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Author Topic: Concentration & Mindfulness are complimentary to each other! Working as a team!  (Read 218 times)

Vishal

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Concentration or plain Mindfulness, one has to find a balance between both and develop both the qualities of the mind together, in tandem for a bigger task. (as mentioned below "Mindfulness is inclusive and concentration is exclusive")

The following article has explained this in detail which does not need more input for now.


Hope this helps all the Meditation practitioners. As what one need is a Mindful concentration to start with.

Mindfulness Versus Concentration

Mod Edit: Please refrain from reproducing entire materials from copyright protected sites elsewhere. It is against the law and the Dhamma. It is theft.

http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/mindfulness_in_plain_english_16.php
« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 10:55:34 AM by Matthew »

Nicky

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Vipassana meditation is something of a mental balancing act. You are going to be cultivating two separate qualities of the mind - mindfulness and concentration.

Mindfulness is a factor of concentration; like roots are factors of trees. They are never separate.  ::)

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If one of the factors is strengthened at the expense of the other, the balance of the mind is lost and meditation impossible.

Non-sense.

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Concentration is often called one-pointedness of mind. It consists of forcing the mind to remain on one static point.

Wrong. One-pointedness means the mind is focused on one task, subject or preoccupation.

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Please note the word FORCE. Concentration is pretty much a forced type of activity.

This is very wrong.

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Mindfulness, on the other hand, is a delicate function leading to refined sensibilities. Mindfulness is the sensitive one. He notices things.

Mindfulness means to 'remember', such as to remember to not attach to meditation.

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Mindfulness picks the objects of attention,

No. For beginners to meditation. mindfulness 'selects' the object of meditation.

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and notices when the attention has gone astray.

Yes. But mindfulness (sati) is not attention (manasikara).

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Concentration does the actual work of holding the attention steady on that chosen object.

Not really. Mindfulness holds the attention steady. When attention is steady, this is called concentration.

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Concentration could be defined as that faculty of the mind which focuses single mindedly on one object without interruption.

Maybe.

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True concentration itself is free from such contaminants. It is a state in which the mind is gathered together and thus gains power and intensity.

Maybe.

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We might use the analogy of a lens. Parallel waves of sunlight falling on a piece of paper will do no more than warm the surface. But the same amount of light, when focused through a lens, falls on a single point and the paper bursts into flames.

Wrong. True concentration is 'open' & 'expansive'.

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Concentration is the lens. It produces the burning intensity necessary to see into the deeper reaches of the mind.

No. The mind sees deeper into itself due to purification of hindrances & sankharas.

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Mindfulness selects the object that the lens will focus on and looks through the lens to see what is there.

No. This is only the case for complete beginners. But when meditation is deep, mindfulness does not select the object. The object arises automatically. All mindfulness does is remember to not cling to the object & not crave the object.

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Concentration should be regarded as a tool. Like any tool, it can be used for good or for ill. A sharp knife can be used to create a beautiful carving or to harm someone. It is all up to the one who uses the knife. Concentration is similar.

So what?

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But even then, the forces of egotism won't be understood. Only mindfulness can do that.

Wrong. Mindfulness is not wisdom. It is wisdom that understands the ego.

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If mindfulness is not there to look into the lens and see what has been uncovered, then it is all for nothing.

No. Mindfulness does not "look". It is consciousness & wisdom that "look".

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Only mindfulness understands. Only mindfulness brings wisdom. Concentration has other limitations, too.

No. There are five faculties (indriya). Mindfulness (sati indriya) does not understand. It is wisdom (panna indriya) that understands.

The article is mostly wrong understanding. It leads to nothing but confusion.  ::)
« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 03:22:31 AM by Nicky »

stillpointdancer

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Hi Nicky. I agree wholeheartedly with you. There is so much wrong with that Mindfulness vs Concentration article that I really don't know where the author is coming from. Mindfulness can complement other forms of meditation, but I really don't get why you would need anything other than mindfulness to develop concentration. I simply can't be complimentary about the complementary aspect.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

dharma bum

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strange. i found the commentary by Bhante Gunaratana to be quite sensible and intuitively correct.
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Matthew

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The issue I have with Gunaratana is that he makes such emphasis on FORCE .. even captalising it in the text. Meditation is progressively letting go, and when excessive force is used to develop concentration, this forced concentration cannot clearly see hindrances or much else - except that which it is pointed at.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

dharma bum

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The issue I have with Gunaratana is that he makes such emphasis on FORCE .. even captalising it in the text. Meditation is progressively letting go, and when excessive force is used to develop concentration, this forced concentration cannot clearly see hindrances or much else - except that which it is pointed at.

i think there is some nuance that is lost in translation. the word for concentration in most indian languages is ekagrata, which is a combination of ek (one) + agraha (insistence, rather than force), which is also the word for one-pointedness. possibly Gunaratana is referring to the root 'agraha'. there is an exercise of will during concentration - when attention wanders, you bring it back.
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Middleway

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Concentration or plain Mindfulness, one has to find a balance between both and develop both the qualities of the mind together, in tandem for a bigger task. (as mentioned below "Mindfulness is inclusive and concentration is exclusive")

The following article has explained this in detail which does not need more input for now.


Hope this helps all the Meditation practitioners. As what one need is a Mindful concentration to start with.

Mindfulness Versus Concentration

Mod Edit: Please refrain from reproducing entire materials from copyright protected sites elsewhere. It is against the law and the Dhamma. It is theft.

http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/mindfulness_in_plain_english_16.php

Vishal,

I take it that you have been practicing over 6 years and based on your posts, you seem to have read quite of bit of Buddhist literature out there. That is great way to dive into this great journey which we call practice and the path. I have gone through a similar journey myself and like you, attended Mr. Goenka's meditation retreat which kick started my practice. For that I am very grateful to Mr. Goenka and his organization.

I see you had good intentions in mind while initiating the posts on some difficult and contentious issues this forum dealt with in the past and continues to deal with from time to time. This forum is no different from the societies in general (our forum members come from). We too have difference of opinions and struggle to find common ground and understanding. But the general purpose is to discuss these issues and learn from each other.  For me what is fascinating about this forum discussions is that I learn a lot about myself by participating in these discussions.

Sometimes, I do feel that why others cannot see my point of view when it is so "clear" and "obvious" to me. I now learned to keep an open mind about my so-called understanding and learned to let go my "certainty" in thinking process. I learned not to cling to my understanding of a topic (at any given time) and realize that my understanding evolves over time as my practice deepens.

I recommend that you contemplate on these points and hope you may find them useful. Welcome to the forum.

Warm regards,

Middleway






Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

dharma bum

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this is my personal experience with concentration on breath or the body. at times, when the mind is chaotic (usually if i haven't had enough sleep) i have to almost force myself to concentrate on my breath, in the sense that it is an enormous effort. sometimes, the mind/body calm down as a result of this and then it gets easier and it becomes less of an effort. meditation is not a constant thing for me. it is a fairly complex thing. some days are hard, some days are easier. to me, gunaratana makes complete sense. concentration reduces the noise in the mind and clears up space in my head for mindfulness. in the deepest state for me, mindfulness and concentration form some sort of balance.
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stillpointdancer

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I guess I meant that concentration is rarely context free. If I am concentrating I must be concentrating on something. Mindfulness is one way of developing concentration, but of course there are many other suitable practices. I found the article to be unsympathetic to me when reflecting on any practice I have undertaken. Maybe it was just a poor translation for me, and that I might find more meaning in a different version.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Matthew

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this is my personal experience with concentration on breath or the body. at times, when the mind is chaotic (usually if i haven't had enough sleep) i have to almost force myself to concentrate on my breath, in the sense that it is an enormous effort. sometimes, the mind/body calm down as a result of this and then it gets easier and it becomes less of an effort.
...

Forcing concentration shows clinging to a goal. When the mind is busy let the mind be busy. You will progress more quickly. Forcing concentration buries obstacles and hindrances in the subconscious. This places an absolute limit to your progress on the path. Better to let go of attachment to how the practice should be and let it be what it is. If you are tired better to sleep than force yourself to practice.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Matthew

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The issue I have with Gunaratana is that he makes such emphasis on FORCE .. even captalising it in the text. Meditation is progressively letting go, and when excessive force is used to develop concentration, this forced concentration cannot clearly see hindrances or much else - except that which it is pointed at.

i think there is some nuance that is lost in translation. the word for concentration in most indian languages is ekagrata, which is a combination of ek (one) + agraha (insistence, rather than force), which is also the word for one-pointedness. possibly Gunaratana is referring to the root 'agraha'. there is an exercise of will during concentration - when attention wanders, you bring it back.

I don't see it as a question of "lost in translation". He's quite clear:

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Concentration is often called one-pointedness of mind. It consists of forcing the mind to remain on one static point.

Concentration does not require forcing the mind. 

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Please note the word FORCE. Concentration is pretty much a forced type of activity.

The other path is acceptance and repeated return to the object of meditation. This way the mind quiets naturally as one refuses to be drawn into it's dramas. In the end it gives up the drama.

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It can be developed by force, by sheer unremitting willpower. And once developed, it retains some of that forced flavor.

Concentration must lose that "forced flavor" or it will become an obstacle in and of itself.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

dharma bum

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I guess I meant that concentration is rarely context free. If I am concentrating I must be concentrating on something. Mindfulness is one way of developing concentration, but of course there are many other suitable practices. I found the article to be unsympathetic to me when reflecting on any practice I have undertaken. Maybe it was just a poor translation for me, and that I might find more meaning in a different version.

yes, i think it happens all the time. we're all different in temperament. sometimes i find completely useless things that others find profound. and vice-versa. our minds are receptive to different things. IMHO that's okay - it does not necessarily indicate a disagreement.
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dharma bum

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Forcing concentration shows clinging to a goal. When the mind is busy let the mind be busy. You will progress more quickly. Forcing concentration buries obstacles and hindrances in the subconscious. This places an absolute limit to your progress on the path. Better to let go of attachment to how the practice should be and let it be what it is. If you are tired better to sleep than force yourself to practice.

sorry Mathew, i find this hard to understand. if we just let it be what it is, then we don't get anywhere. letting things go needs practice. focus, concentration, discipline. i'm sure there are people who are born with the skill to let things go. i'm not one of them. :)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.010.than.html

"There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings... mind... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 03:18:28 AM by dharma bum »
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QuietFox

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Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana is considered a "masterpiece" by many of the greatest contemporary minds and scholars alive today.

Here are some of the comments regarding that particular book.

"A masterpiece." (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

"A classic--one of the very best English sources for authoritative explanations of mindfulness." (Daniel Goleman)

"Of great value to newcomers... especially people without access to a teacher." (Larry Rosenberg, author of Breath by Breath)

"This book is the bible of mindfulness." (Barry Boyce, editor of Mindful magazine and The Mindfulness Revolution)

"Wonderfully clear and straightforward." (Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace)

"Pithy and practical." (Shambhala Sun)

"Jargon-free." (USA Today)

"Among the very best." (Tricycle)

"A classic." (Inquiring Mind)

"Profound...a classic interpretation of Vipassana meditation practice." (The Middle Way)

Nicky

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Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana is considered a "masterpiece" by many of the greatest contemporary minds and scholars alive today.

Here are some of the comments regarding that particular book.

"A masterpiece." (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

"A classic--one of the very best English sources for authoritative explanations of mindfulness." (Daniel Goleman)

"Of great value to newcomers... especially people without access to a teacher." (Larry Rosenberg, author of Breath by Breath)

"This book is the bible of mindfulness." (Barry Boyce, editor of Mindful magazine and The Mindfulness Revolution)

"Wonderfully clear and straightforward." (Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace)

"Pithy and practical." (Shambhala Sun)

"Jargon-free." (USA Today)

"Among the very best." (Tricycle)

"A classic." (Inquiring Mind)

"Profound...a classic interpretation of Vipassana meditation practice." (The Middle Way)

It does not matter what the American Buddhist Industry says about the book. The views about mindfulness & concentration were incorrect.

When the mind is quiet & gentle, it obviously has concentration since it is not distracted by anything.

In the Buddhist scriptures, one word (among many) that is used to describe concentration is "pliant/malleable". It is not forced.

Kind regards  :)