Great success with "full body" breath meditation

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Benjamin
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Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Benjamin » Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:10 am

I've noticed that since beginning Thanissaro's style of meditation - the sort where full body awareness is focused on along with the breath - I've had significant improvements in concentration.

I think the main reason for this was that previously I had long stretches between breaths with nothing to hold my awareness; inevitably some sound or thought would arise and typically pull me off and away from the breathing. While keeping the whole body as the framework for the breath, even when there is a longer pause in the breathing, there is still the energy of the body awareness there to maintain the concentration.

Anyone practicing in a similar style? I'd love to hear what has worked for you.
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paul
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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by paul » Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:22 am

Sounds like the right path, and eventually must move on to the second tetrad of the Anapanasati sutta, which will lead to the door of jhana. This bearing in mind that samatha is only a support of the work of 'off the cushion' insight contemplation.
Last edited by paul on Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

budo
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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by budo » Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:40 am

paul wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:22 am
This bearing in mind that samatha is only a tool of the work of 'off the cushion' insight contemplation.
Nibbana doesn't depend on cushions, insight contemplation can also be done in jhana.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Benjamin » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:41 pm

budo wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:40 am
paul wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:22 am
This bearing in mind that samatha is only a tool of the work of 'off the cushion' insight contemplation.
Nibbana doesn't depend on cushions, insight contemplation can also be done in jhana.
I'd agree with you, budo.

That is an interesting topic, which I'd like to start a separate discussion of if it hasn't already been discussed elsewhere. Why this splitting of vipassana and shamatha into separate meditations when that doesn't seem to be found in the canon? I know it must come from later commentaries and the insight movement led by Mahasi and others, but I find it strange when insight so obviously and effortless occurs during jhana/concentration practice.

I'm sure it works for plenty of people, but I don't see why the separation of these two aspects of meditation into separate practices is truly necessary. Of course, i'm only speaking what works for me, but I'm happy that the suttas seem to agree on this point, at least in what I've read.
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Manopubbangama
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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:02 am

budo wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:40 am
paul wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:22 am
This bearing in mind that samatha is only a tool of the work of 'off the cushion' insight contemplation.
insight contemplation can also be done in jhana.
Vipassana should begin upon waking and end at sleep at night, all the while during samadhi bhavana, before leading up to it, and afterwards.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by budo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:56 am

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:02 am
budo wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:40 am
paul wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:22 am
This bearing in mind that samatha is only a tool of the work of 'off the cushion' insight contemplation.
insight contemplation can also be done in jhana.
Vipassana should begin upon waking and end at sleep at night, all the while during samadhi bhavana, before leading up to it, and afterwards.
I don't know what "vipassana" means when you dilute the term like that. I think it's important to clarify terms, because mental noting could be done during all times of the day (if you consider that mindfulness/vipassana), but according to the suttas insight meditation has a specific place and time such as described in AN 11.16

....

"“Sir, Ānanda, is there one thing that has been rightly explained by the Blessed One—who knows and sees, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha—practicing which a diligent, keen, and resolute mendicant’s mind is freed, their defilements are ended, and they arrive at the supreme sanctuary?” “There is, householder.”

Then he goes onto to speak about

- Jhanas with insight (3 characteristics)
- Metta with insight (3 characteristics)

Insight as defined as

"
"Then they reflect: ‘Even this fourth absorption is produced by choices and intentions.’ They understand: ‘But whatever is produced by choices and intentions is impermanent and liable to cessation.’ Abiding in that they attain the ending of defilements. If they don’t attain the ending of defilements, with the ending of the five lower fetters they’re reborn spontaneously, because of their passion and love for that meditation. They are extinguished there, and are not liable to return from that world. This too is one thing that has been rightly explained by the Blessed One—who knows and sees, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha—practicing which a diligent, keen, and resolute mendicant’s mind is freed, their defilements are ended, and they arrive at the supreme sanctuary. "

and finally these are the eleven ways of attaining nibbana, not based on cushions, not based on "throughout the day", but during a practice:

"When he said this, the householder Dasama said to Venerable Ānanda: “Sir, suppose a person was looking for an entrance to a hidden treasure. And all at once they’d come across eleven entrances! In the same way, I was searching for the door to the deathless. And all at once I got to hear of eleven doors to the deathless. Suppose a person had a house with eleven doors. If the house caught fire they’d be able to flee to safety through any one of those doors. In the same way, I’m able to flee to safety through any one of these eleven doors to the deathless."

https://suttacentral.net/an11.16/en/sujato

Notice there is no access concentration, just Brahma viharas and jhanas.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:35 am

budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:56 am
Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:02 am
budo wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:40 am

insight contemplation can also be done in jhana.
Vipassana should begin upon waking and end at sleep at night, all the while during samadhi bhavana, before leading up to it, and afterwards.
I don't know what "vipassana" means when you dilute the term like that. I think it's important to clarify terms, because mental noting could be done during all times of the day
Far enough, I think its out of the scope here for me to argue over vipassana and its meaning, but I get your point.

I will clarify, noting-mindfulness can and should be done at all waking hours to not allow defilements to take hold.

Jhana, contrary to what some recent people claim, cannot be done while sipping a pepsi, jogging, or taking out the trash.

Keep in mind, however, that in the above quoted sutta itself, Ananda is teaching noting and the noting method to the householder, Dasana.

Also there is no mention that there are ONLY 11 doors to amata, and Ananda was only a stream-enterer at the time this sutta was taught.


Benjamin wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:10 am
I've noticed that since beginning Thanissaro's style of meditation - the sort where full body awareness is focused on along with the breath - I've had significant improvements in concentration.


Benjamin, pardon my ignorance of the exact method but is this basically like kayagatasati?

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by budo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:08 am

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:35 am


Keep in mind, however, that in the above quoted sutta itself, Ananda is teaching noting and the noting method to the householder, Dasana.
Can you show me where?
Also there is no mention that there are ONLY 11 doors to amata, and Ananda was only a stream-enterer at the time this sutta was taught.
Let's look at this with context here, are you implying that the Buddha's right hand man, Ananda, who washed his feet, basically lived with him and did everything for him, and probably has the most one-on-one hours with the Buddha than any other person, knows less than someone like Mahasi Sayadaw who was born a few thousand years later? Think about that.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:39 am

budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:08 am
Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:35 am


Can you show me where?
Live moment-by-moment discernment is noting, such as ‘This awareness-release through good will is fabricated & intended. Now whatever is fabricated & intended is inconstant & subject to cessation.’ .

Some other examples would be from MN10 and MN118.

In MN10 the Buddha told us to be mindful/note when we walking and even talking a poo.

Should we only take a poo after emerging from jhana?

budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:08 am

Let's look at this with context here, are you implying that the Buddha's right hand man, Ananda, who washed his feet, basically lived with him and did everything for him, and probably has the most one-on-one hours with the Buddha than any other person, knows less than someone like Mahasi Sayadaw who was born a few thousand years later? Think about that.
I wouldn't claim to have the knowledge of who is more enlightened between two bikkhus unless one did a decapitational-offense, however, my assumption would be Ananda knew the teachings of the Buddha much better than Mahasi Sayadaw, no contest.

Mahasi Sayadaw how popularized a method of meditation that existed in Burma (for how long, this is debatable, I have no dog in the fight). He is not really comparable to one of the Buddha's disciples in terms of authority, at least not in my opinion.

Ananda was a stream-enterer at the time of this sutta so he had had a glimpse of Nibanna. So his actually understanding of what he had memorized had been relatively well absorbed.

Still the logic of man-hours spent with the Buddha would make Devadatta more enlightened (by far) than anyone today.

Wasn't really my point.

Not trying to argue here.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:41 am

budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:08 am



Can you show me where?
Live moment-by-moment discernment is noting, such as ‘This awareness-release through good will is fabricated & intended. Now whatever is fabricated & intended is inconstant & subject to cessation.’ .

Some other examples would be from MN10 and MN118.

In MN10 the Buddha told us to be mindful/note when we walking and even talking a poo.

Should we only take a poo after emerging from jhana?




budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:08 am

Let's look at this with context here, are you implying that the Buddha's right hand man, Ananda, who washed his feet, basically lived with him and did everything for him, and probably has the most one-on-one hours with the Buddha than any other person, knows less than someone like Mahasi Sayadaw who was born a few thousand years later? Think about that.


I wouldn't claim to have the knowledge of who is more enlightened between two bikkhus unless one did a decapitational-offense, however, my assumption would be Ananda knew the teachings of the Buddha much better than Mahasi Sayadaw, no contest. As these two life-streams had different moments of attainment at different moments in their life, however, perhaps one had more attainment at the end of their life than the other at the beginning? Not the type of metaphysical conjecture I try to get into but I'm trying to answer your question.

Mahasi Sayadaw popularized a method of meditation that existed in Burma (for how long, this is debatable, I have no dog in the fight). He is not really comparable to one of the Buddha's disciples in terms of authority, at least not in my opinion. His literature is like a sports-illustrated article on how to work your abs, only for the mind.

Ananda was a stream-enterer at the time of this sutta so he had had a glimpse of Nibanna. So his actually understanding of what he had memorized had been relatively well absorbed.

Still the logic of man-hours spent with the Buddha would make Devadatta more enlightened (by far) than anyone today.

Wasn't really my point.

Not trying to argue here.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by budo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:49 am

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:41 am
budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:08 am



Can you show me where?
Live moment-by-moment discernment is noting, such as ‘This awareness-release through good will is fabricated & intended. Now whatever is fabricated & intended is inconstant & subject to cessation.’ .

Some other examples would be from MN10 and MN118.

In MN10 the Buddha told us to be mindful/note when we walking and even talking a poo.

Should we only take a poo after emerging from jhana?
I don't see that in the sutta AN 11.16 which you said: "Keep in mind, however, that in the above quoted sutta itself, Ananda is teaching noting and the noting method to the householder, Dasana."

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:41 am
budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:08 am

Let's look at this with context here, are you implying that the Buddha's right hand man, Ananda, who washed his feet, basically lived with him and did everything for him, and probably has the most one-on-one hours with the Buddha than any other person, knows less than someone like Mahasi Sayadaw who was born a few thousand years later? Think about that.


I wouldn't claim to have the knowledge of who is more enlightened between two bikkhus unless one did a decapitational-offense, however, my assumption would be Ananda knew the teachings of the Buddha much better than Mahasi Sayadaw, no contest.


Mahasi Sayadaw how popularized a method of meditation that existed in Burma (for how long, this is debatable, I have no dog in the fight). He is not really comparable to one of the Buddha's disciples in terms of authority, at least not in my opinion.

Ananda was a stream-enterer at the time of this sutta so he had had a glimpse of Nibanna. So his actually understanding of what he had memorized had been relatively well absorbed.


Wasn't really my point.

Not trying to argue here.
Well I didn't say who is more enlightened or has more wisdom, but it's categorically false to disqualify Ananda in your response as Ananda was after all designated as the "Treasurer of the Dhamma", and spent the most time with the Buddha, so odds are those are the only 11 doors to nibbana.

Still the logic of man-hours spent with the Buddha would make Devadatta more enlightened (by far) than anyone today.
Can you please provide a reasoning or reference for this statement.

Thank you.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:57 am

budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:49 am


I don't see that in the sutta AN 11.16 which you said: "Keep in mind, however, that in the above quoted sutta itself, Ananda is teaching noting and the noting method to the householder, Dasana."
Its there, search: https://suttacentral.net/an11.16/en/thanissaro

I tend to use the non-sujato translations as I don't really like male-feminists or any self-described feminist for that matter.

Just my personal distaste.
Well I didn't say who is more enlightened or has more wisdom, but it's categorically false to disqualify Ananda in your response as Ananda was after all designated as the "Treasurer of the Dhamma", and spent the most time with the Buddha, so odds are those are the only 11 doors to nibbana.
I think I did quite the opposite than 'disqualify' Ananda.
Can you please provide a reasoning or reference for this statement.

Thank you.
Can you rephrase the question then, please? I don't know what exactly you are asking.
Last edited by Manopubbangama on Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by budo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:04 pm

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:57 am
budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:49 am


I don't see that in the sutta AN 11.16 which you said: "Keep in mind, however, that in the above quoted sutta itself, Ananda is teaching noting and the noting method to the householder, Dasana."
Its there, search: https://suttacentral.net/an11.16/en/thanissaro
Thank you, can you demonstrate how

"This awareness-release through good will"

means either verbalized or non-verbalized mental noting, or choice-less awareness, or noting whatever arises and passes rather than one object.



Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:57 am


Can you rephrase the question then, please? I don't know what exactly you are asking.
Can you please provide a source to the claim that Devadatta spent more time with the Buddha than Ananda.

Thanks

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:14 pm

budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:04 pm


Can you please provide a source to the claim that Devadatta spent more time with the Buddha than Ananda.

Thanks

I think we are misunderstanding each other and if the fault is mine, I apologize.

I mean to say that the criteria of spending time close to the Buddha is not a suttanta-based criteria for a man's wisdom or attainment.

Some people listened to a single sermon and become arahants, some were around him since was a child (Devadatta) and become hell-bound.

Its like the dhammapada soup-ladle analogy.

And please kindly, answer my questions as well, as it will feel more like a friendly conversation between two Buddhists trying to decipher ways to Nibbanna and not like an interrogation.

I don't want to hijack this thread to become a court on whether or not the Mahasi method is good or garbage, I'd like to understand Benjamin's ideas most of all.


Thanks! :anjali:

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Benjamin » Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:15 pm

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:35 am
Benjamin wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:10 am
I've noticed that since beginning Thanissaro's style of meditation - the sort where full body awareness is focused on along with the breath - I've had significant improvements in concentration.
Benjamin, pardon my ignorance of the exact method but is this basically like kayagatasati?

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Well, I'd consider that more of a contemplation on the body itself, rather than a breath meditation which is grounded in the body, which is more what Thanissaro is getting at. My original "eureka" moment with the technique is that I never had great success with focusing on the breath sensations exclusively, and what Thanissaro Bhikku teaches is essentially a whole body awareness via the breath.

Basically, use the internal sensation of breathing to fill the body, but maintain an awareness of the body throughout the meditation. This way, when the breath becomes subtle or simply between individual breaths, there is still this strong sense of "breath energy" in the body, which IMO is really just his way of referring to the internal energetic experience of the body. So, a little bit different than that sutta which seems to focus more on developing disenchantment with regards to the body via analysis of constituent parts.

I'd like you and Budo to weigh in on if you think these two practices can be combined or harmonized in any way. I've had some success with noting but I find it to be superficial in a way.

Basically, I spend so much time engaging with reality conceptually in daily life as it is that I don't really want to take that into my meditation. However, I understand the purpose of creating a "clear thought" in Mahasi's technique, and that this way of labelling reality can reduce attachment by shining the light of clarity on experiences that usually go by unnoticed - and thus have unfortunate consequences, namely dukkha.

Let's compare that with a more traditional vipassana experience in Jhana. One is focused on the breath, and the concentration is strong enough that when thoughts arise the thought is very clearly seen, like dropping a rock in a still pond (the stilled mind) compared to rough waters (the untrained mind).

Thus, the necessity of labelling the thought is diminished greatly, because the concentration and clarity has already been cultivated in the practice to a significant enough degree that the thought cannot sway the mind as it normally would. Insight into the thought, namely it's impermanent nature and the suffering inherent there, is still present despite not engaging in the more modern "Vipassana techniques".

I would argue that both of these can be done throughout the day with no problem. Thanissaro speaks often about staying with the breath energy throughout the day, and I have had good results with this. I also don't see why Mahasi's technique can't be beneficial as well.

I'd love to hear both of your opinions on this. Very much enjoying this discussion with you! :anjali:
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