Mahashi [and other Satipatthana/Samadhi development methods] vs sutta [and contemplating higher teachings] (explained) -

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Twilight
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Mahashi [and other Satipatthana/Samadhi development methods] vs sutta [and contemplating higher teachings] (explained) -

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:50 pm

Title edited to reflect that the discussion has progressed to how stream entry is attained.

I have written this in another topic but I think it deserves a topic of it's own:

The problem with the mahashi technique is that despite been similar to mindfulness meditation described in the suttas it is taken out of context of the noble 8thfold path and is not keeping the goal in mind. What I am speaking about here is the practice done in day to day life by mahashis, the practice of noting. The other practice about focusing on the abdomen is more similar to hindu style meditation that buddhist and more far away from sutta meditation than the day-to-day life mahashi mindfulness practice. (mindfulness of breathing involves 16 steps, none of witch is focusing on the abdomen)

A good sutta explaining the context in witch day to day mindfulness should be developed is MN 39: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

It is something like this: The mind always has the tendency to go towards pleasure. The person might want to engage in pleasurable activities or at least think pleasant thoughts. Every moment of our lives, the mind has this tendency to go towards pleasure, the tendency towards taking delight.

The way to stop this tendency is with mindfulness directed at the body. This does not mean focusing on some part of the body, it just means directing your mindfulness towards the body in a general sense. Because of this, the person can observe his mind pulling towards delight and stop it. In this way the person can "retreat" from pleasures, can destroy this tendency of taking delight of the mind. The goal is to stop this tendency of taking delight not to focus on a single spot and develop concentration. Concentration (witch is not a perfect translation for samadhi. Correct word is something between "concentration" and "ecstasy") will arise out of seclusion from sensual pleasures not out of focusing very strong on a single spot. (hindu style) Every time jhana is described, it is described as "secluded from sensual desires, he enters and abides in the first jhana". If one is able to destroy this tendency of taking delight and become secluded from sensual desires, it is said that a "rapture born out of seclusion" will arise. (jhana) This is why I agree to a large extent with day-to-day mahashi practice but not with the focusing on the abdomen exercise. The abdomen exercise achieves the same goal a little but that is not exactly what Buddha had in mind.

Today, we have this practice taken out of context and even sold for money to westerners. It is even advertised as a way to take more pleasure out of life. People are promised that this little exercise will solve all their life problems. Then we have the idea that this is all one needs to do as a buddhist. Just to do this long enough.
Last edited by Twilight on Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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Twilight
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:02 pm

Part 2, how this developed:

When Buddhism is introduced to a new place, people try to make it fit with their already established beliefs. And in the west that is atheism. People are promised an exercise that removes stress. After a while, people also want to believe themselves advanced because of doing this exercise and they become buddhist because there is no point in "been advanced" as an atheist. Then develops the idea that this exercise + morality is all you need to do to advance as a buddhist. But there is a problem with understanding the nonexistence of a self, jhanas etc. So there develops 2 ideas:

1) Insight about how the 5 aggregates (form, feeling, perception, volition, consciousness) work will arise out of this exercise. This idea is false, the way to arise insight into how the aggregates work is by studying suttas regarding the fundamental doctrine of dependent origination. All people who ever achieved stream entry in the suttas did so because of hearing and contemplating a discourse. The only knowledge that arise because of jhana are the 3 arahant wisdoms.

2) That this will make one develop jhanas. By focusing on a single spot, one can develop the hindu jhanas. The jhanas that Buddha had developed prior to his enlightenment. But to develop the buddhist jhanas one has to use the method Buddha discovered as a child.

Because people have tried this and did not arrive at jhanas as described in the suttas, there have developed the idea that this is a special meditation for arising of insight. And then developed the idea that you can get enlightened without the 8th step of the noble 8thfold path - jhana. Just 7 steps are enough. This is something not compatible at all with what is written in the pali canon. There is no distinction between 2 types of meditation or about insight arising because of focusing on a single spot. But this technique does bring benefits. The day-to-day Mahashi practice of noting is quite similar to the sutta day-to-day mindfulness and it definitely helps in destroying the tendency towards taking delight. The practice of focusing on the abdomen also achieves this to a degree. So the 2 techniques are good for developing paramitas (good qualities) but, ironically, not for the development of insight.


The reason this developed is because of atheism been the main view in the west. Zen buddhism witch is very similar to Mahashi also developed because of atheism in the place it was introduced. But we should be thankful for this. Some people who start off with Mahashi end up becoming buddhist and reading the pali canon. If it wasn't for mahashi, many famous monks would not have existed. For example B.Bhodi or B.Sujato despite not practicing the technique anymore, both started with it. They also do not advise against it because as I said, it is good for the development of paramitas. Many of us here, including me, have got into buddhism thanks to the mahashi technique. So we should all be thankful to it.
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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Twilight
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:23 pm

Part 3: Some words about Buddhaghosa

I would also like to add that the technique was developed in the 19th century in Bruma and is based on Visuddhimagga. Visuddhimagga was written 1000 years after the Buddha by an ex-hindu person, Buddhaghosa. Buddhaghosa did not understand buddhism too much, proof of this is that he wrote in visuddhimagga that the way to contemplate emptiness is by imagining a shirt with a hole in it. What he wrote about buddhism meditation was probably hindu meditation, the only one he really understood. At the end of his life, he said he did not achieve enlightenment (what a surprise) and that he wishes to be reborn in a heaven.

As more time passes since Buddha death, more layers of dhamma or added. The problem is that the more layers of dhamma are added on top of the original dhamma preserved in the Pali Canon, the more corrupt the dhamma becomes. Especially when we are speaking about dhamma written by a person who understood contemplating emptiness through imagining a shirt with a hole in it. Blind men leading blind men.
Then Ven. Maha Kassapa went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "What is the cause, lord, what is the reason, why before there were fewer training rules and yet more monks established in final gnosis, whereas now there are more training rules and yet fewer monks established in final gnosis?"

"That's the way it is, Kassapa. When beings are degenerating and the true Dhamma is disappearing, there are more training rules and yet fewer monks established in final gnosis. There is no disappearance of the true Dhamma as long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world, but there is the disappearance of the true Dhamma when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has arisen in the world. Just as there is no disappearance of gold as long as a counterfeit of gold has not arisen in the world, but there is the disappearance of gold when a counterfeit of gold has arisen in the world, in the same way there is no disappearance of the true Dhamma as long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world, but there is the disappearance of the true Dhamma when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has arisen in the world.[1]

"It's not the earth property that makes the true Dhamma disappear. It's not the water property... the fire property... the wind property that makes the true Dhamma disappear.[2] It's worthless people who arise right here [within the Sangha] who make the true Dhamma disappear. The true Dhamma doesn't disappear the way a boat sinks all at once.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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SDC
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by SDC » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:16 pm

You do realize that there are members who follow these techniques? Make sure your blog doesn't develop into a vilification of their approach or there is going to be an issue.

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Twilight
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:28 pm

And there are members who want to find real dhamma as taught by the historical Buddha. These are just my opinions regarding mahashi and, as I said, it is a beneficial technique. I have written them because I care and have respect for the dhamma. Just like B.Bhodi or B.Sujato are allowed to write opinions, I too should be allowed to write opinions. This is a Theravada forum and theravada follows the teachings of the historical Buddha preserved in the Pali Canon. Mahashi interpretation does not have a monopoly on theravada. I do not think criticism of mahashi should not exist. Nobody should be beyond criticism, not even Buddha or the Pali Canon.

If one really has confidence in the dhamma taught by the historical Buddha and cherishes it, then it is only normal to promote it and help other people find it too. I wish somebody would have told me what is written in this topic some years ago.
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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SDC
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by SDC » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:36 pm

Twilight wrote:And there are members who want to find real dhamma as taught by the historical Buddha. These are just my opinions regarding mahashi and, as I said, it is a beneficial technique. I have written them because I care and have respect for the dhamma. Just like B.Bhodi or B.Sujato are allowed to write opinions, I too should be allowed to write opinions. This is a Theravada forum and theravada follows the teachings of the historical Buddha preserved in the Pali Canon. Mahashi interpretation does not have a monopoly on theravada. I do not think criticism of mahashi should not exist. Nobody should be beyond criticism.
Just make sure this does not develop into any vilification of their approach or that's that. I'm sure you'll have no problem complying.

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Twilight
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:41 pm

Not at all. As I said, I happen to have the same opinion as B.Bhodi and B.Sujato: I believe this is a beneficial technique. Especially the day-to-day practice of noting. Even the focusing on the abdomen technique is helpful, just not what Buddha had in mind. And almost all who arrived at buddhism from the west, including me, including almost all famous bhikkhus, did so thanks to Mahashi. If it wasn't for him, the shanga would be almost non-existent in the west. It is also a very open tradition with no cultish aspects like Goenka for example. It is the best we could have hoped for in the west if we think about it. It openly encourages it's practitioners to read the Pali Canon or other theravada teachings such as Abhidhamma or the commentaries.

If I were to build a tradition that would promote the dhamma in the west and distort it as little as possible, I could not do it better than Mahashi. This is why I have all the respect for them. If it wasn't for them, then Zen would be the most popular tradition and almost nobody in the west would get exposed to the teachings of the historical Buddha. People would be reading sutras instead of suttas. Or they would not be reading anything at all, they would be "just sitting". Like a cat on a pizza.
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:19 am

SDC wrote:You do realize that there are members who follow these techniques? Make sure your blog doesn't develop into a vilification of their approach or there is going to be an issue.
Since all of the arguments presented above have been discussed many times over the past eight years, I don't see much point in those of us who practice these techniques, find them to be beneficial, and have found them to be very useful in elucidating the meaning of many hundreds of suttas, to comment in detail.

I would say, though, that just scanning the introductory instructions of any teacher or method is unlikely to give much idea the full depth of what is involved in the approach. Any serious approach will involve instruction on the development of sila, basic Dhamma concepts such as noble truths, dependent origination, and so on, and personalised instruction in solving the various problems that will inevitably arise. This applies not only to the Mahasi approach and it's numerous derivatives (which includes a lot of the non-monastic "insight" teachers), but also to the U Ba Khin/Goenka approach, and the approaches taught by teachers such as Ajahn Brahm, Pa Auk Sayadaw, and on and on.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by robertk » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:22 am

Twilight wrote:Part 3: Some words about Buddhaghosa

I would also like to add that the technique was developed in the 19th century in Bruma and is based on Visuddhimagga. Visuddhimagga was written 1000 years after the Buddha by an ex-hindu person, Buddhaghosa. Buddhaghosa did not understand buddhism too much, proof of this is that he wrote in visuddhimagga that the way to contemplate emptiness is by imagining a shirt with a hole in it. What he wrote about buddhism meditation was probably hindu meditation, the only one he really understood. At the end of his life, he said he did not achieve enlightenment (what a surprise) and that he wishes to be reborn in a heaven.

A.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html[/quote]
You are going way off my friend. Better stop before it is too late.

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Twilight
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by Twilight » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:37 am

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
You are going way off my friend. Better stop before it is too late.
From visuddhimagga:

"One who is learning the space kasina apprehends the sign in a hole in the wall, or in keyhole, or in a window opening."

"One should make a hole a span and four fingers broad in a well- thatched hut, or in a piece of leather, or in a rush mat. He should develop one of these as ‘space, space’. " - V 24-42
http://realtruthlife.blogspot.ro/2011/0 ... Hlx4NJ97Z4

Post from this forum:
Zom wrote:Or for example, things like "flowers" in Visuddhimagga are taken as "meditation objects to contemplate", but in the suttas we see that flowers are mentioned only as a metaphor to illustrate the mode of seeing or perception, probably, inside jhana. Looking on the real flowers would be quite foolish in this case. What is more, Visuddhimagga offers to stare at "hole in some cloth" to practise space kasina. But if we look again in suttas, we see, that space kasina is a 1st arupa-jhana, that is, the base of infinite space.
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... ga#p273703

Are these real dhamma as taught in the Pali Canon or counterfeit of true dhamma added 1000 years after the Buddha ? Is Visuddhimagga beyond criticism ? It's probably not the whole book like that but still, what do these passages tell us about Buddhaghosa who himself said that he wants to be reborn in a heaven. (not even human as Buddha recommends) He himself never made the claim of been enlightened, I don't see why he should be defended like he was better than the Buddha. Is not the Pali Canon older than Visuddhimagga and therefore, more respected within Theravada ?
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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robertk
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by robertk » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:53 am

Twilight wrote:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
You are going way off my friend. Better stop before it is too late.
From visuddhimagga:

"One who is learning the space kasina apprehends the sign in a hole in the wall, or in keyhole, or in a window opening."

"One should make a hole a span and four fingers broad in a well- thatched hut, or in a piece of leather, or in a rush mat. He should develop one of these as ‘space, space’. " - V 24-42
http://realtruthlife.blogspot.ro/2011/0 ... Hlx4NJ97Z4

Post from this forum:
Zom wrote:Or for example, things like "flowers" in Visuddhimagga are taken as "meditation objects to contemplate", but in the suttas we see that flowers are mentioned only as a metaphor to illustrate the mode of seeing or perception, probably, inside jhana. Looking on the real flowers would be quite foolish in this case. What is more, Visuddhimagga offers to stare at "hole in some cloth" to practise space kasina. But if we look again in suttas, we see, that space kasina is a 1st arupa-jhana, that is, the base of infinite space.
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... ga#p273703

Are these real dhamma as taught in the Pali Canon or counterfeit of true dhamma added 1000 years after the Buddha ? Is Visuddhimagga beyond criticism ? It's probably not the whole book like that but still, what do these passages tell us about Buddhaghosa who himself said that he wants to be reborn in a heaven. (not even human as Buddha recommends) He himself never made the claim of been enlightened, I don't see why he should be defended like he was better than the Buddha.
Buddhaghose is describing the development of the kasina here: nothing to do with vipassana in that section of the Visuddhimagga.

Where did he say he was not enlightened?

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Twilight
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by Twilight » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:59 am

The Visuddhimagga reflects changes in interpretation which appeared during the centuries since the Buddha's time.

The Australian Buddhist monastic Shravasti Dhammika is critical of contemporary practice.[31] He concludes that Buddhaghosa did not believe that following the practice set forth in the Visuddhimagga will really lead him to Nirvana, basing himself on the postscript to the Visuddhimagga:[31]

Even Buddhaghosa did not really believe that Theravada practice could lead to Nirvana. His Visuddhimagga is supposed to be a detailed, step by step guide to enlightenment. And yet in the postscript [...] he says he hopes that the merit he has earned by writing the Vishuddhimagga will allow him to be reborn in heaven, abide there until Metteyya (Maitreya) appears, hear his teaching and then attain enlightenment.[31][note 1]

Yet Ñāṇamoli notes that this postscript does not appear in the original Pali.[34][note 2]

According to Kalupahana, Buddhaghosa was influenced by Mahayana-thought, which were subtly mixed with Theravada orthodoxy to introduce new ideas. Eventually this led to the flowering of metaphysical tendencies, in contrast to the original stress on anattā in early Buddhism[36]
Devotion to Metteya was common in South Asia from early in the Buddhist era, and is believed to have been particularly popular during Buddhaghosa's era
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhagho ... 3a#Critics

What do you think about the level of enlightenment of a person writing such things about the space kasina ?

And on what suttas is the vipassana meditation based on ? On the 16 step mindfulness of breathing sutta out of witch note is about focusing on the abdomen?
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn118
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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robertk
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by robertk » Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:07 am

Twilight wrote:
The Visuddhimagga reflects changes in interpretation which appeared during the centuries since the Buddha's time.

The Australian Buddhist monastic Shravasti Dhammika is critical of contemporary practice.[31] He concludes that Buddhaghosa did not believe that following the practice set forth in the Visuddhimagga will really lead him to Nirvana, basing himself on the postscript to the Visuddhimagga:[31]

Even Buddhaghosa did not really believe that Theravada practice could lead to Nirvana. His Visuddhimagga is supposed to be a detailed, step by step guide to enlightenment. And yet in the postscript [...] he says he hopes that the merit he has earned by writing the Vishuddhimagga will allow him to be reborn in heaven, abide there until Metteyya (Maitreya) appears, hear his teaching and then attain enlightenment.[31][note 1]

Yet Ñāṇamoli notes that this postscript does not appear in the original Pali.[34][note 2]

According to Kalupahana, Buddhaghosa was influenced by Mahayana-thought, which were subtly mixed with Theravada orthodoxy to introduce new ideas. Eventually this led to the flowering of metaphysical tendencies, in contrast to the original stress on anattā in early Buddhism[36]
Devotion to Metteya was common in South Asia from early in the Buddhist era, and is believed to have been particularly popular during Buddhaghosa's era
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhagho ... 3a#Critics

What do you think about the level of enlightenment of a person writing such things about the space kasina ?

And on what suttas is the vipassana meditation based on ? On the 16 step mindfulness of breathing sutta out of witch note is about focusing on the abdomen?
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn118
That colophon was written by a transcriber of the text, not by Buddhaghosa.
Where in the Vis. do you get ideas like focussing on the abdomen?

Why would I dismiss the way he teaches the kasina mediation? I am sure it must be that way.

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Twilight
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by Twilight » Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:09 am

Why would I dismiss the way he teaches the kasina mediation? I am sure it must be that way.
Why not check the suttas and see if it's like that or it's otherwise ? They were written 700 years before Visuddhimagga. In any religion, text that are written earlier prevail over those written later when there are contradictions.

And the ton of metaphysical speculation in the Visuddhimagga ? What is up with that ?
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: Mahashi vs sutta (explained)

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:19 am

Twilight wrote:
Mahasi Technique is not focusing on the abdomen to solve all the problems, although it is in a way, but it is a gross oversimplification!
You do realize that the focusing on the abdomen is the first step ? There is 6 step walking meditation and quite complicated sequence for sitting. People usually learn it on a 21 day intensive course. This is all done and developed based on the Abhidhamma studies. If you want to claim that the 6 steps or any structure of the practise is not good, you need to discuss it with people who have studied the Abhidhamma. I dont think there is much of an arguement, Vipassana based on the four foundations of mindfulness is the way to insight.

As i understood you compared the abdomen practise to samatha meditation, and it may be the case that there some single pointedness being trained, but i dont know and idk if that is a bad thing if there was. A meditator is also encouraged to go back the "sequence" only in certain states, otherwise there is no preferrance for a particular foundation of mindfulness, one notes whatever arises.

Also the first stages of Mahasi technique as with any other solid approach to establishing mindfulness on the four foundations of mindfulness can lead to Stream Entry and this is how people did it in the suttas, not by listening to the discourse, ultimate reality doesnt admit of things listening, that is a complete misunderstanding of the process.

As for the Visudhimagga, i dont think one can claim that the technique of sitting meditation is based on the Visudhimagga, that is not true, there is nothing in VM that describes the Mahasi technique, so im curious to where you are get that view from. There is also no denying that although subject to doubt Visudhimagga is an incredibly valuable manual and most of it is directly based on Suttas.

I think this is a wonderful technique and a great tradition.
Last edited by R1111 = rightviewftw on Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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