Gradual practice

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Sam Vara
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:07 pm

Zom wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:42 pm
You may be right, but only if you had set out to reach those jhanas and nothing else.
But that practice is meant to get jhanas. Meditation is only for that, according to texts. Nowadays, of course, meditation became a panacea - but in good old times it was not. It was a special method to get particular special results known as jhanas.
Again, the same applies to all the other aspects of the path. Some people claim to claim to experience jhanas; and then some other people say that they are mistaken. Similarly, people study and read and reflect for many years, and get into lengthy and bitter disputes with others as to what constitutes Right View, or what an arahant is like.
Yes, they write about this in books - but this is because meditation is a trend, and so they ascribe to it all possible benefits one can imagine.
I'm sure some people might do that, but I don't personally know of any. Most meditators seem to take a view broadly similar to mine expressed above, which is that meditation has a range of limited benefits, depending on where one is with the practice and what else is happening in one's life.
From my experience I can say this is not so


We seem to gone round in a circle and come back to this. Your experience is perhaps less valuable to others than you might imagine. There are people who tell me from their experience that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour. Basing one's conduct upon another's claimed experience requires that one overcomes the problem of induction; what holds for them may not hold for oneself. Perhaps a claim that meditation does not work in certain contexts means no more than the claimant having missed out on the type of meditation that would have worked, had they been fortunate enough to have encountered it.

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Zom
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by Zom » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:38 pm

Similarly, people study and read and reflect for many years
Then they read and study bad - because texts are clear on many "disputable" matters. One just need to look in.
We seem to gone round in a circle and come back to this. Your experience is perhaps less valuable to others than you might imagine.
Yes, this is why I usually don't take it as an argument - but keep saying about what is there in the suttas and how it is presented there. But to see/understand these facts one must read and keep in mind all suttas - not just one or couple. Only then you'll get a broad picture. There, unforunately, aren't lot of people who do that - most are satisfied with books on Buddhism or some articles/lectures, and take for granted what is written/said there. Their view and perception of practice is molded by these secondary or even tertiary sources - and even if they start reading Canon, they see it through these lens.
Perhaps a claim that meditation does not work in certain contexts means no more than the claimant having missed out on the type of meditation that would have worked, had they been fortunate enough to have encountered it.
Okay, since personal experience doesn't really matter... Here we talk about one type of meditation - intenstive mindfulness one, so called vipassana or anapanasati - this is what is practised intensively on retreats. According to suttas this meditation leads to jhana, it is its goal, it is undertaken to reach this goal. Texts do not say that one do this meditation to get some other results. If you want other results - you do other things.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:25 pm

Zom wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:38 pm
Then they read and study bad - because texts are clear on many "disputable" matters. One just need to look in.
All those people have looked in, and there is no end to the disputes. And one might say that the same applies to those who get nowhere with meditation: they meditate badly.
Yes, this is why I usually don't take it as an argument - but keep saying about what is there in the suttas and how it is presented there. But to see/understand these facts one must read and keep in mind all suttas - not just one or couple. Only then you'll get a broad picture. There, unforunately, aren't lot of people who do that - most are satisfied with books on Buddhism or some articles/lectures, and take for granted what is written/said there. Their view and perception of practice is molded by these secondary or even tertiary sources - and even if they start reading Canon, they see it through these lens.
Yes, I agree. The same broad reading, though, gives rise to support for a meditative practice. Many learned Ajahns and translators are in favour of meditation and retreats for lay supporters. We can of course argue about the specific meaning of passages in suttas, as per above. But the fact that well-read thoughtful practitioners also meditate again raises the issue of induction. It's difficult to extrapolate universal points from our own limited generalisations.
Okay, since personal experience doesn't really matter...
I don't think anyone is claiming that, are they? At most, I'm arguing that it forms a poor basis for universal truths.
Here we talk about one type of meditation - intenstive mindfulness one, so called vipassana or anapanasati - this is what is practised intensively on retreats. According to suttas this meditation leads to jhana, it is its goal, it is undertaken to reach this goal. Texts do not say that one do this meditation to get some other results. If you want other results - you do other things.
I would be happier drawing some clearer distinctions here, but the general point remains. Perhaps people are getting jhana from such techniques - there are certainly enough people on this forum claiming exactly that - and maybe those that do not are getting closer to gaining it, and thereby accruing some of its benefits.

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cappuccino
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by cappuccino » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:50 pm

The difficulty is the idea that it is difficult.

Then you don't seriously try…

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Zom
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by Zom » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:02 pm

The same broad reading, though, gives rise to support for a meditative practice. Many learned Ajahns and translators are in favour of meditation and retreats for lay supporters.
I don't really think they are in favour because they found that in the texts. Rather, all this "meditation hype" has a beginning and didn't exist before 19th century. Before that no "learned ajahns" taught meditation and never claimed to be "meditation teachers" or "meditation masters". And then - "learned ajahns" started suddenly to do that .) How did this happen? Here. I really hope that "learned ajahns" someday will teach people other way, that is, gradually, as Buddha recommended. And some (as I heard) do - but they are not westerners.
Perhaps people are getting jhana from such techniques - there are certainly enough people on this forum claiming exactly that - and maybe those that do not are getting closer to gaining it, and thereby accruing some of its benefits.
If you could only imagine how many times I've heard such claims, both on forums and in real life. Usually these come from newbies. Later they either quit Buddhism (because of finding something more interesting and entertaining) or admit that they overestimated their achievements. And again, I repeat, I don't know anyone and never heard of anyone (except that Nepali meditator) who could at least somehow confirm such claims - meditation teachers included. Taking into account Buddha's claim that "people are deteriorating", and a fact, that even in Buddha's lifetime those with jhanas were rare... maybe there are some individuals who do have it, but even if there are, they don't tell about it, they don't teach it, nobody knows about them and never see them meditating. 8-)

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cappuccino
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by cappuccino » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:35 pm

I agree, meditation is of trivial importance.

You are better sitting at a computer… reading.

Poor posture, good results!
Last edited by cappuccino on Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:37 pm

Zom wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:02 pm
The same broad reading, though, gives rise to support for a meditative practice. Many learned Ajahns and translators are in favour of meditation and retreats for lay supporters.
I don't really think they are in favour because they found that in the texts. Rather, all this "meditation hype" has a beginning and didn't exist before 19th century. Before that no "learned ajahns" taught meditation and never claimed to be "meditation teachers" or "meditation masters". And then - "learned ajahns" started suddenly to do that .) How did this happen?
I don't think that it matters where people got interested in meditation; that's the genetic fallacy, which imputes validity or invalidity to something on the basis of its origin. The point is that people can "quote-mine" the suttas in favour of lay people meditating and come up with a healthy-looking position; and people can do the same if they are against lay meditation with equal success. Therefore, recourse to the suttas doesn't really help to make up one's mind on this.
I really hope that "learned ajahns" someday will teach people other way, that is, gradually, as Buddha recommended.
Yes, why not? There's room for many different approaches, and good luck to all of them.
If you could only imagine how many times I've heard such claims, both on forums and in real life.
Probably as often as I have heard them. But popularity is a poor indicator of truth or falsehood.
Usually these come from newbies.
That may be because most meditators are newbies. But one can also hear it from lay meditators with 30 or 40 years experience, and Ajahns who have been in robes for 50+ years.
And again, I repeat, I don't know anyone and never heard of anyone (except that Nepali meditator) who could at least somehow confirm such claims - meditation teachers included. Maybe there are some very rare people who do have it, but if there are, they don't tell about it, they don't teach it, nobody knows about them and never see them meditating.
We both repeat, don't we! And my repetition here is that most people don't (with canonical justification) set the bar so high; that making any progress towards jhana is considered valuable; and your absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

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cappuccino
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by cappuccino » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:52 pm

jhana is calm, that's all


Ramana Maharshi is an example in the last century

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Zom
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by Zom » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:37 pm

But one can also hear it from lay meditators with 30 or 40 years experience, and Ajahns who have been in robes for 50+ years.
Actually this is forbidden for monks to say about such things, so I doubt you could hear that. From lay buddhists with such practice experience I have not heard such a thing.
and your absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Evidence is that no one shows that - just objective fact. People keep saying, but no one demonstrates 8-) This is the reality. One Nepali boy accidentaly showed at least some skill in meditation - and now he is a spiritual superstar in Nepal and all over the world as well.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:56 pm

Zom wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:37 pm
But one can also hear it from lay meditators with 30 or 40 years experience, and Ajahns who have been in robes for 50+ years.
Actually this is forbidden for monks to say about such things, so I doubt you could hear that. From lay buddhists with such practice experience I have not heard such a thing.
No, if you check the thread we are here talking of claims that meditation has benefits, not claims of personal attainments. Many eminent Ajahns teach retreats for lay practitioners, and write books about meditation. They are certainly allowed to do that.
Evidence is that no one shows that - just objective fact. People keep saying, but no one demonstrates
No-one demonstrates according to your particular criteria, but then again, nobody tries, because your criteria are idiosyncratic. I'm not saying that they are wrong, or lack some canonical support, but the same can be said - and is being said, on this forum - of other criteria. (See viewtopic.php?f=43&t=32146&p=476973#p476965)

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Re: Gradual practice

Post by Circle5 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:41 am

I don't want to get offtopic from the interesting discussion but Ram Bomjon was shown to be a fake sharlatan who then went to become a sadistic guru. He killed a couple of woman and did all kind of sadistic stuff. He is invulnerable in front of justice because of being friend with the prime minister of Nepal who uses him for political gains. It's sad but that's how things go in under 1000$ gdp per capita countries.

Though I have to admit he is a pretty cool guru from a bdsm point of view.

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cappuccino
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Re: Gradual practice

Post by cappuccino » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:07 am

you should research rumors, rather than gossip

he's a Buddhist

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Re: Gradual practice

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:56 am

Zom wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:02 pm
And again, I repeat, I don't know anyone and never heard of anyone (except that Nepali meditator) who could at least somehow confirm such claims - meditation teachers included.
May I ask what you mean when you speak of the Nepali boy being able to confirm his claims? Are you referring just to his ability to sit for lengthy periods or is there something more than this?

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Re: Gradual practice

Post by cappuccino » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:19 am

life is short, I recommend intensity

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Re: Gradual practice

Post by Zom » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:29 am

I don't want to get offtopic from the interesting discussion but Ram Bomjon was shown to be a fake sharlatan who then went to become a sadistic guru. He killed a couple of woman and did all kind of sadistic stuff.
Yes, I know that his story is contradictory, and there are claims from some people that he is a bad guy. How much of that is true - I don't know, same stories circulated even around the Buddha -) It seems to me, Ram Bomjon was (at least many years ago) a genius meditator (though completely uneducated, in terms of Dhamma [Dharma] as well), but after he became popular, bad guys appeared and decided to make money on him (making a Guru out of him, not affiliated with Tibetan Buddhism, from which he came from 8-) Now he is a prisoner of situation, maybe not under compulsion, but by his own will. Maybe now he can't show that meditation skills as before, because he "returned to lower life" -) However, I doubt that Discovery film about him (2008) is a fake. There he is shown to sit several days in a row - with their camera recording all that. This is the one and only reason why he became so popular. Because he could do that (unlike all other meditators) - and even hiding from people here and there in the jungle, in meditation chamber, didn't help him from becoming popular. As for his [Dharma] lectures - they are terrible -) It seems he doesn't really know what to say and why; or even at least how to interpret his meditation experience.
May I ask what you mean when you speak of the Nepali boy being able to confirm his claims? Are you referring just to his ability to sit for lengthy periods or is there something more than this?
I didn't mean he made some claims about jhana - I'm sure he even doesn't know what is that. I mean that if someone claims to have jhana (especially for many years), he should be able to meditate like Ram Bomjon. Maybe not several days in a row, but at least many hours in a row.

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