Why Meditate?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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mikenz66
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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu May 17, 2012 10:05 am

Hi Retro,

I guess we'll just agree to disagree. My understanding of the Buddha, the Commentaries and modern teachers has nothing to do with "wallowing in dukkha" and "po faced meditators". Ass far as I can see you are creating distracting strawmen that miss the point. :strawman:

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by retrofuturist » Thu May 17, 2012 10:12 am

Greetings Mike,

If "the point" of this topic is to valorize the blog entries of Ron Crouch, then you're right... we will have to "agree to disagree".
Nyanaponika Thera in The Roots Of Good And Evil wrote: The three unwholesome roots are not restricted to the strong manifestation suggested by the English terms greed, hatred and delusion. To understand their range it is important to know that in Pali these three terms stand for all degrees of intensity, even the weakest, of the three defilements, and for all varieties in which these appear. In their weak degrees their unwholesome influence on character and kammic consequences is, of course, not as grave as that of their stronger forms. But even weak forms may carry the risk of either growing stronger or making a person’s character more susceptible to their graver manisfestations. A fuller view of the various forms the unwholesome roots assume may be gained from a list of their synonyms, partly taken from the Dhammasaṅgaṇī, the first book of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka.

Greed — liking, wishing, longing, fondness, affection, attachment, lust, cupidity, craving, passion, self-indulgence, possessiveness, avarice; desire for the five sense objects; desire for wealth, offspring, fame, etc.

Hatred — dislike, disgust, revulsion, resentment, grudge, ill-humour, vexation, irritability, antagonism, aversion, anger, wrath, vengefulness.

Delusion — stupidity, dullness, confusion, ignorance of essentials (e.g. of the Four Noble Truths), prejudice, ideological dogmatism, fanaticism, wrong views, conceit.
Dhp5 wrote:Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu May 17, 2012 10:29 am

Not at all. The intention was simply to discuss the difficulties of the Path, as reported by the Buddha and ancient and modern practitioners and teachers.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"What do you think, Ananda: Which is harder to do, harder to master — to shoot arrows through a tiny keyhole without missing, one right after the other, or to take a horsehair split into seven strands and pierce tip with a tip?"

"This, lord, is harder to do, harder to master — to take a horsehair split into seven strands and pierce tip with a tip."http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"And they, Ananda, pierce what is even harder to pierce, those who pierce, as it actually is present, that 'This is stress'; who pierce, as it actually is present, that 'This is the origination of stress'... 'This is the cessation of stress'... 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'

"Therefore, Ananda, your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .olen.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
[Kamada:]
So hard it is to do, Lord, It's so very hard to do!
[Buddha:]
But still they do what's hard to do, Who steady themselves with virtue. For one pursuing homelessness, Content arrives, and with it joy.
[Kamada:]
So hard it is to get, Lord, This content of which you speak!
[Buddha:]
But still they get what's hard to get, Who delight in a tranquil mind. The mind of those, both day and night, Delights in its development.
[Kamada:]
So hard it is to tame, Lord, This mind of which you speak!
[Buddha:]
But still they tame what's hard to tame, Who delight in senses at peace. Cutting through mortality's net, The nobles, Kamada, proceed.
[Kamada:]
So hard it is to go, Lord, On this path that gets so rough!
[Buddha:]
Still nobles, Kamada, proceed On paths both rough and hard to take. Those who are less than noble fall On their heads when the path gets rough. But for nobles the path is smooth — For nobles smooth out what is rough!

Translator's note

This plaintive cry of the deva Kamada, concerning the difficulty of Buddhist practice, will resonate with almost anyone who has embarked on the temporary homelessness of a retreat at IMS or elsewhere. The steady reply of the Buddha here admonishes Kamada to overcome his weaknesses and find the nobility within himself to tread the noble path.
:anjali:
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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by retrofuturist » Thu May 17, 2012 10:41 am

Greetings Mike,

Much better.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by Nyana » Thu May 17, 2012 4:22 pm

"Neither difficult nor easy...." -- Lingzhao (daughter of Layman & Mrs. Pang)

:sage:

:tongue:

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by Ron Crouch » Thu May 17, 2012 4:47 pm

Hi there - a friend of mine sent me a message this morning that there was an interesting discussion going on over here about my essay "Why Meditate" and that I should drop by and check it out. It looks like it really hit a nerve with some people and that is kind of what I intended with it so it looks like the message is getting out. :console:

I wanted to offer myself up for questions directly about this essay and what I meant by it, since there is a lot of speculation here. Despite having a last name that is suspiciously close to "grouch" and having written such a rough essay, I'm actually a pretty easy going person! I really enjoy answering questions, so don't hesitate to ask me directly. What would you like to know?

P.S. I may take a while to get back to you today but will be back in the evening and will be happy to answer then.

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by Challenge23 » Thu May 17, 2012 5:01 pm

Good afternoon!

The essay at the original post was part of some research I was doing in regards to meditating.

To put it in perspective here is a bit more of what I found.

For the past few years Willoughby Britton has been doing research into negative side effects of meditation(she did an interview on the podcast Buddhist Geeks, the transcript of which is here. A lot of the things she found were, to me, pretty disturbing. People experiencing strong fear because they no longer have a sense of self and can't reconcile that with performing mundane actions(which resulted in words spontaneously coming out of their mouths or walking happening without intervention on their part because there was no "they" to intervene) is one of quite a few examples she mentioned in the podcast. The other points was that all of the teachers interviewed were quite explicit in that they believed that 100% of students would go through this negative period she observed and that this period(defined by her as "clinical impairment", effects that hamper everyday interactions with reality) averaged out at over 3 years.

Honestly, as a practitioner I'm not 100% sure that the end goal is worth it(as I'm skeptical of any form of existence of consciousness after death).

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by Travis » Thu May 17, 2012 5:19 pm

Welcome Ron! Though I found your essay to be a little dramatic, I also appreciated the overall sentiment and that it was unique in portraying meditation as something other than the way it is portrayed in popular culture as bohemian, self-help, or therapy on the cheap. I also identified with your notion of the actual why of meditation being a hard to put into words feeling that something isn't right=what Buddha was saying about the 1st NT. I believe I have come across it before, but can't recall where (Thanissaro or maybe Nanananda, perhaps Stephen Batchelor?).
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dhamma_newb,
dhamma_newb wrote:Isn't "dark night" just a term used to refer to certain unpleasant stages described in Mahasi Sayadaw's Progress of Insight where one can get stuck? Or if you practice is it just a straight shot through the stages right to Nibbana?
I'm not really the one to ask. Perhaps someone with involvement in that approach might be able to explain.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Thanks for making your(self) :jumping: available for discussion.

P.S. For those familiar with her story perhaps Sister Vajira would be a good example of someone stuck in the "Dark Night"?

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by Challenge23 » Thu May 17, 2012 5:33 pm

Ron Crouch wrote:Hi there - a friend of mine sent me a message this morning that there was an interesting discussion going on over here about my essay "Why Meditate" and that I should drop by and check it out. It looks like it really hit a nerve with some people and that is kind of what I intended with it so it looks like the message is getting out. :console:

I wanted to offer myself up for questions directly about this essay and what I meant by it, since there is a lot of speculation here. Despite having a last name that is suspiciously close to "grouch" and having written such a rough essay, I'm actually a pretty easy going person! I really enjoy answering questions, so don't hesitate to ask me directly. What would you like to know?

P.S. I may take a while to get back to you today but will be back in the evening and will be happy to answer then.
Very good, thank you.

In your essay at the end you had the following,
Ron Crouch from the essay wrote:Even though the sense of “I” doesn’t know why, there is still a drive that impels some people to meditate. It is an undercurrent in your life that nags at you that is much deeper than the “I.” You may not fully understand what it is, and you will likely express it in all kinds of ways, but when you hear that there is a way to wake up from the dream of the self, you will be intrigued.
That part confuses me a little. The way I read it can be summed up as "You should meditate because some deep part of you wants to meditate." Was that what you were trying to convey? If it was, and I apologize if this is offensive, that is a circular argument.

The main thrust of your essay seems to be, "You should meditate because you want Enlightenment." But then that answers the question with an equally vague term, that being "Enlightenment". Considering the very significant perils of meditation that you brought up, could you speak briefly on what Enlightenment is and why it would be worth the perils? Also, do you think it is still worth it if reincarnation doesn't exist?

Thanks again for your time,
James

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mikenz66
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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu May 17, 2012 7:17 pm

Hi Ron, Welcome,
Ron Crouch wrote: I wanted to offer myself up for questions directly about this essay and what I meant by it, since there is a lot of speculation here. Despite having a last name that is suspiciously close to "grouch" and having written such a rough essay, I'm actually a pretty easy going person! I really enjoy answering questions, so don't hesitate to ask me directly. What would you like to know?
Since the difficulties you point out appear to be consistent with statements in the Suttas (which I've quoted above) and Commentaries, and with what I've gathered from listening to modern teachers and discussions with fellow practitioners, I don't have any particular problem with what you wrote.

Perhaps you could address the particular point that retrofuturist makes:
retrofuturist wrote: I wonder whether some paths/meditations/actions/whatever-you-want-to-call-them lead into the rabbits burrow of dukkha better than they lead out of it. It's quite plausible that the path that leads you to be aware of the problem, is quite a different path to that which can cure the problem, once diagnosed.
I.e. does the Path inevitably involve "dark night" difficult patches and/or do some approaches bring up unnecessary difficulties that could be avoided?

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by Bagoba » Thu May 17, 2012 7:41 pm

I think his essay is based on buddhist meditation, and by asking him if the risks are worth Enlightenment if reincarnation doesn't exist, you're taking it out of context, since Enlightenment, the ultimate goal of buddhist's practice and meditation, is to put an end to the everlasting cycle of rebirths, if I understood correctly.
Last edited by Bagoba on Thu May 17, 2012 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"This path is a thorough investigation and understanding of the limitations of the mortal condition of the body and mind. Now you're developing the ability to turn away from the conditioned and to release your identity from mortality." Ajan Sumedho, "Mindfulness, the path to the Deathless." http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/deathless.pdf

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by Bagoba » Thu May 17, 2012 7:51 pm

On another note, I used to practice Vajrayana buddhism, and our Lama was always warning us to never undertake any Vajrayana meditation practices without proper guidance, because of the risks involved (which seems to be consistent with the cases you mention). Some Vajrayana meditation practices are actually forbidden to newcomers, while others can only be practiced by very advanced practitioners, and so on...
"This path is a thorough investigation and understanding of the limitations of the mortal condition of the body and mind. Now you're developing the ability to turn away from the conditioned and to release your identity from mortality." Ajan Sumedho, "Mindfulness, the path to the Deathless." http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/deathless.pdf

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu May 17, 2012 8:10 pm

Hi Bagoba,
Bagoba wrote:I think his essay is based on buddhist meditation, and by asking him if the risks are worth Enlightenment if reincarnation doesn't exist, you're taking it out of context, since Enlightenment, the ultimate goal of buddhist's practice and meditation, is to put an end to the everlasting cycle of rebirths, if I understood correctly.
I wan't sure which post you were referring to. I guess you mean this one:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 31#p188614" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by Bagoba » Thu May 17, 2012 8:13 pm

Yes Mike.
"This path is a thorough investigation and understanding of the limitations of the mortal condition of the body and mind. Now you're developing the ability to turn away from the conditioned and to release your identity from mortality." Ajan Sumedho, "Mindfulness, the path to the Deathless." http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/deathless.pdf

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Re: Why Meditate?

Post by Cafael Dust » Thu May 17, 2012 9:26 pm

We think we shall be vulnerable without hatred, greed and delusion. But we learn that in truth, the poisons cause us to be constantly, heartbreakingly vulnerable. So meditation seems dangerous to those who have not yet realised that there is no safety to settle for. And on the bright side, we are wrong in all our misgivings.
Not twice, not three times, not once,
the wheel is turning.

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