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

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
Cormac Brown
Posts: 355
Joined: Sun Dec 22, 2013 10:10 am

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

Post by Cormac Brown » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:16 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
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?
Do you not think it's possible to believe that Australia is the greatest land on earth without having been there?
“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

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

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

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:55 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
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?
Do you not think it's possible to believe that Australia is the greatest land on earth without having been there?
You are not addressing the question.
>> 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

Cormac Brown
Posts: 355
Joined: Sun Dec 22, 2013 10:10 am

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

Post by Cormac Brown » Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:30 pm

tiltbillings wrote:And why would they, if they had not actually attainted such levels of meditation, think that jhana is nibbana?
Cormac Brown wrote:Do you not think it's possible to believe that Australia is the greatest land on earth without having been there?
tiltbillings wrote:You are not addressing the question.
Yes I am, by way of a counter-question. The point is that they could have heard about a state in which the mind is secluded from sensuality and the body is filled with rapture and pleasure. They could jump to the conclusion that there would be nothing better than such a state, and conceive of it as a yet-to-be-reached "Nibbana."

Nevertheless, returning to topic, I still find it unlikely that they could reach what the Buddha called jhana by pondering the notion of the jealous, genocidal, highly confusing character that the Abrahamic religions call "God." What do you think, mr billings?
“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

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

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

Post by daverupa » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:09 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:I still find it unlikely that they could reach what the Buddha called jhana by pondering the notion of the jealous, genocidal, highly confusing character that the Abrahamic religions call "God." What do you think, mr billings?
What's odd is that you are forcing this hypothetical divinity-contemplative to see their divinity in a particular way; this is not how divinity is perceived by the devout.

Your question is disingenuous, a vehicle for this denigration of deity you seem to enjoy, it seems to me.

For example, a given god could embody the characteristic of a universal love, and this could be a model for a given radiation of same. It is not liberative, but it can definitely lead to ecstatic states. Or another example is contemplating the lack of there being any possible representation of the divine, and this might be akin to an immaterial sort of perception.

Even if we take Xianity in particular, there is a vast swath of contemplative effort on record.
  • "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
Posts: 355
Joined: Sun Dec 22, 2013 10:10 am

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

Post by Cormac Brown » Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:05 pm

daverupa wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:I still find it unlikely that they could reach what the Buddha called jhana by pondering the notion of the jealous, genocidal, highly confusing character that the Abrahamic religions call "God." What do you think, mr billings?
What's odd is that you are forcing this hypothetical divinity-contemplative to see their divinity in a particular way; this is not how divinity is perceived by the devout.
What seems to me odder is that a Christian contemplative would have to blind themselves to a lot of inconvenient contradictions in order to enter into a blissful contemplation of "God." The notion of a creator deity, as I've pointed out, is fraught with such. That they don't perceive him as such is precisely my point!
Your question is disingenuous, a vehicle for this denigration of deity you seem to enjoy, it seems to me.
It's hardly denigration... He describes himself as "a jealous God.." Plus, simply by the act of creating millennia's worth of mortal beings, if we are to believe that he did, he's most certainly genocidal - easily the biggest perpetrator of the act the world has ever seen. What's more, the Bible contains plenty of accounts of him hastening his creations' deaths by plagues, floods etc.

Jump to whatever conclusions you wish, but my question is with the direct purpose of arguing that contemplation of an Abrahamic God could not lead to what the Buddha defined as jhana.
For example, a given god could embody the characteristic of a universal love, and this could be a model for a given radiation of same. It is not liberative, but it can definitely lead to ecstatic states.
The point, again, would be that the "universal love" of the God depicted by the Abrahamic religions, is a very problematic one. He is the origin and creator of all things, therefore he is also the origin and creator of suffering and evil, either through deliberate effort or via a critical flaw in his supposed "intelligent" design, which he has either since been powerless and incapable of reversing, or cruelly unwilling to reverse. Understand?

Furthermore, "ecstatic states" do not necessarily equal jhana, as per the Buddha's description. Add to the mix that most Christians believe the soul to be one thing and the body another, and we find a general meditative effort to divorce the soul from the body, and to focus on the divine at the expense of the corporeal. Jhana is clearly defined as a body-oriented concentration. And the Buddha has said that with the view, "The soul is one thing and the body another, there is no leading of the holy life" (SN 12.35)
Or another example is contemplating the lack of there being any possible representation of the divine, and this might be akin to an immaterial sort of perception.
I'm quite sure the Buddha would have detailed this if he thought it a useful subject for jhana.
Even if we take Xianity in particular, there is a vast swath of contemplative effort on record.
Vast swathes of contemplative effort do not for jhana make.
“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

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

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

Post by daverupa » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:46 pm

:toilet:
  • "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]

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 5799
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

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

Post by Aloka » Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:30 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:Vast swathes of contemplative effort do not for jhana make.
and more to the point, neither does arguing on a computer screen.


'

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

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

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:26 am

Cormac Brown wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And why would they, if they had not actually attainted such levels of meditation, think that jhana is nibbana?
Cormac Brown wrote:Do you not think it's possible to believe that Australia is the greatest land on earth without having been there?
tiltbillings wrote:You are not addressing the question.
Yes I am, by way of a counter-question. The point is that they could have heard about a state in which the mind is secluded from sensuality and the body is filled with rapture and pleasure. They could jump to the conclusion that there would be nothing better than such a state, and conceive of it as a yet-to-be-reached "Nibbana."

Nevertheless, returning to topic, I still find it unlikely that they could reach what the Buddha called jhana by pondering the notion of the jealous, genocidal, highly confusing character that the Abrahamic religions call "God." What do you think, mr billings?
You are, it seems, unreasonably supposing that these theist contemplatives need to view things the way you do. Obviously, they do not, as has been pointed out to you. Also, the only thing Buddhist about the jhanas is the Buddhist context. Outside of the Buddhist context these levels of meditative attainment are hardly unique.

Also, if you have had actual jhana experiences you could see how easily it would be to mistake the experience and results of jhana as being nibbana.
>> 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

User avatar
The Thinker
Posts: 805
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2015 6:12 pm
Location: UK

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

Post by The Thinker » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:40 am

I would not want to meditate or even think too much about the Abrahamic religion because it is not a reality and stirs unwholesome thoughts, which I have already given attention in the past. It's down to the individual!
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

User avatar
The Thinker
Posts: 805
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2015 6:12 pm
Location: UK

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

Post by The Thinker » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:19 am

Genesis 6:7 - "The LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them."

Psalm 103:4 - "Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; ?
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

User avatar
badscooter
Posts: 404
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:07 am
Location: New Jersey

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

Post by badscooter » Sun May 01, 2016 9:08 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:
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.
Actually the Buddha talked about how the brahmaviharas can also take one through the jhanas.

kind regards
"whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon will be the inclination of one's mind"

User avatar
manas
Posts: 2464
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

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

Post by manas » Fri May 06, 2016 11:15 pm

SarathW wrote:I am thinking more in line with Samath (absorption) practice not Vipassana (contemplate on arising and falling).
It is 'forbidden' to cast any image of the Abrahamic God, so I'm not sure what kind of image or perception one could actually use as a point of mental focus, but sure you *could* use ANYTHING as a meditation object, the question is, will the chosen object lead to calm and most importantly, is it skillful? Furthermore, If you were to focus on the Abrahamic God, would that include contemplation of all his actions as recorded in the Old Testament? Have you read some of the things he does or commands others to do, according to the Bible itself? I think a thorough read of the Bible might make you reconsider whether you would even want to ponder this question. :anjali:
Drinking the nourishment,
the flavor,
of seclusion & calm,
one is freed from evil, devoid
of distress,
refreshed with the nourishment
of rapture in the Dhamma.

- Dhp 205

SarathW
Posts: 10373
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

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

Post by SarathW » Mon May 09, 2016 1:57 am

It is interesting to note that recollection of Deva lead to concentration.
===============

Furthermore, you should recollect the devas:...........................


His mind heads straight, based on the [qualities of the] devas. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.


https://suttacentral.net/en/an11.12" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Lucas Oliveira
Posts: 787
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:07 pm

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

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:57 am

I would try to make a topic about Teresa of Avila on the states of concentration and contemplation that it describes very well. but it seems that the staff here already know this history.

then, just wanted to go on record here, which is really cool so that St. Teresa of Avila describes and I hope this helps me in my meditations.


:namaste:
I participate in this forum using Google Translator. http://translate.google.com.br

http://www.acessoaoinsight.net/

User avatar
Chula
Posts: 172
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:58 am
Location: Sri Lanka

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

Post by Chula » Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:35 pm

I don't think God as a meditation subject can be used for jhana, but I do think those who had a belief in God could reach jhanas.

Alara Kalama and Uddakaramaputta might not be great examples since it is not clear whether they had a "Brahma as creator" belief, but even if they did, they were successful in attaining the arupa jhanas.

What Buddha brought to the table was right view - the four noble truths and the eightfold path. The problem with his former teachers was that even though they were followed admirable practices (achieving jhana means they at least avoided the hindrances), they didn't understand the underlying dukkha behind craving, so still clung to becoming.

They still were at a high enough level that the Buddha wanted to teach them first after Enlightenment, but unfortunately they had both passed away by then (I'm not sure if the source for this is a sutta or the commentaries though).

Also, just the fact that the realm that those who attain first jhana goes to is ruled by the Mahabrahma (as is detailed in the suttas) where the purohitas (followers) followed him shows that those who have reached the jhanas can possibly have a God-belief.

It's quite amusing/amazing how monotheism is explained as a deluded Brahma in the Dhamma. Imagine a person with a God-belief has an encounter with the Brahma who tells him that he is the creator (since he thinks that to be true). That person would come back convinced of the existence of God.. and in a way he's not wrong, just that the God-dude is also deluded.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests