twelph wrote:Here is one from Meditations 5:
As I expected, the quotes support your argument when taken out of context but when you look at them within the dhamma talk as a whole you can see that what he is talking about is just a means to an end, that creating pleasurable meditation is not an end in itself.
After your first quote he goes on to say:
In addition, you learn important lessons about indulgence. If you tend to be indulgent in your daily life, you're going to be very self-indulgent when you meditate. If you can't say No to your daily desires, it's going to be hard to say No to them while you're sitting here meditating. The mind-states that want to go off and think about pleasant sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations are very easy to indulge in if you don't have the habit of saying No to your impulse to look for pleasure in those things throughout the day. As you develop this habit of saying No to sensual indulgence in the course of the day, it's a lot easier to say No to sensual thoughts in the course of the meditation.
You've also developed the habit of learning when to say "enough," which will hold you in good stead as you begin to develop the sense of non-sensual pleasure and rapture that come with concentration. You'll be more likely to realize when you've indulged enough in those kinds of pleasure so that you can turn to the further work you need to do in terms of insight and discernment. You can't just stay wallowing in the pleasure of concentration. You've got to learn how to understand what's going on in the mind, why it creates mental worlds to begin with — the worlds that pull you away from the present moment and lead to suffering and stress.
So pleasure in meditation is used as a basis for insight because you’ve abandoned seeking pleasures from the outside world.
The next one goes on to say the purpose of this practise is to feed mindfulness, the purpose is not pleasure for pleasures sake but to feed rather than starve mindfulness;
But that's a major misunderstanding. Mindfulness is something you do. It's a fabricated activity. Alertness is something you do. It's a fabricated activity as well. And there are potentials in the mind that can either foster the mindfulness or starve it. In other words, mindfulness is something you have to feed. It's not your simple awareness. It's the ability to keep something in mind. The reason we don't understand things, the reason we don't see the connection between cause and effect, is because we forget. It's because we forget that we can't stick with our resolves. Say you decide you're going to stay here for a whole hour with the breath — and five minutes later you find yourself planning tomorrow's meal, or thinking about events far away in Iceland. What happened? You forgot. And why did you forget? Well, there was a blanking out for a moment or two because you weren't paying proper attention to the causes for mindfulness.
The last one he goes on to say that the pleasure is about making yourself comfortable and having a basis from which you can explore pain,
We need the right attitude toward pain: not to feel threatened, not to run away. Our duty with regard to pain is to comprehend it, but you’re not going to comprehend it if you feel threatened by it. So it’s good to know that you have a safe, comfortable place to return to whenever you need it.
Say there’s a pain in your leg and you’re not really ready to deal with it yet:
You can focus on whatever sense of ease and fullness you can develop elsewhere in the body—say, in the chest, in the stomach, in your hands, in your feet—through the way you breathe. If things get bad with the pain, you can go back to the breath. Once the mind feels nourished and protected by the breath, it’ll be more willing to actually look into the pain, probe into the pain, trying to understand: What is this pain I have in my body? Why do I fear it so much? Is it really as fearsome as it seems?
So again not pleasure for pleasures sake but as an aid to the development of insight.
A lot of people come to insight practise with an idea that everything is dukkha and it’s all about just experiencing the rawness of dukkha, and an impoverished and aversive attitude results.
The Burmese approach can encourage this attitude, and I certainly felt this way for many years and was surprised to learn that meditation didn’t have to be a barren wasteland and that one could take measures to balance ones mind states when needed.
After all this is what Metta meditation is all about, what Thanissaro is proposing is fabrication sure but it’s less fabricated than Metta meditation and much closer to insight I think.