How is Mahasi not a samatha practice?

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budo
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Re: How is Mahasi not a samatha practice?

Post by budo » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:39 pm

The way I look at it is that Vipassana without Samatha Jhana is like trying to cut a steak with a butter knife.

On the other hand Jhana without Vipassana is like having a Katana that's framed on your wall and not using it.

Jhana with Vipassana is like using the katana to cut your bondages, unbinding yourself, and setting yourself free.

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Re: How is Mahasi not a samatha practice?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:56 pm

A gentle reminder that the topic is: "How is Mahasi not a samatha practice?"

As several of us have said "dry" is somewhat confusing characterisation of such practices, since insight requires, according to the commentaries, to develop the jhana factors to access-concentration level. And that is what such practices aim for. That would imply that it is partly a samatha practice.

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Re: How is Mahasi not a samatha practice?

Post by cjmacie » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:54 am

Just to clarify, to put in perspective, that "Mahasi practice" (as the "vipassana " practice) is a method the Sayadaw developed and taught in the context of the 20th-century movement to revive, popularize the Buddha's practice, to counterbalance against the colonialist (British) pressure to extinguish Buddhism and other aspects of native Burmese culture, the vipassana approach as considered more accessible to lay practitioners. In his writings, Mahasi taught both the jhana ("samatha") and the vipassana approaches to magga-phala fulfilling the path, with some emphasis on the former to make it available to the population, where traditional (monastic) training used more the latter.

For instance, in his in-depth commentary on the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta (The Great Discourse on the Wheel of Dhamma), for instance, he writes:

"As for accomplishment in concentration, the yogi should take up a samatha (tranquillity) exercise such as ānāpānasati (mindfulness of respiration) and practise it until attainment of jhana or upacara samadhi. If time or opportunity do not permit, the yogi can begin contemplating on the four primary elements by means of which vipassanā khanika samādhi (momentary concentration), which is akin to upacara samadhi, may be attained. This samādhi dispels the hindrances so that purification of mind may be achieved. "

The passage with added emphasis (in red) shows the alternative approaches. Note that in both cases, samadhi plays a crucial role.

Using the sutta definition ( "This, monks, is called Right Concentration") he clearly states that "the concentration involved in the four stages of jhana is defined as the path of Right Concentration."

Further on, he elaborates on, further documents (using both sutta-s and commentarial sources) justifying the vipassanā khanika samādhi approach as a viable alternative to the approach using jhana samadhi:

"(Insight without Absorption)
… some say that insight can be developed only after achieving purification of mind through attaining absorption (jhāna). Without absorption, purification of mind cannot be attained, and so insight cannot be developed. This is a one-sided, dogmatic view. That access concentration in the neighbourhood of absorption, having the capacity to suppress the hindrances, can help attain the purification of view, leading to the development of insight. That many have achieved Arahantship by thus developing insight, is explicitly stated in the Visuddhimagga. In the Suttanta Piṭaka, for example in the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta, there is very clear teaching that Arahantship may be achieved by contemplating objects such as body postures, which can only give rise to access concentration. The Anussatiṭṭhāna Sutta of the Aṅguttaranikāya states that the concentration developed by recollecting the virtues of the Blessed One is adequate to use as a basis for the development of higher knowledge up to the state of Arahantship. …

Here we see his rhetorical emphasis (again, added emphasis in red) to support the canonical validity of the alternative, "vipassana" approach. But aside from his mission to present, and promote in the historical context, this approach to help a broader population, it would be a distortion to maintain that he didn't teach, or that he disparaged in any way, the "samatha" approach.

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Re: How is Mahasi not a samatha practice?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:28 pm

Thanks CJMacie,

Discussion of whether Jhana is a prerequisite of satipatthana is have been moved.
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=32214


Please respect the OP of topics. Thanks.

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Re: How is Mahasi not a samatha practice?

Post by cjmacie » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:34 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:28 pm
Thanks CJMacie,

Discussion of whether Jhana is a prerequisite of satipatthana is have been moved.
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=32214

Please respect the OP of topics. Thanks.

:heart:
Mike
My post above was intended to clarify the OP in pointing-out that associating the Sayadaw Mahasi exclusively with his famous vipassana practice variation, as is commonly done, is in fact an over-simplification of his teachings.I believe he deserves credit for the inclusive breadth of his teachings on the alternative methods, both of which are valid for achieving the goal.

(This issue wouldn't seem to fit in the spin-off thread -- "Jhana as a prerequisite for satipatthana: Re: How is Mahasi not a samatha practice?" -- where the discussion doesn't, at least so far, mention Mahasi.)

Here's a key passage from the 1984 translation of the "THE TREATISE ON THE METHOD OF VIPASSANA INSIGHT MEDITATION", page 104 (corresponding passage in the 2016 "Manual of Insight" translation is on page 46):

[Two vehicles for going to enlightenment]

Samathayānika's Citta-Visuddhi

A person, who practises Vipassanā after having established either Upacāra-samādhi or Appanā-samādhi out of the said three kinds of Samādhi, is called Samathayānika individual, i.e. one who makes his way to Nibbāna using Samatha as a vehicle. In other words, this practising person is said to one who is bound for the attainment of Magga-Phala-Nibbāna using samatha as a vehicle. Hence, Upacārasamādhi (proximate concentration) and Appanā samādhi (Absorption concentration) are Citta-Visuddhi upon which a Samathayānika individual has to depend.

Vipassanayānika's Citta-Visuddhi

A person who exclusively contemplates Vipassanā without depending upon Upacāra, Appanā Samādhis is to be named as Suddhavipassanayānika individual. It means a person who treads on the path of Vipassanā exclusively without mingling with Samatha, by means of vipassanā vehicle making his way to Magga-Phala-Nibbāna. Hence, only Khaṇika-samādhi is Cittavisuddhi which is relied upon by Suddha-vipassanāyānika individual.

All statements mentioned above are in accord with Aṭṭhakathās, Ṭīkās and Pāḷi scriptures…


(The "three kinds of Samādhi" mentioned here being 1) Upacāra-samādhi, 2) Appanā-samādhi, and 3) Khaṇika-samādhi, which he also s/t refers to as Vipassana-khaṇika-samādhi -- any of which three can qualify as "Citta-Visuddhi".)

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Re: How is Mahasi not a samatha practice?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 7:32 pm

cjmacie wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:34 am
My post above was intended to clarify the OP in pointing-out that associating the Sayadaw Mahasi exclusively with his famous vipassana practice variation, as is commonly done, is in fact an over-simplification of his teachings.I believe he deserves credit for the inclusive breadth of his teachings on the alternative methods, both of which are valid for achieving the goal.
I agree. One hears rumours about discouraging jhana as dangerous, and so on, which may well be true for certain teachers in the Mahasi world (which is vast, and varied). And this also affects the view of the development of samadi in the "vipassana" approach. I've never been told to be careful not to develop too much samadhi, though I've always been told that whatever happens to make sure I remain attentive to it...

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Mike

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