Poll

Should we find faults or learn from other methods?

Find Faults within other systems
1 (11.1%)
Learn from other methods
3 (33.3%)
Respect all methods
4 (44.4%)
Disrespect other methods
0 (0%)
Stay unconcerned and let them fight
1 (11.1%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Voting closed: May 05, 2017, 02:38:17 PM

Author Topic: Demeaning one method and Glorifying other! Learn from each other or find faults?  (Read 3241 times)

Vishal

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Hi Friends,

I am happy to be a part of this group. I have read through many of the new and old posts and some thoughts, unfortunately the main theme of the forum seemingly revolves around Goenka Vipassana vs other methods. I agree that there are some other helpful topics too.

I yet again after so many discussions amongst you all which have not reached to any constructive conclusions want to bring this topic up, not to introduce more arguments or defend one technique or slam down other. However, to see if we can all learn from each other, to find, if there is a way in which we can appreciate all the methods, learn about them from each other, and may be boost our own understanding of the Dhamma as found by the Buddha.

I am grateful and quite fortunate to be able to work with two prevailing techniques and theories of (Samattha of Forest tradition & Goenka ji Vipassana) at different times which gave me a good understanding of the methods. The difference is of which patthana (frame) we are working on to strengthen and establish our satti (mindfulness) upon out of the 4 mahasattipatthana (great frames) as taught by the Buddha himself. Other differences can quite easily be ignored.

Four Frames - Body, Feelings (sensations), Mind, Mental Qualities.

As noticed, the main disagreements amongst different schools are not on the four frames but major disputes are about the beginning stage of the discourse that is of breath meditation also known as anapana satti. The Buddha never gave any unsuitable discourse to an unsuitable group. It was always customised and well thought of based on the understanding, preparation, capability and potential of the listeners. In this case, the discourse was given to Kurus in Kuru country who were known to be very strong in their Sila (Virtues) practice. So they had a very strong foundation to be able to directly receive a discourse on four frames with breath meditation as the starting point. (There are about 40 other objects of meditation to choose from suggested by the Buddha for students with different temperament)

Interestingly, the breath as an object of meditation is common in both the practices i.e. Samattha and Vipassana.
(Breath was also the object of meditation of the Buddha as highlighted in many places) Breath as an object of meditation is also one of the most difficult to work with and not every one has the temperament to keep up with this object and hence many other objects of meditation are at our disposal.

Confusion is with how to meditate with breath? Either at the tip of the nose above the upper lips, either at the chest or abdomen or the entire body of the breath. The confusion and disagreements are completely pointless as where ever we focus on we are trying to achieve a one pointed mind. We can use the teeth, nails, body hair etc as well to reach at the one pointed mind. So why keep fighting about which part of the breath on what body part we observe it.

Buddha said "he sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out". Now setting the mindfulness to the fore (in front or in action) in regards to breath can be on the tip of the nose, or chest. Whatever we choose to do the result should be mindfulness of breath. If you reach mindfulness by observing the breath at the nose or at the chest how does it matters as you are not going to stay there for ever, we will have to move on to give place to discernment, insight or Vipassana on one of the four frames. We can keep working with the breath but then body, feelings, mind, and mental qualities will take centre stage. So why so much fuss about breath as a tool of mindfulness as there are about 40 others to select from.   

Moving forward one has to start working on one frame then as we grow our satti, we see all the four frames start to strengthen and tend to become one complete whole and can be centred on one practice.

The point of contention and quite ignorant of many of us is as the follows -

"keeping the breath in mind. When the mind is with the breath, all four frames of reference are right there"

Vs

"Keeping the feeling in mind, when the mind is with the feelings, all four frames of reference are right there.

Vs

"Keeping the mind in the mind, when the mind is with the mind, all four frames of reference are right there.

Vs

"Keeping the mind in the mental qualities, when the mind is with the mental qualities, all four frames of reference are right there.

Do you see the point here? We all have been unnecessarily tying to prove one method as better then other on the contrary the Buddha himself gave us four different frames or starting points but all leading to one centre point. Like four doors to enter a hall, and each door will take us in the centre from where we can see all the four doors and keep a watch on them. Who ever knocks the door and we are aware and awake and with wisdom to deal with the knock. 

It is all counter-productive to spend hours finding faults in others techniques. Each person has a temperament and mental setup to work with a suitable object of meditation. One person may find the Goenka technique harmful or dangerous as it is not meant for him but others find the same technique as the door to Nirvana. Someone may find the Samattha technique or technique of chanting 'Buddho" as negative but others will find it immensely beneficial or door to Nirvana. There is no one fit for all solution available here and that's the beauty of Buddha's teachings. 

Important is that we try a technique and if it works for us then we stick to it and don't jump around or mix different techniques to keep it safe. More important is that we do not look down on other's method as it is almost as doubting the Buddha himself as all what we have has come from the Buddha and his disciples monks.

As one technique (Samattha) was developed and perfected in the forest of Thailand prior to that in Shri Lanka by the respected monks. Similarly, the other technique (Vipassana) is developed and perfected in the forest by the equally respected monks of Myanmar.

So, dear friends, fighting about which technique is better is very futile and is an hindrance in our practice. You will keep finding faults in techniques whole your life and waste your most precious time but at the end the result of such actions are going to be equally distasteful.

Lets put this ignorance to rest now. If something in my post creates anger in you then I seek forgiveness and ensure my intentions are good and are not to offend or disrespect any one at all.

May all beings be happy and peaceful.

Vishal 

« Last Edit: April 05, 2017, 02:34:29 PM by Vishal »

Laurent

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Our days, few people take the trouble to analyze and demonstrate, even when things they are talking about is based on their own experience, which is also rare. They prefer to base on conjectures, what they heard, or what seems probable at their eyes.

"It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them.

Matthew

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Quote
Buddha said "he sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out". Now setting the mindfulness to the fore (in front or in action) in regards to breath can be on the tip of the nose, or chest. Whatever we choose to do the result should be mindfulness of breath. If you reach mindfulness by observing the breath at the nose or at the chest how does it matters ....

It matters because putting mindfulness to the fore has no relation to physicality of the body. Putting mindfulness to the fore means to make that the foremost quality of your present moment awareness. If you misunderstand that basic meditation instruction then your foundation is weak. The Pali word is Paramukham and is sometimes mistranslated as "around the face" which is where the whole nose-meditation fiasco arose.

It matters because forced concentration that is not based in equanimity: a balance between concentration and calm/relaxation often leads to self-hypnotism, not mindfulness.

It matters because the Buddha taught mindfulness of breathing as sensitive to the entire body, and calming the entire body. Not the nose:

Quote
He trains himself,  'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.'  He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.

Source: Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing" (MN 118), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

Nose meditation is not 'sensitive to the entire body', nor is it 'calming the entire body' - infact it is suppressing and ignoring the entire body.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Vishal

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Our days, few people take the trouble to analyze and demonstrate, even when things they are talking about is based on their own experience, which is also rare. They prefer to base on conjectures, what they heard, or what seems probable at their eyes.

"It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them.


Laurent thanks for your comment on this and quoting the sutta on Kalamas for us....

I would also like to quote one of your previous post about Vipassana helping one of the guys to decide if he should do it or not.

Hello,

I practice this technique for a long time.
I have also tried some other techniques (mostly Mahasi's and zazen).
I find Goenka's method is the best method i tried.
In my opinion, a problem with most modern teaching is not about meditation methods which are generally good as they develop attention.
But it is very important to understand Buddha's Dhamma while practising meditation.

I find that Goenka's speech like other meditation guides is more about meditation method (the raft) than about what Buddha really taught.
It is hard to really understand what is Vipassana by only taking care about meditation instructions, stories about the buddha and some buddhist philosophy.
In my opinion, you have to read directly original suttas to clearly understand the way to practice vipassana. You cannot practice just mechanically following instructions but you have to know what you are doing here and now.
If you practice a lot and study suttas you will understand clearly suttas and suttas will clarify your vipassana practice, no matter the technique.

So though Goenka's vipassana method doesn't seem to be conform with the mahasatipatthana sutta and other suttas which tell about developpement of FOUR attentions, if you practice this technique with the support of the suttas, not only the mahasatipatthana, you will experiment that this method really leads to the four attention and develop the 7 awakening factors and jhanas as described in the suttas. So we are sure it is a good method because what we experiment is conform to the path described by Buddha in the suttas.The crucial point is the way you do , here and now.

We know that Buddha taught some techniques for particular persons and occurences. This techniques are not taught today. If you read a lot of suttas, you will see that the technique is secondary in Buddha's teaching. Monks seems to be free to practice one or the other. Several techniques are possible and Buddha seems to multiply them according to persons and occasions.
The important thing is the understanding of the path, where you are, what to do, what you are experimenting now and how to deal with.

Teachers wisely avoid to speak of this, but Buddha wisely spoke of it. This is the difference.
Our guide is Buddha.
His unlimited wisdom allowed him to explain Dhamma without misleading someone. He saw that people can mislead themselves because they did not understand one point of the dhamma he exposed. So he repeated, clarified, again and again, in many ways, things that are actually simples.

I greatly recommand Goenka's vipassana, a very good vipassana technique, soft, powerful and happy, but I also recommand to read a lot of suttas.


Congratulations to you that you reached to the same conclusion- To read more and learn from the Suttas. It is a very good suggestions for all the meditators irrespective of their method. They all should learn from the Suttas directly from time to time. It will motivate us, dispel many doubts and provide various angles to out technique. Although its quite an old post of yours but it is fully relevant for all.


It seriously is a troubled time where people are more concerned about others techniques then their own, It has just became a norm on internet all around to find baseless and ignorant faults in what others are doing. It just reflects on their own practice. When people don't get anything out of their own practice then all they have to share is doubts, confusion and misunderstandings. The fault is not in their technique but in their practice and approach. So it is sad situation. However, I am very confident that people like you and others will always share healthy experiences and information with all.

Metta

Vishal





Matthew

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Vishal,

It seriously is a troubled time when mindful explanation is described as finding "baseless and ignorant faults".

Metta to you,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Laurent

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Quote
Buddha said "he sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out". Now setting the mindfulness to the fore (in front or in action) in regards to breath can be on the tip of the nose, or chest. Whatever we choose to do the result should be mindfulness of breath. If you reach mindfulness by observing the breath at the nose or at the chest how does it matters ....

It matters because putting mindfulness to the fore has no relation to physicality of the body. Putting mindfulness to the fore means to make that the foremost quality of your present moment awareness. If you misunderstand that basic meditation instruction then your foundation is weak. The Pali word is Paramukham and is sometimes mistranslated as "around the face" which is where the whole nose-meditation fiasco arose.

It matters because forced concentration that is not based in equanimity: a balance between concentration and calm/relaxation often leads to self-hypnotism, not mindfulness.

It matters because the Buddha taught mindfulness of breathing as sensitive to the entire body, and calming the entire body. Not the nose:

Quote
He trains himself,  'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.'  He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.

Source: Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing" (MN 118), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

Nose meditation is not 'sensitive to the entire body', nor is it 'calming the entire body' - infact it is suppressing and ignoring the entire body.

Hello Matthew,

Those arguments are very interesting. I think it is a good way to speak about dhamma. Analyze techniques, scriptures at the light of one's own experience. Regarding the technique of concentration on breath, time seem to rule in your favor.

"around the face" or "around the mouth" is not exactly a mistranslation, but it is the literal translation of "parimukham". "bringing mindfulness to the present" or "bringing forth mindfulness" is the figurative interpretation of the word parimukham.

Though i am not a specialist in pali, the authors of this comment, the authors of this comment are in favor of the figurative interpretation, so i think you can trust them. http://www.4nt.org/anapana/parimukham . It is not a mistranslation, but an interpretation.

Now, we can wonder :how Buddha could leave such a doubt in this important teaching. He could have used another word to make himself clearly understood without any misinterpretation. We can wonder that this remark supports the hypothesis of literal interpretation. Actually, literal interpretation does not contest figurative interpretation, while figurative interpretation contests literal interpretation. Both interpretations are compatible only in the case of practising anapana around the mouth area. It seems logical to think that since Buddha (or his disciples) left this word to make him clearly understood, both interpretations are ok, but with are no evidences of this.

However, there is an important distance between your absolute certainty of this, and the reality.

The other argument you are using, about self hypnotism, needs to be supported with etudes (showing that observing totality of the body cannot lead to self hypnotism too).
Although it would be proved that meditation induces hypnotism states, perhaps including the type of meditation you practice, it would not really shock me.
To learn that meditation has an hypnotic effect on mind seems to me rather normal. Do you think that jhanas are normal state of mind?

You are not the first one to remark that most of today's meditation techniques are not in perfect concordance with suttas that directly treat of meditation.There are a lot of things to say about this and i will come back later because i have spent time enough on a forum for now.

Notice that i don't try to have reason, no more than to show that you are wrong, but this is more to bring a bit of relativism regarding your violent attacks against Goenka, his teaching and his organization. None is perfect and you are not too.

Much metta.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 11:43:59 AM by Laurent »

Goofaholix

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Nose meditation is not 'sensitive to the entire body', nor is it 'calming the entire body' - infact it is suppressing and ignoring the entire body.

Surely that's where the body sweeping comes in, observing the breath at the nostrils is only meant as a precursor to improve concentration before the main event.

One unlocks the ability to be sensitive to the entire body by first learning to be sensitive to a small area in a controlled way, a lot of people would be all over the place without that precursor, one could try to do so observing the big toe but the big toe is much less interesting.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 09:08:51 PM by Goofaholix »

Middleway

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It seriously is a troubled time where people are more concerned about others techniques then their own, It has just became a norm on internet all around to find baseless and ignorant faults in what others are doing. It just reflects on their own practice. When people don't get anything out of their own practice then all they have to share is doubts, confusion and misunderstandings. The fault is not in their technique but in their practice and approach. So it is sad situation.

So, these are your thoughts and opinion of "others". I am sure you agree these are your own mental formations. You cannot be certain what "others" actually are like or think. It is impossible to "know" for sure. Based on your perception/understanding of what they apparently said/wrote, these mental formations arose in you. Right? Do you see that your thoughts have arisen out of that ignorance (lack of knowing/understanding exactly of what others are like or think)? Do you see how your mind is dividing itself into "you" and "others and their opinions"? Do you notice there is an ego-self behind as a source of this division? Do you see that ego-self itself is arising out of the same ignorance that caused your thoughts to arise?
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

dharma bum

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i personally didn't find the goenka technique to differ fundamentally from Anapanasati Sutta. though you could argue that the Anapanasati Sutta is vague enough to derive several techniques from it. i don't think it matters much what you do so long as the objectives of mindfulness and equanimity are pursued. i would go so far as to say there are other traditions - hindu, jain, christian etc that follow the same path. technique isn't dhamma and dhamma isn't technique.

but, what do i know?! :)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2017, 10:11:48 PM by dharma bum »
Mostly ignorant

Middleway

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Could you explain us, preferabily on a dedicated topic, like this one: http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php?topic=3209.msg32980;topicseen#new, why  meditating on the area at the exit of the nostrills (or like you said the tip of the nose (!)), could lead to hypnotic states and how meditating on a larger area, for example the whole body, could not lead to hypnotic states.
Also, what do you want to say by hypnotic states? Do you want to say that one is not aware of everything but just the object of meditation he focuses to? Like the buddha described in some verses?

"'I was here, brother.' 'Yet, Lord, did you not see it?' 'I did not see it, brother.' 'But the noise, Lord, you surely heard?' 'I did not hear it, brother.' Then that man asked me: 'Then, Lord, perhaps you slept?' 'No, brother, I was not sleeping.' 'Then, Lord, you were conscious?' 'I was, brother.' Then that man said: 'Then, Lord, while conscious and awake, in the midst of a heavy rain, with thunder rolling, lightning flashing, and thunderbolts crashing, you neither saw it nor heard the noise?' And I answered him, saying: 'I did not, brother.'

I am also curious to know how ypu are able to be aware of the whole body by observing only respiration.Is there any breath that pass through the tip of the toes?
Also, after reading the mahasatipatthana, could you say that the buddha taught only attention to breath and nothing else?

Hypnosis is generally induced through one pointed concentration. It is similar to normal sleep in that both hypnotic state and normal sleep are not accompanied by mindfulness. I.e mindfulness is absent in both states. Both are delusions of the mind. Therefore, a hypnotic state cannot be compared to a jhana. Jhana is also concentration with complete absorption, but with very well established mindfulness accompanying it.

The nature of the mind is that it moves continually because it is constantly arising and passing away. Mind needs movement (i.e it is different from previous arising). When we restrict this movement (e.g. making it focus on a dull or boring sense object like a highway tire hum while driving), it gets into a hypnotic state. Mindfulness is what prevents the mind going into hypnotic state. So, first we have to develop mindfulness ever so slightly ahead or leading the development of concentration to avoid getting into hypnotic state.

In your quote, Buddha was in a jhana and not our ordinary hypnotic state because he had what some might call superpower mindfulness.

You can observe the breathing related sensations throughout the body. Note most of the body moves when breathe in addition to air passing in and out of the body. The trick is to let the body do it's thing while passively observing the whole body. You are not breathing, but rather the body is breathing on its own without your interference. Such should be the state of mind when observing breathing sensations throughout the body.

Hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Middleway

Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Laurent

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Could you explain us, preferabily on a dedicated topic, like this one: http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php?topic=3209.msg32980;topicseen#new, why  meditating on the area at the exit of the nostrills (or like you said the tip of the nose (!)), could lead to hypnotic states and how meditating on a larger area, for example the whole body, could not lead to hypnotic states.
Also, what do you want to say by hypnotic states? Do you want to say that one is not aware of everything but just the object of meditation he focuses to? Like the buddha described in some verses?

"'I was here, brother.' 'Yet, Lord, did you not see it?' 'I did not see it, brother.' 'But the noise, Lord, you surely heard?' 'I did not hear it, brother.' Then that man asked me: 'Then, Lord, perhaps you slept?' 'No, brother, I was not sleeping.' 'Then, Lord, you were conscious?' 'I was, brother.' Then that man said: 'Then, Lord, while conscious and awake, in the midst of a heavy rain, with thunder rolling, lightning flashing, and thunderbolts crashing, you neither saw it nor heard the noise?' And I answered him, saying: 'I did not, brother.'

I am also curious to know how ypu are able to be aware of the whole body by observing only respiration.Is there any breath that pass through the tip of the toes?
Also, after reading the mahasatipatthana, could you say that the buddha taught only attention to breath and nothing else?

Hypnosis is generally induced through one pointed concentration.

Can you demonstrate this and show that oppositely, observing the whole body does not induce any hypnotic state?
It is similar to normal sleep in that both hypnotic state and normal sleep are not accompanied by mindfulness. I.e mindfulness is absent in both states. Both are delusions of the mind. Therefore, a hypnotic state cannot be compared to a jhana. Jhana is also concentration with complete absorption, but with very well established mindfulness accompanying it.

This makes sense. You defined hypnotic state and show why jhana would not be an hypnotic state.
Although i don't understand why being mindful of inspiring and expiring at the area below the nostrills excluding other phenomenons and being mindful of the whole body excluding other phenomenons wouldn't be similar. Notice that in Goenka's teaching, focusing attention to a short area is in the goal of being able to observe sensations all over the body, which is what you currently do.

The nature of the mind is that it moves continually because it is constantly arising and passing away. Mind needs movement (i.e it is different from previous arising). When we restrict this movement (e.g. making it focus on a dull or boring sense object like a highway tire hum while driving), it gets into a hypnotic state. Mindfulness is what prevents the mind going into hypnotic state. So, first we have to develop mindfulness ever so slightly ahead or leading the development of concentration to avoid getting into hypnotic state.

Ok, dull and boring object, this makes sense to me  :D. Notice that in Goenka's method, you constantly move you attention. Anapana is only a training to be able to focus on smaller areas.

In your quote, Buddha was in a jhana and not our ordinary hypnotic state because he had what some might call superpower mindfulness.

Yes, but it contradicts what you wrote previously :
Jhana is also concentration with complete absorption, but with very well established mindfulness accompanying it.
What i understand is that buddha was (maybe)in an hypnotic state, but was aware of it. Mindfulness is not really being aware of everything but being aware of what arises here and now. In a lot of verses (just ask if you want some quotes), buddha showed that practice imply to "shrink the world". To limit attention to some objects and subjects at the exclusion of others, it is indisputable when you read suttas. This is to limit area of mindfulness.

You can observe the breathing related sensations throughout the body. Note most of the body moves when breathe in addition to air passing in and out of the body. The trick is to let the body do it's thing while passively observing the whole body. You are not breathing, but rather the body is breathing on its own without your interference. Such should be the state of mind when observing breathing sensations throughout the body.

It makes sense.

To compare techniques between them is an interesting debate and should be in my opinion, one of the purpose of a meditation forum. I find in this forum, there are few or no debates of this type, we generally accept what each says remaining imperturbable.
Then, some people take eases and begin to regularly scratch other methods in their affirmation, as if it could prove theirs are better.

It is a lot more constructive to demonstrate,like you do here, the effectiveness and logic of the technique you personnaly have experimented, practice regularly and then really know to bring contribution to happiness in this world, than wanting to show that a method, you don't really know, is wrong and harmful, while a silent majority take benefits from it.


Metta

Middleway

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Can you demonstrate this and show that oppositely, observing the whole body does not induce any hypnotic state?
No, I cannot. All I can say it is less likely to go into a hypnotic state when concentrating on the whole body rather than a small triangular area under the nostrils. The reason is that mind has more room to move in the former case than the latter. Note in both instances lack of properly established mindfulness will likely lead to hypnosis.

Although i don't understand why being mindful of inspiring and expiring at the area below the nostrills excluding other phenomenons and being mindful of the whole body excluding other phenomenons wouldn't be similar. Notice that in Goenka's teaching, focusing attention to a short area is in the goal of being able to observe sensations all over the body, which is what you currently do.
I would like to draw your attention to difference between concentration and mindfulness. Concentration is focusing the mind on the object of meditation. In this case either focusing attention on the area below the nostrils or the whole body. Mindfulness is "to remember to keep the mind stay focused on the job at hand". At the beginning, the mind wanders more frequently and for longer periods of time. This is because you do not have a well established mindfulness. You notice that your mind wandered, and you remember to bring your mind back to task at hand i.e focusing (concentration of mind) on the area below the nostrils or the whole body whatever the intent was to begin with.

You are right, focusing on the small area below the nostrils versus the whole body is the same (i.e concentrating on the object of meditation as chosen). By training to focus on a small area and observe the sensations in that small area, you are training the mind be pickup much subtler sensations and therefore it sharpens your mind ability to concentrate. If your mindfulness is not strong enough, the sharper the focus of the mind, its tendency to get into hypnosis is higher (relative to focusing on the whole body).

Notice that in Goenka's method, you constantly move you attention. Anapana is only a training to be able to focus on smaller areas.

Yes. I agree.
In your quote, Buddha was in a jhana and not our ordinary hypnotic state because he had what some might call superpower mindfulness.

Yes, but it contradicts what you wrote previously :
Jhana is also concentration with complete absorption, but with very well established mindfulness accompanying it.
What i understand is that buddha was (maybe)in an hypnotic state, but was aware of it. Mindfulness is not really being aware of everything but being aware of what arises here and now. In a lot of verses (just ask if you want some quotes), buddha showed that practice imply to "shrink the world". To limit attention to some objects and subjects at the exclusion of others, it is indisputable when you read suttas. This is to limit area of mindfulness.

Buddha was not in a hypnotic state. Hypnosis by definition lacks mindfulness. Take for example a surgeon performing a very complex surgery. He/she will have very high level of concentration while performing the surgery. This is not a hypnotic state. If it were, I would be very afraid for the patient. Again, the surgeon will have high concentration accompanied with strong mindfulness to be able to successfully perform the surgery. Note the surgeon is not in a jhana either. Jhana is qualitatively different from both scenarios. Again, I would be afraid for the patient, if the surgeon goes into a jhana during the surgery.

My personal opinion is that concentration accompanied by mindfulness should also include tranquility. When I concentrate on the whole body, I am not only training my mind to concentrate, but also calm the body. I feel that this is an important element we should bring to our sittings. When we calm the body, the mind gets calmer and vice versa. A calmer mind is a prerequisite for a still mind. This stillness in mind should be brought about naturally and without coercion. This still mind that is brought about without coercion is the quality of the jhana.

In hypnosis, the mind is coerced into stillness (sleep like) and this state does not have mindfulness and therefore does not allow insights to occur. Also, in a hypnotic state of mind, one's perception of reality is altered. This state is more prone to external suggestion and manipulation.

I hope you find this useful.

Warm regards,

Middleway
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Laurent

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Useful and instructive post. I am not sure to really know jhanas you are talking about. I am curious about it.
Do you enter frequently in those states? Can you take a little time to speak about this?

Thank you.

Middleway

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Do you enter frequently in those states? Can you take a little time to speak about this?

No. I would recommend Mindfullness, Bliss, and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Laurent

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Thank you

Matthew

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i personally didn't find the goenka technique to differ fundamentally from Anapanasati Sutta. though you could argue that the Anapanasati Sutta is vague enough to derive several techniques from it. ...

I find the Anapanasati Sutta quite specific.

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He trains himself,  'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.'  He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.

I have argued to death the issues arising from various "vipassana" techniques. I'm done with it. It has become a distraction from practice. Both Vipassana and Shamatha are fruits of good practice rather than practices in and of themselves - there is always (hopefully) some development of Shamatha in any "Vipassana" practice and some development of Vipassana in any "Shamatha" practice.

This website's User Agreement and TOS states the following for good reason:

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VIPASSANAFORUM.NET TERMS OF SERVICE AND USER AGREEMENT.

1) This forum is not associated with the Vipassana international Organisation of S.N. Goenka. There are many forms of Vipassana practice. Often new Goenka students do not seem to know this. Some of our members are Goenka practitioners - most are not.

Yet going round in the same old circles is doing nobody any good. As to the poll on this thread it seems to me the only wise answer is to learn from other practices - yet this inherently includes recognising the wholesome and the unwholesome in those practices. It just seems very pointless to run round in circles.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Matthew

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First twelve minutes of this says a lot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjfzZaglP24
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Laurent

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I wish i understood all that is said  :(

Middleway

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Hi there. I have attended Mr. Goenka meditation retreat  three months ago and since then I have been practicing regularly. I have a few questions regarding the technique but first my experiences.

For three and half days I followed the instructions and concentrated on my breathing and finally on the upper lip area. I did not have any sensations in that area other than once in a while feeling the warm air passing over while exhaling. I was told to hold breath for few seconds and feel for sensations in that area. I tried that but still no sensations.  I remember laughing to myself thinking that I have a gross/dull mind. But on third day, I briefly went into a trance like state for a few minutes and when I came back out of it, I could feel the burning sensation at the upper lip area below the nostrils. I took that as a sign of graduating to be eligible to do Vipassana practice.  :)

While scanning the body part by part, I could not feel any sensations in the area I was focusing on but could feel sensations elsewhere in the body.  Scanning part by part did not work for me at all. Focussing on the whole body was much easier and could feel sensations arising and passing all over my body. On 7th day, at the start of a session when I was observing the breath, I again went into a trance for a few minutes and when I came out of it, I felt like my head was attached to a balloon filled with water with pressure of water exerting on my skin. No gross pains anywhere except the knee. The moment I thought of the knee pain, a gush of pleasant subtle sensations flowed towards my knee and completely dissolved it. I sat there in that state for a few minutes and gross sensations on my lower back, knees and other usual places returned.

My next couple of sessions were a write off as I tried to recreate what I did before to get that state of water balloon sensation. I could consistently get only part of body to get to that state of subtle pleasant sensations but not all. I figured out that I was craving for that sensation and tried to stop wanting it but couldn't and needless to say I could not recreate that again.

On day 8, I was happy with the progress I made on day 7. Once again while focusing on the breath, I went into a trance, and this time when I came out of it, I experienced  a very unpleasant feeling. I felt like somebody got hold of my brain and started wringing it. I was totally helpless and waited until my brain was let go and I saw a couple faces flash in front of my eyes. I know exactly that scene from my past which was very unpleasant. Strangely, I felt very relieved after that experience. Nevertheless, I was afraid to attempt to go into a trance again fearing my brain would be wringed again. Days 9 and 10 was uneventful  as I did not work hard.

In summary, I experienced all the three states that Mr. Goenka described i.e gross sensations, part gross and part subtle sensations, and subtle pleasant sensations all over the body. I experienced  free flow, and I also understood craving does not help recreate pleasant sensations. I also experienced the unpleasant sensations (deep sankharas surfacing from my past).

I practice almost everyday for one hour but did not have experiences similar to the ones in the retreat.

My questions are as follows:

First time I went into trance and came out of it, I felt burning sensation in the upper lip area and not the pleasant water balloon sensation. Apparently, I got the water balloon sensation after I heard Mr. Goenka mention in one of evening discourses.  Are these two experiences relate to and are dependent on external suggestions and therefore not genuine or real?

I could never get the scanning part work as per instructions but still experienced the three states as described? Again was that real or just in my head due to external suggestions?

If there were to be no evening discourses telling me what to expect, would I have had different experiences?

Thanks in advance for your feedback and responses.

Best regards,

Middleway

Now I know the answers to those questions I had exactly 3 years ago.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

dharma bum

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Mathew, why do you think Goenka is incompatible with Anapanasati Sutta? I guess I'm not understanding your objections to Goenka.

When I read the Sutta, I have a lot of questions - for example, what sequence should I use? Or, what does this mean "'I will breathe in releasing the mind"?

i found your video clip (first 12 minutes) to be quite unhelpful and not especially interesting (not intended as a put-down). Perhaps what every one of us finds useful is different depending upon our individual personalities which are influenced by the culture we grow up in, our educational backgrounds, emotional states and so on.

I generally find that that there is something in common with most methods - there is a calming of the mind and the perception of subtle sensations. Even as a child, I discovered this principle - if you go for a walk in the woods, tune your ears to bird-song (usually we block these out) and you will find that your body and mind quiets down. The basic principles in all meditation techniques are the same.
Mostly ignorant

Nicky

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We can use the teeth, nails, body hair etc as well to reach at the one pointed mind. So why keep fighting about which part of the breath on what body part we observe it.

Really? If so, why did not Buddha teach tooth meditation?

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Buddha said "he sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out".

Yes, the sutta reports the Buddha said this.

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Now setting the mindfulness to the fore (in front or in action) in regards to breath can be on the tip of the nose, or chest.

No, the sutta does not report the Buddha said this.

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Whatever we choose to do the result should be mindfulness of breath.

No, the sutta does not report the Buddha said this. It is not possible to be 'mindful of breath' because the word 'mindful' ('sati') means to 'remember' rather than to be 'aware' or 'observe'. The word the sutta uses for awareness/observation of breath is 'anupassi' rather than 'sati'.

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If you reach mindfulness by observing the breath at the nose or at the chest

No. The sutta states mindfulness is established before observing the breath rather than reached by observing the breath. The sutta states: ""he sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore."

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We can keep working with the breath but then body, feelings, mind, and mental qualities will take centre stage. So why so much fuss about breath as a tool of mindfulness as there are about 40 others to select from.   

No. The Anapanasati Sutta does not refer to 40 objects. Also, the Anapanasati Sutta states observing the breath occurs with each of the 16 stages.

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Do you see the point here? We all have been unnecessarily tying to prove one method as better then other on the contrary the Buddha himself gave us four different frames or starting points but all leading to one centre point.

No.

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Like four doors to enter a hall, and each door will take us in the centre from where we can see all the four doors and keep a watch on them. Who ever knocks the door and we are aware and awake and with wisdom to deal with the knock. 

No.

 ::)

dharma bum

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Quote
No. The sutta states mindfulness is established before observing the breath rather than reached by observing the breath. The sutta states: ""he sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore."

mindfulness of what, though? i really envy you guys who seem to know the precise meaning of what was said 2500 years ago by some guy in india in pali, written down a generation later, and passed for hundreds of years. no, i'm not really envious. i think people who claim to know with precision what the buddha said and meant are really mistaken.
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Nicky

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i think people who claim to know with precision what the buddha said and meant are really mistaken.

Fatal problem then, since the suttas state:
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"Just as if, when there is heavy rain high up in the mountains, the water, flowing downwards, will fill up the clefts, crevices and fissures in the mountains, and when these are full, they will fill up the little pools; the full little pools will fill up the lakes; the full lakes will fill up the small rivers; the full small rivers will fill up the big rivers; and the full big rivers will fill up the great ocean. Such is the nutriment of the great ocean, and so it becomes full.

"In the same way, monks, when association with worthy people prevails, listening to the True Teaching will prevail. When listening to the True Teaching prevails, faith will prevail. When faith prevails, wise attention will prevail. When wise attention prevails, mindfulness and clear comprehension will prevail. When mindfulness and clear comprehension prevail, sense-control will prevail. When sense-control prevails, the three ways of good conduct will prevail. When the three ways of good conduct prevail, the four foundations of mindfulness will prevail. When the four foundations of mindfulness prevail, the seven factors of enlightenment will prevail. When the seven factors of enlightenment prevail, liberation by supreme knowledge will prevail. Such is the nutriment of that liberation by supreme knowledge, and so it prevails."

dharma bum

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that is a non sequitur, isn't it? why is it a huge problem? what exactly is the problem? imo, the contention that mindfulness should be set before, after, or during the observation of breath is a point of extreme insignificance. if the whole enlightenment thing hinged on this seemingly essential point, then the buddha would have spent a great deal of time expanding on it fleshing out its significance in tedious detail.
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Nicky

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mindfulness of what, though?

The Buddha explained this in many places. The Buddha said he spoke his Dhamma perfectly therefore the answer is in the suttas:

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One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view.

MN 117