Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
pyluyten
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Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by pyluyten » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:45 pm

Hi, most of my question is in the topic, still to clarify

- it is not a question about defining what jhana are
- it is not a question about whether one did attain step 1 or step 2 or step one hundred and sixty... ;)

So, question is really : is there people here who practice what is now known as "Jhana" or "Samatha" and who do not practice Vipassana / whatever?
There might be several reason for so, like "not buddhist i just want to have special moments thanks to this technique" or "buddhist but i think insight comes from jhana". And the interesting part will come from reasons and cases i do not know yet =) so let me know !

I think to make sense, the question has to focus on sitting practice. When one walks or is mindful while eating, working or so, it's not really anymore part of the question.

w/ metta

Derek
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by Derek » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:32 pm

You might find Richard Shankman's The Art and Skill of Buddhist Meditation helpful. It has been mentioned several times already on these forums. IIRC Shankman says that he only ever does samatha meditation, and that this is all that is needed. There's no need for any separate, so-called "mindfulness" meditation.

R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:34 pm

I think in other Traditions than Theravada one will see more of only Samatha training.

Caodemarte
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:52 pm

Derek wrote:You might find Richard Shankman's The Art and Skill of Buddhist Meditation helpful. It has been mentioned several times already on these forums. IIRC Shankman says that he only ever does samatha meditation, and that this is all that is needed. There's no need for any separate, so-called "mindfulness" meditation.
I believe Shankman says that he integrates (or does not stop them from naturally integrating themselves) Samatha and Insight, rather than attempt to artificially separate them into rigid categories.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

paul
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by paul » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:50 pm

Q: So, question is really : is there people here who practice what is now known as "Jhana" or "Samatha" and who do not practice Vipassana / whatever?

A: Hindus practice that. Buddhism is based on Hinduism but the essential difference is vipassana, which was invented by the Buddha and leads to enlightenment. You cannot achieve the elimination of the defilements without practising the process of vipassana. Previously in western Buddhism there was an emphasis on vipassana but now the pendulum has swung towards jhana, which is easy to explain and understand whereas vipassana is difficult.

Faelig
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by Faelig » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:22 am

paul wrote:Previously in western Buddhism there was an emphasis on vipassana but now the pendulum has swung towards jhana.
Hi Paul, I'm curious to know how you came up with that analysis?
For example, when I look for retreats or courses here in Western Europe, Burmese-style/vipassana/satipathana retreats are largely dominating in comparison to jhana-focused teachings or retreats. Hence, my curiosity about your analysis.

:anjali:

paul
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by paul » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:01 am

I'm glad to hear vipassana teaching predominates there but it's either a time lag effect or more hopefully a difference between the conservative European school and the US/Australian school. The leading western teachers like Thanissaro Bikkhu and Ajahn Brahm are jhana focussed.

pyluyten
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by pyluyten » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:26 am

Caodemarte wrote:
Derek wrote:You might find Richard Shankman's The Art and Skill of Buddhist Meditation helpful. It has been mentioned several times already on these forums. IIRC Shankman says that he only ever does samatha meditation, and that this is all that is needed. There's no need for any separate, so-called "mindfulness" meditation.
I believe Shankman says that he integrates (or does not stop them from naturally integrating themselves) Samatha and Insight, rather than attempt to artificially separate them into rigid categories.
Hello Caodemarte

I did read most of Richard Shankman book now. And also other books (eg scholars like Vetter, Wynne, or more practically this excellent quick article about Nimitta : http://www.leighb.com/case_of_the_missing_simile.htm

Also, i did "challenge" practice. What i mean is, i tried to think honestly. This is an import point. Actually, on Shankman book, in interview part, you can find this concept of Honesty.

Now I totally share your view. Well, actually, first he does provide many explanations - his book is not so much about *deciding* a point of view (POV). he explains why and how, there are several POV in buddhism. And then, indeed as you say, his POV rather seems to integrate insight into Jhana.
One can also read, Richard F. Gombrich, inside "How Buddhism Began", there is a part "How insight worsted concentration". Appart Gombrich is scholar, this leads to the same conclusion : Jhana were, inside the canon, something different, that did include insight.

Insight was part of Jhana. But again, Shankman book is more about explaining why he thinks so, and why this does not matter so much after all.
While i found many asserts were arealdy known from other shcolars/monks/whoever, still his book is intelligent, clear. It's a superb sumup , a nice status of where research stands regarding this topic.
Only drawback is, if you already know this topic well, you will read many thinkgs you already know, but this is not that bad neither ;)

Thanks Caodemarte!

pyluyten
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by pyluyten » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:35 am

paul wrote:Q: So, question is really : is there people here who practice what is now known as "Jhana" or "Samatha" and who do not practice Vipassana / whatever?

A: Hindus practice that. Buddhism is based on Hinduism but the essential difference is vipassana, which was invented by the Buddha and leads to enlightenment. You cannot achieve the elimination of the defilements without practising the process of vipassana. Previously in western Buddhism there was an emphasis on vipassana but now the pendulum has swung towards jhana, which is easy to explain and understand whereas vipassana is difficult.
Hi Paul!

Thanks for you input. I was not sure at first, and now is good time to reply.
First, I do not believe the pendulum swings because "jhana is easy to explain and understand whereas vipassana is difficult".

Dhammapada Verse 372, (Pali)
"Natthi jhanam apannassa
panna natthi ajhayato
yamhi jhananca panna ca
sa ve nibbanasantike."

"There is no jhana without wisdom
There is no wisdom without jhana
He who has both knowledge and meditation,
Is close to nirvana."

Many books provide rationale, why vipassana became a dedicated practice gradually, why in the suttas you cannot find Vipassana as a distinct practice. Then recently, teachers began to teach how to practice, totally skipping any Jhana.

Also, "Buddhism is based on Hinduism but the essential difference is vipassana". I do not believe this. I think this is a very complicated topic. One of the reason is, because Hinduism did evolve altogether with Buddhism.

Garrib
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by Garrib » Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:39 pm

I practice different things at different times. Not as consistent and rigorous lately as I should be. But I would like to do a samatha retreat. I think that while jhana is not the goal of the path, it is a factor and I believe it helps one develop insight wisdom. It is a way to develop much needed good kamma and experience non-sensual pleasure which helps one to put down addictions. In the suttas you constantly read about how you should be cultivating jhana.

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m0rl0ck
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by m0rl0ck » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:49 pm

I would love to meet the master who can do only samatha, i dont think normal mortals even have the ability.

As soon as the mind gets a little calmer, insight into self and the nature of reality is a by product and the calmer the mind gets the greater the degree of insight.

"samatha only" is a mere concept imo and not really achievable.
“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

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bodom
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by bodom » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:00 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:I would love to meet the master who can do only samatha, i dont think normal mortals even have the ability.

As soon as the mind gets a little calmer, insight into self and the nature of reality is a by product and the calmer the mind gets the greater the degree of insight.

"samatha only" is a mere concept imo and not really achievable.
If that were so then the Buddha's first two teachers who mastered and instructed him in the highest material and immaterial jhanas would have realized nibbana.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

Garrib
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by Garrib » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:35 pm

bodom wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:I would love to meet the master who can do only samatha, i dont think normal mortals even have the ability.

As soon as the mind gets a little calmer, insight into self and the nature of reality is a by product and the calmer the mind gets the greater the degree of insight.

"samatha only" is a mere concept imo and not really achievable.
If that were so then the Buddha's first two teachers who mastered and instructed him in the highest immaterial jhanas would have realized nibbana.

:namaste:
Of course, there is some controversy over whether Alara Kalama and Udakka Ramaputta were actually practicing 'Jhana' meditation as taught by the Buddha - my understanding is that it is made clear in the Suttas that their practices culminated in a certain immaterial absorption. However, when the Buddha is sitting under the Bodhi tree having made the determination to gain perfect liberation, his mind goes back to when he obtained the first Jhana as a child - this becomes his path for developing Samma Samadhi, not the more recent and extensive experience he had with immaterial absorptions under those two teachers. Something to consider!

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bodom
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by bodom » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:59 pm

Garrib wrote:
bodom wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:I would love to meet the master who can do only samatha, i dont think normal mortals even have the ability.

As soon as the mind gets a little calmer, insight into self and the nature of reality is a by product and the calmer the mind gets the greater the degree of insight.

"samatha only" is a mere concept imo and not really achievable.
If that were so then the Buddha's first two teachers who mastered and instructed him in the highest immaterial jhanas would have realized nibbana.

:namaste:
Of course, there is some controversy over whether Alara Kalama and Udakka Ramaputta were actually practicing 'Jhana' meditation as taught by the Buddha - my understanding is that it is made clear in the Suttas that their practices culminated in a certain immaterial absorption. However, when the Buddha is sitting under the Bodhi tree having made the determination to gain perfect liberation, his mind goes back to when he obtained the first Jhana as a child - this becomes his path for developing Samma Samadhi, not the more recent and extensive experience he had with immaterial absorptions under those two teachers. Something to consider!
Fair enough. My point though was that Jhana by itself does not lead to insight. It needs to be practiced with the other seven path factors. Most importantly right view.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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CedarTree
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by CedarTree » Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:20 pm

This would be the practice of Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery & Antai-ji.

Different methods though than seen in Theravada. :)


Practice, Practice, Practice


Caodemarte
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:02 pm

CedarTree wrote:This would be the practice of Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery & Antai-ji.

Different methods though than seen in Theravada. :)
Zazen (which includes shikantaza) is typically seen as the essence of Samatha and Vipassana, but not as one or the other or some sort of staged approach.

At least some Theravada teachers teach that Samatha leads to Vipassana and vice versa, although they are sometimes artificially separated for training purposes, much as one would teach a physical activity or exercise by artificially separating it into distinct steps before it all flows together. It is all one activity, not several, although it may be introduced as such.

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CedarTree
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by CedarTree » Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:33 am

Caodemarte wrote:
CedarTree wrote:This would be the practice of Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery & Antai-ji.

Different methods though than seen in Theravada. :)
Zazen (which includes shikantaza) is typically seen as the essence of Samatha and Vipassana, but not as one or the other or some sort of staged approach.

At least some Theravada teachers teach that Samatha leads to Vipassana and vice versa, although they are sometimes artificially separated for training purposes, much as one would teach a physical activity or exercise by artificially separating it into distinct steps before it all flows together. It is all one activity, not several, although it may be introduced as such.
Can't really argue with that. You nailed it.


Practice, Practice, Practice


pyluyten
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by pyluyten » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:39 am

bodom wrote:
Garrib wrote:
bodom wrote:
If that were so then the Buddha's first two teachers who mastered and instructed him in the highest immaterial jhanas would have realized nibbana.

:namaste:
Of course, there is some controversy over whether Alara Kalama and Udakka Ramaputta were actually practicing 'Jhana' meditation as taught by the Buddha - my understanding is that it is made clear in the Suttas that their practices culminated in a certain immaterial absorption. However, when the Buddha is sitting under the Bodhi tree having made the determination to gain perfect liberation, his mind goes back to when he obtained the first Jhana as a child - this becomes his path for developing Samma Samadhi, not the more recent and extensive experience he had with immaterial absorptions under those two teachers. Something to consider!
Fair enough. My point though was that Jhana by itself does not lead to insight. It needs to be practiced with the other seven path factors. Most importantly right view.

:namaste:
thanks I fond your exchange interesting. As far as i understood
- arupas jhanas are found only in certain suttas (sometimes we only have rupas jhanas). This lead some to think arupas jhanas were added "lately". For example Shankman does provide some input in this topic regarding arupas jhanas in suttas vs commentaries (but he does not work on the "lately added" debate). The fact Gautama remembers youth Jhana and does not remember his masters, may be on the side, Arupas Jhanas were not part of first Suttas.
on the opposite site, Wynne argues, Buddha *did* really practice arupas jhanas. He writes, there is no reason to think Alara Kalama and Udakka Ramaputta were not historical. So according to Wynne, they are historical, and indeed practiced absorbtions, and taught to Buddha.
- one can argue the noble truth is merely Samadhi, because the "path leading to cessation of suffereng" is the noble path, with 8 factors, *leading to* the last one, samadhi. In this *point of view* right view is merely a start to begin practice. Then the end of the practice is Samadhi, then one realize he has attained Samadhi, which is the end of suffereing.
On a very different point of view, right view is not the beginning but rather the end of the path : after samadhi, one is to realize right view.

Of course from these debates we cannot extract much. my 2 cents is, there is no indication Alara Kalama and Udakka Ramaputta did teach Mindfulness (during daily activities and so on). They barely taught one sitting practice.
While Jhana could have more or less existed pre-Buddhism, i think there was no teaching to constantly practice mindfulness here and there, everytime.
Also, while Buddhists do teach different things; they all agree about mindfulness. While there are so many debates regarding canon or commentaries, there is no debate regarding mindfulness.

So, i would say if there is one central point, i would keep mindfulness. This is not the most thrilling theory but oh, well at least this does not hurt =)

lostitude
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by lostitude » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:28 am

pyluyten wrote: So, question is really : is there people here who practice what is now known as "Jhana" or "Samatha" and who do not practice Vipassana / whatever?
There might be several reason for so, like "not buddhist i just want to have special moments thanks to this technique" or "buddhist but i think insight comes from jhana". And the interesting part will come from reasons and cases i do not know yet =) so let me know !

w/ metta
Hello,

My practice goes through lots of ups and downs but whenever I'm in a good period for sitting meditation, I do 'samatha only'. That's because I base myself on Ajahn Brahm's method, which advocates calming the mind before trying to analyze things.
He himself explains that samatha and vipassana, at higher levels, are two faces of the same coin, because once your mind is pacified, you will be able to see things much more clearly, and the 'vipassana' bit will be a lot easier to do.

I personally started with this approach after reading vipassana manuals by Burmese teachers, whose practice seemed (to me) excruciatingly tedious and tasteless. I knew at once it wasn't for me. Brahm's approach looks a lot less painful.

SunWuKong
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Re: Someone practicing Dhyana only ?

Post by SunWuKong » Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:42 am

pyluyten wrote:
Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:45 pm
Hi, most of my question is in the topic, still to clarify

- it is not a question about defining what jhana are
- it is not a question about whether one did attain step 1 or step 2 or step one hundred and sixty... ;)

So, question is really : is there people here who practice what is now known as "Jhana" or "Samatha" and who do not practice Vipassana / whatever?
There might be several reason for so, like "not buddhist i just want to have special moments thanks to this technique" or "buddhist but i think insight comes from jhana". And the interesting part will come from reasons and cases i do not know yet =) so let me know !

I think to make sense, the question has to focus on sitting practice. When one walks or is mindful while eating, working or so, it's not really anymore part of the question.

w/ metta
Exactly. In many parts of the world the primary practice is Samatha Bhavana, particulary those of Sri Lanka or Thai lineage. Its not that vipasanna isn't practiced, but rather that samatha is valued highly. I kind of think of them as two sides of the jhana coin, but it is what it is. Samatha is also the primary sitting practice in certain Chinese Chan schools, Vietnamese Thein schools, and some Tibetan schools, so its not only in Theravada. I hopes this helps, samatha has been my main practice since 1999. :pig:

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