Vipassana: formal practice or technique or daily life?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Re: Vipassana: formal practice or technique or daily life?

Post by Nyana » Mon May 06, 2013 7:27 pm

daverupa wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:So what do you have confidence in?
I am confident that this pillory is off-topic.
You brought up the issues of authority and Nikāya interpretation here:
daverupa wrote:I seem able to trace it back to which texts (written and spoken) are taken as authoritative. For example, the first thread of this name having been posted in the Classical section showcases what that point of view requires in terms of textual support. Without that, the points are matters of Nikaya interpretation instead of the pursuit of a certain scholastic orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
I think consideration of the implications and consequences of these issues is relevant to the topic.

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Re: Vipassana: formal practice or technique or daily life?

Post by binocular » Mon May 06, 2013 7:37 pm

Dan74 wrote:Robertk has posted a thread with this title in Classical Theravada and invited people who are interested in other approaches to do this elsewhere. I think it may be worthwhile to explore why there are diametrically opposed approaches to this question.
For my part I think Khun Sujin's views are conditioned by the apprehension of the pitfalls of meditation whereby some practitioners develop quietly massive egos or cushion themselves from life through their bliss-escapes. Perhaps the path she advocates is safer?
Well, readily thinking that one's whole daily life is just one big vipassana practice already - that can be a massive ego delusion and cushioning oneself from life right there.

I've heard that in some Buddhist countries, there is a popular belief that only monasteries are places where one can practice the Dhamma (and that kamma operates only in monasteries - lol). Perhaps, in an effort to dispell this popular belief, some teachers from those countries are promoting a more expanded view of where Dhamma practice can take place, hence their emphasis on daily life.
But some Westerners have this notion of considering their practice as separate from the rest of their life too, as if life is a sequence of items on a schedule that don't seem to have much to do with eachother.

So this inner sensitivity, something totally private to you, is what you're trying to develop here. That's where you start; that's what helps keep you on the path.

And of course, this sensitivity doesn't necessarily have to be here only while you're sitting and meditating. Try to keep in touch throughout the day with your inner experience of what you're doing and what stress is or is not arising as a result of what you're doing, the little choices you make inside. Try to carry that awareness around as much as you can, in all your activities. Make that your first priority. When you act, act from that point. When you speak, speak from that point. When you think, think from that point.

In that way the meditation becomes timeless. Ajaan Fuang once made the comment that our lives are often chopped up into little times: time to eat, time to talk, time to go here, go there, do this, do that. Instead of having more time when life has more times like this, everything gets chopped up into little tiny pieces and becomes less. But when you make this inner sensitivity as continuous as possible — you breathe in, let the body breathe out if it wants to, but you don't have to force the breath out; breathe in again, breathe in again — that inner sense of wellbeing can grow. Then as you carry it through the day, it becomes solid. It may take time to focus on it, time to get a sense of what helps it, what doesn't help it. But the sense of inner refreshment that comes: You want that to be as continuous as possible. The more continuous it is, the more strength it develops. The more resilient it becomes, the more you can rely on it, even in very difficult situations. This involves unlearning some old habits. Society often teaches us to give all our attention to things outside. What happens of course is that we lose touch with our own inner sensitivity. We become strangers to ourselves.

So reintroduce yourself to this inner sensitivity. Open up this area of your awareness, and be as sensitive to it as possible. In that way the meditation will grow in an organic way — not from words imposed outside, or ideas imposed from how you understand the words outside, but from a direct experience of what's actually going on inside. What works and what doesn't work, what's skillful, what's not, where there's stress, where there is no stress: These are the questions that only you can observe and only you can know. And they can be answered only by a very honest sensitivity that's always willing to learn more. ... ml#private

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Re: Vipassana: formal practice or technique or daily life?

Post by binocular » Mon May 06, 2013 7:51 pm

Alex123 wrote:It is harder to remember the Dhamma truths when one is at the club or a busy shopping mall.

IIRC, a French existentialist philosopher once remarked that one is defined the most by what one does when one has to wait. I find this to be true. I feel most alert when I have to wait somewhere, like in a waiting line, on the bus, before falling asleep. It is at those times that the big metaphysical questions befall me the most - and when I feel the most vulnerable to them, and feel the most urgency to do something about them.

I also notice the difference in mental states between sitting and reclining (I have poor health). So in some way, posture DOES DOES matter - at least for me. Of course it does not cause insight, it merely helps with attention and then it is possible to see the truths and get insight.
Well, I did get an insight from posture: leaning back in a chair or sofa or against a wall translates into a helpless victim attitude for me.

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Re: Vipassana: formal practice or technique or daily life?

Post by daverupa » Mon May 06, 2013 7:54 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:I think consideration of the implications and consequences of these issues is relevant to the topic.
Agreed; "what I am confident in" is not.

You and I have gone back and forth before on this matter, and it's old. Let us hear from some others, and respond later.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Vipassana: formal practice or technique or daily life?

Post by robertk » Tue May 07, 2013 2:01 pm

Mr Man wrote:robertk, I'd be interested to hear how Khun Sujin "fits in" to Buddhism within the Thai context. Do her Thai students offer alms food, tam boon, wai phra, take the precepts from a monk etc. I understand that she is often on the Radio and is well known within "dhamma" circles. How is she generally received? Who were her Dhamma teachers/influences . Did she ever practice "formal" meditation?
The place where she speaks is a typical Thai type place with people coming or going all day.
There is a small room in the back where she discusses Dhamma with English speakers on Saturdays: at the same time in the large hall a committee of Dhamma teachers give talks and answer questions about a point of Dhamma. She joins those on the Sunday and Saturday morning. One example: the edited mp3 of the Paticcasamupada topic alone run to over a hundred hours in Thai. one of the panel members, ajarn somporn was a monk for many years and as a layman was on the govt. committee that did the official translations of the pali canon and commentaries. he recently retired from that position as he is now about 90 years old.
There are always monks and nuns in attendance for the Thai sessions.

Before it was opened, some 10 years ago, her talks - with a panel comprising laypeople and a monk and a nun- were held for over 30 years in the large hall at Wat Bovornivet in Bangkok (where the sangaraja resides).

Her edited talks are broadcast throughout Thailand on radio daily and for the last few years once a week on TV(although too early in the morning for me to be able to catch one ) :juggling:

there is a book Dhamma in Cambodia , available for free (as are all Sujin and Nina's books) online somewhere which gives some details of her early life background .

Here is a youtube video of me with a monk in the small room I mentioned. He is chanting from the Abhidhamma and I was asked to give some English summaries of it.

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Re: Vipassana: formal practice or technique or daily life?

Post by Mr Man » Tue May 07, 2013 4:33 pm

Thanks robertk. I think that it can be useful to have some context.

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Re: Vipassana: formal practice or technique or daily life?

Post by robertk » Wed May 08, 2013 10:42 am

Dear Mr Man
for those who dont have time to read all the books by Nina or Sujin- which to be honest one needs to do if one really wants to know her thinking- this short list of her words from live discussions gives a hint. They were taken from a trip to Sri Lanka back in the 1970s .

Phrases on Buddhism Compiled by Sarah Abbott and Alan Weller
from discussions with Sujin Boriharnwanaket and Phra Dhammadhara (Alan Driver) in Sri Lanka

•If one does not realise yet that one has wrong understanding, it is imposible to develop right understanding.

•The beginning is understanding the characteristic of awareness correctly. •\

•Live alone with sati, aware of visual object as visual object.

•One takes subtle attachment for calmness because of lack of understanding of calmness.

•This moment is so real.

•Life is so short, so fragile. Get rid of attachment.

•Always burning with lobha, dosa, moha . . . renunciation with satipatthana. . .

•Right action is abstaining from wrong action. There must be awareness of a nama or rupa to be right action of the eightfold path.

•Seeing sees visible object. What is seen is not a person. We have attach- ment to individuals, but individuality has no separate characteristic.

•The understanding that begins to know conditioned realities is also con- ditioned. •Right understanding understands not a person or a Buddhist.

•The arising of any conditioned reality is dukkha because of its arising. If there is no arising, there is no dukkha. If there is no awareness of the reality now, how can one understand the absolute reality of dukkha? •

The arising happens because there is passing away of previous moments. Once there is no arising there can be total peace and calm. •Can you tell what is beyond this moment? •If there is no thinking of this or that concept, can there be concept at this moment? •

The game of life that tanha always wins. •

Don’t be a victim of the conceptual system, but the conqueror of your ignorance. •

. •You can have metta by accumulations, but is requires panna to see the value and develop it.

••Panna gives one a more sober, realistic view of life.

•Start with right beginning. Without right understanding, it cannot be

right beginning.

•Propagating wrong view is the most dangerous thing to do.

•Don’t force yourself to think it is the right time and right place for the arising of awareness, because awareness can arise anytime or place. Don’t limit it.

•If right understanding is well established, what about awareness now? •At the moment of developing right understanding, there is real rest no matter what one is doing. •Without satipatthana, there is always cling to self, always wanting the best for self, even wanting more understanding.

•The Buddha taught us to listen to dhamma, not people.
•Let go of desire and attachment for other objects that do not appear now.

When there’s awareness, there’s letting go. •The Buddha taught everyone to have kusala citta at any moment, at any level, because to have kusala citta at any moment is so helpful.

•Right understanding brings detachment. If there is even a little attach- ment, it hinders the progress of right understanding. •Samatha doesn’t get rid of concepts. •As understanding grows, it grows beyond the level of thinking of sammuti sacca and knows the difference between paramattha sacca and sammuti sacca instead of clinging to sammuti cacca and taking for self.

•We must be brave enough to study with panna any reality. We need to be brave to begin to study visible object as visible object.

•One doorway is never enough. Each doorway should be a check.

. •. •Attachment is only a conditioned moment. Attachment is like a trap or a bait. •One kills oneself and one’s heart by one’s attachment and ignorance. We are trapped, lured by attachment all the time. It’s truly poisonous.

•We are cut up with sammuti sacca when there is no awareness of thinking. •There are different conditions for different namas and rupas. With more understanding of different conditions you will see that there is no self. •It needs right understanding to know whether this moment is kusala or akusala.

•It is not in the texts, but is now at the moment of right understanding.
•When one thinks ‘I am aware’, it is not right awareness.
•When it is not right awareness, it cannot be accompanied by right under-


•Whenever right awareness arises, it is aware before there is time to think ‘I am aware’. •4
•When there is no awareness, no understanding, no learning, there is no developing or seeing realities as they are. •

It is very confusing if there is no understanding of the development of vipassana. •It is very natural in daily life, the teachings of the Buddha.

•One cannot get away from thinking of people, so in many suttas the Bud- dha taught many people to develop the four Brahma viharas.

•At the moment of considering someone’s death, there can be the condition for calmness instead of trying to force calmness by thinking of different objects.

•Does visual object appear as just visual object now? It cannot appear as visual object o moha.
•By developing vipassana one can see different levels of thinking, because there can be thinking before thinking in words or concepts. •

•One begins to see the difference between calmness at the moment of kusala and no calmness at the moment of akusala. •When right understanding grows, awareness also grows. •

•Nibbana does not arise.

•Citta goes all the time form moment to moment. It comes and goes all

the time in the way of kulala or akusala. Nibbana does not come and go.

•The growth of vipaassana must begin with detachment and go the way of detachment, because attachment is very subtle and always wins when there is no understanding.

•The purpose of the Satipatthana Sutta is to show that any object which is real can be the object of awareness. Otherwise this moment which is real cannot be known. •Learn to see dhamma as dhamma. •

Almost every object is an object of attachment when there is no develop- ment of understanding. •

The Buddha’s teaching is for practice, not just for reading or intellectual understanding.

•Right understanding knows everything correctly.

•Right understanding gradually eliminates attachment and ignorance and wrong view of self.

•One has to understand what is the right object of awareness first.

•When there is the idea of self with wrong view, it conditions other akusala.

. •Intellectual understanding should be the foundation, but if one thinks that it is enough, there is no development and it hinders the development of higher understanding because one does not understand there are more levels of higher understanding.

•It’s possible to have all the intellectual understanding but no understand- ing of the practice, like a blind man carrying a torch.

. . .
•When the monk abandons home life, there are more conditions for being

virtuous at the degree of being able to leave home.

•Any intellectual understanding cannot be clear.

Do we hope for result for me?

•One begins with detachment from the very beginning.

•Getting to know oneself better is the only way to really help others. If

one develops more metta, karuna, more understanding and a more sincere inclination to other people, one will see that what has been most helpful to oneself will be what is most helpful to others also. One understands oneself better.

•If metta is strong enough one will be concerned to help.

•If sati does not arise understanding cannot know which are the moments of sati and which are the moments without sati. •

The purpose should be right understanding.

•Be an island. . . depend on oneself, one’s own understanding which can eradicate one’s defilements.

. •Want to have conditions for the arising of satipatthana, waiting for the arising of satipatthana this is not the understanding of the development of sati. The moment of thinking it is not the moment of direct awareness.

•To know the difference between thinking and sati, there has to be sati.

•Attachment likes calmness so much that it clings immediately.

If one is not courageous enough, one clings to calmness for sure.

•At this moment of thinking one begins to see whether one thinks with

kusala or akusala. •

•Life is a dream. When one knows the citta that dreams one is awake.

•One cannot afford to be disinterested in reality.

At the moment of seeing visible object as visible object, there is no at-

tractiveness in visible object.

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Re: Vipassana: formal practice or technique or daily life?

Post by Mr Man » Wed May 08, 2013 12:08 pm

Hi robertk
I'm interested in what influenced/conditioned Khun Sujin's thinking. Was it learning from Ajahn Naeb or from other teachers? Was if from being a female in a religion that in many ways is geared towards the male. Why were her views about formal meditation developed? Did she have an incident which caused her to think this way? Did she find her own formal practice was based on or helping to develop negative mind states? Doe's she feel that she has a unique insight in to the Buddha's teaching which is missed by those who encourage periods of formal practice. What is her social/work background?

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Re: Vipassana: formal practice or technique or daily life?

Post by Ben » Thu May 09, 2013 8:44 am

Dear members

Please remember this important clause within the terms of service:
2a. Respect other approach to the Dhamma

There are a broad spectrum of approaches to, and interpretations of, the Dhamma. Please refrain from wholesale dismissal of a particular view, approach, or teaching style.
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thanks for your cooperation.

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