Samatha & Vipassanā

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
Nothing
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Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Nothing » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:01 pm

Hello :)

It has been years since I last meditated and I would like to get back into it. I need it due to my anxiety and stress levels (blood pressure etc) but I'm not sure which I should focus on, Samatha or Vipassana so I am hoping someone might advise me.

As far as my limited knowledge can tell, Samatha is about cultivating a blissful state and Vipassana is about seeing the true nature of reality?

My main question is, I'd like to learn to relax but I really want to see the true nature of reality. Will Vipassana nurture both in me if I am dedicated to the meditation?

Also, is this a good book for Vipassana?

'The Miracle of Mindfulness' by Thich Nhat Hanh?

If not, please could someone recommend a good introductory book on Vipassana meditation?

Thank you all very much.

EDIT: I was watching this Youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDDY4gOexVA&t=486s

And at 3m 50s the man talks about how you can see heaven and hell. Is this correct, is he saying you find out if you're going to heaven or hell? :shock: :o
Last edited by Nothing on Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

paul
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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by paul » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:29 am

Theravada is vipassana, and you should get books which deal with Theravada as a whole to get a proper understanding of vipassana, such as "The Noble Eightfold Path" by Bikkhu Bodhi. The culminating chapter VIII on wisdom explains how it functions in removing the defilements in the context of The Noble Eightfold Path.

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:50 am

Greetings,
paul wrote:Theravada is vipassana
Interesting assertion...

Alternatively, see: Samatha & Vipassana (PDF) - Piya Tan

Nothing... instead of focussing on vipassana as a technique, I would focus on it as 'clear seeing'. Instructions for how to do this are found in the Satipatthana Sutta.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"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)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:50 am

Another clear and detailed explanation.

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Nothing » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:18 am

Thank you all for the responses

I can't seem to reply to my private messages so I want to say thank you to R1111 as well.

Also, I've checked my settings and they all seem to be correct, but I'm not receiving any notifications for threads I've subscribed to. Is there an issue?

Thanks again.

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:20 am

Greetings Nothing,

The restrictions you're experiencing at present should lapse soon... we have some preliminary restrictions on new memberships in place in order to prevent spam attacks etc.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"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)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Nothing » Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:30 pm

That explains it

Thank you

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Nothing » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:53 pm

Which one of these books would you recommend for a beginner: Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond or Mindfulness Plain English

I've heard both are good but if you had to recommend one, which would it be, please?

Thank you

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:02 pm

Greetings nothing,

I would be more inclined to recommend the latter first, in keeping with the sequencing of the Noble Eightfold Path.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"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)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:38 pm

Nothing wrote:Which one of these books would you recommend for a beginner: Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond or Mindfulness Plain English

I've heard both are good but if you had to recommend one, which would it be, please?

Thank you
I think they are both very good. It depends on what approach appeals to you.

You can read the first few chapters of Ajahn Brahm's book here: https://www.dhammaloka.org.au/files/pdf ... ers1-4.pdf

And here is a free version of an early edition of Bhante G's book: http://ftp.budaedu.org/ebooks/pdf/EN036.pdf

If you are interested in Ajahn Brahm's approach you may find his guided meditations helpful: https://bswa.org/teachings/?teaching_to ... &keywords=

I don't use his approach much, but I he is a skillful teacher and gives great advice on how to get calm.

I know very little about Bhante G, other than reading that book ten years ago. It's a vipassana-oriented book, so rather different in approach from Ajahn Brahm.

I think it's very useful to be aware that there isn't just one way to start...

:heart:
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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by bodom » Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:59 pm

Nothing wrote:Which one of these books would you recommend for a beginner: Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond or Mindfulness Plain English

I've heard both are good but if you had to recommend one, which would it be, please?

Thank you
I personally would recommend Thanissaro Bhikku's meditation manual With Each and Every Breath:

http://dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings ... 160221.pdf

Its an excellent introduction on breath meditation and deals with developing both Samatha and vipassana. It contains everything you need to know on starting a meditation practice, pitfalls and progressing through deeper states of meditation or jhana. You can read it for free at the link above or write to the monastery for a free copy.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

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With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Anagarika » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:52 pm

It can be helpful to view samatha and vipassana as qualities of meditation or samadhi, rather than separate methods or techniques. It has been said that samatha supports the cultivation of vipassana, just as elements of vipassana support the cultivation of samatha.

Put simply, the calming of samatha allows for the arising of vipasaana/insight. Many people use breath meditation as the focus of meditation, and with time and practice, the samadhi deepens and the ability to perceive and understand the characterisitics of reality develop.

This desciption finds root in the early texts, with meditation methods that have been cited above.

There is a history of vipassana as a "stand alone" technique that arose out of colonial Burma, and many people find benefit in this approach. There are also approaches that emphasize calming / tranquility meditation as a stand alone practice. But, it's helpful to appreciate that the Buddha taught samadhi as an integrated practice that cultivates both samatha and vipassana as byproducts of the meditation practice. As a final note, the Buddha taught as samma samadhi the jhanas. Jhanas are not always mentioned in the context of meditation, but many consider them to be the focus of the Buddha's teaching.

Here's a link to an excellent read on the subject of samatha and vipassana: http://santipada.org/aswiftpairofmessen ... Sujato.pdf

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:18 am

Anagarika wrote: There is a history of vipassana as a "stand alone" technique that arose out of colonial Burma, and many people find benefit in this approach. There are also approaches that emphasize calming / tranquility meditation as a stand alone practice....
Actually, in my experience, Burmese "vipassana" (Mahasi, etc) involves simultaneous development of calm and insight. I think it's important to note that "dry insight" means "without the fully-absorbed version of jhana", not "without significant development of samatha". I see it as part of a spectrum, where, for example, Thanissaro Bhikkhu seems to be teaching an approach with little more emphasis on calm than the Burmese "vipassana", and Ajahn Brahm and Pa Auk Sayadaw, for example, emphasise fully absorbed jhana.

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Anagarika » Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:35 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Anagarika wrote: There is a history of vipassana as a "stand alone" technique that arose out of colonial Burma, and many people find benefit in this approach. There are also approaches that emphasize calming / tranquility meditation as a stand alone practice....
Actually, in my experience, Burmese "vipassana" (Mahasi, etc) involves simultaneous development of calm and insight. I think it's important to note that "dry insight" means "without the fully-absorbed version of jhana", not "without significant development of samatha". I see it as part of a spectrum, where, for example, Thanissaro Bhikkhu seems to be teaching an approach with little more emphasis on calm than the Burmese "vipassana", and Ajahn Brahm and Pa Auk Sayadaw, for example, emphasise fully absorbed jhana.

:heart:
Mike
Hi Mike, and you're correct. I tried to be careful with my wording, as yes, there is an element of samatha/access samadhi in the old Burmese approach. I perhaps was riffing on what has developed in the west, with an almost bypassing of samatha, or dismissal of jhana, and a focus on what is called "vipassana meditation." Thanks for your proper point that some of this does fall on a spectrum.

:anjali:

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:00 am

I suggest reading the suttas in conjunction with any commentary. They are very accessible, and presented clearly. You can find suttas at Access to Insight, and Sutta Central.

I also suggest Ayya Khema, and Thanissaro Bhikku, in this case specifically One Tool Among Many

There are many resources out there, but I find that some of them are somewhat exclusionary when it comes to technique. Particularly, some vipassana oriented resources make the claim that samatha meditation is useless or a diversion. If you read the suttas, you will see that the Buddha placed a strong emphasis on samatha resultant meditation (not to the exclusion of vipassana). They are not mutually exclusive. Thanissaro makes the excellent point that samatha gives the peace and ease of mind (' pleasant abiding in the here and now') necessary to see past everyday concerns which typically occupy the mind.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Nothing » Fri Apr 28, 2017 11:11 pm

Thank you all for the advice and links

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Nothing » Fri Apr 28, 2017 11:12 pm

Is there a reason I am not getting email notifications? I've checked my settings and they all seem to be set up correctly.

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Nothing » Thu May 04, 2017 6:31 pm

Something that's always concerned me is when I hear people talk about feeling the sensation of the breath on your upper lip, or how it feels warm on the out breath and cold on the in breath.

I can't feel these sensations at all, or, at best, I experience them now and again for fleeting moments. I sometimes think I am just experiencing the 'idea' of breathing rather than the actual breathing sensations

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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu May 04, 2017 7:25 pm

Nothing wrote:I can't feel these sensations at all, or, at best, I experience them now and again for fleeting moments. I sometimes think I am just experiencing the 'idea' of breathing rather than the actual breathing sensations
How long do you practice? Have you done any 10-day courses? It takes quite a lot of practice to notice the subtle sensations. I can clearly perceive the touch of the breath as I am typing this. I feel it inside the nostrils. Distinguishing cold in-breathes from warm out-breathes is not possible at the moment.

See the Ledi Sayādaw's Ānāpāna Dīpanī for details.

My website is currently offline, so the above link is to my Mirror Site.
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Re: Samatha & Vipassanā

Post by Nothing » Thu May 04, 2017 7:54 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Nothing wrote:I can't feel these sensations at all, or, at best, I experience them now and again for fleeting moments. I sometimes think I am just experiencing the 'idea' of breathing rather than the actual breathing sensations
How long do you practice? Have you done any 10-day courses? It takes quite a lot of practice to notice the subtle sensations. I can clearly perceive the touch of the breath as I am typing this. I feel it inside the nostrils. Distinguishing cold in-breathes from warm out-breathes is not possible at the moment.

See the Ledi Sayādaw's Ānāpāna Dīpanī for details.

My website is currently offline, so the above link is to my Mirror Site.
Thank you

I sit for 30 minutes per day. I guess the most consistent and present sensation I feel, is cool in breath and warm out breath. The in breath is sometimes so gentle, I can't experience it.

So it is I tend to focus on how the breath fills my entire torso area

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