Author Topic: What is the best practice?  (Read 26739 times)

yossarian

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #50 on: June 05, 2014, 05:56:12 PM »
The most success I've had in anapana instruction came from a guided meditation included with this book: http://www.amazon.com/Insight-Meditation-Step-By-Step-Course-Meditate/dp/1564559068/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401986891&sr=8-2&keywords=insight+meditation

In it you start with awareness of hearing, make a conscious note of how there is not trying needed, you don't need to label, think, etc in order to be aware of sounds. From here you move onto the breath. There is a strong emphasis throughout on effortless awareness and while it certainly sounds paradoxical, its possible. You go from trying to just being. Some part of you is filtering out everything but breath sensation but there is no sense of effort to it at all.

I had a great deal of success with this guided meditation when I first started but kind of lost my sense of effortless awareness when I went on a Goenka retreat. Don't get me wrong, Goenka emphasized the same kinds of things sans the hearing awareness (awareness should be effortless, don't judge when you lose it, smilingly let go and come back etc...) but I was so worried that I wouldn't get anything out of my 10 day retreat that I pushed very very hard. I remember at one point pretending I was doing an exercise rep every time I came back to the breath... smh

Now, I feel like I got what I was supposed to out of my retreat but I rarely if ever am able to practice anapana without getting very tense and worked up.

 "Why sit with tension? I told you, sit and relax!" lol
« Last Edit: June 05, 2014, 05:58:22 PM by yossarian »

VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #51 on: June 06, 2014, 11:33:58 PM »
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There are still sounds, tastes etc.? And why wouldn't awareness end up being stuck on the heartbeat for instance, if you don't make any active focus of awareness on the breath ?

I believe the technique in which what you are speaking of is most likely is open awareness, or focusing awareness on whatever comes up in the moment without consciously directing one's attention to any place in particular.  This is not the technique I am speaking of. 

Like I said, following Vamalasari's meditation technique, I have no active focus on my breath.  My active focus is on tranquilizing my body/mind formation, although this is done in relation to the breath, using each in and out breath as a reminder to tranquilize, and I still have awareness of my breath, but it is in the background of my consciousness. 

The sounds and other external distractions that arise are released, they are not focused upon, but rather the way in which one internally responds to these distractions is noted before the meditation object (relaxing on the breaths) is returned to. 

The reason why something such as the heartbeat isn't usually brought to the forefront of one's attention during this technique is because it is usually more subtle than the more corse and noticeable movements of the breath, and also because one is busy honing in on the meditation object of tranquilizing the body and mind, and so unless the heartbeat is mindfully looked for, it should not arise in it's normal resting state, unless it is jumping out of your chest due to some kind of internal stress.

Tobin

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #52 on: June 15, 2014, 11:57:39 AM »
I would be interested to hear Matthews experiences with TWM.
Regards,
Tobin

Billymac629

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #53 on: July 05, 2014, 10:43:17 PM »
The best buddhist practice???  The eight fold path is the best practice!! As for meditation, I dont know if there is one "best".  The Budhha never taught one specific method.  Reading the Tipitika, I would say the Satipatthana practice is "the best" meditation practice... 
The Buddha references these practices to be of great fruit multiple times in the suttas.

and, personally, I take what Vimalaramsi says with a grain of salt.  I believe he bends the truth and makes up stories.
I've talked to one of his biggest advocates and longest students on many occasions.   He usually reverts back to what Vim says while I revert to what the suttas say.  But I digress.....  To each their own  ;)

I tend to learn mostly from Bhikkhu Analayo and Bhikkhu Thanissaro.  IMHO they seem to be the most knowledgeable when it comes to the Satipatthana practice.  (Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhikkhu Sujato are also quite good)

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VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #54 on: July 06, 2014, 01:28:57 AM »
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He usually reverts back to what Vim says while I revert to what the suttas say.  But I digress.....  To each their own

Your digression actually raises an interesting point that I'd like to inquire into.  I'm curious as to what you perceive the differences to be between Vim's teachings and the suttas.  It's funny because he is constantly saying that his teachings are different from many others because he takes them directly from the suttas rather than from the commentaries.  Of course, anyone teaching from the suttas is essentially creating their own commentaries, but I suppose this generally allows for a more unadulterated teaching than commentaries on commentaries on commentaries.

yossarian

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #55 on: July 06, 2014, 02:49:11 AM »
  I'm curious as to what you perceive the differences to be between Vim's teachings and the suttas.  It's funny because he is constantly saying that his teachings are different from many others because he takes them directly from the suttas rather than from the commentaries.  Of course, anyone teaching from the suttas is essentially creating their own commentaries, but I suppose this generally allows for a more unadulterated teaching than commentaries on commentaries on commentaries.

I know you weren't asking me, but I've recently been introduced to Vim and his method and there were a few things that stood out to me after reading the beginning of one of his books and having also recently read much of the Digha and Majjhima Nikaya's on Access to Insight. Most notably, his 6R's. They are completely his invention. There is nothing about relaxing head tension or even such a process of perceiving tension anywhere in the sutta's that I've read but he insists upon it as being essential to the practice.  ::)
 

VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #56 on: July 06, 2014, 04:17:26 PM »
There is nothing about relaxing head tension or even such a process of perceiving tension anywhere in the sutta's that I've read but he insists upon it as being essential to the practice.  ::)

From the Dictionary:
"Relax: to become or to cause (something) to become less tense, tight, or stiff,  to relieve from nervous tension."
"Tension: a feeling of nervousness that makes you unable to relax; inner striving, unrest, or imbalance often with physiological indication of emotion"

From the Anapanasati Sutta: "He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in tranquilizing the bodily formation'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out tranquilizing the bodily formation'."

From the dictionary:
"Tranquilize: to make or become tranquil or calm."
"Tranquil: free from agitation of mind or spirit, free from disturbance or turmoil."
Synonyms of calm: tranquil, relaxed.

There is nothing about relaxing head tension or even such a process of perceiving tension anywhere in the sutta's that I've read but he insists upon it as being essential to the practice.  ::)

From the dictionary:
"Perceive: become aware or conscious of (something); come to realize or understand."

From the Anapanasati Sutta: "He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.'"

From the dictionary:
"Sensitive: quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences."

Billymac629

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #57 on: July 06, 2014, 04:33:19 PM »
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He usually reverts back to what Vim says while I revert to what the suttas say.  But I digress.....  To each their own

Your digression actually raises an interesting point that I'd like to inquire into.  I'm curious as to what you perceive the differences to be between Vim's teachings and the suttas. 
I have already discussed an area of his teaching on this forum in which I used the Venerable Dhammanando's correction on how Vimalaramsi uses tranquilize, one translation from the pali term"passambahti." So I won't go into it again.

Yossarian point stems off of it quite nicely:
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. Most notably, his 6R's. They are completely his invention. There is nothing about relaxing head tension or even such a process of perceiving tension anywhere in the sutta's that I've read but he insists upon it as being essential to the practice. 

He also teaches that the brahma viharas can lead to complete liberation..  This is not a teaching in the suttas.

He tends to create his own practice and then try to find reference in the suttas.. many times manipulating the canon to make his point seem correct. 

That being said, if his method of meditation works for you, then by all means use it.  It is just not as steeped in the suttas as he professes.

also you say:
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It's funny because he is constantly saying that his teachings are different from many others because he takes them directly from the suttas rather than from the commentaries.
again this is not true..  many teachers have taught very similar to Vimalaramsi..  and many, many teachers have a "sutta base" teaching method..  He did not start that kind of teaching nor did he find something "new."  His main fallacy is that he does not have sufficient knowledge of all teachers' knowledge and/or methods of teaching.  No one does.

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Billymac629

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #58 on: July 06, 2014, 05:04:39 PM »
There is nothing about relaxing head tension or even such a process of perceiving tension anywhere in the sutta's that I've read but he insists upon it as being essential to the practice.  ::)

From the Dictionary:
"Relax: to become or to cause (something) to become less tense, tight, or stiff,  to relieve from nervous tension."

That is correct...  unfortunately that is not how "passambahti" (and related words (passaddha, passaddhi, passambhayaṃ, etc.) are used in the suttas.   Its closest meaning to me seams to be "to calm" or "to let settle"...

If I had a glass of water and stirred it up the water would have become disturbed or agitated.  If the glass is set down on a table, one could say the water will become calm..  or settled..
what would sound absurd would be to say that the water is relaxed??????????   The water was never tensed...

I am also not quite sure you understand the meaning of formation, a translation from the pali term sankhara.   Another translation of the term that is used is construction.

although now I believe we are getting off topic so I will suggest we get back to the OP..

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VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #59 on: July 06, 2014, 05:23:49 PM »
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Its closest meaning to me seams to be "to calm" or "to let settle

Can you explain the difference between relax and calm when applied to bodily formations?

Billymac629

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #60 on: July 06, 2014, 05:38:55 PM »
Quote
Its closest meaning to me seams to be "to calm" or "to let settle

Can you explain the difference between relax and calm when applied to bodily formations?
tranquilize means to calm....  unfortunately there is a second usage of the term as seen in the medical field which lends itself to mean relax..  (i.e. someone takes a tranquilizer..)

If one is tranquilizing/calming the bodily formations/fabrications/constructions, then one is allowing and/or having those formations settle or calm down.
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VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #61 on: July 06, 2014, 05:43:45 PM »
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If one is tranquilizing/calming the bodily formations/fabrications/constructions, then one is allowing and/or having those formations settle or calm down.

So is relaxing physical tension something different from settling or calming bodily formations?  Is it not a part of that process? 

By the way, your reply didn't address the difference between relaxing and calming bodily formations.  In my mind they are synonymous.  Perhaps there is something I am not seeing that you can bring to my attention, or perhaps you're creating an unnecessary distinction.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 05:57:11 PM by VinceField »

yossarian

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #62 on: July 06, 2014, 06:55:20 PM »
There is nothing about relaxing head tension or even such a process of perceiving tension anywhere in the sutta's that I've read but he insists upon it as being essential to the practice.  ::)

From the Dictionary:
"Relax: to become or to cause (something) to become less tense, tight, or stiff,  to relieve from nervous tension."
"Tension: a feeling of nervousness that makes you unable to relax; inner striving, unrest, or imbalance often with physiological indication of emotion"

From the Anapanasati Sutta: "He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in tranquilizing the bodily formation'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out tranquilizing the bodily formation'."

From the dictionary:
"Tranquilize: to make or become tranquil or calm."
"Tranquil: free from agitation of mind or spirit, free from disturbance or turmoil."
Synonyms of calm: tranquil, relaxed.

There is nothing about relaxing head tension or even such a process of perceiving tension anywhere in the sutta's that I've read but he insists upon it as being essential to the practice.  ::)

From the dictionary:
"Perceive: become aware or conscious of (something); come to realize or understand."

From the Anapanasati Sutta: "He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.'"

From the dictionary:
"Sensitive: quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences."

If you consider meditation an order to or of perceiving things in a certain way like I do then said way makes a difference. The 6R's, to be even identified, defined, and organized as a perceptual instruction or guideline, are a construct that is not in the Sutta's. You may argue, he's saying the same thing but he's simply not. He's making a refinement of what's already there. There is nothing about "Remembering to smile" in the Sutta's, you may say there is nothing wrong with it and that's fine but you asked if it were different and I said it is indeed. Even the instruction to "Recognize" the mind is distracted is not in the Suttas so we can assume the Buddha, the guy who thought all this stuff up, did not see it as a necessary distinction and distinctions do make a difference.


I'll give you an example: prior to reading him, I never noticed a particular tension in the center of my forehead but I noticed a number of small tensions existing across my scalp (and throughout my body) depending on what my mind was doing (this is normal and measurement of these micro-tensions is typically how brain wave patterns are determined) once I read him and tried his method, the center-of-forehead tension appeared. It's totally psychosomatic and his explanation for the tension, the contraction of the dura mater is entirely speculative and originates from "holistic medicine" (read unfounded medical) practices. He's taking his personal experience and over-generalizing it to his audience, neglecting to consider that they also have their own personal experiences of "what craving feels like". I suspect many people would describe craving as coming from the gut, not the head but with his method they're kind of persuaded into only noticing and focusing on a particular aspect.

Also, I think you're misinterpreting the Anapanasati Sutta. Bodily Formation doesn't mean "tension in your forehead" it's typically taken to mean the breath:

"But what are bodily fabrications? What are verbal fabrications? What are mental fabrications?"

"In-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications."

"But why are in-&-out breaths bodily fabrications? Why are directed thought & evaluation verbal fabrications? Why are perceptions & feelings mental fabrications?"

"In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That's why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech. That's why directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental; these are things tied up with the mind. That's why perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications."



http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.044.than.html
« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 07:23:43 PM by yossarian »

Billymac629

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #63 on: July 06, 2014, 07:15:18 PM »
Quote

By the way, your reply didn't address the difference between relaxing and calming bodily formations. 

there is a slight difference.. You can only relax something that is tight or tense... You can calm something that is disturbed or agitated (it does not have to be tight or tense)..  a lake can be calm, the wind can be calm...  my mind can become calm..
its kinda awkward to say that a lake is relaxed.. when was it ever tensed???  or the wind is relaxed..  again, was it tight before??

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So is relaxing physical tension something different from settling or calming bodily formations?

I would say it could be involved in the calming or settling..     

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Is it not a part of that process? 
An aid in the calming process. Sure it can be if parts of your body are tense  ;D

but things need not be "tight" or "tensed" in order to be calmed.
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I will breathe in calming the mental formation.... 
Now the same verb is in the sutta agian, but now with mental fabrications.  One trains to calm these or settle these fabrications down..  are your mental formations ever tight or tense?  Mine have never been..lol
Do you have to relax them? Please explain how one would relax a mental formation?  Explain how intangible things like mental formations can become tight so that they would need to be relaxed?????

even in the chinese translation, passambhati is translated:"to calm; to quiet"

by the way, the suttas define "bodily formations." In its definition it does not say "membrane around the brain"..  nor does it say anything like that for verbal or mental formations.
And while I'm covering it, craving being tightness in the head is not found in the entire Tipitika..
« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 10:52:30 PM by Billymac629 »
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J0rrit

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #64 on: July 06, 2014, 07:25:06 PM »
What is meant than with bodily formations? What is the method of meditation that you follow billymac?

yossarian

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #65 on: July 06, 2014, 07:30:03 PM »
What is meant than with bodily formations? What is the method of meditation that you follow billymac?

If you refer to my edited post above, it will answer this question although formation is translated as fabrication  ;D

Billymac629

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #66 on: July 06, 2014, 07:33:01 PM »
What is meant than with bodily formations?
well Yossarian just stated above what parts of the suttas say...lol
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"In-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications.""In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body."
I like to say anything that constructs the body, or is constructed in order for the body to be.
(You can substitute forms or fabricates in for constructs if you wish)
What is the method of meditation that you follow billymac?
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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #67 on: July 06, 2014, 09:12:44 PM »
Could you explain your meditation further, what do you do (instructions) ?

Billymac629

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #68 on: July 06, 2014, 10:19:19 PM »
Could you explain your meditation further, what do you do (instructions) ?
I usually use the 16 steps of mindfulness of breathing as my meditation...  Other times I will use one of the four foundations to be my meditation object.. I tend towards mindfulness of the body... I sometimes use a body scan meditation.  I will also use the brahma viharas when appropriate..   When hindrances come up I deal with them as the buddha instructed..
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VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #69 on: July 06, 2014, 10:29:51 PM »
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He's making a refinement of what's already there.

This sutta necessitates refinement due to a lack of comprehensive details.  It tells you what to do, but it does not tell you how exactly to do it and thus the teachings vary among traditions and teachers.

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Even the instruction to "Recognize" the mind is distracted is not in the Suttas so we can assume the Buddha, the guy who thought all this stuff up, did not see it as a necessary distinction and distinctions do make a difference.

From the Anapanasati Sutta: He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.'[4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.'

Quote
there is a slight difference.. You can only relax something that is tight or tense... You can calm something that is disturbed or agitated (it does not have to be tight or tense)..  a lake can be calm, the wind can be calm...  my mind can become calm..
its kinda awkward to say that a lake is relaxed.. when was it ever tensed???

So we have basically come to an agreement that there is not much difference.  We are not speaking about lakes or impersonal objects that are seemingly separate from ourselves... the calming is done in reference to bodily formations.  I have been in and/or present during many situations in which a person is agitated or disturbed- not necessarily "tight" or "tensed," (although agitation naturally manifests as tension in the body) and the person who is upset is instructed to... guess what... Relax!  :)  If you relax the breath, you remove the tension from the breathing process and what results is a calm and tranquil breath.  Perhaps there is more of a difference between the words relax and calm when these words are applied to objects that are not of the body, because tension is a natural manifestation of both mental and physical agitation in the body and this can indeed be relaxed.  Although it is also quite common to hear people refer to a situation or environment as "relaxed."  I think we can end the semantic debate on this one, what do you think?  ;)

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once I read him and tried his method, the center-of-forehead tension appeared.

You could be right.  Or perhaps you simply became aware of something that was already present that you didn't previously realize?  Or perhaps you focused too intensely on looking for it?  I believe these are equally valid speculations to your psychosomatic explanation.

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"In-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications.""In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body."
I like to say anything that constructs the body, or is constructed in order for the body to be.
(You can substitute forms or fabricates in for constructs if you wish)

Billymac seems to agree with me (not to mention many prominent monks and scholars) that the breath is not the only bodily fabrication, but rather bodily fabrication consists of all activities, fabrications, and aspects of the body.  Here is a post from another forum with more information on this.

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As I mentioned above many of those based in commentary (eg Pa Auk) interpret kaya here to mean breath-body. Here is Thanissaro's argument against that (and further in his book Right Mindfulness):

The commentaries insist that "body" here means the breath, but this is unlikely in this context, for the next step — without further explanation — refers to the breath as "bodily fabrication." If the Buddha were using two different terms to refer to the breath in such close proximity, he would have been careful to signal that he was redefining his terms (as he does below, when explaining that the first four steps in breath meditation correspond to the practice of focusing on the body in and of itself as a frame of reference). The step of breathing in and out sensitive to the entire body relates to the many similes in the suttas depicting jhana as a state of whole-body awareness (see MN 119).
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/bodymind.html

Thanissaro defined bodily fabrications as things tied up with the body. This seems to be mental fashionings with the four elements: earth, water, wind, fire. And things like shaking Thanissaro probably includes bellow as bodily fevers, being provoked. Here is the rest of the quote from Thanissaro from my first post above:
Of course, this adjustment has to be developed as a skill. If you apply too much pressure or are too heavy-handed in your efforts to adjust the properties of the body, it will give rise to the “fevers” mentioned in SN 47:10. That will require you to step back from the breath and turn the mind to another theme for a while until you feel calmed enough to return to the breath.

The same point applies to step 4. If you apply too much force to calm the breath, it will play havoc with the properties of the body. The body will be
starved of breath energy, and again a “bodily fever” will result. At the same time, it’s important to remember—in line with MN 118’s explanation of the
relationship between rapture and calm as factors for awakening—that one of the most effective ways of calming bodily fabrication is first to breathe in a way that induces a sense of rapture to energize the body and mind. Otherwise, the act of calming bodily fabrication will have a stultifying effect, leading to one of the other problems mentioned in SN 47:10: a sluggishness or constriction in your awareness.

[And above]

According to MN 28, three of these properties—water, fire, and wind—have the potential to become “provoked” (kuppa). In other words, when stimulated,
they can become quite volatile. So when you explore the ways in which the in-and-out breath fabricates the inner sense of the body, these are the three properties most directly responsive to influences from the breath. With regard to
the water property, this could mean breathing in such a way as to raise or lower the blood pressure, for example,or to change the flow of the blood through
different parts of the body: away from an area feeling excess pressure (as when you have a headache) or toward an area that has been injured and needs the
extra nourishment that a healthy blood flow would provide. With regard to the fire property, this could mean breathing in such a way as to feel warmer when
the weather is cold, or cooler when it’s hot. With regard to the wind property, this could mean breathing in ways that would regulate the flow of the energy already coursing through the different parts of the body.

[Further]

When you’ve learned to maintain this sense of balanced stillness in the breath, you can focus on balancing the other properties of the body as well. First balance the heat and the cold. If the body feels too warm, notice where the coolest spot in the body is. Focus on the coolness there, and then allow it to spread, just as you’d spread the still breath. Similarly, if you feel too cold, find the warmest spot in the body. After you can maintain your focus on the warmth there, allow it to spread. See if you can then bring the coolness and warmth into balance, so that the body feels just right.
Similarly with the solidity of the body: Focus on the sensations that seem heaviest or most solid in the body. Then allow that solidity to spread through the body. If the body feels too heavy, then think of the still breath making it lighter. Try to find a balance so that you feel neither too heavy nor too light.
This exercise not only makes the body more comfortable as a basis for firmer
concentration, but also acquaints you with the properties that make up your inner sense of the body. As we noted in Part Two, being acquainted with these properties provides you with a useful set of tools for dealing with pain and out-of-body experiences. This exercise also gives you practice in seeing the power of your perceptions: Simply noticing and labeling a particular sensation can make it stronger. (With Each and Every Breath)

In addition, on the one hand internal tranquility, bodily fabrications calmed down, quieted. On the other hand, insight into phenomena through heightened discernment,
He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perceptions, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, a void, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' (AN 9.36)
« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 10:39:51 PM by VinceField »

yossarian

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #70 on: July 07, 2014, 12:47:25 AM »
Quote
He's making a refinement of what's already there.

This sutta necessitates refinement due to a lack of comprehensive details.  It tells you what to do, but it does not tell you how exactly to do it and thus the teachings vary among traditions and teachers.

Quote
Even the instruction to "Recognize" the mind is distracted is not in the Suttas so we can assume the Buddha, the guy who thought all this stuff up, did not see it as a necessary distinction and distinctions do make a difference.

From the Anapanasati Sutta: He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.'[4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.'

Here you are conflating breath awareness/bodily fabrication into mental fabrication practice but these are two different Foundations of Mindfulness.

You seem to be quite defensive of and attached to Vim's teaching. If this is the case, why ask questions about the differences from the Sutta's.  ;)

« Last Edit: July 07, 2014, 01:09:16 AM by yossarian »

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #71 on: July 07, 2014, 01:10:25 AM »
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Here you are conflating breath awareness into mental fabrication practice but these are two very processes

How so?  I simply equated Vim's teaching of recognizing the mind is distracted to "breathing in sensitive to mental fabrication.  Am I incorrect in doing so?  Did the Buddha not teach mindfulness?  Recognizing the mind is distracted aka being mindful of hinderances is an essential element of the Buddha's teachings.  I think any practicing Buddhist would agree. 

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You seem to be quite defensive of and attached to Vim's teaching. If this is the case, why ask questions about the differences from the Sutta's.  ;)

This is not the case.  I am simply presenting my understanding of the teachings so that perhaps I can gain further insight into the concepts being discussed.  This is why I inquired into the differences between Vim's teachings and the suttas when Billymac mentioned it.  Vim claims to be teaching directly from the suttas, and in hearing that this may not be the case I felt the duty to investigate this claim to ensure I am practicing correctly. 

I think the most unique aspect of Vim's teaching is the smile step.  Vim says that the suttas teach to have an uplifted mind, and this is where the smile comes in.  Is this correct that the suttas teach to have an uplifted mind? 

yossarian

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #72 on: July 07, 2014, 01:27:52 AM »
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Here you are conflating breath awareness into mental fabrication practice but these are two very processes

How so?  I simply equated Vim's teaching of recognizing the mind is distracted to "breathing in sensitive to mental fabrication.  Am I incorrect in doing so?  Did the Buddha not teach mindfulness?  Recognizing the mind is distracted aka being mindful of hinderances is an essential element of the Buddha's teachings.  I think any practicing Buddhist would agree. 


I think the most unique aspect of Vim's teaching is the smile step.  Vim says that the suttas teach to have an uplifted mind, and this is where the smile comes in.  Is this correct that the suttas teach to have an uplifted mind?

My point was that "breathing in sensitive to mental fabrication" is further along the path (mind awareness) than body/breath awareness. You might argue that the Satipatthana Sutta is not temporal but I think most people hold it to be.

What you call "recognizing", along with the other 5R's seem to me more like "directed thought and evaluation" aka "verbal fabrication" rather than true, experiential awareness but it seems to be very common (IMS has the RAIN approach) to each his own I suppose.

The reason I think that is here:

"The thought does not occur to a monk as he is attaining the cessation of perception & feeling that 'I am about to attain the cessation of perception & feeling' or that 'I am attaining the cessation of perception & feeling' or that 'I have attained the cessation of perception & feeling.' Instead, the way his mind has previously been developed leads him to that state."

I don't know many of the numerous variety of teachings but in the Goenka tradition, the 6R's would be considered a construct i.e. "not experiencing true reality as it is", and therefore is discouraged. That is also why he discourages labeling the breaths.

If there are specific instructions in the suttas about keeping an uplifted mind, I haven't found them. The state of jhana is supposed to be pleasant...

« Last Edit: July 07, 2014, 01:44:05 AM by yossarian »

Billymac629

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #73 on: July 07, 2014, 01:35:09 AM »
[So we have basically come to an agreement that there is not much difference.  We are not speaking about lakes or impersonal objects that are seemingly separate from ourselves... the calming is done in reference to bodily formations.  I have been in and/or present during many situations in which a person is agitated or disturbed- not necessarily "tight" or "tensed," (although agitation naturally manifests as tension in the body) and the person who is upset is instructed to... guess what... Relax! 
Thats cool, but just because you and those people you talk about say relax instead of calm (as in "calm down"), doesn't mean what I said is incorrect. 
You are using relax to mean to calm down..  as you said
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I have been in and/or present during many situations in which a person is agitated or disturbed- not necessarily "tight" or "tensed,"
You are using the word relax with settling down agitation and/or disturbance.... NOT tightness or tension..
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If you relax the breath, you remove the tension from the breathing process
the breath is a concept, you can't relax it..
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I think we can end the semantic debate on this one, what do you think? 
  I'm not really debating..lol  I'm not trying to persuade you..lol do what you want  ;D
  I just don't want others reading this to think what your saying is based in the suttas.. 
Vimalaramsi states (and i quote) to
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"relax the tension and tightness in ones head
.  The Venerable Dhammanando responded to that and here is what he stated (which is brilliant):   (all emphasis with bold and colored print is mine)
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Now Vimalaraṃsī's argument requires one to assume that the secondary sense of the English verb "to tranquillize" is the primary sense of the Pali verb "passambhati", (or if not that, then it is at least the sense that the Buddha had in mind when he taught the Ānāpānassati Sutta).

And what's wrong with that? What's wrong is that the venerable ought not to have assumed anything of the kind. Rather than making the linguistically naïve assumption of there being a perfect symmetry between the semantic range of "passambhati" and that of "tranquillize", he ought to have investigated how "passambhati" and related words (passaddha, passaddhi, passambhayaṃ, etc.) are used in the Suttas. Had he done so, he would have discovered that all the Pali words that occur in binary opposition to passambhati have to do with agitation or disturbance or turbulence. Passambhati and its derivatives NEVER occur in opposition to any of the Pali words denoting tightness or tenseness.

This is not of course to say that the method devised by Ven. Vimalaraṃsī may not be an effective practice, but merely that it is not nearly so well-grounded in the Suttas as he imagines it to be.

and then continues on about the verb "passambhati" which I already gave the meaning to above.  He immediately dismisses Vimalaramsi's relax step. as having meaning of "passambhayaṁ kāyasaṅkhāraṁ" (calming bodily fabrications) and gives great support.
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As "relaxing" doesn't fall within the semantic range of "passambhati", nor within the scope of the practical explanation of "tranquillizing the bodily formation" given in the Ānāpānakathā of the Paṭisambhidāmagga, I think it's a mistake on the venerable's part to introduce the idea at all, regardless of what other actions he might prescribe to supplement it. Or at least he cannot do so and still claim that his method is "not his "own opinion", but is actually the Lord Buddha's own instruction given in a clear and precise way . . . .the "Undiluted Dhamma", because it comes directly from the Suttas themselves, without a lot of additions or free-lance ideas."

As it is, it is the very first gloss that he offers when explaining "tranquillising the bodily formation." To quote again:

[Tranquillising the bodily formation] instructs one to notice the tightness, which arises in the head with every arising of a consciousness, and let that tightness go, while on the in-breath and out-breath. Then one feels their mind open up, expand, relax and become tranquil.

By way of contrast, let's take a look at the oldest extant record (and the only canonical description we have) of what it means to tranquillise the bodily formation in ānāpānassati, the Ānāpānakathā of the Paṭisambhidāmagga. The author of this exposition, traditionally given as Sāriputta, begins very sensibly by defining the key term "bodily formation" (which, by the way, I notice Ven. Vimalaraṃsī has neglected to do):

"'Tranquillising the bodily formation (passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ), I shall breathe in,' thus he trains himself; 'tranquillising the bodily formation, I shall breathe out,' thus he trains himself."

"Bodily-formation (kāyasaṅkhāraṃ)": long in-breaths, long out-breaths, short in-breaths, short out-breaths, breathing in experiencing the whole body, breathing out experiencing the whole body — these things are bodily properties; being bound up with the body they are bodily formations.

In other words, "bodily formation" is to be understood as comprising all the modes of breath previously itemized in the first tetrad. Essentially this is a more expansive version of the short definition given by the bhikkhunī Dhammadinnā in the Cullavedalla Sutta (MN. 44):

"But, lady, what is the bodily formation? ..."
"In-breathing and out-breathing, friend Visākha, are the bodily formation..."
"But, lady, why are in-breathing and out-breathing the bodily formation? ..."
"Friend Visākha, in-breathing and out-breathing are bodily, these are states bound up with the body; that is why in-breathing and out-breathing are the bodily formation." (MN. 44)

Sāriputta then offers a series of glosses on "tranquillizing" (passambhayaṃ):

He trains himself by tranquillising (passambhento), causing to cease (nirodhento), pacifying (vūpasamento), those bodily formations.

No mention of relaxing any "tight mental fists" in one's head or body or mind or anywhere else. No words that could by any stretch of the imagination have to do with relaxing anything.

The author then makes a distinction between gross and subtle bodily formations, according to whether or not the long breaths, short breaths, etc., are coarse enough to generate bodily motion:

Such bodily formations whereby there is bending backward, sideways, all ways, forward, shaking, trembling, moving of the body — "'tranquillising the bodily formation, I shall breathe in,' thus he trains himself; 'tranquillising the bodily formation, I shall breathe out,' thus he trains himself."
Such bodily formations whereby there is no bending backward, sideways, all ways, forward, shaking, trembling, moving of the body — "'Tranquillising the quiet and subtle bodily formation, I shall breathe in,' thus he trains himself; 'tranquillising the quiet and subtle bodily formation, I shall breathe out,' thus he trains himself."

In the final part, which I won't quote (you can download Ñāṇamoli's translation from ATI) the author gives the simile of the gong to show how breathing can continue despite the tranquillizing of it, and then relates the tetrad to the three aggregates of training, sati and sampajañña, faculties, powers, factors of awakening, etc.

Now as stated earlier.  If Vimalaramsi's method works for you then great!!!!  Don't let anyone, especially me, persuade you to leave a meditation technique if you feel it benefits you.  I don't really have any issues with his method.  Others teach something similar (and in my opinion better or at least better organized)   

I wil give a warning to "newbies" however. Whenever someone makes a statement that only he knows the Buddha's true method of practice.  That only he got it right and everyone else got it wrong, you might want to turn around and walk away.

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Billymac629

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #74 on: July 07, 2014, 01:49:30 AM »
I think the most unique aspect of Vim's teaching is the smile step.  Vim says that the suttas teach to have an uplifted mind, and this is where the smile comes in.  Is this correct that the suttas teach to have an uplifted mind?
I believe Vim got the smile technique from Thich Nhat Hanh..   Thich Nhat Hanh has been teaching "smiling" for over 60 years.  I think one of the first publications of Thich's "smiling" technique is from the 1960's. 
Buddha talks about needing to uplift the mind at times so this "smiling"could aid in that i guess. 

 I think I remember hearing smiling has a psychological effect on the mind.. even fake smiling causes these effects I believe..

may all be well
« Last Edit: July 07, 2014, 03:48:57 AM by Billymac629 »
Nothing in this world is to be clung to as I, me, or mine...