Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
Saengnapha
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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:24 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:35 am
paul wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:17 am
"In the same way, the monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated with that pleasure. He discerns that 'When I exert a [physical, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.' So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress coming from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the fabrication of exertion is exhausted & the stress resulting from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the development of equanimity is exhausted."
Can you give me an example of a fabrication against the cause of stress?
This is the Nanamoli/Bhikkhu Bodhi translation of the paragraph above which is in MN101:

“23. “And how is exertion fruitful, bhikkhus, how is striving fruitful? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is not overwhelmed with suffering does not overwhelm himself with suffering; and he does not give up the pleasure that accords with Dhamma, yet he is not infatuated with that pleasure. He knows thus: ‘When I strive with determination, this particular source of suffering fades away in me because of that determined striving; and when I look on with equanimity, this particular source of suffering fades away in me while I develop equanimity. He strives with determination in regard to that particular source of suffering which fades away in him because of that determined striving; and he develops equanimity in regard to that particular source of suffering which fades away in him while he is developing equanimity. When he strives with determination, such and such a source of suffering fades away in him because of that determined striving; thus that suffering is exhausted in him. When he looks on with equanimity, such and such a source of suffering fades away in him while he develops equanimity; thus that suffering is exhausted in him.”

Excerpt From: Nanamoli, Bhikkhu. “The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha.”

To my way of looking at this, full attention/diligence=strive with determination. Striving for what? To recognize what is arising. Recognition is knowing what is arising. This knowing is simple awareness. This 'mindfulness' has power as long as it is sustained. It is dispassionate by nature. It leads one to balance which is samadhi.

Thanissaro's translation seems terribly convoluted to me and unnecessarily complex. A fabrication is to 'make up' something. It is an invention or lie. Where does this fit into the picture?

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:28 pm

Here's Sujato's new translation of that passage, from Sutta Central:
And how is exertion and striving fruitful? It’s when a mendicant doesn’t bring suffering upon themselves; and they don’t give up legitimate pleasure, but they’re not stupefied with that pleasure. They understand: ‘When I actively strive I become dispassionate towards this source of suffering. But when I develop equanimity I become dispassionate towards this other source of suffering.’ So they either actively strive or develop equanimity as appropriate. Through active striving they become dispassionate towards that specific source of suffering, and so that suffering is worn away. Through developing equanimity they become dispassionate towards that other source of suffering, and so that suffering is worn away.

https://suttacentral.net/mn101/en/sujato#sc35
I would not worry about Thanissaro's Access to Insight translations. He has updated them on www.dhammatalks.org and, to be fair, his latest translation is a little clearer than his earlier one:
“And how is striving fruitful, how is exertion fruitful? There is the case where a monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated on that pleasure. He discerns that ‘When I exert a [physical, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.’ So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress coming from the cause of stress where there is dispassion from the fabrication of exertion is exhausted, and the stress coming from the cause of stress where there is dispassion from the development of equanimity is exhausted.

https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/MN/MN101.html
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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by paul » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:44 pm

Quote: "It leads one to balance which is samadhi."

But as well as right concentration there is also right effort in the noble eightfold path. When words like 'striving' are used in the suttas, it refers to right effort, which is to avoid, to overcome, and to develop, to maintain.

To avoid, to overcome:
"There is the case where a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances. And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances? There is the case where, there being sensual desire present within, a monk discerns that 'There is sensual desire present within me.' Or, there being no sensual desire present within, he discerns that 'There is no sensual desire present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen sensual desire. And he discerns how there is the abandoning of sensual desire once it has arisen. And he discerns how there is no future arising of sensual desire that has been abandoned. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining hindrances: ill will, sloth & drowsiness, restlessness & anxiety, and uncertainty.)"---MN 10, Satipatthana sutta.

Tactic for overcoming:
"Just as the arising of sensual desire can be analysed in terms of its psychological underpinnings, so too the absence of sensual desire depends on an intelligent management of the same psychological mechanisms. Once one has at least temporarily escaped from the vicious circle of continuous demands for satisfaction, it becomes possible to develop some form of counterbalance in one’s perceptual appraisal. If excessively dwelling on aspects of external beauty has led to frequent states of lust, contemplation directed towards the less appealing aspects of the body can lead to a progressive decrease in such states of mind.
Examples for such counterbalancing can be found among the satipatthãna meditation practices, in particular the contemplations of the anatomical constitution of the body and of a decaying corpse. In addition to these, restraint of the senses, moderation with food, wakefulness, and awareness of the impermanent nature of all mental events are helpful measures in order to prevent the arising of sensual desire.
Similar approaches are appropriate for the other hindrances "---"Satipatthana", Analayo.

The Satipatthana sutta then goes on to describe the development of the seven factors of enlightenment.

"Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the seven factors for Awakening. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the seven factors for Awakening? There is the case where, there being mindfulness as a factor for Awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor for Awakening is present within me.' Or, there being no mindfulness as a factor for Awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor for Awakening is not present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen mindfulness as a factor for Awakening. And he discerns how there is the culmination of the development of mindfulness as a factor for Awakening once it has arisen. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining factors for Awakening: analysis of qualities, persistence, rapture, serenity, concentration, & equanimity.)"

Just as right effort and right concentration comprise two opposing themes in the noble eightfold path, also in the factors of enlightenment, investigation, effort, and rapture represent right effort, while serenity, concentration and equanimity represent right concentration, mindfulness being the central factor able to focus on either group depending on the intensity of the hindrances at a particular time.
Last edited by paul on Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:22 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:15 pm

Thanissaro's earlier translation of this passage is a bit of a mess, and I have to read it a couple of times to make sure I understand it. But the meaning is pretty much the same as that in the other translations by BB and also by Sujato. I agree with Paul on this, that the Buddha was not advocating an equanimous approach to whatever turns up; sometimes we are urged to exert ourselves when it is appropriate.

In context of the whole sutta, it is significant that the Buddha uses the same term (padahati) for the exertion exercised wrongly by the Jains, and the exertion which can also be appropriate for his own followers. Had he wished to rule out all such exertion in favour of equanimous observation, he would I think have ruled out the term altogether, and made a "clean break" with the Jains.

And widening the context still further, Paul is right to talk about Right Effort. I might have completely misunderstood this, of course, but I don't think that it is supportable to talk of Right Effort as being merely the effort required to remain equanimous. The Vitakkasanthana Sutta's infamous passage, for examle:
Now, suppose that mendicant is focusing on stopping the formation of thoughts, but bad, unskillful thoughts connected with desire, hate, and delusion keep coming up. With teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, they should squeeze, squash, and torture mind with mind. As they do so, those bad thoughts are given up and come to an end. Their mind becomes stilled internally; it settles, unifies, and becomes immersed in samādhi. It’s like a strong man who grabs a weaker man by the head or throat or shoulder and squeezes, squashes, and tortures them. In the same way, a mendicant … with teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, should squeeze, squash, and torture mind with mind. As they do so, those bad thoughts are given up and come to an end. Their mind becomes stilled internally; it settles, unifies, and becomes immersed in samādhi.
- there's no mention of this effort being deployed to remain in an equanimous state. It's just exerting what looks like a considerable amount of mental effort to stop thinking.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:37 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:15 pm
Thanissaro's earlier translation of this passage is a bit of a mess, and I have to read it a couple of times to make sure I understand it. But the meaning is pretty much the same as that in the other translations by BB and also by Sujato. I agree with Paul on this, that the Buddha was not advocating an equanimous approach to whatever turns up; sometimes we are urged to exert ourselves when it is appropriate.

In context of the whole sutta, it is significant that the Buddha uses the same term (padahati) for the exertion exercised wrongly by the Jains, and the exertion which can also be appropriate for his own followers. Had he wished to rule out all such exertion in favour of equanimous observation, he would I think have ruled out the term altogether, and made a "clean break" with the Jains.

And widening the context still further, Paul is right to talk about Right Effort. I might have completely misunderstood this, of course, but I don't think that it is supportable to talk of Right Effort as being merely the effort required to remain equanimous. The Vitakkasanthana Sutta's infamous passage, for examle:
Now, suppose that mendicant is focusing on stopping the formation of thoughts, but bad, unskillful thoughts connected with desire, hate, and delusion keep coming up. With teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, they should squeeze, squash, and torture mind with mind. As they do so, those bad thoughts are given up and come to an end. Their mind becomes stilled internally; it settles, unifies, and becomes immersed in samādhi. It’s like a strong man who grabs a weaker man by the head or throat or shoulder and squeezes, squashes, and tortures them. In the same way, a mendicant … with teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, should squeeze, squash, and torture mind with mind. As they do so, those bad thoughts are given up and come to an end. Their mind becomes stilled internally; it settles, unifies, and becomes immersed in samādhi.
- there's no mention of this effort being deployed to remain in an equanimous state. It's just exerting what looks like a considerable amount of mental effort to stop thinking.
This is where we seem to go off on many tangents as to what right effort, dliigence, and striving really mean. This discussion is posted in the Samatha topic. The practice of samatha is about the focus on a meditation object such as the breath. When you focus on the breath, you begin to draw in the attention away from exterior phenomenon and into the body, with the breath as the main focus. It is not about the stopping of thinking although that does tend to happen. What tends to happen is one of two things. Either the attention gets lost in thinking and forgets about the breath or the attention tends to fixate on feelings or some other internal phenomena. Moving the attention back to the breath is not about a rigid concentration and an attempt to either stop thinking or forcing the attention back to the breath. It is simply a relaxation out of an habitual activity like thinking and back on the breath, again and again, until there is a relaxed focus and balance of body, feeling, and the mental processes. This culminates in jhana and samadhi. It is not about analysis and reasoning. In samatha practice, analysis and reasoning are not engaged in. But, this does not lead to real wisdom as satipatthana practice does. Samatha is about calming the citta, the agitation. Penetrating insight comes later through satipatthana and the analysis and reasoning that is possible with equanimity present as its basis.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:45 am

Greetings Saengnapha,
Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:37 am
In samatha practice, analysis and reasoning are not engaged in.
I see where you're going, but I don't totally agree.

Samatha, and progress through jhanas, is a gradual cessation or tranquilizing of various factors. The suttas explain what factors are abandoned at each jhana.

I doubt I would be able to find the sutta I'm thinking of (in the absence of any unique keywords) but the suttas explain that whilst in [x] jhana, there is an awareness that [x] jhana is comparatively gross and unrefined compared to [x+1] jhana. Knowing this, the yogi abandons the factors in [x] jhana, which are not present in [x+1] jhana.

This knowing, is arguably the product of "analysis and reasoning". Perhaps you may feel more comfortable with it, if it were called paññā?

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:50 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:45 am
.

Samatha, and progress through jhanas, is a gradual cessation or tranquilizing of various factors. The suttas explain what factors are abandoned at each jhana.

I doubt I would be able to find the sutta I'm thinking of (in the absence of any unique keywords) but the suttas explain that whilst in [x] jhana, there is an awareness that [x] jhana is comparatively gross and unrefined compared to [x+1] jhana. Knowing this, the yogi abandons the factors in [x] jhana, which are not present in [x+1] jhana.

...
Here is one example.

MN 111. One by One.

https://suttacentral.net/mn111/en/sujato


Mike

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:53 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:50 am
retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:45 am
.

Samatha, and progress through jhanas, is a gradual cessation or tranquilizing of various factors. The suttas explain what factors are abandoned at each jhana.

I doubt I would be able to find the sutta I'm thinking of (in the absence of any unique keywords) but the suttas explain that whilst in [x] jhana, there is an awareness that [x] jhana is comparatively gross and unrefined compared to [x+1] jhana. Knowing this, the yogi abandons the factors in [x] jhana, which are not present in [x+1] jhana.

...
Here is one example.

MN 111. One by One.

https://suttacentral.net/mn111/en/sujato


Mike
a very good example of the progression!

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:13 am

Greetings Mike,

That's the one.

Thanks.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:27 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:37 am

This is where we seem to go off on many tangents as to what right effort, dliigence, and striving really mean. This discussion is posted in the Samatha topic. The practice of samatha is about the focus on a meditation object such as the breath. When you focus on the breath, you begin to draw in the attention away from exterior phenomenon and into the body, with the breath as the main focus. It is not about the stopping of thinking although that does tend to happen. What tends to happen is one of two things. Either the attention gets lost in thinking and forgets about the breath or the attention tends to fixate on feelings or some other internal phenomena. Moving the attention back to the breath is not about a rigid concentration and an attempt to either stop thinking or forcing the attention back to the breath. It is simply a relaxation out of an habitual activity like thinking and back on the breath, again and again, until there is a relaxed focus and balance of body, feeling, and the mental processes. This culminates in jhana and samadhi. It is not about analysis and reasoning. In samatha practice, analysis and reasoning are not engaged in. But, this does not lead to real wisdom as satipatthana practice does. Samatha is about calming the citta, the agitation. Penetrating insight comes later through satipatthana and the analysis and reasoning that is possible with equanimity present as its basis.
I'm quite happy about tangents, providing we mean that there are different approaches, rather than there being one "correct" approach to which others are tangentially related. The account of samatha practice you give is certainly common (the local monks in the Forest Tradition teach little else regarding samatha, for example) but it is not the only one, nor are other practices proscribed in the canon. The Samatha Sutta, for example, gives this:
if, by such self-examination, he knows: ‘I gain the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena but not internal serenity of mind,’ he should base himself on the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena and make an effort to gain internal serenity of mind. Then, some time later, he gains both the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena and internal serenity of mind.
https://suttacentral.net/an10.54/en/bodhi

There doesn't seem to be any instruction about how this effort should be restricted to maintaining mere awareness of the breath. It depends of course on what is meant by "analysis and reasoning", but providing this does not go so far as to include something ridiculous like the construction of formal syllogisms, etc., I can't see anything here or elsewhere which precludes analysis and reasoning. In the passage about removing distracting thoughts I quoted earlier, the activities are recommended for one intent on adhicitta: which can either mean "higher thought" (i.e. suitable for insight) or simply "concentration". It is often teamed up with adhisila and adhipanna, which seems to imply that it is about concentration rather than anything else.

So although I wouldn't disagree with a particular interpretation of what samatha practice is, and I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from following it if it works, I wouldn't be certain that samatha practice is only ever what you describe. I would need evidence from suttas for that, and I currently believe that that terms used are too vague and the detailed instruction is lacking.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:28 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:50 am
retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:45 am
.

Samatha, and progress through jhanas, is a gradual cessation or tranquilizing of various factors. The suttas explain what factors are abandoned at each jhana.

I doubt I would be able to find the sutta I'm thinking of (in the absence of any unique keywords) but the suttas explain that whilst in [x] jhana, there is an awareness that [x] jhana is comparatively gross and unrefined compared to [x+1] jhana. Knowing this, the yogi abandons the factors in [x] jhana, which are not present in [x+1] jhana.

...
Here is one example.

MN 111. One by One.

https://suttacentral.net/mn111/en/sujato


Mike
Mike, here is a comparison of Nanamoli/Bh. Bodhi translation of the first jhana in this sutta and followed by Sujato's.

“3. “Here, bhikkhus, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, Sāriputta entered upon and abided in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.
 
4. “And the states in the first jhāna—the applied thought, the sustained thought, the rapture, the pleasure, and the unification of mind; the contact, feeling, perception, volition, and mind; the zeal, decision, energy, mindfulness, equanimity, and attention—these states were defined by him one by one as they occurred; known to him those states arose, known they were present, known they disappeared. He understood thus: ‘So indeed, these states, not having been, come into being; having been, they vanish.’ Regarding those states, he abided unattracted, unrepelled, independent, detached, free, dissociated, with a mind rid of barriers. He understood: ‘There is an escape beyond,’ and with the cultivation of that [attainment], he confirmed that there is.”


Sujato's:

Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, he entered and remained in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected. And he distinguished the phenomena in the first absorption one by one: placing and keeping and rapture and bliss and unification of mind; contact, feeling, perception, intention, mind, enthusiasm, decision, energy, mindfulness, equanimity, and focus. He knew those phenomena as they arose, as they remained, and as they went away. He understood: ‘So it seems that these phenomena, not having been, come to be; and having come to be, they flit away.’ And he meditated without attraction or repulsion for those phenomena; independent, untied, liberated, detached, his mind free of limits. He understood: ‘There is an escape beyond.’ And by repeated practice he knew for sure that there is.

Mike, the first thing I notice is the odd word selection of Sujato's translation and the use of a term like 'placing the mind and keeping it connected'. English is my native language and I have no idea what this means. I can surmise, but I cannot be sure. Nanamoli translates as 'accompanied by applied and sustained thought'. This is understandable in plain English and goes along with definitions of vitakka and vicara as an accompaniment to the first jhana.

Can you understand why I am so critical of some of these translations and how much varying interpretation they can promote?

Mike, what do you think Sujato means by 'placing the mind'? Is this an 'Aussie' thing? lol.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:00 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:27 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:37 am

This is where we seem to go off on many tangents as to what right effort, dliigence, and striving really mean. This discussion is posted in the Samatha topic. The practice of samatha is about the focus on a meditation object such as the breath. When you focus on the breath, you begin to draw in the attention away from exterior phenomenon and into the body, with the breath as the main focus. It is not about the stopping of thinking although that does tend to happen. What tends to happen is one of two things. Either the attention gets lost in thinking and forgets about the breath or the attention tends to fixate on feelings or some other internal phenomena. Moving the attention back to the breath is not about a rigid concentration and an attempt to either stop thinking or forcing the attention back to the breath. It is simply a relaxation out of an habitual activity like thinking and back on the breath, again and again, until there is a relaxed focus and balance of body, feeling, and the mental processes. This culminates in jhana and samadhi. It is not about analysis and reasoning. In samatha practice, analysis and reasoning are not engaged in. But, this does not lead to real wisdom as satipatthana practice does. Samatha is about calming the citta, the agitation. Penetrating insight comes later through satipatthana and the analysis and reasoning that is possible with equanimity present as its basis.
I'm quite happy about tangents, providing we mean that there are different approaches, rather than there being one "correct" approach to which others are tangentially related. The account of samatha practice you give is certainly common (the local monks in the Forest Tradition teach little else regarding samatha, for example) but it is not the only one, nor are other practices proscribed in the canon. The Samatha Sutta, for example, gives this:
if, by such self-examination, he knows: ‘I gain the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena but not internal serenity of mind,’ he should base himself on the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena and make an effort to gain internal serenity of mind. Then, some time later, he gains both the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena and internal serenity of mind.
https://suttacentral.net/an10.54/en/bodhi

There doesn't seem to be any instruction about how this effort should be restricted to maintaining mere awareness of the breath. It depends of course on what is meant by "analysis and reasoning", but providing this does not go so far as to include something ridiculous like the construction of formal syllogisms, etc., I can't see anything here or elsewhere which precludes analysis and reasoning. In the passage about removing distracting thoughts I quoted earlier, the activities are recommended for one intent on adhicitta: which can either mean "higher thought" (i.e. suitable for insight) or simply "concentration". It is often teamed up with adhisila and adhipanna, which seems to imply that it is about concentration rather than anything else.

So although I wouldn't disagree with a particular interpretation of what samatha practice is, and I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from following it if it works, I wouldn't be certain that samatha practice is only ever what you describe. I would need evidence from suttas for that, and I currently believe that that terms used are too vague and the detailed instruction is lacking.
Sam Vara, certainly I'm not against discussion of tangents. In this case, we are in the samatha section of this site. How are the 5 Hindrances related to the practice of samatha? There are no instructions by anyone that I know of concerning these two specific things. Of course, there is always a way of connecting unrelated topics but why here? It seems discussion about the 5 Hindrances should be done in a different section, not in the Samatha Bhavana.

The Anupada Sutta(I incorrectly said Samatha Sutta) MN111, as Mike posted, is a good one and outlines the progression and delineation of the stages of jhana. This is a long, hard, road. Many masters of many Buddhist traditions teach that it is only by special insight that one is really awakened, not through the stages of jhana and samatha. This doesn't make jhana and samatha worthless. The re-orientation toward satipatthana and the 'knowing' of one's state is the route that many great Buddhist masters have talked about throughout the ages. This kind of special insight cuts through. Once you have a moment of this, doubt is gone. That is the beginning of seeing. Seeing what? Seeing that you are not this 'person' who has a body and a mind.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:32 pm

Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:00 am

Sam Vara, certainly I'm not against discussion of tangents. In this case, we are in the samatha section of this site. How are the 5 Hindrances related to the practice of samatha? There are no instructions by anyone that I know of concerning these two specific things. Of course, there is always a way of connecting unrelated topics but why here? It seems discussion about the 5 Hindrances should be done in a different section, not in the Samatha Bhavana.
Here's how I see them as being related: the hindrances are what hinder the develoment of samatha. As Nyanaponika says,
Many are the obstacles which block the road to spiritual progress, but there are
five in particular which, under the name of hindrances (nivarana), are often
mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures:
1. Sensual desire (kamacchanda),
2. Ill-will (byapada),
3. Sloth and torpor (thina-middha),
4. Restlessness and remorse (uddhacca-kukkucca),
5. Sceptical doubt (vicikiccha).
They are called "hindrances" because they hinder and envelop the mind in many
ways, obstructing its development (bhavana). According to the Buddhist
teachings, spiritual development is twofold: through tranquillity
(samatha-bhavana) and through insight (vipassana-bhavana). Tranquillity is
gained by complete concentration of the mind during the meditative absorptions
(jhana). For achieving these absorptions, the overcoming of the five hindrances,
at least temporarily, is a preliminary condition. It is especially in the context of
achieving the absorptions that the Buddha often mentions the five hindrances in
his discourses.
http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/ ... n85857.pdf

Alternatively, here is Gunaratana on the same topic:
The various subjects and methods of meditation expounded in the Theravada Buddhist scriptures — the Pali canon and its commentaries — divide into two inter-related systems. One is called the development of serenity (samathabhavana), the other the development of insight (vipassanabhavana). The former also goes under the name of development of concentration (samadhibhavana)...Pivotal to both systems of meditation, though belonging inherently to the side of serenity, is a set of meditative attainments called the jhanas....To attain the jhanas, the meditator must begin by eliminating the unwholesome mental states obstructing inner collectedness, generally grouped together as the five hindrances (pañcanivarana): sensual desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry and doubt.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el351.html

There are many other sets of instructions and explanations which make a similar link, including personal instruction I have had. So I don't see the two topics as at all unrelated - quite the opposite, that it is very difficult to talk about samatha or jhana without referring to the hindrances - although if anyone wants to kee them separate then that is their choice. As far as I am concerned, this is the correct section for discussing the hindrances.

Your second paragraph seems to be about the superiority of insight/satipatthana over other types of practice. You may well be right, but it's not really the point I'm making here.

Saengnapha
Posts: 1350
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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:04 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:32 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:00 am

Sam Vara, certainly I'm not against discussion of tangents. In this case, we are in the samatha section of this site. How are the 5 Hindrances related to the practice of samatha? There are no instructions by anyone that I know of concerning these two specific things. Of course, there is always a way of connecting unrelated topics but why here? It seems discussion about the 5 Hindrances should be done in a different section, not in the Samatha Bhavana.
Here's how I see them as being related: the hindrances are what hinder the develoment of samatha. As Nyanaponika says,
Many are the obstacles which block the road to spiritual progress, but there are
five in particular which, under the name of hindrances (nivarana), are often
mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures:
1. Sensual desire (kamacchanda),
2. Ill-will (byapada),
3. Sloth and torpor (thina-middha),
4. Restlessness and remorse (uddhacca-kukkucca),
5. Sceptical doubt (vicikiccha).
They are called "hindrances" because they hinder and envelop the mind in many
ways, obstructing its development (bhavana). According to the Buddhist
teachings, spiritual development is twofold: through tranquillity
(samatha-bhavana) and through insight (vipassana-bhavana). Tranquillity is
gained by complete concentration of the mind during the meditative absorptions
(jhana). For achieving these absorptions, the overcoming of the five hindrances,
at least temporarily, is a preliminary condition. It is especially in the context of
achieving the absorptions that the Buddha often mentions the five hindrances in
his discourses.
http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/ ... n85857.pdf

Alternatively, here is Gunaratana on the same topic:
The various subjects and methods of meditation expounded in the Theravada Buddhist scriptures — the Pali canon and its commentaries — divide into two inter-related systems. One is called the development of serenity (samathabhavana), the other the development of insight (vipassanabhavana). The former also goes under the name of development of concentration (samadhibhavana)...Pivotal to both systems of meditation, though belonging inherently to the side of serenity, is a set of meditative attainments called the jhanas....To attain the jhanas, the meditator must begin by eliminating the unwholesome mental states obstructing inner collectedness, generally grouped together as the five hindrances (pañcanivarana): sensual desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry and doubt.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el351.html

There are many other sets of instructions and explanations which make a similar link, including personal instruction I have had. So I don't see the two topics as at all unrelated - quite the opposite, that it is very difficult to talk about samatha or jhana without referring to the hindrances - although if anyone wants to kee them separate then that is their choice. As far as I am concerned, this is the correct section for discussing the hindrances.

Your second paragraph seems to be about the superiority of insight/satipatthana over other types of practice. You may well be right, but it's not really the point I'm making here.
The 5 Hindrances and samatha practice are related. But, so is everything else about the Buddhist teaching. We learn what the 5 Hindrances are as part of an outline of study/philosophy to develop the conceptual understanding of what Buddhism is all about. The practice of samatha is a contemplative activity that is involved with letting go of conceptual ideas and harmonizing the body/mind which is also called equanimity or samadhi. It is a different activity than study and reading suttas. One doesn't sit and think about suttas during jhanas. Maybe some do, but you don't progress as the Anupada sutta describes. This is not to say that there is no place for study or reflection. Samatha and Vipassana practice takes that study and actualizes it using awareness, mindfulness, etc. Insight is not an inference or conceptual conclusion but a direct knowing of experience.

Personally, I'm not against the discussion of these topics in the same thread, but it is the application of these practices skillfully done that really make the difference, not the intellectual discussion. These should be discussed with a teacher, optimally.

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Sam Vara
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Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:57 pm

Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:04 pm

The 5 Hindrances and samatha practice are related. But, so is everything else about the Buddhist teaching.
Of course. But, as the two quotes given above show, they are according to some methods of teaching very closely related. Ajahn Thiradammo, for example, teaches that concentration practice is essentially identifying the dominant nivarana and then applying the most appropriate antidote. When the hindrances are present, you don't have samatha; conversely, when you have samatha, then there are no hindrances.

We learn what the 5 Hindrances are as part of an outline of study/philosophy to develop the conceptual understanding of what Buddhism is all about.


Do we? You might well have learnt that, but I didn't. I learnt about the hindrances in a practical sense as the mental tendencies or activities that prevent our meditation giving rise to instant tranquillity. It's just a different way of doing things.
The practice of samatha is a contemplative activity that is involved with letting go of conceptual ideas and harmonizing the body/mind which is also called equanimity or samadhi.
The same applies. You might have learnt it that way, but my experience was more about dealing with hindrances. Contemplative, certainly, but nevertheless possibly involving the identification and alleviation of hindrances. The Buddha doesn't seem to have left definitive instructions as to how these things are best to be done. If there is a sutta detailing how one approach is wrong and the other right, or some other compelling evidence, I would be happy to change my position on this.
It is a different activity than study and reading suttas. One doesn't sit and think about suttas during jhanas
No, I don't think anybody ever claimed one does. Studying and reading suttas is very different from undertaking mental activities that one has acquired through reading suttas. One would do nothing at all as a Buddhist without the understanding of suttas, and meditation is no different. And this isn't about what one does during jhanas, but about what one does in order to bring those jhanas about.
Personally, I'm not against the discussion of these topics in the same thread, but it is the application of these practices skillfully done that really make the difference, not the intellectual discussion. These should be discussed with a teacher, optimally.
Well, the same applies to all aspects of the Dhamma, doesn't it? Being moral beats talking about morality, having insights beats discussion of what insight is, and talking about meditation is less useful than the actual time on the cushion. Unless you can directly beam your jhana-experiences into my mind, then here on DW the intellectual discussion is all people are going to get. I think people understand that, though.

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