Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

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SarathW
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Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:13 pm

Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

I found the following idea worth further investigating. (discussion)

=============

The in-and-out breath is stress — the in-breath, the stress of arising; the out-breath, the stress of passing away. Not being aware of the breath as it goes in and out, not knowing the characteristics of the breath, is the cause of stress. Knowing when the breath is coming in, knowing when it's going out, knowing its characteristics clearly — i.e., keeping your views in line with the truth of the breath — is Right View, part of the Noble Path.

Knowing which ways of breathing are uncomfortable, knowing how to vary the breath; knowing, "That way of breathing is uncomfortable; I'll have to breathe like this in order to feel at ease:" This is Right Resolve.

The mental factors that think about and correctly evaluate all aspects of the breath are Right Speech.

Knowing various ways of improving the breath; breathing, for example, in long and out long, in short and out short, in short and out long, in long and out short, until you come across the breath most comfortable for you: This is Right Action.

Knowing how to use the breath to purify the blood, how to let this purified blood nourish the heart muscles, how to adjust the breath so that it eases the body and soothes the mind, how to breathe so that you feel full and refreshed in body and mind: This is Right Livelihood.

Trying to adjust the breath until it soothes the body and mind, and to keep trying as long as you aren't fully at ease, is Right Effort.

Being mindful and alert to the in-and-out breath at all times, knowing the various aspects of the breath — the up-flowing breath, the down-flowing breath, the breath in the stomach, the breath in the intestines, the breath flowing along the muscles and out to every pore — keeping track of these things with every in-and-out breath: This is Right Mindfulness.

A mind intent only on issues related to the breath, not pulling any other objects in to interfere, until the breath is refined, giving rise to fixed absorption and then liberating insight right there: This is Right Concentration.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... ml#method2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Zom
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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by Zom » Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:39 pm

Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?
No.

You can read how path factors are explained in the suttas. Not that way you mentioned.

If the path was that simple and easy, Buddha would have said "Observe breath and forget about everything else". But he never said this way.

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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:49 pm

Thanks Zom
Can you give the Sutta reference.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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kirk5a
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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by kirk5a » Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:14 pm

In the full context of what Ajahn Lee taught, absolutely.

Boiling all that down to "just observing the breath" eh, not so much.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:49 am

Greetings,
Zom wrote:
Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?
No.

You can read how path factors are explained in the suttas. Not that way you mentioned.

If the path was that simple and easy, Buddha would have said "Observe breath and forget about everything else". But he never said this way.
Well said.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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The Thinker
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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by The Thinker » Thu Jan 07, 2016 6:10 am

[/"In-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications."

"But why are in-&-out breaths bodily fabrications? Why are directed thought & evaluation verbal fabrications? Why are perceptions & feelings mental fabrications?"

"In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That's why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech. That's why directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental; these are things tied up with the mind. That's why perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

what are fabrications? - empty of own nature?
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by The Thinker » Thu Jan 07, 2016 6:58 am

Breathing itself is not craving, we were created in a chain of creation, it does not belong to us.

observing what is not us can be a liberating thought?
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

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Ben
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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by Ben » Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:11 am

SarathW wrote:Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

I found the following idea worth further investigating. (discussion)

=============

The in-and-out breath is stress — the in-breath, the stress of arising; the out-breath, the stress of passing away. Not being aware of the breath as it goes in and out, not knowing the characteristics of the breath, is the cause of stress. Knowing when the breath is coming in, knowing when it's going out, knowing its characteristics clearly — i.e., keeping your views in line with the truth of the breath — is Right View, part of the Noble Path.

Knowing which ways of breathing are uncomfortable, knowing how to vary the breath; knowing, "That way of breathing is uncomfortable; I'll have to breathe like this in order to feel at ease:" This is Right Resolve.

The mental factors that think about and correctly evaluate all aspects of the breath are Right Speech.

Knowing various ways of improving the breath; breathing, for example, in long and out long, in short and out short, in short and out long, in long and out short, until you come across the breath most comfortable for you: This is Right Action.

Knowing how to use the breath to purify the blood, how to let this purified blood nourish the heart muscles, how to adjust the breath so that it eases the body and soothes the mind, how to breathe so that you feel full and refreshed in body and mind: This is Right Livelihood.

Trying to adjust the breath until it soothes the body and mind, and to keep trying as long as you aren't fully at ease, is Right Effort.

Being mindful and alert to the in-and-out breath at all times, knowing the various aspects of the breath — the up-flowing breath, the down-flowing breath, the breath in the stomach, the breath in the intestines, the breath flowing along the muscles and out to every pore — keeping track of these things with every in-and-out breath: This is Right Mindfulness.

A mind intent only on issues related to the breath, not pulling any other objects in to interfere, until the breath is refined, giving rise to fixed absorption and then liberating insight right there: This is Right Concentration.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... ml#method2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The following is from a question and answer session with the Webu Sayadaw who was widely believed to have been an arahant.
D: If one concentrates on the spot with right concentration then one attains the knowledge of right view, sir.

S: Are the other elements of the Noble Eightfold Path pertinent to this practice [of anapana]?

D: Sir, the eight constituents of the Noble Eightfold Path are: (1) right view; (2) right thought; (3) right speech; (4) right action; (5) right livelihood; (6) right effort; (7) right mindfulness; (8) right concentration.

When our mind is fixed on the spot, we don't think unskillful thoughts in anyway. Therefore right thought is there, sir. As we are not talking at all, we don't speak lies and therefore there is right speech. As awareness of breathing is a good action, right action is included in this practice. There is right livelihood too, as we are not trying to make a living by deceiving others, sir. We are putting our entire effort into keeping our attention at the spot, so there is right effort. Because we focus our attention on the breath without letting go, we have right mindfulness. And as the attention remains at the spot without wandering here and there, we have attained right concentration.

-- the essential practice - collected discourses of Webu Sayadaw.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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SarathW
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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by SarathW » Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:52 am

Thank you for posting this Ben.
I was please to see someone already thought about it.

What I do not agree here is whether you can attain right view by observing breath.

The way I understand observing breath is a Samatha (concentration) practice.
It is not Vipassana practice.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by pegembara » Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:02 am

Looks like yes if done properly.

"Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination. The seven factors for awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to their culmination.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;"


The right view that

All phenomenon are impermanent
All things are not self

can be attained from the proper practice of anapanasati alone.
He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' [14] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.' [15] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.' [16] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'

"When you do anything in meditation, relate it to the breath, for that's the basis of the entire skill we're developing."

"Catching the mind is like catching eels. If you simply jump down into the mud and try to grab hold of them, they'll slip off every which way. You have to find something they like — as when people take a dead dog, put it in a big clay jar and then bury it in the mud. In no time at all the eels come swimming into the jar of their own free will to feed off the dog, and then all you have to do it put your hand over the mouth of the jar and there you are: You've got your eels."

"It's the same with the mind. You have to find something it likes, so make the breath as comfortable as you can, to the point where it feels good throughout the whole body. The mind likes comfort, so it'll come of its own free will, and then it's easy to catch hold of it."

"You have to know the breath at all times, and then happiness will be yours. The human state, the heavenly state, and nibbana are all here in the breath. If you get carried away with other things, happiness will slip through your fingers, so you have to learn how to observe the in-and-out breath at all times. Pay attention to how it's getting along — don't leave it to fend for itself. When you know its way of life — sitting, standing, walking, everything — then you can get what you want from it. The body will be light, the mind at ease, happy at all times."

"The breath can take you all the way to nibbana, you know."

~Ajaan Fuang Jotiko

Source: Awareness Itself

Chapter: Breathing

Direct link:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... tml#breath" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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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Ben
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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by Ben » Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:26 am

SarathW wrote:Thank you for posting this Ben.
I was please to see someone already thought about it.

What I do not agree here is whether you can attain right view by observing breath.

The way I understand observing breath is a Samatha (concentration) practice.
It is not Vipassana practice.
It can be either samatha or vipassana, Sarath. If you are maintaining continuous awareness of the touch of the breath - it is samatha. If you observe the anicca characteristic of the sensation then it becomes vipassana practice. The Mahasi method uses anapana to develop vipassana. Webu Sayadaw used anapana as both samatha and then vipassana.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

SarathW
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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by SarathW » Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:48 am

:bow:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by seeker242 » Thu Jan 07, 2016 1:07 pm

SarathW wrote:Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?
I would say no. For example, a military sniper follows and observes their breath quite closely. They need to in order to be a good killer at a long range. But of course they aren't following any noble path by killing people.

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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by SarathW » Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:14 pm

Some doctrines train a sniper to breathe deeply before shooting, then hold their lungs empty while they line up and take their shot.[8] Some go further, teaching their snipers to shoot between heartbeats to minimize barrel motion.[8]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sniper" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Can you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path by just observing the breath?

Post by Zom » Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:51 pm

Thanks Zom
Can you give the Sutta reference.
Well, I can give a bunch of suttas where the path factors are explained (what is the Right View, etc..). But I'm sure you can find these yourself easily.

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