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Vipassana and Samatha


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#1 FliPaSso

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 09:21 PM

I have been practicing meditation for about 1 year and 3 months now.
I've practiced yoga meditation(samatha), tried my way with a self-taught Vipassana method and just recently, less than a month ago, I've started practicing the Vipassana method that is taught in the book "Mindfulness in Plain English", I believe it's anapasati, by a theravadan monk Ven. Henelopa Gunaratana.
I'm glad 'cause I just recently attained this level where I can focus on my breath and on my thoughts at the same time for periods of about 1 minute without distractions. Do you think i'm on the right path?
The thing is, I would really love to try the jhana absortion, but I don't know if it's possible while paying attention to the thoughts that pop in my head.
Is it possible to access jhana while witnessing thoughts?
Or if a person wants to enter jhana one must focus on an "unchangeable(spl?)" object?
BTW: What do you think is best samatha or vipassana? Do you practice both?
PS: Sorry if I didn't make myself clear.

peace@you.all

#2 Guest_Scott_*

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 02:53 AM

Dear FliPaSso.

Thanks for the question. Is this your given name?

QUOTE
Do you think i'm on the right path?


A tough question for someone else to answer...

QUOTE
The thing is, I would really love to try the jhana absortion, but I don't know if it's possible while paying attention to the thoughts that pop in my head.
Is it possible to access jhana while witnessing thoughts?
Or if a person wants to enter jhana one must focus on an "unchangeable(spl?)" object?
BTW: What do you think is best samatha or vipassana? Do you practice both?


Please consider this passage from Sammohavinodanii (The Dispeller of Delusion, pp.44-45), commentary to Vibha"nga:

QUOTE
"Here a bhikkhu, on seeing a kasi.na disc (ma.n.dala) while wondering round the monastery, asks: 'What is this called?' When it is said: 'A kasina disc,' he asks: 'What do they do with it?' They tell him: 'By developing this and arousing jhaanas and then by increasing insight which has the attainment as its basis, the reach Arahatship.' A clansmen who has the inclination, without regarding this as a burdensome matter, thinks, 'I must produce this quality; but it cannot be produced by one who lies down and sleeps. One must apply energy (viriya) and purify virtue from the beginning,' and he purifies his virtue. After that, when his virtue is established, having severed the ten obstructions, he is content through the highest contentment with the three robes; he does the various duties for the teacher and preceptor and, after learning a meditation subject (kamma.t.thaana) and doing the preliminary work on a kasi.na, he arouses the attainments; he increases insight which has the attainments as basis and he reaches Arahatship.

"Herein, all feeling in the preliminary work is of the sense sphere; the feeling in the eight attainments is of the fine material and immaterial spheres; the feeling in the paths and fruition is supramundane. Thus eye consciousness becomes a powerful condition for the producing of feeling in the four planes and so feeling in the four planes is called 'born with eye impressions as its condition'. Thus in the first place it is applicable as decisive support.

"But when a visible datum (ruupa) has come into focus (aapaathagata) in the eye door, a clansman who is established in laying hold (pariggaha) thus: 'Lust (raaga) arises in me regarding an agreeable object and resistance (pa.tigha) regarding a disagreeable object and delusion (moha) regarding an unrecognisable object; but pride (maana) arises in me when bound (vinibandha), [wrong] view (di.t.thi) when held (paraama.t.tha), agitation (uddhacca) when distracted, uncertainty (vicikicchaa) when not attained to a definite conclusion, inherent tendencies (anusaya) when habit-ridden (thaamagata),' knows the arising of defilements in himself. He thinks: 'These defilements by increasing will lead to my harm and undoing. Let me restrain them.' [But reflecting:] 'They cannot be restrained by one who lies down and sleeps; one must apply energy and purify virtue from the beginning,' and by practising as stated above, he reaches Arahatship."


What do you think?

Sincerely,

Scott.

#3 FliPaSso

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:43 PM

Are you suggesting that I should develop sila, samadhi and sati?
Don't those virtues develop simultaneously when you try to develop one of them? For instance if I try to develop sati, which I do every night, wouldn't that develop my samadhi and sila and vice versa? I've noticed that sometimes when I am going to do or say something stupid sati comes up and I refrain from doing it. Isn't that sila?
Or are you suggesting that I should work hard? I work as hard as I can. I am now extending my periods of sitting to about 1 hour. That's not much but it's all I can afford right now. I hope meditation will bring light into my life and discernment and will power to work harder. For now, I don't think I need to devote more time to practicing.
All I want to know is if you must enter jhana to (correctly) practice vipassana or if you only need a minimum of concentration.

peace@you.all

#4 Guest_Scott_*

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 02:50 AM

Dear [your first name here],

Thanks for the reply:

QUOTE
Are you suggesting that I should develop sila, samadhi and sati?


I'm trying to avoid suggesting anything to you, actually.

QUOTE
Don't those virtues develop simultaneously when you try to develop one of them?


Good question, I think that the development (bhaavanaa) of mental factors has to be more than unitary, as you suggest. Its just my opinion, mind. It's the try part of the question that gives me pause.

QUOTE
For instance if I try to develop sati, which I do every night, wouldn't that develop my samadhi and sila and vice versa? I've noticed that sometimes when I am going to do or say something stupid sati comes up and I refrain from doing it. Isn't that sila?


Again, a very good question - more of the try stuff though. Not to mention the claiming of samadhi and siila as 'yours'. Does this concern you? I think siila (action in body and speech) is related to cetanaa, the mental factor central to kamma. I'll hope others on the forum can correct me if I am not accurate.

QUOTE
Or are you suggesting that I should work hard? I work as hard as I can. I am now extending my periods of sitting to about 1 hour. That's not much but it's all I can afford right now. I hope meditation will bring light into my life and discernment and will power to work harder. For now, I don't think I need to devote more time to practicing.


No, I'm not suggesting that you do anything; except perhaps that you consider how much wishing and hoping are going on, and what these might be, from the perspective of the Dhamma.

QUOTE
All I want to know is if you must enter jhana to (correctly) practice vipassana or if you only need a minimum of concentration.


Vipassanaa-bhaavanaa is related to the development of the mental factor pa~n~naa cetasika. Samatha-bhaavanaa has to do with the development of ekaggataa cetasika or concentration. These are two different mental factors, and two different considerations. Jhaana requires a very highly developed pa~n~naa in order to properly differentiate the various mental factors which are its constituents.

Please consider the way in which the characteristic of anattaa relates to notions of 'trying' or 'hoping' and 'practising'.

Sincerely,

Scott.

#5 RobertK

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 03:15 AM

Dear FliPaSso
Concentration can be right or wrong. The main thing is understanding the nature of right concentration- many people develop wrong concentration...
Robert