Purpose of Concentration

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
alfa
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Purpose of Concentration

Post by alfa » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:20 am

:namaste:

When we concentrate on an object - any object - the subconscious usually becomes active. This is what we call distraction. So basically what we call distraction is repressed stuff coming to the surface.

In other words, Buddha recommended concentration not because concentration is a good thing in itself, but because it invariably leads to repressed stuff coming to the surface. But why is it important that this stuff come to the surface? Because it is karmic bondage, it keeps us trapped in the world. So when we concentrate, we're allowing these karmic baggage to reveal itself so we can deal with it.

This, I believe, is the purpose of concentration. Meaning, concentration is just a means to an end, not an end in itself. :anjali:

SarathW
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by SarathW » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:39 am

"The knowledge and vision of things as they really are, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for the knowledge and vision of things as they really are? 'Concentration' should be the reply.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .bodh.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

char101
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by char101 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:58 am

When we meditate the mind is focused on a single object. When the mind is focused, the mental defilements are supressed. When the mental defilements are supressed, the mind become pure. When the mind is pure, we can see things as they really are. That is the purpose of meditation.

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by JamesTheGiant » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:27 am

alfa wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:20 am
In other words, Buddha recommended concentration not because concentration is a good thing in itself, but because it invariably leads to repressed stuff coming to the surface. But why is it important that this stuff come to the surface? Because it is karmic bondage, it keeps us trapped in the world. So when we concentrate, we're allowing these karmic baggage to reveal itself so we can deal with it.
No, that's quite wrong. This is an idea spread by Goenka especially.
Concentration/Samadhi is a way to quiet the mind and make it strong, malleable, penetrating, and to temporarily suppress the defilements.
Then one can use that powerful mind to examine Anicca, Anatta, & Dukkha, (the three characteristics) which when realised happens Stream Entry.

This is the same as what Char101 said in the post directly before mine.

Dinsdale
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Oct 31, 2019 8:09 am

If you give something your full and undivided attention, then you're more likely to understand it better, or to see it more clearly.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

thepea
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by thepea » Thu Oct 31, 2019 11:58 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:27 am
No, that's quite wrong. This is an idea spread by Goenka especially.
Concentration/Samadhi is a way to quiet the mind and make it strong, malleable, penetrating, and to temporarily suppress the defilements.
Then one can use that powerful mind to examine Anicca, Anatta, & Dukkha, (the three characteristics) which when realised happens Stream Entry.
I have understood concentration as a way to strengthen awareness and mindfulness.
Goenka places emphasis and importance on the object of concentration it cannot be imagined, if imagined the object will not change and not lead to insight.
If the object is real it will be changing this is observing annicca.
Goenka teaches concentration as Buddha taught.
But I understand some traditions use imaginary objects of focus.

justindesilva
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by justindesilva » Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:23 pm

char101 wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:58 am
When we meditate the mind is focused on a single object. When the mind is focused, the mental defilements are supressed. When the mental defilements are supressed, the mind become pure. When the mind is pure, we can see things as they really are. That is the purpose of meditation.
In reference with Samadhi sutta AN4.41 :
" And what is the development of concentration that , when developed and pursued , leads to a pleasant abiding in the here and now. There is the development of concentration when developed & pursued leads to the attainment & vision........."
It further explain other developments including the four jhanas along with leading to ending of affluents and watchfulness of arising and passing away of rupa vedana sanna sankara vingnana.

SteRo
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by SteRo » Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:22 am

char101 wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:58 am
When we meditate the mind is focused on a single object. When the mind is focused, the mental defilements are supressed. When the mental defilements are supressed, the mind become pure. When the mind is pure, we can see things as they really are. That is the purpose of meditation.
SarathW wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:39 am
"The knowledge and vision of things as they really are, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for the knowledge and vision of things as they really are? 'Concentration' should be the reply.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .bodh.html
It appears to me as if the two views expressed are slightly different. char101's view may also be interpreted as 'with a concentrated pure mind one can see things as they really are' whereas SarathW's quote seems to say that such a 'a concentrated pure mind is only the supporting condition but not sufficient to see things as they really are.'

Be that as it may be what puzzles me is why a mind belonging to the form or formless realm should not be affected by ignorance which is abandoned by the Arhat only. But if it is affected by ignorance - more moderate kinds of ignorance of the form or formless realms - how can there arise 'seeing things as they really are' from that basis? One might see things on the basis of a different mode of consciousness but not 'as they really are'.

So it seems to me that 'supporting condition' is correct but only in the long run. I.e. the dexterity to enter into a diversity of concentrations seems to be a sign of maturation in the course of the Eightfold Path that is a prerequisite to finally attain the abandonments of the Arhat and then - but not earlier - 'see things as they really are'.

:anjali:

form
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by form » Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:00 am

Some is talking about psychoanalysis, some is just quoting from some suttas.

char101
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by char101 » Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:24 am

SteRo wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:22 am
Be that as it may be what puzzles me is why a mind belonging to the form or formless realm should not be affected by ignorance which is abandoned by the Arhat only. But if it is affected by ignorance - more moderate kinds of ignorance of the form or formless realms - how can there arise 'seeing things as they really are' from that basis? One might see things on the basis of a different mode of consciousness but not 'as they really are'.
Mind in the form and formless reams means the mind of a brahma being. The fact that they are still being reborn means they are not freed from attachment to existence (bhava-upadana). They are not free from ignorance.

In the tradition of Visuddhi Magga, what is meant by concentration is at least of upacara-samadhi level. Wisdom cannot be develop in the Jhana state, a meditator would still need to exit a Jhana state to develop wisdom.

Concentration in the at least upacara-samadhi level supresses the appearance of mental defilements temporarily, that is why the mind can perceive the true nature of realities without being obstructed by ignorance (avijja). Mind that is not cleaned by the power of concentration is like an eye wearing a red-colored glasses - everything seems red; or in this case, everything seems to be pleasurable, permanent, and is I or mine.

A weaker form of concentration can be seen in the state of flow (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)).

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Alīno
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by Alīno » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:00 pm

char101 wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:58 am
When we meditate the mind is focused on a single object. When the mind is focused, the mental defilements are supressed. When the mental defilements are supressed, the mind become pure. When the mind is pure, we can see things as they really are. That is the purpose of meditation.
:goodpost:

While water is calm, without defilements and waves, we can see throught it without seing the light of our mind be reflected and splited in all directions by the waves on it surface, and creating rainbow illusions. While water is pure and calm the light goes directly trough it, that why it's called "the mind ready to work". What is the work? Work is a work of wisdom. What is Wisdom? Wisdom is experiancing or satipatthana object as anicca, dukkha, anatta. What is the perfect object for satipatthana? Is the object that we most identify with. Body? Feelings? Mind states? Dhammas?

Observing the object as impermament, unsatisfactory and slesfless, again and again until the mind understands with direct knowledge and vision : "all what is conditioned is impermanent, unsatisfactory and selfless", being desenchanted about the object, and having no other object to follow, mind release this object, fall on the very bottom and realise Nibbana element under his feets, Unconditioned, Unborn, Uncreated... Like a deluded man who holds a tree branch with fear to fall and die, once abandoning this branch realise that there is a stable ground under his feets and always been here, there is no reasons to be afraid of suffer about the fragility of branches or a tree, no need to hold and jump from branch to branch by fear to fall down... Why? Because there is ground under feets, it always been here, but because of delusion and not seeing clearly impermanent, unsatisfactory and selfless nature of the tree, not being able to abandon it he suffered about it... Why? Because he thinked the tree of 5 khandhas are me, they are mine, they are self...

So yes i think it's important that mind is free from defilements because it's easyer to see our khandhas as they are. It's not necessery for fruition, because if there is a lot of wisdom, it can support the lack of concentration, or if there is alot of concentration, it can support the lack of wisdom, all depends on our own qualities...

imho :anjali:
Ajahn Nanadassano (before ordaining) : Venerable Ajahn, what is the bigest error that buddhist do in their practice?
Ajahn Jayasaro : They stop practicing ...

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Bundokji
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by Bundokji » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:33 pm

In general, training in concentration improves the use of volition. A less systematic interpretation of concentration implies preoccupation. When concentration is understood as preoccupation, then the concentration developed on the meditation cushion becomes a ritualistic form of developing a skill as any other form of training.

If you have genuine preoccupation with the problem of your existence, you are concentrated all the time. You don't try to concentrate because your preoccupation is natural and genuine.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Bundokji
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by Bundokji » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:47 pm

It is not a case of the mind’s being rendered silent, hard and rocklike. Nothing like that happens at all. The body feels normal, but the mind is especially calm and suitable for use in thinking and introspection. It is perfectly clear, perfectly cool, perfectly still and restrained. In other words, it is fit for work, ready to know. This is the degree of concentration to be aimed for, not the very deep concentration where one sits rigidly like a stone image, quite devoid of awareness. Sitting in deep concentration like that, one is in no position to investigate anything. A deeply concentrated mind cannot practice introspection at all. It is in a state of unawareness and is of no use for insight. Deep concentration is a major obstacle to insight practice. To practice introspection one must first return to the shallower levels of concentration; then one can make use of the power the mind has acquired. Highly developed concentration is just a tool. In this developing of insight by the nature method, we don’t have to attain deep concentration and sit with the body rigid. Rather, we aim at a calm, steady mind, one so fit for work that when it is applied to insight practice, it gains right understanding with regard to the entire world. Insight so developed is natural insight, the same sort as was gained by some individuals while sitting listening to the Buddha expounding Dhamma. It is conducive to thought and introspection of the right kind, the kind that brings understanding. And it involves neither ceremonial procedures nor miracles.
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddasa.pdf
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

SteRo
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by SteRo » Sat Nov 02, 2019 1:17 pm

char101 wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:24 am
SteRo wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:22 am
Be that as it may be what puzzles me is why a mind belonging to the form or formless realm should not be affected by ignorance which is abandoned by the Arhat only. But if it is affected by ignorance - more moderate kinds of ignorance of the form or formless realms - how can there arise 'seeing things as they really are' from that basis? One might see things on the basis of a different mode of consciousness but not 'as they really are'.
Mind in the form and formless reams means the mind of a brahma being. The fact that they are still being reborn means they are not freed from attachment to existence (bhava-upadana). They are not free from ignorance.
yes, that is what I have been thinking of: self view is active even in rupa and arupa jhanas. So if I am entering concentration with self view the concentration I am entering will most likely be contaminated by subtle self view, i.e. ignorance.
char101 wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:24 am
In the tradition of Visuddhi Magga, what is meant by concentration is at least of upacara-samadhi level. Wisdom cannot be develop in the Jhana state, a meditator would still need to exit a Jhana state to develop wisdom.

Concentration in the at least upacara-samadhi level supresses the appearance of mental defilements temporarily, that is why the mind can perceive the true nature of realities without being obstructed by ignorance (avijja). Mind that is not cleaned by the power of concentration is like an eye wearing a red-colored glasses - everything seems red; or in this case, everything seems to be pleasurable, permanent, and is I or mine.

A weaker form of concentration can be seen in the state of flow (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)).
I understand what you are saying however what it is that makes concentration or jhana of the tradition of Visuddhi Magga tradition different from worldly concentration or jhana remains unclear for me.
Also you say "a meditator would still need to exit a Jhana state to develop wisdom" and I would be ready to concur and also concur that insight requires a minimum level of concentration, however I am reluctant to use the expression 'seeing things as they really are'. I think for the time being I prefer to stay with my interpretation of 'supporting condition' above but this should not be understood as undermining the necessity of concentration which is an inevitable part of the Eightfold Path.

:anjali:

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Lucas Oliveira
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Re: Purpose of Concentration

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Sat Nov 02, 2019 8:48 pm

Science is also discovering the goals of concentration ...

The Neuroscience of Jhāna
viewtopic.php?f=43&t=35617

:anjali:
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