Samatha and Anatta

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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srivijaya
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by srivijaya » Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:16 am

Twilight wrote:
Please feel free to correct it.
Realization about non existence of a self is done through contemplating suttas dealing with dependent origination, such as most suttas from SN. It is important to pay special attention to those suttas that end up with "after hearing this discourses, 20 bhikkhus attained stream entry". A lot of reading and contemplation is required to understand it. And this is how insight arises.
I agree that reading suttas is important and I have read my fair share over the years. One can gain a good intellectual understanding of the dhamma by doing so, which is valuable. Sooner or later though one has to apply "right concentration". This is the development of Jhana, without which the actual insight will not arise.
"And what has the Blessed One expounded?"

"I have expounded that, 'This is stress'... 'This is the origination of stress'... 'This is the cessation of stress'... 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'
But what is this "stress"? A worldly person understands stress, as they are frequently stressed. Then they engage in a stress-busting pastime and feel chilled out, so they conclude, sometimes I'm subject to stress - but sometimes I'm chilled and life's good.

This is the grossest manifestation of stress and when tranquility is achieved (in some measure) a different, deeper kind of stress is revealed (which we didn't even know about). There is some disagreement about whether thought is abandoned in 1st Jhana - so I don't wish to open that can of worms - but at some point awareness detaches from the stream of thought and we see it as no longer belonging to us (anatta) in a limited way.

Once thought is stilled, awareness goes to work to discover deeper stress, which is subsequently relinquished etc.

The problem with your assertion about thinking about the suttas is that this kind of thought and understanding is very superficial and is abandoned early on. It reminds me of some Mahayana schools who assert that a solid intellectual grasp of the Two Truths doctrine is essential for enlightenment. It's just more 'head stuff'. Same thing, the belief that intellectually acquired material will be our salvation.

Why do folks think this? Easy - all our life has been a process of acquisition, without which we would be nowhere. We rely on it and depend on it - hopefully acquiring the 'right' stuff as opposed to the wrong stuff. But these instructions are to be applied.

Right concentration is a challenge because for the first time on our journey, it's about 'relinquishment', abandoning stuff and going deeper. There is no acquisition here - there is only release. Release of what? Stress.
But those who discern stress, what brings stress into play, & where it totally stops, without trace; who discern the path, the way to the stilling of stress: consummate in their awareness-release & discernment-release, capable of making an end, they aren't headed to birth & aging.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:anjali:

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mikenz66
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:39 am

Twilight wrote: If such ideas sound strange, then you should know that Bhikkhu Bhodi who translated the canon "does not meditate". He has not arrived at that step yet. He is taking things in order. I suggest starting with step nr 1: right view (stream entry)
I'm not sure where you get the idea that BB does not meditate from:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=8232
He is overly modest about his practice, but there is certainly not a lack of it.

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=15714
During my early years in Sri Lanka I did very little intensive meditation. This was not my ordination teacher's mode of practice; he integrated regular periods of meditation into his day-to-day life. When I later practiced intensive retreats on my own, I used anapana-sati [mindfulness of breathing] as my sole meditation subject. But after some time, I found my mind became dry and rigid, and I felt the need to soften and enrich it with other types of meditation. Thus, at different times and under different circumstances, I learned the practices that constitute the "four protective meditations": recollection of the Buddha, the meditation on loving kindness, the contemplation of the repugnant nature of the body, and the recollection of death. Throughout my life as a monk I have made extensive use of these four meditation subjects. I have also done occasional extended retreats at hermitages in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. Regretfully, though, because of my poor merits and the debilitating headache condition, I have not reached any attainments worthy of a true practitioner.
:anjali:
Mike

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Twilight
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:19 pm

I agree that reading suttas is important and I have read my fair share over the years. One can gain a good intellectual understanding of the dhamma by doing so, which is valuable. Sooner or later though one has to apply "right concentration". This is the development of Jhana, without which the actual insight will not arise.
I agree. But it is later, not sooner. Right concentration (witch means jhana) is the 8th step of the noble 8thfold path. It is closely connected with non-returning. What a person first has to do is the first step of the path: right view (stream entry). And speaking of the 8th step of the path, B.Bhodi has admitted that he never achieved jhana.

The insight that will arise because of developing jhana are the 3 arahant knowledges. You will have to wait a couple of decades or a couple of lifetimes for that to happen. What you should focus now is developing the insight required to arrive at right view (first step of the path), witch is done through contemplating suttas not through jhanas. Again, every person that ever achieved stream entry in the suttas did so after hearing a discourse. When making claims such as jhana been required to achieve stream entry, please provide sutta reference.

In the suttas, people who have heard powerful discourses about dependent origination normally achieved stream entry. But there were ascetics who have developed jhanas prior to hearing the discourse and they achieved arahanthip when hearing them. This is also why Buddha achieved arahanthip instantaniously when figuring out the doctrine of dependent origination. He did not first achieve stream entry, then once-returner, etc. He had already developed jhanas prior to that. And that is also why he or his teachers were not enlightened despite achieving the 8 jhanas prior to that.

You can be a hardcore ascetic all your life just like Buddha or his teachers or his ascetic friends. Yet you will not attain even stream entry by doing that, just like they didn't achieve it either without contemplating the doctrine of dependent origination until you arrive at right view. Only after doing this first step should you continue to develop step 2, step 3, step 8, etc. witch are much more difficult to develop.

What was the difference between before-enlightenment Buddha and after-enlightenment Buddha ? It certainly wasn't jhana, cause he had developed all 8 of the already. Buddha himself gives us the answer "before my enlightenment, when I was still an unenlightened bhodashitta, it did not occur to me: when what exist, is aging and death discerned .... etc. (continues with dependent origination). Then we have : "on the night of my enlightenment, it occured to me: when what exist, is aging and death discerned .... etc. (continues with dependent origination)
I'm not sure where you get the idea that BB does not meditate from:
He said it himself. As a matter of fact, if you write "Bhikkhu Bhodi" on google, one of the most searched things that appear is "B.Bhodi does not meditate". What this refers to is that he does not "meditate" in the way most people understand meditation (mahashi focusing on the breath - similar to sutta apanasanti but not exactly the same thing). He said that despite starting with mahashi technique, he does not practice it anymore but that he does not advise against it. B. Sujato also has the same opinion about that type of meditation. And as we can see from your quote, what B.Bhodi means by meditation (things like recollection of death, loving kindness, contemplating the repugnant nature of the body etc.) is not what most people understand by meditation. And that is what B.Bhodi referred to when he said he does not "meditate" anymore. In the west, meditation is synonymous with the popular mahashi technique.
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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srivijaya
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by srivijaya » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:22 pm

Twilight wrote:But it is later, not sooner. Right concentration (witch means jhana) is the 8th step of the noble 8thfold path. It is closely connected with non-returning. What a person first has to do is the first step of the path: right view (stream entry).
I have no idea where you get that from but if it's working for you...
:anjali:

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Twilight
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:27 pm

srivijaya wrote:
Twilight wrote:But it is later, not sooner. Right concentration (witch means jhana) is the 8th step of the noble 8thfold path. It is closely connected with non-returning. What a person first has to do is the first step of the path: right view (stream entry).
I have no idea where you get that from but if it's working for you...
:anjali:
Every time "right concentration" is described in the suttas, it is described as the 4 jhanas:
“And what, bhikkhus, is right concentration? Here, bhikkhus, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhana, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwells in the second jhana, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body; he enters and dwells in the third jhana of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and displeasure, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhana, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity. This is called right concentration.”
https://suttacentral.net/en/sn45.8

What is your opinion on why Buddha, his teachers and his ascetic friends did not achieve even stream entry despite achieving all 8 jhanas ? What is your opinion on all people that ever achieved stream entry in the suttas did so after hearing a discourse, while there are zero cases where they did it in another manner ?
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

Chandaka
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by Chandaka » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:31 pm

Twilight, what you seem to not be considering is that they did first achieve the Jhanas, whether you think that they were necessary or not.

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srivijaya
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by srivijaya » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:43 pm

Twilight wrote:What is your opinion on why Buddha, his teachers and his ascetic friends did not achieve even stream entry despite achieving all 8 jhanas ? What is your opinion on all people that ever achieved stream entry in the suttas did so after hearing a discourse, while there are zero cases where they did it in another manner ?
Okay I can explain what I think but I'm pushed for time and can't provide links or sources at the moment, so take it or leave it.

1. Buddha did attain deep states under his other teachers but it was not the Jhana he subsequently taught. At some point he recalled being under a cherry tree as a toddler or young child and recalled that state - it was second jhana (the real one), he developed it from there.

2. Buddha tells everyone who will listen to practice jhana. The suttas are full of it but you could be forgiven for thinking that it was never taught. Excuses abound for why people should not engage in this practice. Over the years I've seen numerous things like, it's Buddhist dope, we don't have enough merit and it's even dangerous. It all amounts to the same thing; rejection of Buddha's most unique and precious method and people being dissuaded from even considering it. I was put off it myself for years by the comments of a person I respected. He should have taught me instead of deriding it.

You have a bee in your bonnet about the sutta discourse thing. It is irrelevant. Of course people achieved it in Buddha's presence but he's been gone now for 2,500 years! Does that mean nobody has attained even stream entry since then? Of course not. Why is this a problem? He left clear instructions for us but if folks aren't interested, then that's their problem but I've lost count over the years of how often I've come across negative attitudes towards right concentration. If people don't want to try it, fine everyone is free to do their own thing but I see very few people standing up for it or advocating it anywhere online. It's a sorry state. Buddhists would rather discuss any old stuff apart from 'that' it seems.

Okay, rant over.

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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by Chandaka » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:46 pm

I thought: "While my Sakyan father was busy and I (as a child) was sitting in the shade of the a rose apple tree, then quite secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unprofitable ideas, I had direct acquaintance of entering upon and abiding in the first jhana-meditation, which is accompanied by thinking and exploring, with happiness and pleasure born of seclusion. Might that be the way to enlightenment?" And following that memory came the recognition: "That is the only way to enlightenment."
— MN 36

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Twilight
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:16 pm

My friends, it is not me, a random guy from a forum, saying this. There is unanimously accepted that one does not need jhana to achieve stream entry. This is a common misconception. I don't usually tell people to go check what famous bhikkhus have to say but in this case there is simply unanimous acceptance about the problem. For start: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... #listening
— MN 36
There were criminals who became stream enterers after hearing and contemplating a discourse on dependent origination. There were stream enterers who wanted to quit monkhood for a woman. There are passages where Buddha explains to his monks (who were all stream enterers) that a monk is unhappy with monkhood because of not attaining jhana.

Really I don't even know what to start with when making a case against jhana been required for stream entry. I could quote the whole pali canon over here. There is simply no debate on this.
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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Twilight
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:27 pm

Here is how things go regarding stream entry: Stream entry means just right view and it just removes doubt, clinging to rites and rituals and belief in a self. It is the first step of the path while jhana is the 8th step. You can not do jhana to achieve right mindfulness. You can not do right livelihood to achieve right view, etc. Buddha clearly states that "from right view comes right resolve.... from right mindfulness comes right concentration (jhana)" Things have to be done from step 1 to step 8, not from step 8 to step 1.

Imagine a bushman who sees a car moving for the first time in his life. He will naturally believe there is a mysterious force pushing the car. Even if one would tell him there is no mysterious force but an engine, the bushman will still imagine that "engine" is some kind of a mysterious force. Only if somebody shows him the engine, gives him an engineering manual about how the engine works, and then the bushman investigates the engine for himself - only then will he became convinced beyond doubts that the car is propelled forward by an engine and not by a mysterious force. If the bushman instead tries to stare at engine parts without trying to understand how it works, then he will understand nothing.

It is the same with the belief in a self. Only by understanding how the aggregates really work will the person understand how things work without assuming a self existing and only by doing that will he become convinced beyond doubt there is no self. Also note that the bushmen will be doing as bad in terms of paramitas (good qualities) as before. He will not be transformed into some kind of arahant by this knowledge. This is why there were stream enterers who wanted to quit monkhood for a girl in the canon or doing all sort of bad things.


As for jhana been required for stream entry.... as I said, I don't normally appeal to authority by pointing to famous bhikkhus opinions but there is unanimous agreement that jhana is only required for non-returning and higher. Imagine a group of people reading the biology book. And there is another group of people who have never read the biology book but have strong opinions about what is written in it. Those who have read it will know what is inside and will have the same opinions about what is written inside. And this is why there is unanimous opinion jhana is nor required for stream entry. It is funny that such a misconception can be so popular. This only shows that the person believing in it has never read the canon. As I said, there was even a serial criminal who became stream enterer after hearing and contemplating a discourse on dependent origination. I don't even know what to quote first cause I could very well quote the whole pali canon.

By the way, you know what Buddha said is the thing keeping one from attaining stream entry ??? : Clinging to views One has to change his opinions from time to time on the buddhist path when he is refuted. I have changed mine too in the past when I was refuted. It wasn't easy, it wasn't easy at all. But if one is honest about progress then he will be able to overcome his clinging to views.
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

Chandaka
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by Chandaka » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:29 pm

Twilight wrote:
When the Blessed One perceived that the mind of Upāli, the householder, was prepared, pliant, free from obstacles, elevated and lucid, .... MN 56
When hearing a complicated teaching such as the doctrine of dependent origination or a teaching on how a car engine works, the mind has to be in a good state to understand it. You can't do it drunk or after having a meal or while been sleepy etc. And it also depends on how smart the person is.

When you were in school, did you require hours of samadhi to understand what was been taught over there ? Is that what you did to understand complicated material, or did you use hours of contemplation like all us normal people ?
I can tell you for a fact that my ability to learn higher math was directly influenced by my ability to concentrate more with a less cluttered mind due to having found the Jhanas.

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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:36 pm

Many experiences are mistaken to mean jhana. As you yourself have pointed out, the jhanas Buddha reached before enlightenment were not the jhanas that he taught after enlightenment. They were probably hindu jhanas achieved through focusing on a single spot. Just take a look at MN 39 to get an idea how many decades achieving buddhist jhanas will take: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

If one really has achieved jhana, then he should attain non-returning or arahantship when hearing and contemplating the teachings on dependent origination. And that would mean the person will not have any sensual desire at all from that point on.
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

Chandaka
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Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:55 am

Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by Chandaka » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:48 pm

Twilight wrote:Many experiences are mistaken to mean jhana. As you yourself have pointed out, the jhanas Buddha reached before enlightenment were not the jhanas that he taught after enlightenment. They were probably hindu jhanas achieved through focusing on a single spot. Just take a look at MN 39 to get an idea how many decades achieving buddhist jhanas will take: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

If one really has achieved jhana, then he should attain non-returning or arahantship when hearing and contemplating the teachings on dependent origination. And that would mean the person will not have any sensual desire at all from that point on.
You are correct. The jhanas taught by his teachers were different jhanas before his Enlightenment, but he also encountered a Jhana while still a child before his Enlightenment that DOES lead to Enlightenment. That is what MN 39 is saying. The problem that we are having you to realize is that both jhana and Jhana can be achieved before Enlightenment and before Stream Entry. The point that I'm making is that it does not matter when the 8th factor of the 8-fold path comes. It is nonlinear, or at least it can be nonlinear. I suppose it can be linear as you are saying, but it doesn't have to be that way. It wasn't even that way for the Buddha, himself.

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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:55 pm

Twilight wrote:
I'm not sure where you get the idea that BB does not meditate from:
He said it himself. As a matter of fact, if you write "Bhikkhu Bhodi" on google, one of the most searched things that appear is "B.Bhodi does not meditate". What this refers to is that he does not "meditate" in the way most people understand meditation (mahashi focusing on the breath - similar to sutta apanasanti but not exactly the same thing). He said that despite starting with mahashi technique, he does not practice it anymore but that he does not advise against it. B. Sujato also has the same opinion about that type of meditation. And as we can see from your quote, what B.Bhodi means by meditation (things like recollection of death, loving kindness, contemplating the repugnant nature of the body etc.) is not what most people understand by meditation. And that is what B.Bhodi referred to when he said he does not "meditate" anymore. In the west, meditation is synonymous with the popular mahashi technique.
I guess if you want to take the quotes and talk I provided from Bhikkhu Bodhi, and the many talks where he discusses meditation, mentions three month retreats, and so on, and stil claim he doesn't meditate, I'll leave you to that view.

A few people might think that meditation is synonymous with Mahasi's approach, but I think that would be a major mistake.

:coffee:
Mike

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Twilight
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Re: Samatha and Anatta

Post by Twilight » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:22 pm

The interview where he admitted not to meditate because meditation gives him a headache is this one: http://www.theravada-dhamma.org/blog/?p=9175

The problem with the mahashi technique is that despite been similar to mindfulness meditation described in the suttas it is taken out of context of the noble 8thfold path and is not keeping the goal in mind. What I am speaking about here is the practice done in day to day life by mahashis, the practice of noting. The other practice about focusing on the abdomen is more similar to hindu style meditation that buddhist and more far away from sutta meditation than the day-to-day life mahashi mindfulness practice. (mindfulness of breathing involves 16 steps, none of witch is focusing on the abdomen)

A good sutta explaining the context in witch day to day mindfulness should be developed is MN 39: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

It is something like this: The mind always has the tendency to go towards pleasure. The person might want to engage in pleasurable activities or at least think pleasant thoughts. Every moment of our lives, the mind has this tendency to go towards pleasure, the tendency towards taking delight.

The way to stop this tendency is with mindfulness directed at the body. This does not mean focusing on some part of the body, it just means directing your mindfulness towards the body in a general sense. Because of this, the person can observe his mind pulling towards delight and stop it. In this way the person can "retreat" from pleasures, can destroy this tendency of taking delight of the mind. The goal is to stop this tendency of taking delight not to focus on a single spot and develop concentration. Concentration (witch is not a perfect translation for samadhi) will arise out of seclusion from sensual pleasures not out of focusing very strong on a single spot. (hindu style) Every time jhana is described, it is described as "secluded from sensual desires, he enters and abides in the first jhana". If one is able to destroy this tendency of taking delight and become secluded from sensual desires, it is said that a "rapture born out of seclusion" will arise. (jhana) This is why I agree to a large extent with day-to-day mahashi practice but not with the focusing on the abdomen exercise. The abdomen exercise achieves the same goal a little but that is not exactly what Buddha had in mind.

Today, we have this practice taken out of context and even sold for money to westerners. It is even advertised as a way to take more pleasure out of life. People are promised that this little exercise will solve all their life problems. Then we have the idea that this is all one needs to do as a buddhist. Just to do this long enough.
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
----------
Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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