Author Topic: Vipassana vs Anapanasati  (Read 5908 times)

J0rrit

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Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« on: December 21, 2013, 06:30:51 AM »
Hello there,

I was thinking this morning about the difference between Vipassana and Anapanasati. I began to doubt Anapanasati for the reason that you return to the breath continuously instead of waiting for the distraction to rise and fall. Isn't this last thing necessary for understanding all the aggregates and the three characteristics? Isn't it that if you observe the breath continiously that you miss all the other things (distractions) ? Or is it just that Mindfulness itself is enough to get insight in the three characteristics and aggregates?

What are the advantages of observing distractions rise and fall (Vipassana) or returning immediate back to the breath (Anapanasati) as soon as you notice that the mind was distracted?

In my experience, Anapanasati works better for me, my mindfulness went up very fast in comparison to Vipassana, and also got more insight into the three characteristics.

But I just trying to understand this phenomenon and the difference? Could someone give me some insight ?

Is there a ' middle way'  ? And so, is that ok ?

And, if I understand it well, Samatha and Vipassana are both results of one method, either one, so it shouldn't make a difference?
« Last Edit: December 21, 2013, 06:34:33 AM by J0rrit »

Pacific Flow

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Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2013, 01:55:21 PM »
Dear Jorrit,

I am writing this from the view of a student of Vipassana as taught by S. N. Goenka. It might look different from other perspectives.
However in the meditation i practice Anapanasati is basically a prerequisite for the practice of Vipassana.
In Vipassana we observe the sensations on the surface and inside the body. This requires a capacity of awareness which is accomplished by the practice of Anapanasati.

With Metta
Mogo

Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2013, 05:45:15 PM »
Before practicing vipassana it is necessary to train the mind to remain in present moment and not chase after past and future thoughts and try to rectify them. That is what samatha and anapanasathi is for. Also it calms the mind and helps manage sangharas from vipassana easily.

Quote
What are the advantages of observing distractions rise and fall (Vipassana)
no advantage what so ever... distractions are fabrications of mind and should be avoided.... or learn to detach from them ( remove the craving towards them in mind)

Quote
In my experience, Anapanasati works better for me, my mindfulness went up very fast in comparison to Vipassana, and also got more insight into the three characteristics.

samatha and anapana are priscribed for mindfullness.... vipassana is insight meditation and also helps in mindfullness, but using vipassana meditation only to develop mindfullness is hard and is time consuming .. so its better to develop it using anapana.
Insight of 3 characteristics is not possible in anapana or samatha.
Quote
And, if I understand it well, Samatha and Vipassana are both results of one method, either one, so it shouldn't make a difference?

practicing samatha leads one gradually into vipassana.. both are not the same...
« Last Edit: December 21, 2013, 05:48:16 PM by siddharthgode »

redalert

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Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2013, 09:02:17 PM »

Insight of 3 characteristics is not possible in anapana or samatha.

Why not?

J0rrit

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Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2013, 10:02:04 PM »
Ajahn Brahm and the author of ' With each and every breath'  say that Anapanasati is the ONLY meditation taught by the budda. The three characteristics can be observed in the breath itself (full body breath awareness). It is only ONE meditation that leads to both Vipassana (insight) and samatha (calm). There is no such dividing of a vipassana meditation and the Anapanasati meditation taught in the Forest tradition. If I'm correct, there are no instructions for a seperate Vipassana meditation in the suttas.

If I'm not wrong a lot of people on this forum are practicing Anapanasati (e.a. Matthew).

I think there is no such thing as a samatha and a vipassana meditation. There is only one meditation that the buddha taught: Anapanasati, called Bhavana by Ajahn Brahm, instead of Vipassana or Samatha

Also, in Jhana the three characteristics can be observed very very well (Vipassana)
« Last Edit: December 21, 2013, 10:09:14 PM by J0rrit »

J0rrit

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Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2013, 10:06:18 PM »
Dear Jorrit,

I am writing this from the view of a student of Vipassana as taught by S. N. Goenka. It might look different from other perspectives.
However in the meditation i practice Anapanasati is basically a prerequisite for the practice of Vipassana.
In Vipassana we observe the sensations on the surface and inside the body. This requires a capacity of awareness which is accomplished by the practice of Anapanasati.

With Metta
Mogo

If you do the Anapanasati well, you don't observe the breath at the nostrils or abdomen. No, you observe the breath in whole, so all the sensations that make up the breath. Than that's the same as your Goenka meditation, right ?

Pacific Flow

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Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2013, 04:38:31 AM »

If you do the Anapanasati well, you don't observe the breath at the nostrils or abdomen. No, you observe the breath in whole, so all the sensations that make up the breath. Than that's the same as your Goenka meditation, right ?

I find it hard to judge what Gotama actually taught based on scriptures as i am not a historian, nor a linguist. The teachings were written pretty long time after Gotama had passed away. Untill then they had to be conserved by human memory. Afterwards they had to be passed on by hundreds of generations to reach us. The only thing we can really do to verify the teaching we are receiving is to check wether it fullfills certain criteria, e.g. it should be universal, it should be simple and understandable to most people, it should purify the mind, it should give a positive result here and now.
Based on those and other criteria each of us has to make his/her own judgement how likely it is that whatever they are practising is actually what the Buddha taught.

The difference between the body scan method and the method that you describe as the forest monk tradition is, as far as i see it, that in the latter you are not going to observe sensations in every part of the body indiscriminatly. There seems to be a certain selection process, i.e. to identify sensations that are related to respiration.
In the Goenka tradition it is regarded as important to make sure you do not select in any way. Plus it wants you to make sure not to miss any part of the body so that you get to work with all the different kinds of sensations that manifest on the different parts of the body. The gross as well as the subtle. Sometimes the subtler sensations are only to be felt on the palms of the hands or the sole of the feet. If you would only observe sensations related to breathing you might miss out on that. It is regarded as important to feel those subtle sensations in order to train the mind to feel subtler realities.
Hope that gives you a good idea about how an answer to your question might look like from a Goenka Vipassana meditators perspective.
Wish you all a happy and peaceful christmas!

Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2013, 05:40:45 AM »
bravo pacific flow bravo.. well said .....

bowing down

its hard to have full awareness of all the sensation when mind is reacting, ... so we work on small parts of the body and increase equanimity and to increase awareness... full body breath awareness is good to calm the mind but we miss many sensations in it...

so one has to learn to mix them both and experiment and find the path that gives result.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2013, 05:58:18 AM by siddharthgode »

J0rrit

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Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2013, 01:29:40 PM »
This is what I think about it:

Vipassana is more into getting insight into impermanence of phenomenon because of watching phenomenon rise and fall (but, as I learned it, you focus on an object till the attention/attraction lessens, instead of watching it fall; because some things won't fall. This means that every meditation can end up staying with one object that won't disappear, like an itch or a pain).

Anapanasati(if practiced proper, so full body breathing awareness and NOT tip of the nose; because with this you exclude everything else). With full body breathing awareness your attention is still divided and you notice phenomenon rise on the background. If you return immediately to the breath, maybe 2 minutes later you notice the phenomenon is gone. This also makes you see impermanence. But with anapanasati you come into deep meditative states where especially non-self can be noticed very well (in my experience). Also is the mind so calm and in such a deep meditation that attraction to all mind objects is very lowered. This results in that the mind is so mindfull and unattached that both non-self and impermanence can be viewed very well.

At least this is my opinion. I think that is also strange that the Buddha (if I'm right) never taught vipassana (so waiting till objects rise and fall and than returning to the breath) but he only taught Anapanasati.

J0rrit

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Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2013, 01:37:49 PM »
I would like some Anapanasati-practitioners to reply in the discussion !

Renze

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Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2013, 03:22:37 PM »
I've recently changed my mind about a few things. There were a few arguments I used to 'defend' practicing anapanasati, which I now realize are completely stupid:

1. The Buddha practiced and taught anapanasati. We don't actually know this for sure. The historical Buddha, if he ever existed, is gone. Completely overwritten by a fictional character from the Pali Canon. Yes, that fictional character practices anapanasati. But the argument is very weak.

2. The importance of Jhana in the Pali Canon. The problem with the Pali Canon is the cacophony of texts that overlap and contradict each other, and the problems translating it. Jayarava explains it quite well on his blog: http://jayarava.blogspot.ca/2013/12/is-there-any-such-thing-as-text.html This makes it very difficult to claim that there was one true teaching.

I still practice anapanasati because I think the tranquility has a positive effect on my wellbeing. I won't, however, defend my particular technique with fundamentalism anymore. I'm beginning to think meditation is overrated anyway.

Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2013, 08:32:47 PM »
Vipassana is more into getting insight into impermanence of phenomenon because of watching phenomenon rise and fall (but, as I learned it, you focus on an object till the attention/attraction lessens, instead of watching it fall; because some things won't fall. This means that every meditation can end up staying with one object that won't disappear, like an itch or a pain).

This is happening because the mind is still gross. Actually the object that u think won't disappear like an itch or a pain is arising and passing away at a very fast rate and they need to be broken down and observed with equanimity. In vipassana as equanimity increases we see all sensations break down into a arising and passing away phenomena.

Quote
With full body breathing awareness your attention is still divided and you notice phenomenon rise on the background. If you return immediately to the breath, maybe 2 minutes later you notice the phenomenon is gone. This also makes you see impermanence.

This is a very gross level understanding of impermanence that we gain. It can be disproved by some of the experiences at this stage... i.e., you will have contradictory experiences like above ( pain etc.)

Quote
But with anapanasati you come into deep meditative states where especially non-self can be noticed very well (in my experience)
I never had non-self wisdom arise from full body breathing....

Quote
I think that is also strange that the Buddha (if I'm right) never taught vipassana (so waiting till objects rise and fall and than returning to the breath) but he only taught Anapanasati.

Quote
I find it hard to judge what Gotama actually taught based on scriptures as i am not a historian, nor a linguist. The teachings were written pretty long time after Gotama had passed away. Untill then they had to be conserved by human memory. Afterwards they had to be passed on by hundreds of generations to reach us. The only thing we can really do to verify the teaching we are receiving is to check wether it fullfills certain criteria, e.g. it should be universal, it should be simple and understandable to most people, it should purify the mind, it should give a positive result here and now.
Based on those and other criteria each of us has to make his/her own judgement how likely it is that whatever they are practising is actually what the Buddha taught.

Pacific Flow

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Re: Vipassana vs Anapanasati
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2013, 11:46:52 AM »
Totally agree with Renze. It's silly to defend ones particular way of practice against critisism to the bone. Also agree that it doesn't make much sense to claim the Buddha taught this and that because the scriptures say so.
I am repeating myself but i think it's important to understand that based on certain criteria each of us has to decide themselves wether the technique they practice works or not. Simple as that.
Now according to Jorit the Buddha taught only Anapanasati. But the way he interprets it is basically mixing elements of Anapana and Vipassana into one.
If it works i don't see anything wrong with that at all!
I have been well off with seperating the two, bare awareness of breath and working with sensations throughout the body.
As long as it works for me i will stick with that. I have evidence on the experientel level that it does indeed purify my mind. The ego gets dissolved gradually. The conglomerates of tensions that disappear especially during serious meditation periods on retreats are actually removed, not surpressed. So i am a happy camper.
However if i should ever feel my way of meditation doesn't give me anymore progress, then certainly i will have to consider changing something about my practice.
Generally, and that's what i believe the Buddha taught :p, one really shouldn't accept any teaching blindly. Always be smart and evaluate. Don't be a fundamentalist.
Merry Christmas to all! Hope everyone is happy with the people you treasure!

 

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