUQdIbfWwQ There are of course books by Vens. Thanissaro, Gunaratana, and others on the developing the skillsets for breath meditation and the cultivation of right mindfulness and insight. You'll also find a wealth of knowledge from the experienced lay and ordained contributors here on this forum.
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby Reductor » Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:35 pm

Hi Bodharma,

Welcome to DW.

The preliminary practices depend on the person. I practice something called Buddhanussati, or Recollection of the Buddha. You can find a lot about it from the Visuddhimagga, Chp VII.

A simpler discussion of it can be found here.

Personally, I just light some candles around my Buddha statue and then look at it a bit. I imagine what the Buddha might have looked like, then consider that he was free of mental turmoil of every kind, unlike me, and had attained such a state by considering ever more closely the nature of his own mind and body. I smile a bit, and three times recite: Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma-sambuddhassa

"Homage to him, the blessed one, the accomplished one, the rightly awakened one."

But really, whatever practices help you onto a wholesome line of thought will be good. Maybe consider adding the five subjects for daily reflection to your routine?

Anyway, I wish you good fortune in life and in your practice.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:46 pm

Bodharma wrote:
I plan read Jack kornfield's book, "Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation."
Also, co-authored by Joseph Goldstein. It is an excellent choice. Let me also recommend for a beginner Jack Kornfield's A PATH WITH HEART. While being strictly not 100% Buddhist, it is well worth the read. Anything by Joseph Goodstein is good.
http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/
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: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:47 pm

You may also gain by reading MN 125 in connection with such training.
    "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: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby Sekha » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:22 pm

IMO, the best preliminary practice to meditation is sense restraint, and it is to be practiced around the clock. If there is no sense restraint, no preliminary practice will be effective.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby Bodharma » Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:29 am

Thank you so much everyone has been so kind. I downloaded some of the pdf's from the links to my Ipad. As far as keeping the precepts, I take some narcotic pain meds. When you take drugs as prescribed by a Dr. And you really need them to move about and function, is that considered an intoxicant? Honestly I do not feel impaired. I just get some relief of the pain, usually 20 %, and that is the difference between me moving around and staying in bed all the time. This illness kicks my butt at times physically and emotionally. I have noticed I can deal much better now that I am meditating again. It has helped me stay present with the pain and not become anxious.

:anjali: John
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Nov 09, 2013 4:00 am

Hi John,
Bodharma wrote: Due to my illnesses, I will not be able to go to any Temple or attend retreat and meditation classes.

If you can't go to retreats or classes, you can get some of the same benefits by listening to talks given on retreats.

One teacher that I am familiar with (via his recordings) is Patrick Kearney, who has complete sets of retreat talks here:
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/audio.html
I've not met him, but have worked through several of his retreats, listening to the talks over the course of a week, and found them very helpful.
The AM talks are generally meditation instructions, and the PM talks go into various areas of Dhamma (he seems to have a different theme in each retreat). Though, of course, you can't ask questions live, there is generally quite a lot of discussion, so many of the questions you may have will have been asked by the participants.

One of our members, Cooran, has attended several of his retreats. He is a lay teacher but spent several years as a monk in Burma.

There are undoubtedly other examples of sets of retreat talks and lots of mediation instruction online, some of which has been mentioned by other members on this thread. Try out some and pick something that resonates with you.

:anjali:
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby Aloka » Sun Nov 10, 2013 10:24 am

Bodharma wrote:As far as keeping the precepts, I take some narcotic pain meds. When you take drugs as prescribed by a Dr. And you really need them to move about and function, is that considered an intoxicant? Honestly I do not feel impaired. I just get some relief of the pain, usually 20 %, and that is the difference between me moving around and staying in bed all the time. This illness kicks my butt at times physically and emotionally. I have noticed I can deal much better now that I am meditating again. It has helped me stay present with the pain and not become anxious.

:anjali: John


Hi John,

Taking medication which has been prescribed by your doctor for a medical condition is fine. The "Intoxicants" in the precepts are alcohol and recreational drugs.

With kind regards,

Aloka
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby Maitri » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:25 pm

Reductor wrote:


The preliminary practices depend on the person. I practice something called Buddhanussati, or Recollection of the Buddha. You can find a lot about it from the Visuddhimagga, Chp VII.

A simpler discussion of it can be found here.

Personally, I just light some candles around my Buddha statue and then look at it a bit. I imagine what the Buddha might have looked like, then consider that he was free of mental turmoil of every kind, unlike me, and had attained such a state by considering ever more closely the nature of his own mind and body. I smile a bit, and three times recite: Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma-sambuddhassa


Thank you for the page recommendation- very nice breakdown of the practice! :thumbsup:

Concerning preliminaries to a formal sitting meditation practice, I find that reciting a basic puja in Pali and English is very helpful. I really like the book Daily Buddhist Devotions by K. Sri Dhammananda. It's got all the verses you need plus paritta chanting and prayers for morning and evenings. I've been using this book for many years!
May all beings be well, happy, calm, and at ease.
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby greenjuice » Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:56 am

Maybe I am wrong, but in my understanding, the five precepts are only the very beginning of Buddhist practice, they even don't cover avoidance of all the 10 unwholesome conducts (which lead to bad rebirth).

I mention this because it seems that a fair number of people practice meditation while practicing only the five precepts.

In theory one could indulge in sexual activity all day every day if restrained by only the five precepts, he could talk harshly or babble idly all he wants, he could gorge on food, indulge in music and other entertainment all the time, and in general give himself to enjoyment of all sense-pleasures as much as he can and still not break the precepts he has taken.

Of course, people don't go into such extremes, but they do indulge in such practices that are, at least I think, unfavorable to meditation.

Shouldn't a person take the eight precepts when meditating?
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:08 am

Greetings Bodharma,

Furthering greenjuice's point a little, I'd question the benefit in definitively delineating between "meditation" and "pre-meditation" (i.e. non-meditation) activities.

...the focus on what Buddha taught...

The path the Buddha taught is the Noble Eightfold Path, and it consists of eight well articulated components. Perhaps it would be more profitable to discern how the activity called "meditation" can be used to support those eight essential components of the path, rather than perceive of Right Vipassana, Right Meditation, Right Pre-Meditation etc. independently of the Noble Eightfold Path?

For example, satipatthana (from which "vipassana meditation" is derived, and as expounded upon in the Satipatthana Sutta) is applicable to the entirety of life's activities, not just to specifically defined timeblocks of "meditation" practice.

I have read a bit online about vipassana, believe this type of meditation would be most beneficial to me in dealing with chronic pain and illness. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative colitis! and fibromyalgia.

If by that you mean learn to respond to unpleasant sensations with greater equanimity, and improve your pain threshhold then yes, it's quite possible that vipassana meditation will assist with that. However, that's more a potential "secondary benefit" but if your intention is to use meditation as a pain-killer, then vipassana probably isn't your best bet, and secondly, it may diminish the overall effectiveness of your meditation if you approach the endeavour in such a way.

Just some points to consider, anyway... do with them what you will. Good luck.

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: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby SarathW » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:17 am

Hi Greenjuice
Please do not underestimate the importance of observing five precepts.
I am not sure whether anyone can progress in Vipassana meditation without observing Five Precepts.
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Re: Practices as preliminary to meditation

Postby SarathW » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:35 am

Please read the attached in regard to pain management as per Buddhist doctrine:

The Blessed One said, “When touched with a feeling of pain, the
uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his
breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental. Just as if
they were to shoot a man with an arrow and, right afterward, were to shoot him
with another one, so that he would feel the pains of two arrows. In the same
way, when touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill
person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So
he feels two pains, physical & mental.

“Now, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones, when touched with
a feeling of pain, does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, does not beat his breast
or become distraught. So he feels one pain: physical, but not mental. Just as if
they were to shoot a man with an arrow and, right afterward, did not shoot him
with another one, so that he would feel the pain of only one arrow. In the same
way, when touched with a feeling of pain, the well-instructed disciple of the
noble ones does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, does not beat his breast or
become distraught. He feels one pain: physical, but not mental.

Page 113
http://dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings ... 130716.pdf
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