Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:30 am

Yes, thanks Farmer. Some of those are very familiar among the things I notice I do too in reaction to certain conditions. It's nice to see how we get common experiences/lessons out of our Dhamma practice... :group:

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:46 am

mikenz66 wrote:Yes, thanks Farmer. Some of those are very familiar among the things I notice I do too in reaction to certain conditions. It's nice to see how we get common experiences/lessons out of our Dhamma practice... :group:

:anjali:
Mike
Same source.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

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

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

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by marc108 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:26 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Same source.
lol good one.

re: Ven. Thanissaro & "calming the bodily fabrication"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#part3-d" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The first two steps of breath meditation [§151] involve simple tasks of directed thought and evaluation: directing one's thoughts and attention to the breath in and of itself, in the present, at the same time evaluating it as one begins to discern variations in the length of the breath. Some modern teachers maintain that the factor of evaluation here also includes taking one's observations of short and long breathing as a basis for adjusting the rhythm of the breath to make it as comfortable as possible. Because the first level of jhāna must be based on a sense of pleasure [§238], this advice is very practical.

The remaining steps are willed or determined: One "trains oneself," first by manipulating one's sense of conscious awareness, making it sensitive to the body as a whole.Then one can begin manipulating the bodily sensations of which one is aware, reducing them to a single sensation of calm by letting "bodily fabrication" — the breath — grow calm so as to create an easeful sense of rapture and pleasure. A comparison between the stages of breath meditation and the graphic analogies for jhāna[/i]
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:38 pm

mikenz66 wrote: If one examines the whole "packages", not just a couple of details, there's really not so much disagreement. With these apparent disagreements regarding "bare attention", it's partly a matter of terminology, such as where one puts divisions between right intention, mindfulness, effort, etc.
And even the staunch Burmese talk about comfort:
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... ality.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Sayadaw U Pandita wrote: The Buddha suggested that either a forest place under a tree or any other very quiet place is best for meditation. He said the meditator should sit quietly and peacefully with legs crossed. If sitting with crossed legs proves to be too difficult other sitting postures may be used. For those with back trouble a chair is quite acceptable. It is true that to achieve peace of mind, we must make sure our body is at peace. So it is important to choose a position that will be comfortable for a long period of time.
and fabrication of one's meditation practice:
Sayadaw U Pandita wrote: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... imate.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
For this development to occur, however, the appropriate causes must be present. Nine causes lead to the growth of the controlling faculties; they are listed here, and will be discussed in more detail below. The first cause is attention directed toward the impermanence of all objects of consciousness. The second is an attitude of care and respect in meditation practice. The third is maintaining an unbroken continuity of awareness. The fourth cause is an environment that supports meditation. The fifth is remembering circumstances or behavior that have been helpful in one’s past meditation practice so that one can maintain or recreate those conditions, especially when difficulties may arise. The sixth is cultivating the qualities of mind which lead toward enlightenment. The seventh is willingness to work intensely in meditation practice. The eighth is patience and perseverance in the face of pain or other obstacles. The ninth and last cause for the development of the controlling faculties is a determination to continue practicing until one reaches the goal of liberation.
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:54 pm

Greetings Mike,

Thanks for sharing the quotes. I have a couple of quick questions with reference to what you've highlighted...

With regards to the first red highlighted quote, I've heard about some insight practitioners (I forget their lineage) who deliberately cultivate physical pain in order to give them physical sensations to work with. Have you heard of this practice, and if so, do you know of any quotes/texts etc. from the vipassana traditions that explain that practice of deliberately cultivating physical pain, juxtaposed against the need to make sure our body is at peace? I'm curious as to how the two things might be resolved.

With regards to the second highlight, I was just curious as to your logic behind choosing only to highlight number five? You introduce the full quote by saying it's regarding "fabrication of one's meditation practice", but to me, point 1-9 all pertain to fabrication of one's meditation practice. Did you call out #5 because it seems to correlate with Thanissaro Bhikkhu's "learn what works for you" mode of teaching, or is it something else?

Thanks.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by twelph » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:33 pm

marc108 wrote: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#part3-d" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The first two steps of breath meditation [§151] involve simple tasks of directed thought and evaluation: directing one's thoughts and attention to the breath in and of itself, in the present, at the same time evaluating it as one begins to discern variations in the length of the breath. Some modern teachers maintain that the factor of evaluation here also includes taking one's observations of short and long breathing as a basis for adjusting the rhythm of the breath to make it as comfortable as possible. Because the first level of jhāna must be based on a sense of pleasure [§238], this advice is very practical.

The remaining steps are willed or determined: One "trains oneself," first by manipulating one's sense of conscious awareness, making it sensitive to the body as a whole.Then one can begin manipulating the bodily sensations of which one is aware, reducing them to a single sensation of calm by letting "bodily fabrication" — the breath — grow calm so as to create an easeful sense of rapture and pleasure. A comparison between the stages of breath meditation and the graphic analogies for jhāna[/i]


Thanks, this quote makes much more sense to me.

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:58 pm

retrofuturist wrote: Thanks for sharing the quotes. I have a couple of quick questions with reference to what you've highlighted...

With regards to the first red highlighted quote, I've heard about some insight practitioners (I forget their lineage) who deliberately cultivate physical pain in order to give them physical sensations to work with. Have you heard of this practice, and if so, do you know of any quotes/texts etc. from the vipassana traditions that explain that practice of deliberately cultivating physical pain, juxtaposed against the need to make sure our body is at peace? I'm curious as to how the two things might be resolved.
No. What you may be referring to is the usual statements from just about any Dhamma teacher you could name that whatever arises is an opportunity to learn, and expecting to only ever have pleasant experiences isn't helpful.
You could probably pull like "pain is an opportunity to learn" from some Dhamma talk, remove the context ( such as: "it's inevitable, so when it arises look at it as an opportunity, not a threat"), and misinterpret it.
retrofuturist wrote: With regards to the second highlight, I was just curious as to your logic behind choosing only to highlight number five? You introduce the full quote by saying it's regarding "fabrication of one's meditation practice", but to me, point 1-9 all pertain to fabrication of one's meditation practice. Did you call out #5 because it seems to correlate with Thanissaro Bhikkhu's "learn what works for you" mode of teaching, or is it something else?
Only because it was the one that most explicitly said "fabrication" ("recreate those conditions"). But of course, I agree. There's nothing particularly special about a Dhamma teacher talking about fabricating the path to liberation, since that's just what the Buddha said...

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:07 am

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:What you may be referring to is the usual statements from just about any Dhamma teacher you could name that whatever arises is an opportunity to learn, and expecting to only ever have pleasant experiences isn't helpful.
You could probably pull like "pain is an opportunity to learn" from some Dhamma talk, remove the context ( such as: "it's inevitable, so when it arises look at it as an opportunity, not a threat"), and misinterpret it.
No... in whatever context I heard it from, it was definitely intentionally cultivated unpleasant vedana. I think it was by "crushing" (not literally) the legs, for the purpose of giving rise to stronger vedana which could be experienced and observed more vividly. Either way, in the context it appeared, it seemed as if the activity was being valorized. I'll have a poke around and see if I can find anything. Until that point, feel free to disregard... I assumed such practices were more commonly known.

Thanks for the clarification on the other point.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by Cittasanto » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:What you may be referring to is the usual statements from just about any Dhamma teacher you could name that whatever arises is an opportunity to learn, and expecting to only ever have pleasant experiences isn't helpful.
You could probably pull like "pain is an opportunity to learn" from some Dhamma talk, remove the context ( such as: "it's inevitable, so when it arises look at it as an opportunity, not a threat"), and misinterpret it.
No... in whatever context I heard it from, it was definitely intentionally cultivated unpleasant vedana. I think it was by "crushing" (not literally) the legs, for the purpose of giving rise to stronger vedana which could be experienced and observed more vividly. Either way, in the context it appeared, it seemed as if the activity was being valorized. I'll have a poke around and see if I can find anything. Until that point, feel free to disregard... I assumed such practices were more commonly known.

Thanks for the clarification on the other point.

Metta,
Retro. :)
I have heard this also, but I think it was to do with misguided students rather than an actual practice recommended by the teacher.
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:22 am

I've been listening to this series of talks (actually I think for the second time, but I forget things easily...):
http://www.audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1839/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Mindfulness and Concentration
Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration, together with Right Effort, form the concentration-aggregate of the noble eightfold path. Although these factors are often discussed separately, the Pali discourses show that the Buddha meant for them to form a unified practice. This course through talks, readings, discussions, and meditation explored what these factors means and how they can be brought together in a mutually supportive and nourishing way.
You might like to work through the 30 minute guided meditation at the start if you want to see how his approach is implemented.

In talking about concentration he mentions that in the end one has to realise that even the most pleasant, concentrated, state is impermanent and should not be clung to (as mentioned in various suttas). His particular spin is that it is very powerful to realise that something that one is so attached to is impermanent and ultimately unsatisfactory.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
There is the case where a monk, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.
I can't find exactly what he says in the transcribed talks on Access to Insight, but here's some more from Ven Thanissaro, commenting about attachment, or not, to pleasant experiences:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tml#gotcha" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
In this way, the pursuit of happiness through developing strong concentration for the pursuit of total freedom is not a selfish thing. As long as your concentration is imbued with the other factors of the path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness — it's perfectly safe. They sometimes talk about getting stuck on concentration or becoming a concentration junkie, but those are cases where the concentration lacks the other elements of the path. Your understanding of why there's suffering in the world is skewed, or your understanding of why you're suffering is skewed. You spend all your time just focusing on your breath and not wanting to do anything for anyone else anywhere, not wanting to be bothered by the world.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... eightening" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
This is especially important when really strong experiences come in the meditation. You don't jump to any conclusions. Again, you lift the mind above them and watch. Hopefully by that time the habit has become built-in enough so that you realize you can't allow yourself to get attached to anything, even the really amazing experiences. Lift yourself up rung by rung by rung along the ladder. You go from one attachment to a higher one to a higher one. Finally, though, there comes a point where you have to let go and just watch what happens. Only when you've developed this habit of lifting the mind up can you get through some of these experiences that waylay everyone else along the meditation path.
And here's Sayadaw U Pandita spin on the pleasant experiences:
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... hanas.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
If you have extraordinary experiences, please make it a point to note and label them. Be clearly aware that rapture, faith, tranquility and so forth are no more than mental states. If, while noting them, you realize that you are attached to them, cut the attachment immediately and return your attention to the primary object at the abdomen. Only then will your progress continue, and it will bring you even sweeter fruit.

Meditation teachers have to be tactful in dealing with students who are in this stage of practice. The students are so excited by their experiences that they tend to rebel if the teacher is too deflating. Instead, one might gently say, “Your practice is not bad. These are natural things which arise in practice, but there are many other experiences which are much better than what you have now. So why don’t you note all these things so you can experience the better ones?”

Paying heed to these instructions, the yogi returns to sitting and carefully notes the lights, faith, rapture, happiness, tranquility and comfort. It dawns on him or her that this simple noting actually is the correct path of practice. Thus oriented, he or she can proceed with great confidence.
:anjali:
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:36 am

retrofuturist wrote: Either way, in the context it appeared, it seemed as if the activity was being valorized. I'll have a poke around and see if I can find anything.
It will be interesting to see the actuial statement and the actual context.
Until that point, feel free to disregard... I assumed such practices were more commonly known.
One does not need to deliberately manufacture pain to watch. The mind/body process does that all by itself without any need to add to it. Just sit unmoving for even a few minutes to see what arises.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

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

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

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by Brizzy » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:10 am

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote: Either way, in the context it appeared, it seemed as if the activity was being valorized. I'll have a poke around and see if I can find anything.
It will be interesting to see the actuial statement and the actual context.
Until that point, feel free to disregard... I assumed such practices were more commonly known.
One does not need to deliberately manufacture pain to watch. The mind/body process does that all by itself without any need to add to it. Just sit unmoving for even a few minutes to see what arises.
Is it possible that it is Sunlun Sayadaw to whom Retro is referring to as regards cultivating painful sensations.
As you say, you do not have to physically manufacture pain, one can manufacture pain with inappropriate attention & view.

Metta

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Ignorance is an intentional act.

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:23 am

Brizzy wrote: Is it possible that it is Sunlun Sayadaw to whom Retro is referring to as regards cultivating painful sensations.
We shall await retro's response.
As you say, you do not have to physically manufacture pain, one can manufacture pain with inappropriate attention & view.
While that might be true, it is not what I said.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

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

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

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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:55 pm

Finished the series of talks while doing some gardening (finally we have a sunny day :)):
mikenz66 wrote:I've been listening to this series of talks (actually I think for the second time, but I forget things easily...):
http://www.audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1839/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Mindfulness and Concentration
and sat through the guided meditation.

Ven Thanissaro has some very useful ways of viewing these topics and I got some good reminders of various things that are always good to have reminders about...


The way he describes meditation seems to me pretty much the same idea as the "primary object" concept that the Mahasi approach, and most "vipassana" teachers, use:
There’s no one-size-fits-all kind of meditation. Breath meditation
comes the closest to a universal object because, after all, we all have a
breath, and for all of us it’s an important part of our lives. Ajaan Lee
recommends taking it as your home base. It’s the safest of all
meditation objects. But there are times when you need to forage
around in other areas. You may find yourself way off in left field and
have to find your way back to home base.

ePublished Dhamma Talks (3)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... index.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
One thing I've not heard Ven Thanissaro discuss in detail is walking meditation. Are there any talks/writings where he discusses that? I mention this because I find that walking is excellent for discerning intention, which is a key component of the "fashioning" that he emphasises in many places.

:anjali:
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Re: Thanissaro Bikkhu and manipulation of the breath

Post by bodom » Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:31 am

mikenz66 wrote:One thing I've not heard Ven Thanissaro discuss in detail is walking meditation. Are there any talks/writings where he discusses that?


Mindfulness: Walking Meditation: Stillness In Motion
http://dharmaseed.org/talks/audio_player/179/6068.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
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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