Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
pulga
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by pulga » Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:47 pm

Pinetree wrote:
I don't see at that link that God is being objectified ... Quite the contrary.
I agree, apophatic meditation is related to negative theology. If we take God to be the all-encompassing background of experience and consciousness to be the presence of that background, then we're dealing with the presence of a being that is infinite and eternal. However, as I understand the Dhamma, the manifestation of such a background in our immediate lived experience -- i.e. prior to positing it as an object which is inherently impossible given that it is background -- is contingent upon contact. The infinite and the eternal are abstractions founded upon concrete experience.
Yāyaṃ, bhikkhu, ākāsānañ­cāyata­na­dhātu—ayaṃ dhātu rūpaṃ paṭicca paññāyati. Yāyaṃ, bhikkhu, viñ­ñā­ṇañ­cāyata­na­dhātu—ayaṃ dhātu ākāsānañ­cāyata­naṃ paṭicca paññāyati. Yāyaṃ, bhikkhu, ākiñ­cañ­ñā­yatana­dhātu—ayaṃ dhātu viñ­ñā­ṇañ­cāyata­naṃ paṭicca paññāyati. Yāyaṃ, bhikkhu, neva­saññā­nā­sañ­ñāyata­na­dhātu—ayaṃ dhātu ākiñ­cañ­ñā­yatanaṃ paṭicca paññāyati. Yāyaṃ, bhikkhu, saññā­ve­dayi­ta­nirodha­dhātu—ayaṃ dhātu nirodhaṃ paṭicca paññāyatī.

The element of the base of infinite space is discerned in dependence on form . The element of the base of infinite consciousness is discerned in dependence on the base of the infinity of space . The element of the base of nothingness is discerned in dependence on the basis of the infinitude of consciousness. The element of the base of neither - perception - nor-non - perception is discerned in dependence on the base of nothingness . The element of the cessation of perception and feeling is discerned in dependence cessation. SN 14.11

SarathW
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by SarathW » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:25 pm

This is how I see it now.

The concentration can be directed towards six direction.

- Towards attachment or increase attachment
- Towards Aversion or increase aversion
- Towards ignorance or increase ignorance

- Towards Non attachment or generosity
- Towards non aversion or loving kindness
- Towards wisdom or wholesome equanimity

The above results are depend on the initial meditation object and the view associate with it.

The punishing God can lead towards warfare, Jihad etc.
Loving kindness God can lead to loving kindness.
In Hindu religion there are gods with many attributes. eg. Kali is a warfare god.

Considering above, taking God as a meditation object can lead to many type of concentration except Buddhist wisdom.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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m0rl0ck
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:36 pm

God is ego deified. The very king of illusion, the truth otoh is something else.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

Cormac Brown
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by Cormac Brown » Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:50 am

MN 44 trans. Ven. Thanissaro

"Now what is concentration, lady, what qualities are its themes, what qualities are its requisites, and what is its development?"

"Singleness of mind is concentration, friend Visakha; the four frames of reference are its themes; the four right exertions are its requisites; and any cultivation, development, & pursuit of these qualities is its development."
It's interesting how often people state that the jhanas are common to other spiritual traditions. The suttas don't at all support such a view. Only with mindfulness established on the four satipatthanas will one reach jhana. Not with mindfulness established on Brahma/Allah/Jehovah. Even focussing on the qualities of the Triple Gem isn't said to lead to jhana, so how much less so on the qualities of a deluded deity.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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mikenz66
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:25 am

Hi Cormac,

How would you interpret DN1 if other wanderers did not attain jhana? It uses exactly the same jhana formula for the attainments of other wanderers as the suttas describing followers of the Buddha attaining jhana. It points out that the attainment of jhana can lead to a number of wrong views in the absence of proper instruction.

See: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 40#p376088 for the passage, and a link to talks by Ven Analayo.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by Cormac Brown » Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:09 am

Hi Mike,

Do you mean this passage:
“To him another says: ‘There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? Because, good sir, sense pleasures are impermanent, suffering, subject to change, and through their change and transformation there arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. But when the self, quite secluded from sense pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, enters and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by initial and sustained thought and contains the rapture and happiness born of seclusion—at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.’ In this way others proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.
These are the hypothetical words of a non-Buddhist recluse or brahmin. They may be talking about jhana, but it doesn't say they've actually attained it - they're simply expressing a view. Even if they have attained it, it doesn't say by what means. It would seem to me that if they have, by Sister Dhammadina's definition, it would have to be via the four satipatthanas. However, in order to arrive at their wrong view, they must have left their satipatthana and latched onto an erroneous view drifting through the mind. Accordingly it seems unlikely that at this point they would still be in jhana, and will have a hard time finding their way back.

It doesn't actually point out that the attainment of jhana can lead to wrong view in the absence of proper instruction - all it points out is that people can have wrong views about jhana, regardless of whether or not they've attained it. Similarly, in the preceding paragraph in the same sutta:
“Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin asserts the following doctrine or view: ‘When this self, good sir, furnished and supplied with the five strands of sense pleasures, revels in them—at this point the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.’ In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.
This view could well be held by someone who isn't furnished and supplied with the five strands of sense pleasures - all the Buddha is saying is that some people believe sensual wealth and indulgence to be the highest bliss. Plenty of poor people lacking this wealth hold such a view, and accordingly aspire to this state.

Anyway, the point remains that focussing on a deluded deity such as those of the monotheistic religions won't lead to jhana. Focussing on the satipatthanas will.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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Katarzyna
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by Katarzyna » Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:39 am

Cormac Brown wrote:Hi Mike,

Do you mean this passage:
I think you need to read the whole Sutta for you are looking in the wrong place. It is the sections on eternalism, partial eternalism, finitude/infinitude of the world, and the fortuitous origination views that mention ascetics who develop an advanced level of concentration —advanced enough to recall their former lives— and then fall into wrong view.

https://suttacentral.net/en/dn1

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Katarzyna
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by Katarzyna » Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:36 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:Even focussing on the qualities of the Triple Gem isn't said to lead to jhana,
It's true that the commentaries state that these recollections lead only to neighbourhood concentration. But the Suttas on the other hand say that one who develops and makes much of them "is not devoid of jhana". This seems also to be indicated in the Mahānāmasutta:
“Here, Mahānāma, you should recollect the Tathāgata thus: ‘The Blessed One is … the Enlightened One, the Blessed One.’ When a noble disciple recollects the Tathāgata, on that occasion his mind is not obsessed by lust, hatred, or delusion; on that occasion his mind is simply straight, based on the Tathāgata. A noble disciple whose mind is straight gains inspiration in the meaning, gains inspiration in the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. When he is joyful, rapture arises. For one with a rapturous mind, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body feels pleasure. For one feeling pleasure, the mind becomes concentrated. Mahānāma, you should develop this recollection of the Buddha while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. You should develop it while engaged in work and while living at home in a house full of children.
Cormac Brown wrote:so how much less so on the qualities of a deluded deity.
I don't find this at all a persuasive objection to the claim that some theistic contemplatives may be attainers of jhana.

Though the deity whose attributes a theist brings to mind may from a Buddhist point of view be regarded as a deluded being or even a purely fictional entity, it goes without saying that the theistic contemplative herself will not be including "being delusional" or "not really existing" among the deity's attributes that she recollects. Like the Buddhist practising buddhanussati she will be bringing to mind the inspiring qualities of an ideal and perfect being that she happens to believe in. That a deity possessing such attributes actually exists will of course be for her a matter of faith rather than knowledge. But are matters any different in the case of Buddhists practising buddhanussati? How many of them really *know* that the Tathāgata is "possessed of gnosis and good conduct" or that he is a "knower of worlds" and a "teacher of devas and humans"? I suspect the number is few and that for the average puthujjana Buddhist the recollections of the Three Jewels will be just as much faith-based practices as those of theists. In both cases the object of their contemplation is an ideal concept in which they have faith. Is it your opinion that success in jhana is dependent upon this concept representing something factual? If so, why?

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mikenz66
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:38 pm

Cormac Brown wrote: These are the hypothetical words of a non-Buddhist recluse or brahmin..
I'm afraid, I'll simply have to differ. They appear to me to be the Buddha describing other asectics with high levels of absorption. Listen to Ven Analyayo's talk if you are interested. He gives several other examples and analysis.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by Cormac Brown » Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:39 pm

Katarzyna wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:Hi Mike,

Do you mean this passage:
I think you need to read the whole Sutta for you are looking in the wrong place. It is the sections on eternalism, partial eternalism, finitude/infinitude of the world, and the fortuitous origination views that mention ascetics who develop an advanced level of concentration —advanced enough to recall their former lives— and then fall into wrong view.

https://suttacentral.net/en/dn1
Yes, thanks, just seen that. Maybe they're practising breath meditation or are focussed on one of the other satipatthanas. Or maybe it's possible to attain deep states of concentration, leading to these insights, that aren't the jhanas as recommended by the Buddha.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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daverupa
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by daverupa » Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:42 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:Or maybe it's possible to attain deep states of concentration, leading to these insights, that aren't the jhanas as recommended by the Buddha.
This was discussed over here, with the conclusion that jhanas are a basic human ability, but that samma-samadhi means bringing it into alignment with the Dhamma by adding the proper perspective to the general practice.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

Cormac Brown
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by Cormac Brown » Thu Apr 21, 2016 2:16 pm

Katarzyna wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:Even focussing on the qualities of the Triple Gem isn't said to lead to jhana,
It's true that the commentaries state that these recollections lead only to neighbourhood concentration. But the Suttas on the other hand say that one who develops and makes much of them "is not devoid of jhana". This seems also to be indicated in the Mahānāmasutta:
“Here, Mahānāma, you should recollect the Tathāgata thus: ‘The Blessed One is … the Enlightened One, the Blessed One.’ When a noble disciple recollects the Tathāgata, on that occasion his mind is not obsessed by lust, hatred, or delusion; on that occasion his mind is simply straight, based on the Tathāgata. A noble disciple whose mind is straight gains inspiration in the meaning, gains inspiration in the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. When he is joyful, rapture arises. For one with a rapturous mind, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body feels pleasure. For one feeling pleasure, the mind becomes concentrated. Mahānāma, you should develop this recollection of the Buddha while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. You should develop it while engaged in work and while living at home in a house full of children.
Cormac Brown wrote:so how much less so on the qualities of a deluded deity.
I don't find this at all a persuasive objection to the claim that some theistic contemplatives may be attainers of jhana.

Though the deity whose attributes a theist brings to mind may from a Buddhist point of view be regarded as a deluded being or even a purely fictional entity, it goes without saying that the theistic contemplative herself will not be including "being delusional" or "not really existing" among the deity's attributes that she recollects. Like the Buddhist practising buddhanussati she will be bringing to mind the inspiring qualities of an ideal and perfect being that she happens to believe in. That a deity possessing such attributes actually exists will of course be for her a matter of faith rather than knowledge. But are matters any different in the case of Buddhists practising buddhanussati? How many of them really *know* that the Tathāgata is "possessed of gnosis and good conduct" or that he is a "knower of worlds" and a "teacher of devas and humans"? I suspect the number is few and that for the average puthujjana Buddhist the recollections of the Three Jewels will be just as much faith-based practices as those of theists. In both cases the object of their contemplation is an ideal concept in which they have faith. Is it your opinion that success in jhana is dependent upon this concept representing something factual? If so, why?
Some interesting points. In the case of an Abrahamic creator God, the meditator would surely have to be exercising some strong ignorance towards the fact that they're meditating on an impossibility - i.e. a compassionate, all-powerful, and intelligent creator. Either God is a well-meaning, powerless imbecile or he is an intelligent, omnipotent psychopath. I'd grant other variations, but none of them seem at all genuinely inspiring. They'd also be trying to gain joy from what would be, if he were what they believe, the cause of all suffering and pain. I honestly don't see very positive results emerging from this practice. Perhaps some strong states of concentration divorced, by necessity, from reality. Granted, some Buddhist teachers seem to teach jhanas like this - absorbed in "nimittas", the senses disappearing and what have you - but it seems a far cry from what's described in the suttas, which is simply cool, pleasant states of full-body awareness, freed from afflictive thoughts/states of mind.

The Buddha is different in that he actually offered a path of practice out of suffering that one can verify and test for oneself. Mahanama was, it's fair to say, a stream-enterer, which meant he had "verified confidence" in the Buddha. This means that he'd put the Buddha's teachings to the test and found that they produce the promised results - the third noble truth, the end of suffering. So in taking the Buddha as a meditation theme, he's not simply focusing on a nebulous concept but on a teacher in whom he has confirmed, evidential confidence. As regards gaining rapture and pleasure from thinking about the Buddha, this is one of the hallmarks of a sotapanna:
AN 5.179 trans. Ven. Thanissaro

"Sariputta, when you know of a householder clothed in white, that he is restrained in terms of the five training rules and that he obtains at will, without difficulty, without hardship, four pleasant mental abidings in the here & now, then if he wants he may state about himself: 'Hell is ended; animal wombs are ended; the state of the hungry shades is ended; states of deprivation, destitution, the bad bourns are ended! I am a stream-winner, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening!'

"Now, in terms of which five training rules is he restrained?

"There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones abstains from taking life, abstains from taking what is not given, abstains from illicit sex, abstains from lying, abstains from distilled & fermented drinks that cause heedlessness.

"These are the five training rules in terms of which he is restrained.

"And which four pleasant mental abidings in the here & now does he obtain at will, without difficulty, without hardship?

"There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with verified confidence in the Awakened One: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy & rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.' This is the first pleasant mental abiding in the here & now that he has attained, for the purification of the mind that is impure, for the cleansing of the mind that is unclean.

(Similarly with the Dhamma, Sangha, and virtues.)
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

Cormac Brown
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by Cormac Brown » Thu Apr 21, 2016 2:50 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote: These are the hypothetical words of a non-Buddhist recluse or brahmin..
I'm afraid, I'll simply have to differ. They appear to me to be the Buddha describing other asectics with high levels of absorption. Listen to Ven Analyayo's talk if you are interested. He gives several other examples and analysis.

:anjali:
Mike
As regards the passage I quoted, nowhere does the Buddha say that the person stating that view has attained jhana, only that they hold the view that jhana is Nibbana.

Similarly, the person who holds sensual indulgence to be Nibbana is not stated to have attained to an abundance of sensual pleasures.

Nevertheless, if your personal interpretation of the sutta is correct, do you agree that their theme for attaining jhana would nevertheless be from the satipatthanas? Or do you think it could come from focusing on the idea of a being responsible for all the pain and suffering in the world?
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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tiltbillings
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:20 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:
As regards the passage I quoted, nowhere does the Buddha say that the person stating that view has attained jhana, only that they hold the view that jhana is Nibbana.
And why would they, if they had not actually attainted such levels of meditation, think that jhana is nibbana? In working with jhana, it can be quite easy to get led astray by the experience. The passages you quoted do not negate what Mike has said, and you might want to revist this msg:
daverupa wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:Or maybe it's possible to attain deep states of concentration, leading to these insights, that aren't the jhanas as recommended by the Buddha.
This was discussed over here, with the conclusion that jhanas are a basic human ability, but that samma-samadhi means bringing it into alignment with the Dhamma by adding the proper perspective to the general practice.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Kamran
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Re: Can we keep "God" (Abrahamic religion) as the meditation object?

Post by Kamran » Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:23 am

Some snippets from Islamic poet Rumi on meditation:

At times my state resembles sleep: a misguided person may think it is sleep.
Know that my eyes are asleep, (but) my heart is awake: know that my (seemingly) inactive form is (really) in action.

The Prophet said, “My eyes sleep, (but) my heart is not asleep to the Lord of created beings.”
Your eyes are awake, and your heart is sunk in slumber; my eyes are asleep, (but) my heart is in (contemplation of) the opening of the door (of Divine grace).

Because I have passed beyond (all) thoughts, and have become a swift traveler outside (the region of) thought.

I am the ruler of thought, not ruled (by it), because the builder is ruler over the building. . . .
In the view of him that has not experienced (it) this is (mere) pretension; in the view of the inhabitants of the (spiritual) horizon, this is the reality.
- The Mathnawí
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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