Brahm's Basic Method of Meditation

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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bodom
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Re: Brahm's Basic Method of Meditation

Post by bodom » Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:57 pm

Alex123 wrote:Hello Bodom,

thank you for your wonderful quotes. Often, I wonder if I do it correctly or am suitable at this time for that kind of practice. From one point of view I don't want to quit too early (who knows, this moment was restless, the next may be peaceful). From another point of view I don't want to be hitting uselessly the same wall when there is another method, an actual door to go through.


With metta,

Alex
Hi Alex

I've by no means mastered any level of concentration in my practice and very often go through these same doubts you've expressed. Ive had peaceful moments in my meditation practice and this I use as fuel to continue the practice. I believe it's a glimpse of whats possible if we just continuously practice present moment awareness and have faith in letting go. I don't view meditation as something to gain anything from anymore but as only the practice that cultivates "letting go". Even the jhana's I don't view as 'attainments" anymore as I used too but see them merely as a result of "letting go". I just have faith in letting go over and over and this is sufficient for me in my practice even if I never become a "meditation master".

:anjali:
The heart of the path is so simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice.

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.

Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this-just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle.

- Ajahn Chah

Moggalana
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Re: Brahm's Basic Method of Meditation

Post by Moggalana » Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:10 pm

Hi Alex,

Ajahn Brahm is a huge inspiration to me, too. I tried a lot of different anapanasati approaches and became confused because of all the different instructions on where to watch the breath etc. So Ajahn Brahm's following advice really struck a bell with me.
Ajahn Brahm wrote: When you focus on the breath, you focus on the experience of the breath happening now. You experience `that which tells you what the breath is doing', whether it is going in or out or in between. Some teachers say to watch the breath at the tip of the nose, some say to watch it at the abdomen and some say to move it here and then move it there. I have found through experience that it does not matter where you watch the breath. In fact it is best not to locate the breath anywhere! If you locate the breath at the tip of your nose then it becomes nose awareness, not breath awareness, and if you locate it at your abdomen then it becomes abdomen awareness. Just ask yourself the question right now, "Am I breathing in or am I breathing out?" How do you know? There! That experience which tells you what the breath is doing, that is what you focus on in breath meditation. Let go of concern about where this experience is located; just focus on the experience itself.
His advice to establish some sort of general mindfulness before you begin to observe the breath was also particularly helpful.

You are right, however, that Ajahn Brahm sets his standards really high and that can be a problem. There are other interpretations of what jhana is or isn't, and they are just as valid. Only because someone can do something "better" (or deeper in this case) doesn't mean it's more correct or necessary. I would also encourage you to read his book Simply This Moment (pdf) and listen to some of his retreat talks which are sometimes a bit more balanced than Mindfulness, Bliss, And Beyond.
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.

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Alex123
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Re: Brahm's Basic Method of Meditation

Post by Alex123 » Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:17 pm

Hi Moggalana,
Moggalana wrote:Hi Alex,
Ajahn Brahm is a huge inspiration to me, too. I tried a lot of different anapanasati approaches and became confused because of all the different instructions on where to watch the breath etc. So Ajahn Brahm's following advice really struck a bell with me.
Exactly.
His advice to establish some sort of general mindfulness before you begin to observe the breath was also particularly helpful.
This is what I need to work on more.
You are right, however, that Ajahn Brahm sets his standards really high and that can be a problem. There are other interpretations of what jhana is or isn't, and they are just as valid. Only because someone can do something "better" (or deeper in this case) doesn't mean it's more correct or necessary.
Often I prefer and try to simply go as deep as possible and without having to put labels on it "it is such a state or another". After all, states do not come with flashing billboards that say "you've achieved this, you've reached that".
I would also encourage you to read his book Simply This Moment
I also have it (and MBB) as a paperbook. I've read it and certain parts I have read many times. And sometimes I carry it with me in the car to read when I have to wait for someone.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Alex123
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Re: Brahm's Basic Method of Meditation

Post by Alex123 » Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:07 pm

bodom wrote:very often go through these same doubts you've expressed.
Right. These are very hard questions:
Is lack of progress due to: wrong method, wrong time, incorrect understanding of it, or simply not enough practice yet?

The last one reminds me of this teaching:

"Just as when a carpenter or carpenter's apprentice sees the marks of his fingers or thumb on the handle of his adze but does not know, 'Today my adze handle wore down this much, or yesterday it wore down that much, or the day before yesterday it wore down this much,' still he knows it is worn through when it is worn through. In the same way, when a monk dwells devoting himself to development, he does not know, 'Today my effluents wore down this much, or yesterday they wore down that much, or the day before yesterday they wore down this much,' still he knows they are worn through when they are worn through.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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ground
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Re: Brahm's Basic Method of Meditation

Post by ground » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:22 pm

Moggalana wrote: His advice to establish some sort of general mindfulness before you begin to observe the breath was also particularly helpful.
I feel that this alludes to the Buddha's comparison with the strings of a lute: not too tight and not too loose.
Mindfulness is a more relaxed state of mind in that it is not one-pointedly directed to a certain object but more receptive to occuring changes. So to first establish mindfulness might undermine the tendency to initially focus too tensely in a one-pointed manner and then not being able to loose that tension.


Kind regards

tmottes
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Re: Brahm's Basic Method of Meditation

Post by tmottes » Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:29 am

This thread has been quiet for a while; but, for the sake of others readers, I noticed something missing and wanted to contribute. Do not the other 7 pieces of the noble 8-fold path play an important part in sammā-samādhi (right concentration)? It seems to me after reading a decent amount of translated "original" core buddhist works, that attempting to practice sammā-samādhi without the rest of the 8-fold path is generally destined to be more difficult. In my own experience (of which I would consider myself a beginner in practice, but intermediate in theory), after I started practicing the other 7 parts of the noble 8-fold path, I found I had more patience and less frustrations about "my" thoughts during any type of meditation. Now, before I begin a mediation, it helps to remind myself that anything impermanent (in this case mental objects or thoughts) is stress/suffering and not me (sammā-diṭṭhi or right view/knowledge).

-Tony

I am always open to corrections, refinements, and further instruction.

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Ben
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Re: Brahm's Basic Method of Meditation

Post by Ben » Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:03 am

Hi Tony,
tmottes wrote:This thread has been quiet for a while; but, for the sake of others readers, I noticed something missing and wanted to contribute. Do not the other 7 pieces of the noble 8-fold path play an important part in sammā-samādhi (right concentration)?
Yes they do. They support each other. I don't think anyone is advocating the development of one factor of the Noble Eightfold Path to the exclusion of all else.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Brahm's Basic Method of Meditation

Post by roni » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:50 am

I have been also wondering why Ajahn Brahm teaches awareness of the present moment before awareness of the breath, while awareness of the present moment seems to be the goal of awareness of the breath. My guess is, that it is a practical tool to make the meditator used to all the wanderings of the mind, and make them develop an awareness of wandering off (into past, future or getting involved in the inner chatter). So to me these first 2 steps make sense not as 'awareness of the present moment' but as being aware of the obstacles -- and not panicing when encountering them.

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