The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Dinsdale
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:43 am

daverupa wrote: Or does the cherry-picking occur when one or another meditation method is taken up in preference to others?
But as I said to cherry-pick one needs to be aware of a choice. In some cases people are taught breathing meditation as if it's the only vehicle for samatha bhavana, or indeed any kind of bhavana. People are different, and their needs change over time, so I think it's preferable if a range of methods are taught.
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Dinsdale
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:46 am

daverupa wrote: When newcomers take up seated meditation and play with the many varieties on offer, yet ignore (or aren't taught) the preceding requirements e.g. satisampajanna, wakefulness, guarded sense gates, sila - this is cherry-picking?
Are some teachers and students prone to oversimplification? Yes, I think they are.
But I also think some teachers and students are prone to promoting their preferred method and understanding as the only one which is really valid and authentic
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Dinsdale
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:18 pm

daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Traditionally kasina practice is samatha bhavana...
Before that tradition, though, there wasn't a distinction between bhavana types in that way.
I'm not clear what tradition you mean Dave. In any case there clearly is a distinction in the suttas between tranquillity and insight - see for example the Samadhi Sutta, AN4.94, the Yaganadda Sutta AN4.170 and the "Tranquillity and Insight" section at AN2:2.9
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daverupa
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by daverupa » Sat Jun 01, 2013 5:14 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Traditionally kasina practice is samatha bhavana...
Before that tradition, though, there wasn't a distinction between bhavana types in that way.
I'm not clear what tradition you mean Dave.
Your reference to tradition is Theravada, I expect; I am referring to the fact that early materials primarily define samatha-vipassana as paired qualities, not different paths of practice, and was sort of wondering about the issue of the 'cherry-pick' that such a Theravada interpretation of these qualities represents. But it's been discussed elsewhere at length, and might easily derail this thread...

"Cherry-picking" simply needed definition; Sekha pointed out the term was a little mis-used, so I sought clarity. As things stand, I get the impression that there are unsatisfactory teachers in the world, and that people are often upset when the practice they come to prefer isn't the first one they learn about - indeed, dissatisfaction with one or another sort of anapanasati seems to be common, but I wonder if this is simply the result of deficient instruction, or perhaps deficient foundation...

There are some vague aspersions to do with some sort of cultural commentary, as well.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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mettafuture
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by mettafuture » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:27 pm

daverupa wrote:people are often upset when the practice they come to prefer isn't the first one they learn about
Or when that practice is never mentioned, or when only one practice is taught.

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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:40 am

daverupa wrote:I am referring to the fact that early materials primarily define samatha-vipassana as paired qualities, not different paths of practice, and was sort of wondering about the issue of the 'cherry-pick' that such a Theravada interpretation of these qualities represents. But it's been discussed elsewhere at length, and might easily derail this thread...
This does assume there's a reliable method for determining what the early material is - but yes, that's another discussion. ;)
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by Bretteo » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:51 pm

mettafuture wrote:Master Gautama detailed 40 meditation objects over the course of a 45-year teaching career. So why is it that Western Buddhists focus on just 1 or 2 of these objects (eg. anapanasati and metta)? Is it because our dhamma teachers don't feel that contemplating the elements or recalling the qualities of the Buddha could be compatible with our cultural sensibilities? Perhaps they aren't. But if that's the case, maybe we need to change something about ourselves rather than continue to selectively disregard large portions of the dhamma.

I also feel that it may be a mistake to introduce breath meditation to every new Buddhist as their first meditation object. I've heard people try to make the point that anapanasati can fulfill all four satipatthanas, therefore special attention doesn't need to be given to the individual satipatthanas. But does it really make sense to skip developing at least a rudimentary understanding of the body, feelings, consciousness, and mental objects before jumping ahead to the breath?

I would love to have a set of lessons to follow and practice, but i find so much information everywhere it's hard to compile it into my own situation.

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mettafuture
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by mettafuture » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:43 am

I've been working on a concise list of introductory resources. Here's what I have so far.

Introductory Material:
The Buddha’s Teachings As It is by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Mindfulness in Plain English [free ebook] by Ven. Gunaratana

Intermediate Material:
In The Buddha’s Words by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English by Ven. Gunaratana

Advanced Material:
Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization by Ven. Analayo

Pali Nikaya Translations:
Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta, Anguttara [free anthology]

Weblinks:
Access To Insight
Audio Dharma

[link to this post]
Last edited by mettafuture on Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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tiltbillings
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:52 am

mettafuture wrote:I've been working on a concise list of introductory resources. Here's what I have so far.

Introductory Material:
The Buddha’s Teachings As It is by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Mindfulness in Plain English [free ebook] by Ven. Gunaratana

Intermediate Material:
In The Buddha’s Words by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English by Ven. Gunaratana

Pali Nikaya Translations:
Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta, Anguttara [free anthology]

Weblinks:
Access To Insight
Audio Dharma

[link to this post]
I liked it better when you had Ven Analyo's book listed.
>> 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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mettafuture
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by mettafuture » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:55 am

tiltbillings wrote:I liked it better when you had Ven Analyo's book listed.
It's a brilliant book, but perhaps it might be too weighty for a non academic?

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tiltbillings
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:58 am

mettafuture wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I liked it better when you had Ven Analyo's book listed.
It's a brilliant book, but perhaps it might be too weighty for a non academic?
It is worth the struggle, but it is not for every one.
>> 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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mettafuture
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Re: The Breath, and Cherry-Picking for Cultural Convenience

Post by mettafuture » Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:09 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I liked it better when you had Ven Analyo's book listed.
It's a brilliant book, but perhaps it might be too weighty for a non academic?
It is worth the struggle, but it is not for every one.
I've added it back. :reading:

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