Gradual practice

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3352
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: Gradual practice

Post by Mr Man » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:37 am

Thanks Zom, Although as you say "obligatory" I had envisaged at the "sense doors restraint" stage. is were a monastic style of life is going to become much more compelling.

User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2094
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: Gradual practice

Post by Zom » Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:04 pm

Thanks Zom, Although as you say "obligatory" I had envisaged at the "sense doors restraint" stage. is were a monastic style of life is going to become much more compelling.
Yes, in this sense we can say that lower part of the scheme can be well practised by lay people, while it is highly problematic for them (usually even impossible) to practise well upper part. Of course it depends, and in the suttas we see even lay people reaching and practising jhanas. But their lifestyle must be close to monastic one.
as described in the suttas sounds to me like a typical "insight" retreat.
To be more exact, only meditative mindfulness is the retreat here, which is described by this passage:

There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, sitting & pacing back & forth, cleanses his mind of any qualities that would hold the mind in check. During the first watch of the night, sitting & pacing back & forth, he cleanses his mind of any qualities that would hold the mind in check. During the second watch of the night, reclining on his right side, he takes up the lion's posture, one foot placed on top of the other, mindful, alert, with his mind set on getting up. During the last watch of the night, sitting & pacing back & forth, he cleanses his mind of any qualities that would hold the mind in check.

Other stages like sense doors restraint, moderation in eating, continual awareness are to be practised as a routine in everyday life (though, of course, these things are a part of nowadays "retreats"). As I see it, "retreats" stage must develop meditative mindfulness, make mind clean and strong enough for later stage of continual awareness 24 h/day, which for its part naturally and effortlessly leads to jhana.

User avatar
Unrul3r
Posts: 174
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:29 pm
Location: Porto, Portugal

Re: Gradual practice

Post by Unrul3r » Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:35 pm

Just some references I posted a year ago that might be helpful for the discussion: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=20769" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:

binocular
Posts: 5454
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Gradual practice

Post by binocular » Thu Sep 01, 2016 6:12 am

And now we need to figure out how to mend the consequences of the do-first-read-instructions-later approach.

It is sometimes said that men, when they buy a piece of furniture that needs to be assembled at home, they just start working on it, without reading the instructions, and only read instructions when the parts just don't seem to fit.

It seems many people have this same approach to Dhamma practice. How to fix this ...

rightviewftw
Posts: 1618
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm

Re: Gradual practice

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:52 pm

Zom wrote:
Thu May 28, 2015 10:16 am
When someone starts directly with some higher stage (like meditation retreats or seclusion or keeping higher precepts all the time) – this is what can be called amateurish approach and, obviously, brings nothing but frustration from Dhamma practice
So taking up meditation and precepts then practicing in solitude is called amateurish approach and can bring nothing but frustration? I think this is very wrong and surely meditation, precepts and solitude can bring great fruits.

Secondly i think it is quite outrageous to say that anybody who found a teacher, learned how to practice meditation, undertook precepts and secluded themselves to practice attained nothing but frustration.

I personally would not dare making such generalizations.

User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2094
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: Gradual practice

Post by Zom » Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:33 am

I think this is very wrong and surely meditation, precepts and solitude can bring great fruits.
I've seen this many many times with different people. So no, this is not wrong, but a reality.
Secondly i think it is quite outrageous to say that anybody who found a teacher, learned how to practice meditation, undertook precepts and secluded themselves to practice attained nothing but frustration.
I said this may lead to frustration, and I know many such cases (if you want I can explain why this happens). In worst cases this even lead to nasty mental outcomes such as insanity. Generally (with most people) it leads just nowhere - they get nothing special in the end (which is natual outcome of amateurish approach to something). They don't become "professionals", that is, great meditators with jhanas, iddhi, nibbana, etc.

User avatar
budo
Posts: 264
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:16 am
Location: The world

Re: Gradual practice

Post by budo » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:40 am

I can only speak for myself and my own experience but I first started meditating around 10 years ago with the book "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Henepola Gunaratana, which is based on Anapanasati.

It took me 3 months of daily one hour practice to finally calm body fabrications for the first time (first tetrad of anapanasati) and this gave me the insight of

1. Namarupa pariccheda nana: knowledge that can distinguish between mental and physical states.

and at this moment a huge chunk of doubt was removed from me and I knew I was onto something real. It was an experience I've never experienced before. I went to visit my parents and they went out, so I sat down and meditated on the couch and the same thing happened, and I remember when they came home they thought there was something wrong with me because they've never seen me that calm in their lives. Growing up I was a violent, aggressive and hyper child, even the teachers in kindergarten and grade school told my parents that I should take Ritalin, so you can imagine their surprise.

Since then I've only reached higher and higher states and vipassana nanas.

I don't know enough about Zom's history and world view, but anyone who practices diligently will reap the rewards, as the Buddha says in Satipathana sutta:

"Let alone seven years. If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for six years... five... four... three... two years... one year... seven months... six months... five... four... three... two months... one month... half a month, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or — if there be any remnant of clinging/sustenance — non-return.

Let alone half a month. If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for seven days, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or — if there be any remnant of clinging/sustenance — non-return.



It's never too late to start Meditating. Trust yourself first and foremost.

rightviewftw
Posts: 1618
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm

Re: Gradual practice

Post by rightviewftw » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:53 am

Zom wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:33 am
I think this is very wrong and surely meditation, precepts and solitude can bring great fruits.
I've seen this many many times with different people. So no, this is not wrong, but a reality.
Secondly i think it is quite outrageous to say that anybody who found a teacher, learned how to practice meditation, undertook precepts and secluded themselves to practice attained nothing but frustration.
I said this may lead to frustration, and I know many such cases (if you want I can explain why this happens). In worst cases this even lead to nasty mental outcomes such as insanity. Generally (with most people) it leads just nowhere - they get nothing special in the end (which is natual outcome of amateurish approach to something). They don't become "professionals", that is, great meditators with jhanas, iddhi, nibbana, etc.
Actually you did not say that it may lead to frustration, you said it leads to nothing but frustration;
When someone starts directly with some higher stage (like meditation retreats or seclusion or keeping higher precepts all the time) – this is what can be called amateurish approach and, obviously, brings nothing but frustration from Dhamma practice, and I think this is one of the major reasons why people quit Buddhism entirely or, at the very least, dissatisfied with it.
There are surely people who have gone forth out of various reasons or people who have gone to retreats, having undertaken meditation and precepts they have practiced in seclusion and attained the goal for which people go forth. It is quite offensive when you call the practice amaterurish and generalize in this way imho.

User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2094
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: Gradual practice

Post by Zom » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:55 pm

There are surely people who have gone forth out of various reasons or people who have gone to retreats, having undertaken meditation and precepts they have practiced in seclusion and attained the goal for which people go forth.
Yes, there are canonical stories about "superhumans" like Ven. Moggallana, Ven. Bahiya, etc. But these are rare. I'd say, extremely rare. I was talking about normal ordinary people, of course. When they start practice with last stages, skipping all preliminary ones - they get nothing. Calling it frustration or not - doesn't really matter.

User avatar
budo
Posts: 264
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:16 am
Location: The world

Re: Gradual practice

Post by budo » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:42 pm

Zom wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:55 pm
There are surely people who have gone forth out of various reasons or people who have gone to retreats, having undertaken meditation and precepts they have practiced in seclusion and attained the goal for which people go forth.
Yes, there are canonical stories about "superhumans" like Ven. Moggallana, Ven. Bahiya, etc. But these are rare. I'd say, extremely rare. I was talking about normal ordinary people, of course. When they start practice with last stages, skipping all preliminary ones - they get nothing. Calling it frustration or not - doesn't really matter.
There are also tons of stories of average normal lay people attaining stream entry and more. https://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha267.htm

And even that is irrelevant, what matters are the benefits here and now, and meditation has benefits here and now and should always be practiced. Frustration only happens if you have a result/outcome oriented mindset.

People should practice meditation here and now. In the moment of meditation you are not out drinking alcohol or breaking precepts, you're here meditating, and thus meditation is right livelihood and right sila. Just by sittting down and crossing your legs, you are practicing right sila because in that moment you are not breaking any precepts.

However, being on a forum debating dhamma is more dangerous than meditating because you run the risk of breaking a speech precept.

User avatar
Nwad
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:24 pm

Re: Gradual practice

Post by Nwad » Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:55 pm

Dear Zom,

As you know in Russia we say that : one don't preclude another (одно другому не мешает). For exemple my sila practice is not deminished by my practice of formal meditation, moderation in eating etc. Or if I try to guard my senses I will week my bodily or mental conduct ? What do you think ?

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 1396
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: Gradual practice

Post by cappuccino » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:16 pm

Zom wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:55 pm
Yes, there are canonical stories about "superhumans"

A sage once said, the thought of difficulty is the obstacle.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 3997
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Gradual practice

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:28 pm

Zom wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:33 am
I think this is very wrong and surely meditation, precepts and solitude can bring great fruits.
I've seen this many many times with different people. So no, this is not wrong, but a reality.
Secondly i think it is quite outrageous to say that anybody who found a teacher, learned how to practice meditation, undertook precepts and secluded themselves to practice attained nothing but frustration.
I said this may lead to frustration, and I know many such cases (if you want I can explain why this happens). In worst cases this even lead to nasty mental outcomes such as insanity. Generally (with most people) it leads just nowhere - they get nothing special in the end (which is natual outcome of amateurish approach to something). They don't become "professionals", that is, great meditators with jhanas, iddhi, nibbana, etc.
I appreciate your systematic and sutta-based approach to the practice, and I have always respected the graduated teaching. I would, however, like to suggest a few points in the interests of balance.

First, repeated observation of something on your part makes it an inductively-derived generalisation, rather than it being necessarily true. There could well be exceptions, and it might be that anyone short of an arahant has an hypothesis confirmed due to biases inherent in how they see things. For example, I have seen many times that winters never get so cold that the sea could freeze, but does that make it true?

Second, would we not need observations of the Gradual Teaching to be confirmed in a similar manner? How many "professionals" with jhanas, iddhi, and nibbana have you seen arise through following it?

I remain open-minded about this, but find that a useful working hypothesis to be that meditation helps lay practitioners in that it contributes to the mental clarity and stability required by other aspects of the practice.

User avatar
budo
Posts: 264
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:16 am
Location: The world

Re: Gradual practice

Post by budo » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:46 pm

The way I see it attempting something above your skill level will help you see what you're lacking. Always staying below your skill level will never allow you to grow. You need to constantly test the waters.

You may meditate 180 days in a row trying to get as far as you can and fail, then on the 181st day you reach something you've never reached before, you may wonder what that is, you may try to get it again but fail. Then 90 days later you reach it again instead of 180 days, the neural connection in your mind is being strengthened as you try to remember how you got there, then 45 days later you get it again, then 22 days later, then 10 days later, now you've paved the way in the sand, your neural pathway strengthened more than ever before.

In this process you realize that the reason you never got there before was because you drank too much coffee thus giving you too much restlessness, so you stop drinking coffee, but now you're tired at 6pm instead of 12am, you have too much sloth to meditate, but because you have no caffiene in your body you go to sleep earlier at 10pm instead of 12am, now all of a sudden you're waking up at 5am instead 8am, because you sleep earlier your mind gets proper serotonin levels, all of a sudden you're following the suttas on when the buddha tells people when to go to sleep, you're doing it without even trying, just it happens automatically by removing caffiene whereas before you couldn't go to sleep early.

So now you meditate, you no longer have too much energy nor too low energy, you have the right balance of energy, all of a sudden you can enter jhana again, and you figured out why. This is reverse engineering that bad desire/attachment -> bad livelihood -> bad energy -> no jhana, and finding the cure.

You need to attack the problem from all angles, both gradual and reverse engineering. You need to prove it to yourself and not just rely on the suttas

User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2094
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: Gradual practice

Post by Zom » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:34 pm

People should practice meditation here and now. In the moment of meditation you are not out drinking alcohol or breaking precepts, you're here meditating, and thus meditation is right livelihood and right sila. Just by sittting down and crossing your legs, you are practicing right sila because in that moment you are not breaking any precepts.
This is modern explanation, however, Buddha explained it differently.
There are also tons of stories of average normal lay people attaining stream entry and more.
You don't need jhana (that is - hi-end stage) to attain stream-entry. Actually, this is why Stream Entry is called so - you've just "entered" - and there's a long way to go still (in some cases - up to 7 life times).

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider], rightviewftw and 91 guests