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Alone and Thinking, Meditation

Dsg useful posts Dsg alone meditation bhavana

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#1 Virgo

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 07:47 PM

 
In Dhammastudygroup, Yahoo Group, Sarah Abbott wrote:
  • sarah abbott
     
    Message 1 of 5 , May 7, 2006
    Dear Neil,

    [Like Jonothan, I hope you don't mind if I reply on DSG to your further
    reflections so others can read or join in if they like.]

    You wrote (off-list):

    "Thank you for your forwardings in the realm of Buddhism. Among other
    things one reads about it is the seemingly overwhelming association with
    meditation. I am alone, and so I think a lot.

    Is such thinking thought of in Buddhism as meditation?. Or is meditation
    conceived of as something on a different plane? Alone? With others? How
    does it relate to "prayer" in the western faiths? All best wishes, as
    always, to you and Jonathan, and let's see if this goes through. Regards,
    Neil."
    *****
    S: Others may respond with different ideas.

    There is a common Pali word we often us, bhavana, which is sometimes
    translated as mental development and sometimes as meditation.

    I consider that whenever there is a growth of wisdom, a growth of mental
    development, that this is bhavana or meditation. It doesn't matter whether
    one is alone or standing on the M.T.R (the crowded subway in Hong Kong) -
    there can be a growth of wisdom, a growth of understanding at any time.

    I think it helps to reflect again and again that life only exists at this
    moment. So whether we are alone or in a crowd, there's no use thinking the
    other situation would be better. In this sense, meditation is purely a
    mental state, dependent of wise reflection, awareness of present realities
    and not dependent on a particular time and place.

    In a deeper sense we're all alone all the time. We're alone with the
    experiences through the five senses now and alone in our world of
    thinking.....usually quite lost in the latter! Being alone with these
    present realities, we're encouraged in Buddhism to be like an island, like
    refuges to ourselves. Praying for assistance in this task is not the way
    because only a growth in wisdom of the present mental and physical
    phenomena can assist.

    How does this sound to you? Thank you for you reflections. I've been
    appreciating your correspondence with Jonothan too.

    Fondest regards,

    Sarah
    ========
     
  • sarah abbott
     
    Message 2 of 5 , May 9, 2006
    Reply from Neil which I'm forwarding. Sarah
    ******
    Dear Sarah...

    Thank you, as always, for your response. The crux of it--
    "Whenever there is a growth of wisdom, a growth of mental
    development...that...is...meditation"-- is trenchant and compatible with
    experience. 

    Prayer-- whatever that is-- cannot, in my judgment, sensibly 
    be a supplication for supernatural or preternatural aid. It can be a
    dialog with our inner self ("prayer cannot heal a broken arm, but it can
    heal a broken heart"), and an island in our island. (The "island" analogy
    is also useful.) 

    And yes, please feel free to share my thoughts with others. "May my
    thoughts have wings", as the words go some classical song. 

    My warmest wishes to you and Jonothan, 

    Neil.

    -----Original Message-----
    From: sarah abbott [mailto:sarahprocterabbott@...

    >There is a common Pali word we often us, bhavana, which is sometimes
    translated as mental development and sometimes as meditation.

    I consider that whenever there is a growth of wisdom, a growth of mental
    development, that this is bhavana or meditation. It doesn't matter whether
    one is alone or standing on the M.T.R (the crowded subway in Hong Kong) -
    there can be a growth of wisdom, a growth of understanding at any
    time.<....><
     


#2 Virgo

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 07:49 PM

 
  • upasaka@aol.com
     
    May 9, 2006
    Hi, Sarah (and Neil) -

    In a message dated 5/9/06 4:55:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
    sarahprocterabbott@... writes:

    > Reply from Neil which I'm forwarding. Sarah
    > ******
    > Dear Sarah...

    > Thank you, as always, for your response. The crux of it--
    > "Whenever there is a growth of wisdom, a growth of mental
    > development...that...is...meditation"-- is trenchant and compatible with
    > experience. 
    =====================
    It is an easy-to-remember and succinct statement, but not, IMO, 
    entirely accurate. When wheat or some other crop is to be planted, the soil is 
    cultivated. It is tilled, aerated, fertilized, and watered, and then, with 
    adequate sun and protection from marauders, it will produce the crop. The growing of 
    the wheat, or whatever the crop may be, is not the cultvation. It is the 
    result of the cultivation. Likewise, the growth of wisdom is not meditation, it is 
    the result of meditation (and its supports and other factors). With respect, a 
    smearing of the lines between means and ends isn't helpful as I see it.
    A side issue, providing some missing details: There are occasions at 
    which some of the crop may be folded back in to serve to further enrich the 
    soil. Likewise, wisdom, the product, is also used as support for meditation that 
    fosters the growth of further wisdom.

    With metta,
    Howard

    /Thus is how ye shall see all this fleeting world: A star at dawn, a bubble 
    in a stream, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a 
    phantom, and a dream./            (From the Diamond Sutra)


    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
     
  • Bhikkhu Samahita
     
    Message 4 of 5 , May 10, 2006
    Sarah wrote:

    > In a deeper sense we're all alone all the time. We're alone with the
    > experiences through the five senses now and alone in our world of thinking...

     
    Sadhu! Well spoken!

    Where-ever the being goes
    right there starts and ends
    his/her world...

    ; - ]
     


#3 Virgo

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 07:50 PM

  • sarah abbott
     
    Message 5 of 5 , May 11, 2006
    Hi Howard (& Neil),

    Thanks for your reply which I also drew to Neil's attention.

    --- upasaka@... wrote:
    N:>> The crux of it--
    > > "Whenever there is a growth of wisdom, a growth of mental
    > > development...that...is...meditation"-- is trenchant and compatible
    > with
    > > experience. 
    > > 
    > =====================
    H:> It is an easy-to-remember and succinct statement, but not, IMO,
    entirely accurate. 
    ....
    S: I had mentioned bhaavanaa in this context and Nyantiloka gives this
    definition in his dictionary:

    "bhaavanaa: 'mental development' (lit. 'calling into existence,
    producing') is what in English is generally but rather vaguely called
    'meditation'. One has to distinguish 2 kinds: development of tranquillity
    (samatha-bhaavanaa), i.e concentration (samaadhi) and development of
    insight (vipassanaa-bhaavanaa), i.e wisdom (pa~n~naa)."

    S: In fact pa~n~naa is esential for any kind of bhaavanaa. Without
    vipassanaa bhaavanaa, no development of the path.
    ...
    >When wheat or some other crop is to be planted, the
    > soil is 
    > cultivated. It is tilled, aerated, fertilized, and watered, and then,
    > with 
    > adequate sun and protection from marauders, it will produce the crop.
    > The growing of 
    > the wheat, or whatever the crop may be, is not the cultvation. It is the

    > result of the cultivation. Likewise, the growth of wisdom is not
    > meditation, it is 
    > the result of meditation (and its supports and other factors). 
    .....
    S: In 'The Simile of the Field', SN42:7, the Buddha refers to the various
    kinds of fields as an analogy for those who can benefit from hearing his
    teachings. He gives the same excellent teachings to all, but like the
    farmer who selects the most fertile field first, the Buddha selects the
    most fertile audience first. The fertile audience are those that have
    confidence and have taken refuge in the Triple Gem. The seed that is sown
    is 'the Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the Middle, and good
    in the end,with right meaning and phrasing'; and 'the holy life that is
    perfectly complete and pure'.

    Therfore, using your analogy, I take the cultivated soil to be the right
    accumulations to be able to hear the teachings, the planting and
    fertilizing to be the hearing of the teachings and the crop to be the
    growth of wisdom as you say.
    ....
    >With
    > respect, a 
    > smearing of the lines between means and ends isn't helpful as I see it.
    ....
    S: I agree. No growth of wisdom or development of the path without the
    'fertile' accumulations, encountering the teachings, listening and
    considering them. All of this is expressed in the sutta.
    ....
    > A side issue, providing some missing details: There are occasions
    > at 
    > which some of the crop may be folded back in to serve to further enrich
    > the 
    > soil. Likewise, wisdom, the product, is also used as support for
    > meditation that 
    > fosters the growth of further wisdom.
    ....
    S: A good further analogy. I'd put it a little different and say that
    'wisdom, the product, is also used as support for further listening,
    considering, reflecting that fosters the growth of further wisdom or
    bhaavanaa (mental development/meditation).

    Metta,

    Sarah
    ========
     






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