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 2870 times)

Nicky

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imo, the contention that mindfulness should be set before, after, or during the observation of breath is a point of extreme insignificance.

It is extremely significant because it determines the method/technique used & whether that technique can reach the goal.

At least you have made a distinction above between 'setting mindfulness' & 'observation of breath'. I hope this was deliberate & you understand these two things are different things rather than one & the same thing.

dharma bum

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Quote
It is extremely significant because it determines the method/technique used & whether that technique can reach the goal.

At least you have made a distinction above between 'setting mindfulness' & 'observation of breath'. I hope this was deliberate & you understand these two things are different things rather than one & the same thing.

I think the word mindfulness is vague. When you observe the breath, you are mindful of the breath. You can also be mindful of your thoughts while you are mindful of your breath. Human language does not always capture what happens in the mind which is a fuzzy, messy, erratic, always running thing. It is impossible to pin down something called mindful when you can't even pin down something called mind. What is 'mind'? I don't know, so a lot of this discussion is pointless hair-splitting. I can say with great conviction that anybody who claims to know the precise meaning of all these expressions is smoking something nice.
Mostly ignorant

dharma bum

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Quote
It is extremely significant because it determines the method/technique used & whether that technique can reach the goal.

well then i have to ask - what is nirvana like?
Mostly ignorant

Nicky

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    • Pali
When you observe the breath, you are mindful of the breath.

No. Mindfulness does not mean to observe. For example, if you observe the breath with craving & attachment, this is not Buddhist practise, per the defintion.

For example, if you observe the breath while snorting cocaine or while having sex with your neighbour's wife, that is not mindfulness.

Quote
You can also be mindful of your thoughts while you are mindful of your breath.

No. If you have angry or lustful thoughts, that is not mindfulness.

Quote
Human language does not always capture what happens in the mind which is a fuzzy, messy, erratic, always running thing.

Language is precise.

Quote
It is impossible to pin down something called mindful when you can't even pin down something called mind.

Mind can be pinned down.

Quote
What is 'mind'?

Mind has many aspects; it knows; it thinks, etc.

Quote
I don't know, so a lot of this discussion is pointless hair-splitting.

It is not hair-splitting.

Quote
I can say with great conviction that anybody who claims to know the precise meaning of all these expressions is smoking something nice.

This conviction is wrong conviction.


Matthew

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I wish i understood all that is said  :(

What are you having troubles understanding Laurent?

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

OK, one last time for the record.
-  Bringing mindfulness to the fore has zero to do with physical placement, absolutely nothing to do with nose or chest. It is entirely about making mindfulness the foremost quality of mind.
- Focusing on a forced manner on a single point such the nose excludes bodily sensations. It is contrary to the wording of the Anapanasati Sutta, ” breathing in sensitive to the entire body, breathing out sensitive to the entire body"
- This sets the mediator into a trap: forced concentration, without relaxed/calm full body awareness is hypnotic.
- After three days of this the mediator then starts another potentially hypnotic practice labeled "Vipassana" mechanically scanning the body. Full body awareness is still avoided. This is why day 4 is when most people struggle.
- Having run this forum for nearly ten years we have repeatedly encountered practitioners who have come out of the retreat not understanding or being harmed by the experience.
- The Goenka organisation is a dead tradition. It relies on a dead teacher, yet even before his passing, it was not a living tradition: teachers do not teach, they play DVDs of Goenka.
- If you can't teach your teachers to teach there is either 1) something very wrong with the teachings, or 2) ego is at play.
- The Vipassana Research Institute website does not even recognise Goenka is dead in his biography.
- The technique is very new and shallow
- The technique is very unsuccessful. Few practitioners return for a second retreat and only a small percentage maintain the practice.
- This list is incomplete yet the subject is boring.

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"?

Generally the sequence of the Sutta as they build on each other in terms of attachment. Rupa, body, breath, is the beginning as the first egoistic attachments are to body. I don't think a strict approach to this necessary all the time, though it is laid out as a sequential process. Founding the practice in whole body awareness and calming the body is basic. "Releasing the mind" is exactly what it says: letting go, releasing, of the attachments of mind. The is a physically too this release, though almost imperceptible at first.

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.

What that video reinforced is related to what i said earlier about any technique labeled as "Vipassana" also developing Shamatha and any technique labeled as " Shamatha" also developing Vipassana. This is because neither is a practice, yet both are fruits (Phala) of good practice. This is the way I was taught and I find it to be incontrovertibly true.

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.

Yes, the way mindfulness practice works will lead to good fruits if the practice is wholesome. If the practice is ill-advised it will lead to unbalanced results (which VRI/Goenka blame on the practitioner).
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 09:45:47 AM by Matthew »
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Laurent

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I wish i understood all that is said  :(

What are you having troubles understanding Laurent?

I don't speak very well english.

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

OK, one last time for the record.

Damned, i thought we were over with this subject.
I will answer your post, which is more or less a copy and paste of the previous one.
You didn't answer to my argues, you seem to have a strong inclination to certainty, but less capacity with debate.

Matthew

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I wish i understood all that is said  :(

What are you having troubles understanding Laurent?

I don't speak very well english.

I know English is not your first language Laurent, I asked what you were having trouble understanding, not why. The intention was to clarify.

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

OK, one last time for the record.

Damned, i thought we were over with this subject.
I will answer your post, which is more or less a copy and paste of the previous one.
You didn't answer to my argues, you seem to have a strong inclination to certainty, but less capacity with debate.

We are over with this. As I said, "one last time for the record". The subject is boring. It is a distraction, it is divisive and it tends to become emotive - attachment to view is strong here.

With metta,

Matthew
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Middleway

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  • Just be a witness.
    • Vipassana as taught by Mr. Goenka - Switched to Shamatha
i think we should all take a break and as Buddha would say "go do dhyana".
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Matthew

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    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
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i think we should all take a break and as Buddha would say "go do dhyana".

Yup, that's where I'm at too.
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Laurent

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I wish i understood all that is said  :(

What are you having troubles understanding Laurent?

I don't speak very well english.

I know English is not your first language Laurent, I asked what you were having trouble understanding, not why. The intention was to clarify.

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

OK, one last time for the record.

Damned, i thought we were over with this subject.
I will answer your post, which is more or less a copy and paste of the previous one.
You didn't answer to my argues, you seem to have a strong inclination to certainty, but less capacity with debate.

We are over with this. As I said, "one last time for the record". The subject is boring. It is a distraction, it is divisive and it tends to become emotive - attachment to view is strong here.

With metta,

Matthew

It is an habile way to have the last word without discussing, but it's ok.

Matthew

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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
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Laurent,

I had already said I no longer wished to discuss this. dharma bum asked me what the issues were so I said "OK, one last time for the record". It isn't about avoiding debate (this debate has gone on too long here) - it is about not saying that which does not benefit the harmony of the community or entering into unresolveable discussions. The reasons I have issues with Goenka and his organisation are well explained - all over this site in many topics over many years. Yet if those reasons are not yet explained in a way that you understand then I must be doing something wrong - or need to learn more about the Dhamma - which is why I do not wish to inject more energy into it. There are better things to do with that energy.

Kindly,

Matthew
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Matthew

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Laurent,

To answer the most important question you raised - and this I am happy to discuss. You pointed out the difference between the literal and figurative translations of Paramukham. The link you provided gives this as one of the supports for the figurative:

Quote
3. Focusing on such small areas like the nostril and the mouth is fundamentally at odds with the nature of the satipatthana practice, which is always about knowing activities within an experiential domin in its entirety (i.e. body, feeling, mind, and all of the above within the frame of Dhammic categories). And the parimukha expression most often occurs as the precursor to satipatthana practice.

This is the main reason I take issue with the use of the literal interpretation, which in terms of practice really only goes back to recent Burmese practices.

You say the Buddha left doubt about the interpretation but this I disagree with wholeheartedly. If the Buddha had meant the literal interpretation he would have said "The practitioner brings mindfulness to his nose". He didn't, not ever. The only logical conclusion is that the figurative is the correct context in view of every meditation Sutta.

You also said studies would need to be done to be sure that whole body awareness can not become hypnotic. Actually it can, if one has misunderstood the second part of the beginning instructions of the Satipatana Sutta, or failed to utilise them: "breathing in .. calming bodily fabrications. Breathing out .. calming bodily fabrications". Both nose-meditation and full-body meditation can lead to hypnotic states as they are based on forcing quiet on the mind. The practice is about setting up the mind and mindfulness to allow calm/Shamatha and concentration/Samadhi to emerge from the repeated practice of mindfulness, naturally and over time.

Kindly,

Matthew

PS I find this explanation very well worded:

Patrick Kearney has it as “completely (pari) facing/encountering (mukham)” one’s experience, in the sense of being face to face with one’s anapanasati practice.

This can be extrapolated out to include fully facing all of one's meditative experiences without contradicting any Sutta.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 03:56:57 PM by Matthew »
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dharma bum

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  • Certified Zen Master (second degree black belt)
    • vipassana
Quote
OK, one last time for the record.
-  Bringing mindfulness to the fore has zero to do with physical placement, absolutely nothing to do with nose or chest. It is entirely about making mindfulness the foremost quality of mind.
- Focusing on a forced manner on a single point such the nose excludes bodily sensations. It is contrary to the wording of the Anapanasati Sutta, ” breathing in sensitive to the entire body, breathing out sensitive to the entire body"
- This sets the mediator into a trap: forced concentration, without relaxed/calm full body awareness is hypnotic.
- After three days of this the mediator then starts another potentially hypnotic practice labeled "Vipassana" mechanically scanning the body. Full body awareness is still avoided. This is why day 4 is when most people struggle.
- Having run this forum for nearly ten years we have repeatedly encountered practitioners who have come out of the retreat not understanding or being harmed by the experience.
- The Goenka organisation is a dead tradition. It relies on a dead teacher, yet even before his passing, it was not a living tradition: teachers do not teach, they play DVDs of Goenka.
- If you can't teach your teachers to teach there is either 1) something very wrong with the teachings, or 2) ego is at play.
- The Vipassana Research Institute website does not even recognise Goenka is dead in his biography.
- The technique is very new and shallow
- The technique is very unsuccessful. Few practitioners return for a second retreat and only a small percentage maintain the practice.
- This list is incomplete yet the subject is boring.

Thanks for clarifying, Mathew despite the fact that you're fed up of the topic.

I understood during my second stint at a 10 day retreat that you're not supposed to be doing the scanning mechanically. You're supposed to be mindful and practise detachment. I'm sure during 10 days of sitting for 10 hours a day, there were substantial chunks of time I was in a state of sleep (which you refer to as hypnosis), but there were also may chunks of time I was fully awake and mindful.

The technique is difficult outside of retreats. I have found it hard to maintain practice. If you call this being unsuccessful, then it's a fair criticism. But I always remember the sense of peace I felt during the retreats and have used the memory of it to motivate myself.

I don't particularly mind the absence of teachers usually because I have low expectations in this regard. I think there could be a number of reasons why Goenka never appointed any teachers - ego could be one of them, but there could be others - it could simply be the logistics of running an enormous organization. Perhaps his forte was really running a massive organization and he never had time for students on a one-to-one basis. Hard to say.

Quote
- This sets the mediator into a trap: forced concentration, without relaxed/calm full body awareness is hypnotic.

The concentration isn't supposed to be forced.

I have some issues with the teachings - I find the whole sankhara stuff unconvincing, but I can generally ignore what I don't like and do what I want. This is what Goenka recommends too - he says several times - take what you like, ignore the rest. I find this an agreeable attitude to take.
Mostly ignorant

raushan

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I came across this interview of S N Goenka from book the Inquiring Minds. Are these false, what he is saying? As, These theory doesn't match with what Matthew says. Especially the part where he is saying speaking about Jhana in the last question. 

IM: You teach a meditation practice that involves moving the mind through
the body and focusing on physical sensations. This technique has become
widely known asthe “body scan,” and sometimesis called “sweeping.” What
is the origin of this technique?

SNG: Buddha is the origin! (Laughs) Nobody else can be the origin. In the
SatipaOhana SuOa there are the words,“Sabbakaya-patisamvedi assasissamiti
sikkhati...passasissamiti sikkhati.” (Feeling the whole body Ishall breathe in...
feeling the whole body Ishall breathe out.) One should learn how to feel the
entire body in one breath, breathing in and breathing out. Perhaps I am
responsible for calling it “sweeping,” but this is the Buddha’s teaching.
The whole technique of the Buddha is to move you from the gross level
of reality to the subtle. The apparent truths are always gross and solidified,
full of illusions and delusions.The purpose of vipassana meditation isto penetrate
the gross and go to the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth of mind and
body is nothing but vibration, and that is what you are observing when you
practice this technique.


IM: In this meditation practice, you do not give much emphasis to
ciOanupassana (observation of mind) or dhammanupassana (observation of
mental contents). Is there a reason for this?
SNG: Observing thoughts is never taught by the Buddha. In the
Satipatthana Sutta in the section on cittanupassana, the Buddha says,“Here
a bhikkhu understands properly mind with craving as mind with craving.”
Craving for what is not important. If you observe the thought, then you
start rolling in its contents. So instead you simply observe that craving has
started in the mind, and at the same time you feel the arising and passing
away of sensations in the body. If you are equanimous with the sensations,
then you are also equanimous with the craving, and in this way, layer after
layer of that particular sankhara (reaction) in your mind will be erased
automatically.
IM: It sounds like you are dealing here with a very deep, subconscious level
of the mind.
SNG: Yes, and that is why this techniquewas developed by the Buddha. First
he had tried eight jhanas (levels of absorption),which had purified his mind,
but not to the depth. Deep inside there was what the Buddha called “sleeping
impurities,” meaning that the roots of the impurities were still there. He
realized that these could be taken out only through the practice of vipassana,
through awareness of sensations.
Buddha understood that the unconscious mind is constantly in contact
with the body sensations. So if we are going to purify the unconscious mind,
we have to work with these sensations. If you forget the sensations of the
body, then you are dealing only with the surface of the mind. The surface
of your mind will become purified and you will benefit from that also, but
those complexities lying deep below, the deep conditioning of the past, will
remain unchanged.
IM: So you are training the mind not to react in a habitual way to any sensations
that may arise.

SNG: Yes, exactly. Whatever external event happenswill generate sensations
in the body, and you will have trained your mind to be equanimous with
those sensations. So you are at the roots.If the roots are healthy, then the tree
will automatically be healthy. You need not worry. This is how it works
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 06:46:36 PM by raushan »

Matthew

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Quote
SNG: Buddha is the origin! (Laughs) Nobody else can be the origin. In the
SatipaOhana SuOa there are the words,“Sabbakaya-patisamvedi assasissamiti
sikkhati...passasissamiti sikkhati.” (Feeling the whole body Ishall breathe in...
feeling the whole body Ishall breathe out.) One should learn how to feel the
entire body in one breath, breathing in and breathing out. Perhaps I am
responsible for calling it “sweeping,” but this is the Buddha’s teaching.

This is patently not Buddha's teaching. There is a jump in his thinking from feeling the whole body to progressively sweeping through body sensations - and that is not discussed anywhere in the Sutta's of which I am aware.

Quote
SNG: Yes, exactly. Whatever external event happenswill generate sensations
in the body, and you will have trained your mind to be equanimous with
those sensations. So you are at the roots.If the roots are healthy, then the tree
will automatically be healthy. You need not worry. This is how it works

SNG also seems to have a differing theory of the roots from that of the Buddha:

Quote
Monks, there are these three roots of what is unskillful. Which three? Greed is a root of what is unskillful, aversion is a root of what is unskillful, delusion is a root of what is unskillful.

Source: Mula Sutta: Roots" (AN 3.69), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 3 July 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.069.than.html

« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 07:13:34 PM by Matthew »
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Laurent

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Those who practise this method of Anapana-Samatha, can you talk about the benefits of this method, what are the advantages you get from it, in life and out of life, how does it improve your life. Can you also say if you regularly go into jhana as it seem to be the purpose of this practice. This should be great if you experiment daily the one or more jhana.

Thank you.

mdr

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First twelve minutes of this says a lot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjfzZaglP24

Thanks for sharing this, Matthew  :)

Middleway

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  • Just be a witness.
    • Vipassana as taught by Mr. Goenka - Switched to Shamatha
Those who practise this method of Anapana-Samatha, can you talk about the benefits of this method, what are the advantages you get from it, in life and out of life, how does it improve your life. Can you also say if you regularly go into jhana as it seem to be the purpose of this practice. This should be great if you experiment daily the one or more jhana.

Thank you.
I am not qualified to speak about Jhanas any more than I already have. But I could talk about my understanding of the meditation process. I am generally more inclined to investigate the mind and mental formations than the body sensations. After 30-40 minutes into the sitting, I am no longer aware of the body or breathing. I mainly focus my attention on the mind. I notice that everything starts and ends with the mind arising and passing away. For example, if we hear a sound from a thunder, the sound is created in our mind once the sound waves come into contact with the sense organ (ear). The sound is a mental formation. Same could be said of other sense contacts. With each sense contact, the mind arises as corresponding mental formation. Corresponding to each of these mental formations, the mind arises again as the knower or the observer. I.e sound waves come into contact with ear, sound as mental formation arises, then immediately "I" arises to know/observe the sound. Our mind is only capable of “knowing” one mental formation at a time because the corresponding knower also arises once at a time.

The external (body sensations, sound, visual, smell etc.) and internal stimuli (memories/imaginations), and the corresponding mental formations are all arising in this space and time. When we are in deep sleep, there are no mental formations arising because all sense organs are suspended. They start again, when we wake up and start doing things. This is what Hindus call Karta (doer), karma (act or perform), and kriya (task) all three belonging to this world or samsara. As long as we do (karma) things, we are bound by the space and time. That is okay for daily survival and living.

Meditation allows us to transcend the space and time. The mind stops arising when we stop providing (it) fuel with craving and attachment. This is done by passively observing all mental formations. So, the idea is to develop concentration and establish mindfulness. Then by progressively switching to more subtler meditation objects, one progressively withdraws the sense contacts, then arrests the thoughts, and then finally the feelings. What remains is the stream of mindfulness that transforms into pure awareness. During this process, we directly see the roots of our attachment and cravings and cut them off (let go).
 
As long as we are “doing”, the mental formations and the knower keep arising. We will be bound to the samsara. In the surgeon example I provided earlier, the surgeon will never go into a Jhana because he is actively doing (performing surgery). Meditation therefore is not about doing. It is about being. This is the fundamental reason why I do not do body sweeps because it is doing and not being.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Laurent

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Hello,

Thanks a lot for replying, it is clear and helpful.
I have a last question about the technique of meditation described by Matthew here:
http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php?page=2

When you say: "just pay attention to the sensations in the body as you breathe.", do you mean that the sensations you observe should be linked to breath, relative to breath, or do you mean any sensation, even when it is not linked to breath.

Thanks for advance.
Laurent.

Middleway

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  • Just be a witness.
    • Vipassana as taught by Mr. Goenka - Switched to Shamatha
Sensations produced by breath throughout the body. Note, you are still practising concentration by focusing on breathing sensations to the exclusion of other sensations in the body. You also need to have the intent to calm the whole body while observing breathing sensations. This "intent" to concentrate the mind on breathing only sensations, and to calm the body has to be "set" before you begin. This is what is called bringing mindfulness the fore. Then, you maintain mindfulness on the task at hand which is both concentration and tranquility. You have to strike a balance between both.

Hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Middleway
« Last Edit: April 14, 2017, 04:34:42 PM by Middleway »
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Matthew

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Laurent,

The breath, in and of itself, cannot be observed. Only sensations created by the process of breathing. These will occur both where the breath contacts the body and where the body moves to allow breathing to take place: there is movement and sensation created throughout the body, in the lungs, chest, belly, diaphragm, legs, arms, shoulders, neck.

As Middleway says the intention has to be "set" before you begin, then mindfulness of the entire body and calming bodily sensations leads to increased relaxation and concentration at the same time, softening the hardened habits of body, perception etc. Progressively the body and mind are calmed without force (or with the minimum of force), concentration grows naturally from this, insight (vipassana) grows naturally with the calm and concentration.
 
It is a progressive letting go. It is why calming the body and not using forced concentration are so very, very important to the whole process. If excessive forced concentration is used then the practitioner is 1) forcing quiet on the mind and 2) ignoring the body whilst establishing concentration. This does not allow for a natural progressive letting go of habit and attachment.

At first it may seem harder to practice this way, however, it quickly becomes apparent that by doing so the practitioner is building wholesome habits of being in the present and gaining naturally balanced concentration as well as progressively letting go.

The path of mindfulness is very much about letting go of attachments. Jhana is a progressive letting go: of body, of time, of space, etc. But this is jumping ahead.

Kindly,

Matthew
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Laurent

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  • don't feed the troll
Thank you, Matthew and Middleway.