Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

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Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby d.sullivan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:30 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Here is Wallace's broadside against vipassana practice: http://www.tricycle.com/a-mindful-balance

I am not impressed.


In another thread, Tiltbillings wrote this, and I wanted to respond to it without taking the thread off topic, so I'm starting a new thread.

I don't necessarily agree with Wallace, but I'm curious exactly what Tiltbillings finds unimpressive about Wallace's critique, and what everyone thinks of the article he posted.

Reading the article, I'm not sure it contains a "broadside against vipassana practice," only a critique of modern mindfulness practice, which Wallace posits is actually not the same as traditional Therevadin vipassana.
Every blade in the field,
Every leaf in the forest,
Lays down its life in its season,
As beautifully as it was taken up.

Thoreau.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby Sobeh » Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:46 am

He doesn't even say the word jhana, and yet still he understands that vipassana and samatha are--only together--sammasamadhi. Beyond this he seems to be critiquing the "be here now" sorts of meditations that I see in Zen and New Age seminars everywhere.

There are all sorts of little points I'd quibble with him on, but overall I do not get an impression of a specific vipassana attack.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby alan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:31 am

Thanks d.sullivan. Thought that article made many important points. If it is a broadside against Vipassana centers then let it be read by all.
I especially liked his critique of "bare attention" as the end-all of meditation.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:49 am

alan wrote:I especially liked his critique of "bare attention" as the end-all of meditation.

What did you like about it?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby alan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:59 am

Bare attention in and of itself strikes me as dry and kind of pointless. People with psychological problems might benefit, I suppose. I like the way the author emphasizes effort and attitude.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby alan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:03 am

Sati as the opposite of forgetfulness is also good.

Sometimes I think we should just drop "mindfulness" as a word. It just carries too many other implications to be of much value. It's become a one-word tradition.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:06 am

alan wrote:Bare attention in and of itself strikes me as dry and kind of pointless. People with psychological problems might benefit, I suppose. I like the way the author emphasizes effort and attitude.
And what is, in your opinion, "bare attention?" Have you ever practiced it?
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: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby alan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:12 am

At a retreat, and as taught by Vipassana books.

Just sitting there paying bare attention seemed liked being charged with the task of picking up little pebbles for the point of making small piles of pebbles.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:17 am

alan wrote:At a retreat, and as taught by Vipassana books.

Just sitting there paying bare attention seemed liked being charged with the task of picking up little pebbles for the point of making small piles of pebbles.

Again, what is bare attention?
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: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby alan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:28 am

Good question. Maybe my inability to get how "bare awareness" has any value led to to abandon that type of practice. I'd refer you to paragraph 4 in the article we are discussing.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:35 am

d.sullivan wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Here is Wallace's broadside against vipassana practice: http://www.tricycle.com/a-mindful-balance

I am not impressed.


In another thread, Tiltbillings wrote this, and I wanted to respond to it without taking the thread off topic, so I'm starting a new thread.

I don't necessarily agree with Wallace, but I'm curious exactly what Tiltbillings finds unimpressive about Wallace's critique, and what everyone thinks of the article he posted.

Reading the article, I'm not sure it contains a "broadside against vipassana practice," only a critique of modern mindfulness practice, which Wallace posits is actually not the same as traditional Therevadin vipassana.

Who are these naughty "modern vipassana teachers" Wallace is talking about?
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: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:37 am

alan wrote:Good question. Maybe my inability to get how "bare awareness" has any value led to to abandon that type of practice. I'd refer you to paragraph 4 in the article we are discussing.

This?:
What are some of the pitfalls of viewing meditation simply as a process of bare attention? When mindfulness is equated with bare attention, it can easily lead to the misconception that the cultivation of mindfulness has nothing to do with ethics or with the cultivation of wholesome states of mind and the attenuation of unwholesome states. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the Pali Abhidhamma, where mindfulness is listed as a wholesome mental factor, it is not depicted as bare attention, but as a mental factor that clearly distinguishes wholesome from unwholesome mental states and behavior. And it is used to support wholesome states and counteract unwholesome states.
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: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby alan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:49 am

Yep, that would be it.
Fire away!
Tell us why it is wrong.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:52 am

alan wrote:Yep, that would be it.
Fire away!
Tell us why it is wrong.

Who are these people who teach this naughty stuff?
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: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby alan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:07 am

Many meditation teachers preach the idea that to pay attention is enough. "Watch what arises and don't judge it" seems to be the dominant ethos. Scores of books echo this.
If 'mindfulness" has become a one-word path, then "bare-attention" is it's aim. I'm waiting for a cogent explanation of the value of this path.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:15 am

alan wrote:Many meditation teachers preach the idea that to pay attention is enough. "Watch what arises and don't judge it" seems to be the dominant ethos. Scores of books echo this.
If 'mindfulness" has become a one-word path, then "bare-attention" is it's aim. I'm waiting for a cogent explanation of the value of this path.

So, name names. Who are these people?
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: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby alan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:20 am

Go into any general bookstore! I'm sure you know what I mean.
But our subject is sadly neglected.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:24 am

alan wrote:Go into any general bookstore! I'm sure you know what I mean.
But our subject is sadly neglected.

Since it is one of Wallace major points that "For years I’ve been puzzled by the discrepancies between the descriptions of mindfulness given by many modern Vipassana teachers....", it is to the point, who are these teachers? Essentially Wallace is tarring the whole of the Western contingent of vipassana teachers with this sort of accusation as he makes in his cheesy interview.
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: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby alan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:28 am

I'll just retreat from this so as to avoid any unnecessary bad feelings. That way we can both wrap it up and let others take over if they choose.
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Re: Alan Wallace on Modern Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:41 am

alan wrote:I'll just retreat from this so as to avoid any unnecessary bad feelings. That way we can both wrap it up and let others take over if they choose.

In other word, you were trying to blow smoke. So, you cannot name names of these naughty modern Vipassana teachers, whomever they might be.

Well, that is one example of why this interview by Wallace is rather problematic.

Now for:

What are some of the pitfalls of viewing meditation simply as a process of bare attention? When mindfulness is equated with bare attention, it can easily lead to the misconception that the cultivation of mindfulness has nothing to do with ethics or with the cultivation of wholesome states of mind and the attenuation of unwholesome states. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the Pali Abhidhamma, where mindfulness is listed as a wholesome mental factor, it is not depicted as bare attention, but as a mental factor that clearly distinguishes wholesome from unwholesome mental states and behavior. And it is used to support wholesome states and counteract unwholesome states
.While such naughty modern Vipassana teachers may be out there I have never read any or practiced with any modern Vipassana teachers who have not put bare attention into its much broader Dhamma context.

The question is asked: A frequent claim is that bare awareness will automatically prevent unwholesome thoughts from arising. Is there any basis for this notion in the texts?Not from what I have been taught or experienced. All we are getting from Wallace is a distortion of the modern vipassana movement on the basis of bad teaching by unnamed modern Vipassana teachers.
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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