VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

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Talisman25
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VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by Talisman25 »

Ajahn Samahita took his life last October. That would seem so improbable to Dhamma practitioners who were familiar with his many online Dhamma talk videos.

A commonality of disbelief appears as: How could such an experienced and committed Ajahn do this when fully aware of the grave implications of breaking the first precept and subsequent unfavourable rebirth.

It is important to accept that we label ourselves and others. Ajahn Samahita was an Ajahn. He was also a human being travelling through samsara. Before he took the robes, he was an accomplished medical doctor. He was immensely intelligent in a conventional sense: he adapted his remote hilltop hermitage in Sri Lanka to incorporate power by means of a hydroelectric generator and photovoltaic electric panels: this allowed him to spread the dhamma worldwide and communicate with other remote dhamma practitioners. His video Dhamma talks were ground breaking in terms of professionalism.

However, this extremely intelligent Ajahn was also human. He at the time of this video had left the Sangha and was effectively living as a hermit. He was also ill and was self-diagnosing and self-medicating with very high doses of steroids. The Ajahn was also exhibiting potential signs of paranoia at this time: ie Demonic possession and resulting exorcism/Islamic occupation of Sri Lanka.

In this video, it became apparent at the time that he was also fighting personal demons that arose during meditation. I believe that while those intrusive thoughts or memories will be self evident once you have watched the video, the actual content of those memories are only of importance to the late Ajahn: but they are powerful, intrusive and persistent.

Ajahn Samahita was an ardent believer in Samadi meditation and the attainment of the Jhannas. However, in this video it is apparent that he was using Vipassana or insight meditation in order to expose/study/weaken his intrusive thoughts. He described the process as being brutal by necessity in order to bring these suppressed thoughts/memories/Khamma-vipakas into the mind in order to combat them.

Is it not the case that many of us are not strong enough for this brutal Vipasanna process. The late Ajahn noted in the video that without calling the method Vipasanna, he mentioned briefly that it should only be used in an appropriate safe environment. I suggest that noting the tragic subsequent suicide, that there is much to be learned here...
SarathW
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by SarathW »

Is it not the case that many of us are not strong enough for this brutal Vipasanna process. The late Ajahn noted in the video that without calling the method Vipasanna, he mentioned briefly that it should only be used in an appropriate safe environment.
Could you care to provide the link to this video please?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
Talisman25
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by Talisman25 »

SarathW
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by SarathW »

:thanks:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Bundokji
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by Bundokji »

I don't think there is a rule of thump on when to deliberately bring certain thoughts in order to combat them. On the one hand, there can be suppressed memories or thoughts that can continue to haunt and daunt us moving forward, and on the other hand, one can ask: to what extent the act of bringing back is an unnecessary fabrication?

I think referring to/speculating about the mental state of Ven Samahita has little to do with the viability of this meditation method. Regardless, it is always inspiring to dedicate ones life in what is worthy of pursuing.
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.
Talisman25
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by Talisman25 »

Hi Bundoji,

Thank you for your considered response. If I may I will address both paragraphs individually:

“ I think referring to/speculating about the mental state of Ven Samahita has little to do with the viability of this meditation method. Regardless, it is always inspiring to dedicate ones life in what is worthy of pursuing.”

With respect, I believe with upmost sincerity, that as a starting point: the mental state of the Venerable is of upmost importance in regard to the potential dangers of hard-core insight meditation.

Ajahn Samahita was an extremely knowledgable Dhamma teacher in that his knowledge of the Suttas was encyclopaedic. He was also an extremely dedicated mendicant who practiced attaining the Jhannas for many years in a secluded environment. My impression was that his usual practice was Anapanasati as an entry to the Jhannas.

“ The Ultimate Comeback Kid” Dhamma talk is clearly concerned with Vipissana meditation of the most unrelenting kind, dealing with very, very difficult memories.

However, I agree that it would be wise to now move away from how such practice may or may not have affected the Venerable Ajahn Samahita.

I am happy to speak subjectively on the subject matter, though in light of my limited experience and understanding. I hope that by using first-hand ( though limited experiences ) more experienced meditators will provide their views.

Before I comment on your initial, and most valid paragraph, may I share what I consider a most illuminating “ Dhamma On Air “ video of Ajahn Samahita.

Once I discovered how the Dhamma answered all the questions that had never found a satisfactory explanation, it was not long before discovering that absolute jewel of instruction for meditators: The Venerable Ajahn Chah’s “ A Still Forest Pool.” The narrative was of course explaining by analogy the concept of the minds natural state when unperturbed by the kilesas.

Ajahn Samahita, using his superb presentational skills, provided a most clear description of that same principle using a most peaceful stretch of the Danish inland coastline.

I like many others am most indebted for his wonderful gifts of Dhamma.
Talisman25
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by Talisman25 »



With utmost gratitude and metta. 🙏
thepea
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by thepea »

Talisman25 wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:48 pm Hi Bundoji,

Thank you for your considered response. If I may I will address both paragraphs individually:

“ I think referring to/speculating about the mental state of Ven Samahita has little to do with the viability of this meditation method. Regardless, it is always inspiring to dedicate ones life in what is worthy of pursuing.”

With respect, I believe with upmost sincerity, that as a starting point: the mental state of the Venerable is of upmost importance in regard to the potential dangers of hard-core insight meditation.

Ajahn Samahita was an extremely knowledgable Dhamma teacher in that his knowledge of the Suttas was encyclopaedic. He was also an extremely dedicated mendicant who practiced attaining the Jhannas for many years in a secluded environment. My impression was that his usual practice was Anapanasati as an entry to the Jhannas.

“ The Ultimate Comeback Kid” Dhamma talk is clearly concerned with Vipissana meditation of the most unrelenting kind, dealing with very, very difficult memories.

However, I agree that it would be wise to now move away from how such practice may or may not have affected the Venerable Ajahn Samahita.

I am happy to speak subjectively on the subject matter, though in light of my limited experience and understanding. I hope that by using first-hand ( though limited experiences ) more experienced meditators will provide their views.

Before I comment on your initial, and most valid paragraph, may I share what I consider a most illuminating “ Dhamma On Air “ video of Ajahn Samahita.

Once I discovered how the Dhamma answered all the questions that had never found a satisfactory explanation, it was not long before discovering that absolute jewel of instruction for meditators: The Venerable Ajahn Chah’s “ A Still Forest Pool.” The narrative was of course explaining by analogy the concept of the minds natural state when unperturbed by the kilesas.

Ajahn Samahita, using his superb presentational skills, provided a most clear description of that same principle using a most peaceful stretch of the Danish inland coastline.

I like many others am most indebted for his wonderful gifts of Dhamma.
I think this whole idea of hard core Vipassana goes directly against the middle way, and enters the field of acetic practice. Which is not dhamma.
You never to force or bring something to the surface, Bare attention or work with what nature provides from moment to moment. Forcing something to the surface has the counter effect of suppressing what naturally had arisen. I think there is danger to learn from all of this.
Talisman25
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by Talisman25 »

I have no personal experience of Vipissana meditation. My understanding, which may be incorrect, is that Vipissana is not what is taught in the meditation part of the noble 8 fold path.

My understanding is that the method within the path is Samadhi or tranquility meditation which can if one is fortunate, lead in to the Jhannas.

My personal, and limited experience is that I have attained access concentration twice. I now realise that some pretty intrusive thoughts can appear even during access concentration before entering the first Jhanna.

My first endeavour failed, due to an apparently classic beginner error. After perhaps 45mins thoughts had subsided nearly entirely: just perhaps a very faint and imprecise something in the far background. My breathing had become barely perceptible and I stayed with it, until the point that ( in my mind ) my breathing had actually stopped some time ago. I wasn’t aware of transferring awareness away from the breath onto a pleasant feeling. I just gasped for air and of course that was the end of it.

Recently, I tried again and I don’t think that I should have meditated at that time. The difference being that this time I was dealing with 4 months worth of grief with an adult child. The kilesas of anxiety was having a fine time. I was experiencing much dukka: I craved for the person to change. I was averse to their company etc. In other words, through being blind to anicca I was creating huge amounts of dukha for myself.

I tried Samadhi meditation for a rest. What happened was unpleasant. I actually got to the access concentration stage without problems after around 30-40 mins of watching the breath. Thoughts quietened and then became imperceptible. The breath became imperceptible and I was transferring my attention onto the pleasant feeling in my hands. All of a sudden, a very intrusive thought appeared in front of me as an image. I know that I should have just noted “ thought arising-thought remaining- thought passing away” but the shock of it appearing just snapped me out of access concentration instantly.

Incidentally. The intrusive thought was a projection that the person I had been worrying about was in trouble. It was so real, but it turned out to be an unfounded paranoid thought. It really shook me, and this was just access concentration arrived at by Samadhi meditation.
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manas
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by manas »

Talisman25 wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:55 pm

With utmost gratitude and metta. 🙏
Thank you for posting this video.

These instructions have educated & inspired me. I thank Ven. Samahita for taking the time to make this; I know he's passed away, but still, I thank him. He has helped me.

🙏
To the Buddha-refuge i go; to the Dhamma-refuge i go; to the Sangha-refuge i go.
SarathW
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by SarathW »

My understanding, which may be incorrect, is that Vipissana is not what is taught in the meditation part of the noble 8 fold path.
In my opinion, this is incorrect.
Vipassana means the Satipathana which is Samma Sati
Samma Samadhi is not Jhana.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Bundokji
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by Bundokji »

Talisman25 wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:48 pm With respect, I believe with upmost sincerity, that as a starting point: the mental state of the Venerable is of upmost importance in regard to the potential dangers of hard-core insight meditation.
Hi Talisman25,

I don't disagree, but don't you think that the above can be based on unwarranted conclusions? For example,:

1- Confusing cause and effect: how can we be sure that difficulties experienced by the venerable (if any) was a result of hard-core insight meditation? Maybe certain difficulties led him to believe in the viability of such hard-core method? It seems to me equally conceivable that because a practitioner faced difficulty, he/she believed that hard-core insight meditation is the solution for eliminating certain mental states.

2-By definition, causality utilizes the via-negativa approach. We assume a cause through negating what is not a cause. In the case of the venerable, even if we assume that his mental state is caused by hard-core insight meditation, this would be informative only in the case of the venerable and cannot be generalized across the board nor say much about the viability of this method of meditation. What if you asked another practitioner who tried such method and found it useful and beneficial? how can the same method be useful in one case and harmful in another? From this, we know that making conclusions about a certain method by taking an isolated case is unwarranted at best.

3- By associating danger to a certain phenomena, we can be misled to believe that there are some sorts of human activities that are free of danger (such as inaction). In my mind, the whole practice encourages the practitioner to be constantly aware of the vulnerability of his situation. When vulnerability is seen as an integral part of existence, avoiding danger (at least in the traditional sense) is not a top priority. What becomes a priority, at least in my mind, is where to best place one's chips based on understanding his situation and the rules of the game.

I remember Ajahn Chah once giving a simile, likening such mental states as a shard of glass entering one's foot. The practitioner, according to the simile as i remember it, can still walk, but the pain and discomfort will continue to follow him. Removing the shard is not pleasant and causes bleeding, but once removed, the practitioner can walk properly.

Another simile i encountered by listening to a dhamma talk by Ajahn Brham. He likened certain mental states as feces and the act of removing them as using a toilet paper. Once the feces is removed and the toilet paper is flushed, one lets go of them and does not look back.
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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Pondera
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by Pondera »

SarathW wrote: Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:07 am
My understanding, which may be incorrect, is that Vipissana is not what is taught in the meditation part of the noble 8 fold path.
In my opinion, this is incorrect.
Vipassana means the Satipathana which is Samma Sati
Samma Samadhi is not Jhana.

The purpose of jhanic bliss is Samādhi.
The Blessed One said: "Now what, monks, is five-factored noble right concentration? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

Samma Samādhi is not Jhana?
SarathW
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by SarathW »

SarathW wrote: Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:07 am
My understanding, which may be incorrect, is that Vipissana is not what is taught in the meditation part of the noble 8 fold path.
In my opinion, this is incorrect.
Vipassana means the Satipathana which is Samma Sati
Samma Samadhi is not Jhana.
Just to clarify my previous answer.
What I meant was, that Noble Eightfold Jhana is about Vipassana not Samatha Jhana.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Re: VLOG#29: The Ultimate Comeback Kid

Post by DNS »

SarathW wrote: Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:43 pm Just to clarify my previous answer.
What I meant was, that Noble Eightfold Jhana is about Vipassana not Samatha Jhana.
Both mindfulness and jhana are there in the 8 fold middle path.

samma sati = Right Mindfulness
samma samadhi = Right Concentration (or absorption), i.e., jhanas
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