The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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chownah
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by chownah » Mon May 27, 2013 2:47 pm

Thanks Sekha and daverupa,
To me the Sutta reference doesn't seem to be describing a way to meditate. I thought that colors would be on the list of 40 meditation objects which Mettafuture mentioned....maybe they are not on the list. Anyone know? Is the list available somewhere? I want to see how the Buddha teaches what is the proper way to meditate using these objects.
chownah

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Mr Man
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by Mr Man » Mon May 27, 2013 5:12 pm


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Sekha
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by Sekha » Mon May 27, 2013 5:13 pm

The ten kasinas listed at AN 10.25 feature among the 40 meditation objects. I believe this suttas does describe how to meditate with the kasinas, but it is very succinct and not easily understandable to the neophyte, as it is the case for many instructions given by the Buddha. It is the only set of instructions dealing explicitly with the kasinas you will find the suttas. What the Visuddhimagga has to say about them is imo not convincing.

see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamma%E1% ... Dh%C4%81na
Last edited by Sekha on Mon May 27, 2013 8:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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mettafuture
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by mettafuture » Mon May 27, 2013 5:30 pm

chownah wrote:I want to see how the Buddha teaches what is the proper way to meditate using these objects.
Ven. Pa-Auk Sayadaw and Wikihow offer an interpretation of the instructions found in the suttas:
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/know-see.pdf
http://www.wikihow.com/Practice-Kasina-Meditation

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daverupa
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by daverupa » Mon May 27, 2013 5:35 pm

mettafuture wrote:
chownah wrote:I want to see how the Buddha teaches what is the proper way to meditate using these objects.
Ven. Pa-Auk Sayadaw and Wikihow offer an interpretation of the instructions found in the suttas:
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/know-see.pdf
http://www.wikihow.com/Practice-Kasina-Meditation
Rather, those found in the Visuddhimagga, etc. - the Nikayas do not contain that level of detail about them.

The Buddha doesn't seem to have mentioned them often, perhaps not at all. :shrug:
  • "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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mettafuture
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by mettafuture » Mon May 27, 2013 7:36 pm

daverupa wrote:Rather, those found in the Visuddhimagga, etc. - the Nikayas do not contain that level of detail about them.
The Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta (MN 77) explains how to contemplate the color kasinas.

Here's an excerpt on the fifth kasina:

"Not perceiving form internally, one sees forms externally, blue, of blue colour, blue in appearance, with blue luminosity. Just like a flax flower, which is blue, of blue colour, blue in appearance, with blue luminosity, or just like Benares cloth smoothened on both sides, which is blue, of blue colour, blue in appearance, with blue luminosity; so too, not perceiving form internally, one sees forms externally…with blue luminosity; by transcending them, one perceives thus: ‘I know, I see.’ This is the fifth base for transcendence..."

And the summary:

"Again, Udāyin, I have proclaimed to my disciples the way to develop the ten kasina bases. One contemplates the earth kasina above, below, and across, undivided and immeasurable. Another contemplates the water-kasina… Another contemplates the fire-kasina… Another contemplates the air-kasina… Another contemplates the blue-kasina… Another contemplates the yellow-kasina… Another contemplates the red-kasina… Another contemplates the white-kasina… Another contemplates the space-kasina… Another contemplates the consciousness-kasina above, below, and across, undivided and immeasurable. And thereby many disciples of mine abide having reached the perfection and consummation of direct knowledge"

Instructions for the first 4 kasinas (the elements) can also be found in the Cūḷataṇhāsankhaya Sutta (MN 37), the Dīghanakha Sutta (MN 74), and the Dhātuvibhanga Sutta (MN 140).

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Sekha
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by Sekha » Tue May 28, 2013 6:02 am

:goodpost:

to understand AN 10.25 directly in Pali: http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/angu ... 0-025.html
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 28, 2013 10:15 am

daverupa wrote:- the Nikayas do not contain that level of detail about them.
Though to be fair there isn't much detail in the suttas on technique for anapanasati either - basic stuff like whether eyes should be open or closed, whether attention should be at nostrils or abdomen, etc.
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 28, 2013 10:31 am

mettafuture wrote:
daverupa wrote:Rather, those found in the Visuddhimagga, etc. - the Nikayas do not contain that level of detail about them.
The Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta (MN 77) explains how to contemplate the color kasinas.
This thread is on the kasinas: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=2041
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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mettafuture
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by mettafuture » Tue May 28, 2013 7:04 pm

Sekha wrote::goodpost:

to understand AN 10.25 directly in Pali: http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/angu ... 0-025.html
:hello:

The excerpts were translated by Nanamoli / Bodhi.

A dhamma talk on the Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta, and other suttas from the Majjhima Nikaya, can be found here.

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daverupa
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by daverupa » Tue May 28, 2013 8:42 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote:- the Nikayas do not contain that level of detail about them.
Though to be fair there isn't much detail in the suttas on technique for anapanasati either - basic stuff like whether eyes should be open or closed, whether attention should be at nostrils or abdomen, etc.
When comparing the instructions we do have for anapanasati with those for kasinas in the Nikayas, there is a stark imbalance. The steps of anapanasati are quite clear in contrast, and for example confusion over the idiom "parimukham" isn't a fault of the instructions.

Attending to nose or abdomen is a created dilemma, as is eyes open or closed. The instructions don't mention whether the legs, when crossed, should be left atop right or the other way 'round, either. They don't mention if the tongue should be on the roof of the mouth or elsewhere. These are altogether incidental worries (which, by the way, we might ask of kasinas as well, with a similar lack of answers).

They are simply not given equal attention in the Nikayas; after all, the Samyutta Nikaya has an anapanasati samyutta, but no mention of kasinas at all...

:shrug:
  • "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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mettafuture
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by mettafuture » Tue May 28, 2013 9:34 pm

daverupa wrote:When comparing the instructions we do have for anapanasati with those for kasinas in the Nikayas, there is a stark imbalance. The steps of anapanasati are quite clear in contrast, and for example confusion over the idiom "parimukham" isn't a fault of the instructions.
The instructions are only clear because we've been told how to utilize them thanks to the commentaries of scholars and teachers. If we were completely new to Buddhism, and read a line like “Breathing in long, he understands: ‘I breathe in long’", I doubt most of us would immediately know what to do.

And I don't think kasina meditation is more complicated. It seems to be centered on "I know, I see", or rather clearly knowing and seeing each element or color, and acknowledging that none of them are self. It's relatively straightforward when you look at it within the context of the rest of the teachings.
They are simply not given equal attention in the Nikayas; after all, the Samyutta Nikaya has an anapanasati samyutta, but no mention of kasinas at all...
"Monks, any brahmans or contemplatives who recollect their manifold past lives all recollect the five clinging-aggregates, or one among them. [...] When recollecting, 'I was one with such a perception in the past,' one is recollecting just perception. [...] And why do you call it 'perception'? Because it perceives, thus it is called 'perception.' What does it perceive? It perceives blue, it perceives yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white. Because it perceives, it is called perception."
-- SN 22.79

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daverupa
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by daverupa » Tue May 28, 2013 11:41 pm

mettafuture wrote:The instructions are only clear because we've been told how to utilize them thanks to the commentaries of scholars and teachers. If we were completely new to Buddhism, and read a line like “Breathing in long, he understands: ‘I breathe in long’", I doubt most of us would immediately know what to do. And I don't think kasina meditation is more complicated.
It's a good point; additionally, the primary source materials describing anapanasati and it's relationship to satipatthana far outstrip what exists for kasinas in the Nikayas.

And that is a definition of perception, not a kasina meditation reference.
  • "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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mettafuture
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by mettafuture » Wed May 29, 2013 12:24 am

daverupa wrote:It's a good point; additionally, the primary source materials describing anapanasati and it's relationship to satipatthana far outstrip what exists for kasinas in the Nikayas.
The frequency in which something is referenced shouldn't be used to measure its worth.

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daverupa
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by daverupa » Wed May 29, 2013 1:19 am

mettafuture wrote:
daverupa wrote:It's a good point; additionally, the primary source materials describing anapanasati and it's relationship to satipatthana far outstrip what exists for kasinas in the Nikayas.
The frequency in which something is referenced shouldn't be used to measure its worth.
:thinking:

It isn't mere frequency. I'm not measuring worth.

There are repeated references to anapanasati in numerous contexts, and the manner in which it fulfills satipatthana is clearly laid out. The Buddha is said to have practiced anapanasati frequently, for example spending the Rains doing so.

I do not see where he is said to have practiced with kasinas in these ways. They form part of a list in MN 77 & DN 33, leaving the AN quote as the best reference because there, at least, we can find a passing instruction with respect to disenchantment & dispassion for comparison (yet we get this instruction with anapanasati as well).

There is simply no parallel.
  • "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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