Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

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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archaic
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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by archaic » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:29 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:26 am
There is, obviously, plenty in the instructions of modern teachers such as Ajahns Thanissaro, Maha Bua, Chah etc that is not explicitly in the Suttas, but it would be strange to dismiss the advice of experienced teachers. Likewise, one should use one's judgement about which elaborations are helpful, and which are not, whether the advice is from ancient or modern texts.
:heart:
Mike
Thanks, you are quite correct, I should not dismiss all of the nanas out of hand, some may be useful and likely their usefulness also depended on the context in which they were dispersed, such as who the students were and who the teachers were.


Hiheyhello wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:57 am
Vipassana is not a samatha meditation and, as such, is not preoccupied exclusively with jhana but with calming the mind enough to see the nature of reality. In the same way that the 9 samatha jhanas progressively build upon one another, the vipassana nanas also do so.

Yes I see your point. The vipassana nanas felt more loose and undelineated to me because they could occur out of order, or not at all. Whereas to me, jhana seems very delineated, as in the Buddha's frequent explanation of the 1st, 2nd 3rd, 4th, and supramundane jhanas.

However, I agree with you because insight and concentration are both very different, so this could be the reason why the jhanas seem more concrete and definitive.

What concrete proof can be provided of jhana? Jhanic attainments are also described in the texts in an arguably vague and ambiguous way (likely due to their subtle nature). Are the descriptions (stages) of jhana thus arbitrary and artificial?
Yes I know some people do not want to, or are not able to obtain jhana. I am thankful that my meditation experiences support their existence, as they are described, and in the order given by the Buddha. But, regardless of whether I had experienced them, because the Buddha himself described them they must unquestionably be based on truth, at least in my view. I have never observed any mistruth from the Buddha (although of course I have observed some of his teachings which I am not as yet at a stage of development to confirm).
Ultimately, that is for each practitioner to determine for themselves based on their own experience.

Either way, you will probably not touch upon the nanas with the body scan method so no need to worry about it too much or overanalyze it to death.
Yes, you are quite correct.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by archaic » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:35 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:01 am
Perhaps you should rethink this idea of yours about 1st jhana and length of time one should be able to stay in it. When you begin to measure things like this, you lose the view of impermanence and personalization. You also encourage 'becoming' and attachment to these states. 1st jhana seems more like whiff of fresh air, not a dwelling place for our notions.
I do agree with you, but at the same time, many people wish to gauge their progress by knowing what is to be expected from a "true" jhana.

The truth is, for example the Pa Auk Sayadaw camp seem to almost indicate that jhana is an exceptionally deep state where one is nearly unresponsive. Other texts say a person in jhana literally has their heart stop beating and breathing cease. And then on the opposite side of the spectrum, the Ayya Khema camp suggests one can enter jhana by obtaining access concentration then changing the object to the sensations themselves.

So it seems difficult for many to know what's happening; too much unintentional misinformation.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by Zom » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:16 am

Perhaps you should rethink this idea of yours about 1st jhana and length of time one should be able to stay in it. When you begin to measure things like this, you lose the view of impermanence and personalization.
Heh ) View of impermanence has nothing to do with the length of jhana .) Let alone personalization.
You also encourage 'becoming' and attachment to these states
Where did I say that? )
many people wish to gauge their progress by knowing what is to be expected from a "true" jhana.
Arahantship or, at the very minimum, non-returning is to be expected from it .) Supernormal powers too, by the way. This is what texts say. Those who don't get that - they are attaining "wishful thinking jhanas" (normal for newcomers).

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by Saengnapha » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:47 am

archaic wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:35 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:01 am
Perhaps you should rethink this idea of yours about 1st jhana and length of time one should be able to stay in it. When you begin to measure things like this, you lose the view of impermanence and personalization. You also encourage 'becoming' and attachment to these states. 1st jhana seems more like whiff of fresh air, not a dwelling place for our notions.
I do agree with you, but at the same time, many people wish to gauge their progress by knowing what is to be expected from a "true" jhana.

The truth is, for example the Pa Auk Sayadaw camp seem to almost indicate that jhana is an exceptionally deep state where one is nearly unresponsive. Other texts say a person in jhana literally has their heart stop beating and breathing cease. And then on the opposite side of the spectrum, the Ayya Khema camp suggests one can enter jhana by obtaining access concentration then changing the object to the sensations themselves.

So it seems difficult for many to know what's happening; too much unintentional misinformation.
The wish to gauge progress itself is a self-centred activity that should not be encouraged. It would immediately prevent what is described as the 2nd jhana which is absent of vitakka and vicara. Conceptualization is suspended. What you write about is the problem that these 'Programs' introduce into our thinking. The whole point is about 'your' experience. If you start thinking like this, you've already lost the view.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by Saengnapha » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:57 am

Zom wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:16 am
Perhaps you should rethink this idea of yours about 1st jhana and length of time one should be able to stay in it. When you begin to measure things like this, you lose the view of impermanence and personalization.
Heh ) View of impermanence has nothing to do with the length of jhana .) Let alone personalization.
You also encourage 'becoming' and attachment to these states
Where did I say that? )
many people wish to gauge their progress by knowing what is to be expected from a "true" jhana.
Arahantship or, at the very minimum, non-returning is to be expected from it .) Supernormal powers too, by the way. This is what texts say. Those who don't get that - they are attaining "wishful thinking jhanas" (normal for newcomers).
What you write is upside down, in my estimation. Jhanas are impermanent like all dhammas. Length is not the point. The idea that you are doing anything is already missing the point of right view and the idea that 'you' are climbing the ladder. It's all about letting go of this view, not attaining anything. Expectations always lead to trouble. Keeping track of yourself is part of the myth of personalization. It's only conceptualization.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by Zom » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:48 am

Jhanas are impermanent like all dhammas. Length is not the point. The idea that you are doing anything is already missing the point of right view and the idea that 'you' are climbing the ladder
Impermanence have nothing to do with length. And the length of jhana is important to understand if you've got a genuine one or imaginary. As for the right view - I suggest you should read more about "conventional" and "ultimate" truths so to understand how can there be "someone" who is practising .)

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by Saengnapha » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:08 pm

Zom wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:48 am
Jhanas are impermanent like all dhammas. Length is not the point. The idea that you are doing anything is already missing the point of right view and the idea that 'you' are climbing the ladder
Impermanence have nothing to do with length. And the length of jhana is important to understand if you've got a genuine one or imaginary. As for the right view - I suggest you should read more about "conventional" and "ultimate" truths so to understand how can there be "someone" who is practising .)
Of course, impermanence has nothing to do with length. It was a comment about the focus on jhana, which is impermanent, but seen to be something to cultivate. I understand the fascination with jhanas and the importance they are given within Theravada teachings. I also see their distraction. For me, disinterest and dispassion seem more to the point, not acting with self-interest. There is no doer either, and talk about conventional and ultimate truths are only for the scholars to debate about, what I call Buddhist babble. Forgive me if I don't see eye to eye with you on this.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by Zom » Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:33 pm

It was a comment about the focus on jhana, which is impermanent, but seen to be something to cultivate.
Whether you like it or not - jhana must be attained and fully developed if you want to attain enlightenment.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by Saengnapha » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:20 am

Zom wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:33 pm
It was a comment about the focus on jhana, which is impermanent, but seen to be something to cultivate.
Whether you like it or not - jhana must be attained and fully developed if you want to attain enlightenment.
I will quote Jacopone da Todi:

The light of the intellect,
Which had seemed dazzling,
Now seems dark and feeble;
What it thought was strength
It now recognizes as weakness.
No longer can the intellect describe divinity
As it once did when it could speak;
For perfect Good no metaphor is adequate.

Once united with God it knows
That what you think is day is night,
What you think is light is darkness.
Until you reach this point, and the self is annihilated,
Everything you think is true is really false.
You do not yet have in you pure charity
While you can think of yourself
And the victory you are striving for.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by Hiheyhello » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:54 am

:meditate:
Last edited by Hiheyhello on Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by aflatun » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:59 pm

Thank you for this lovely passage!
Saengnapha wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:16 am

I tried posting this yesterday. Perhaps there is a Buddhist guardian at the gate whose taken offense.

In losing all, the soul has risen (from Self-Annihilation and Charity Lead the Soul...)
by Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti)

English version by Serge and Elizabeth Hughes
Original Language Italian

In losing all, the soul has risen
To the pinnacle of the measureless;
Because it has renounced all
That is not divine,
It now holds in its grasp
The unimaginable Good
In all its abundance,
A loss and a gain impossible to describe.
To lose and to hold tightly,
To love and take delight in,
To gaze upon and contemplate,
To possess utterly,
To float in that immensity
And to rest therein --
That is the work of unceasing exchange
Of charity and truth.
There is no other action at those heights;
What the questing soul once was it has ceased to be.
Neither heat nor fiery love
Nor suffering has place here.
This is not light as the soul has imagined it.
All it had sought it must now forget,
And pass on to a new world,
Beyond its powers of perception.



Is this not transcendence?
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by Saengnapha » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:49 pm

aflatun wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:59 pm
Thank you for this lovely passage!
Saengnapha wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:16 am

I tried posting this yesterday. Perhaps there is a Buddhist guardian at the gate whose taken offense.

In losing all, the soul has risen (from Self-Annihilation and Charity Lead the Soul...)
by Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti)

English version by Serge and Elizabeth Hughes
Original Language Italian

In losing all, the soul has risen
To the pinnacle of the measureless;
Because it has renounced all
That is not divine,
It now holds in its grasp
The unimaginable Good
In all its abundance,
A loss and a gain impossible to describe.
To lose and to hold tightly,
To love and take delight in,
To gaze upon and contemplate,
To possess utterly,
To float in that immensity
And to rest therein --
That is the work of unceasing exchange
Of charity and truth.
There is no other action at those heights;
What the questing soul once was it has ceased to be.
Neither heat nor fiery love
Nor suffering has place here.
This is not light as the soul has imagined it.
All it had sought it must now forget,
And pass on to a new world,
Beyond its powers of perception.



Is this not transcendence?
It makes all this talk seem like nonsense.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by archaic » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:19 am

Hiheyhello wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:54 am
archaic wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:29 am

Yes I see your point. The vipassana nanas felt more loose and undelineated to me because they could occur out of order, or not at all. Whereas to me, jhana seems very delineated, as in the Buddha's frequent explanation of the 1st, 2nd 3rd, 4th, and supramundane jhanas.

Hi, just wanted to clarify that nanas will occur only in the listed progressive order or not at all. They don't occur out of order and nanas cannot be skipped. Some can be shorter or longer in duration than others but they will always happen in that given order.

All the Metta
Oh ok, I have read them from a number of sources which say that they may occur out of order and not necessarily each practitioner will experience them all. However, Perhaps it depends on the tradition one is from.

For example, in a book I have called Insight Meditation - Practical Steps to Ultimate Truth by Achan Sobin S. Namto, before listing the nanas it says:
Meditators bring to practice a variety of temperaments and background. Not every aspect of practice described in this section will be experienced by every meditator, nor in the exact order in which the material is presented. This manual describes certain aspects of insight training which have been observed by meditation masters in the Vipassana tradition. Practitioners following the Zen and Vajrayana traditions will, no doubt also find this manual helpful.

If additional instruction is desired regarding the early exegesis of Buddhist Wisdom teachings we urge readers to familiarize themselves with the 9 insight knowledges, commencing with the "Knowledge of Contemplation of Rise and Fall" and concluding with the "adaptation to truth" as detailed in the classical treatise entitled "The Path of Purification" Visuddhi Magga compiled by Buddhaghosa."
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:12 am

archaic wrote:
Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:19 am
Hiheyhello wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:54 am
archaic wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:29 am

Yes I see your point. The vipassana nanas felt more loose and undelineated to me because they could occur out of order, or not at all. Whereas to me, jhana seems very delineated, as in the Buddha's frequent explanation of the 1st, 2nd 3rd, 4th, and supramundane jhanas.

Hi, just wanted to clarify that nanas will occur only in the listed progressive order or not at all. They don't occur out of order and nanas cannot be skipped. Some can be shorter or longer in duration than others but they will always happen in that given order.

All the Metta
Oh ok, I have read them from a number of sources which say that they may occur out of order and not necessarily each practitioner will experience them all. However, Perhaps it depends on the tradition one is from.

For example, in a book I have called Insight Meditation - Practical Steps to Ultimate Truth by Achan Sobin S. Namto, before listing the nanas it says:
Meditators bring to practice a variety of temperaments and background. Not every aspect of practice described in this section will be experienced by every meditator, nor in the exact order in which the material is presented. This manual describes certain aspects of insight training which have been observed by meditation masters in the Vipassana tradition. Practitioners following the Zen and Vajrayana traditions will, no doubt also find this manual helpful.

If additional instruction is desired regarding the early exegesis of Buddhist Wisdom teachings we urge readers to familiarize themselves with the 9 insight knowledges, commencing with the "Knowledge of Contemplation of Rise and Fall" and concluding with the "adaptation to truth" as detailed in the classical treatise entitled "The Path of Purification" Visuddhi Magga compiled by Buddhaghosa."
Do you really think there are practical steps to Ultimate Truth that you can follow? Is this your belief? or hope? If so, you should be applying yourself 24/7 to it to see if there is any truth to it.

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Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Post by pyluyten » Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:49 pm

Zom wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:45 am
Teachers do not agree on what is first jhana, so they will not agree on seven steps which were systematised hundred s of years after Buddha's death.

Chan is wiser here : the path is not a game where you win levels one after the other. There is a path but no objective measure. Trying to measure, at best, will condition your mind to live certain experiences
There are certain things about jhanas written in the suttas - that is, the absense of certain kinds of feelings. In the first jhana there is no painful bodily feeling - at all. It just totally ends there. So if you are really in the first jhana, there sohuld be no problem for you to sit many hours without a smallest discomfort. If you think you are so cool and advanced that you reach it, but only for a small period of time, there should be no problem to master it so to sit as long as you can. So from anyone who claims or hints that he's got jhana I expect him to sit for 8-10 hours in a row (at least) without any problem. If he can't do that - sorry, this is not jhana and never been .)
still, many teachers proclaim different things regarding 1st jhana, it's intensity, it's duration, is there thinking, is there still consciousness and so on. Maybe they did not understand the suttas, but many teacher quote suttas to illustrate points of views, sometimes 1st jhana is like a 8 day coma, sometimes it's just a light attention for five minutes. I tend to believe this is because, even inside suttas, there are different sentences. This might be due to translation for example.

In the end this does not change nothing, because everyone agrees with the highest level of concentration.
But this means nobody agrees on the milestones.
When we talk about a capability to concentrate, well, milestones, is that this important? we could as well say, one is able to be concentrated for 5 minutes or twenty, one hours, ten hours, or 3 days. Some teachers say ten hours is 1st jhana, some say it's 7th jhana, this is not a big deal. The practice is the same. We call this 1st jhana or 7th jhana, this should not change much.

But when we describe milestones regarding something like "wisdom", and call it vipassana nana, then i'm afraid the milestones will not help.
We have the same issues than with concentration milestones, plus many others, and in the end no one never ever agrees on anything.
It's not the path that is a discussion, it's more the steps, this is why i consider "nanas" description as an issue rather than a help.

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