Author Topic: My meditation history (zen/vipasanna) and some arised questions  (Read 999 times)

kajukas

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Been practising meditation about two years. Started by myself, then i found a ZEN (South Korean - Kwan Um School) center. The practise (meditation, 108 bows, chanting, working and walking medidation, kong-an interviews and etc) is really dynamic and I can say quite fun. Also i got braver and did some retreats starting from a weekend retreat, some KIDO(chanting) weekend retreat and finally one whole weak retreat which was very hard for me, because it was the first one. And it gave me a lot. So by then i felt somehow "experienced" and wanted to know what is Vipasanna is, why so much people are doing it how it differs from ZEN. Yes, i was a little bit afraid, but said to my self: now or never, and week ago i got back from 10days course. It was quite hard, but because it's not my first retreat, i knew what to expect, so i managed to survive. It was a little bit strange to meditate with your eyes closed, because in zen we're doing it with open eyes. Also in ZEN we're trying to concentrate and not to think about anything, and here the work with your mind is very different - here i should've keep my mind bussy by scanning my body.
So I had a time to think about things, spiritual practises and so on. I crystalized some questions which i cannot answer by myself, and i need some guidance. Most of the questions is from ZEN and vipassana differences topic.


1) Could we say that Vipassana practise got two stages: stage 1 - Anapana, and stage 2 - Vipassana ? is it correct to say that ZEN works on stage 1 ? Just in "concentration level" ?

2) I always been more or less too reactive person - i found that vipassana gave me much more space between the stimuli and reaction, where I could choose how to react. So i see the practical use of it.

3) I dont know which further practise to choose. I like more zen practice because it's very dynamic - as i said: Meditation, Bows, Kong-an Interviews, walking meditation, Working meditation - it has a lot of elements. And it feels like it gives somekind of energy. Now vipassana is just sitting and same Goenkas lectures over and over. But the outcome (especialy for now) i think vipasanna's way is quite more beneficial to me (for now)

4) Also i like to workout sometimes, and i feel that exerices (running, swimming) works in simmilar way like ZEN (Stage 1). So I think that i do some part of zen when im working out. And when im meditating I will do vipassana for now to see how it fits me.

and some basic questions:

5) During 10 day course i asked teacher: Do we relly need this struggle ? We're sitting here, meditating 10 hours a day, without any communications and so on. And what for ? Do this torture is the must thing to live happily ? I said there're lots of people who dont do this spiritual thing and live happy life. Why im doing this ?
He said that, maybe those happy people a getting drunk, smoking and etc... But after that i thought - that i really know people who dont meditate and dont intoxicate himselfs with alcohol and tabaco - and live happy:)

6) How much spiritual practise as a laymans we need ? I see that this way is quite addictive - you always can made-up a reason why you need to go to such a retreat and so on. But how much we really need ?
Personally, my goal of spiritual way is to add balance to my social life, to support the social me. Not vice versa.

So these is my thoughts :) Please say something,

Peace and love:)

BeHereNow

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Re: My meditation history (zen/vipasanna) and some arised questions
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2017, 05:13:49 PM »
Hi Kajukas,

Thank you for sharing your story and your questions.

I too have had similar questions in terms of how much to sit, how to reconcile various practices (for me it was asana practice in yoga vs. sitting), and how to ensure that meditation does not become another escape.

It sounds like you already have much wisdom, as you say that your goal is balance.  Keeping this in mind always will show you which way to go.  It may be that you do one practice for sometime, then feel an inclination towards another, find a nice balance between the two, and then feel like it's all falling apart and don't know which way to go :-)  It is really a flow, and as long as we continue turning within for the answers, we will eventually find them.

Just to give you a personal example, when I first started meditating I did a 10 day retreat and the required "2 hours a day" in the Goenka tradition.  I ended up feeling very depressed, and eventually started asana practice.  I did intense asana practice for many years, and felt a yearning to just sit.  I also used to be an aerobics instructor, and after giving up the gym for many years to make time for yoga and meditation, I found I really missed it, and found my way back to running and fitness classes.

Today, my practice is to sit for an hour some days, do 30 minutes yoga and 30 minutes meditation other days, and go for a run and sit for 20 minutes other days.  Once a week, I sleep and don't practice at all :-)  While this is a good balance for now, as life shifts undoubtedly my practice will shift as well.

The intention is always to go within, to give myself time to be (not do), and to surrender and let go at deeper and deeper levels.

Keep practicing, tuning in to what you need in each moment, and you will know what to do.

Much metta,
Paula
"You are the Sky.  Everything else is just the weather." - Pema Chodron

stillpointdancer

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Re: My meditation history (zen/vipasanna) and some arised questions
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2017, 10:58:13 AM »

1) Could we say that Vipassana practise got two stages: stage 1 - Anapana, and stage 2 - Vipassana ? is it correct to say that ZEN works on stage 1 ? Just in "concentration level" ?

2) I always been more or less too reactive person - i found that vipassana gave me much more space between the stimuli and reaction, where I could choose how to react. So i see the practical use of it.

3) I dont know which further practise to choose. I like more zen practice because it's very dynamic - as i said: Meditation, Bows, Kong-an Interviews, walking meditation, Working meditation - it has a lot of elements. And it feels like it gives somekind of energy. Now vipassana is just sitting and same Goenkas lectures over and over. But the outcome (especialy for now) i think vipasanna's way is quite more beneficial to me (for now)

4) Also i like to workout sometimes, and i feel that exerices (running, swimming) works in simmilar way like ZEN (Stage 1). So I think that i do some part of zen when im working out. And when im meditating I will do vipassana for now to see how it fits me.

and some basic questions:

5) During 10 day course i asked teacher: Do we relly need this struggle ? We're sitting here, meditating 10 hours a day, without any communications and so on. And what for ? Do this torture is the must thing to live happily ? I said there're lots of people who dont do this spiritual thing and live happy life. Why im doing this ?
He said that, maybe those happy people a getting drunk, smoking and etc... But after that i thought - that i really know people who dont meditate and dont intoxicate himselfs with alcohol and tabaco - and live happy:)

6) How much spiritual practise as a laymans we need ? I see that this way is quite addictive - you always can made-up a reason why you need to go to such a retreat and so on. But how much we really need ?
Personally, my goal of spiritual way is to add balance to my social life, to support the social me. Not vice versa.

So these is my thoughts :) Please say something,

Peace and love:)
1.Depends which Zen practice you mean. Zen, meaning 'sudden' relies on years of practice (it's not that sudden) to bring you to a point where vipassana insight happens. In the past something like Zen Koans have been used to speed the process up. It's interesting stuff to read, and tried it once, by myself, for about a year.
2.For me, mindfulness of breathing also allows a certain amount of control to create the space.
3.Maybe cutting down on the lectures, if they really are the same thing over and over again, and concentrating more on the meditation might help here.
4.Exercise is good. Walking meditation might help also.
5.10 hours would finish me off at my age! 10 hours over the course of a week is more realistic. If it really is torture, then maybe find some fun meditations to try over a shorter timescale for a while. I never was a fan of the Zen 'sitting through the pain is gain' attitude, although it works for some people.
6.How much spiritual practice depends on what you mean by spiritual. I've led a busy life so retreats were few and far between, you don't really need them in order to be 'spiritual'. 

Finally, thanks for sharing about why you are doing this, to achieve balance. I'm starting to think that there as many reasons for taking up meditation and Buddhism as there are people.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Ben-meijer

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Re: My meditation history (zen/vipasanna) and some arised questions
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2017, 07:21:37 PM »
Hi Kajukas,

Quote
Also in ZEN we're trying to concentrate and not to think about anything, and here the work with your mind is very different - here i should've keep my mind bussy by scanning my body.

It is my opinion you may need to rethink these conclusions. In ZEN, how do you concentrate? What is the method and nature of your concentration? An open concentration, not a constricted concentration.
In Vipassana, Im quite sure the goal is not to keep the mind busy at all. With this open concentration, again, scan your body, and FEEL everything there. Be curious, inquisitive what is in your body. How does it feel? Observe. Do not react to it, but do observe. If you encounter feelings and emotions, just observe. If you encounter urges and cravings, just note and observe. Do not react to them.
If you feel depression or elation (light) observe. Do not react, just sit with it.
The structure of vipassana confronted you more with your thoughts and feelings, made you more aware of what is going on. The rigorous timetable helps to confront you with yourself more than Zen did. These are your observations, not mine. Less to stimulate you, like excercise, more to focus on your breath and body, worked better for you.
Draw your own conclusions, and continue to do what works for you.

Regarding the struggle question.
Life itself gives you quite a struggle, not at all times in life, but it can certainly be a struggle. The rat race, the monotany of chasing a carrot to earn a living. The senselessness of chasing carnate pleasures like, drink, food, drugs, sex. Temporary at best. The meaninglessness of our civilization, focussed on money and not caring... Enough to ponder and frustrate yourself with.
Why not learn how the whole system works?
Why not stop wasting daylight and get to the point?

Each 10 day course, you will learn more about yourself, emotions, how life works, the purpose of life, etc.

Good luck


The lectures, the fine tuning of Goenka is just a tool. Sit with yourself. Be hones with yourself.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2017, 08:23:40 PM by Matthew »

TheJourney

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Re: My meditation history (zen/vipasanna) and some arised questions
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2017, 01:11:23 PM »
Original sutta's path - practice samatha and vipassana in tandem. Follow anapanasati and satipatthana sutta. What is in anapanasati sutta is opposite of the anapanasati you learned at your retreat. Buddha focused on relaxing and calming the mind.

Commentary path - practice samatha, then vipassana or vice versa or vipassana only. Focus is on concentration meditation. This path is strenuous and gives many people headache and tightness in the head when they do the anapanasati that contradicts the original sutta.

Take your pick. You want calming and relaxing approach or strenuous approach.

TheJourney

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Re: My meditation history (zen/vipasanna) and some arised questions
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2017, 11:16:21 PM »
Buddha began his meditation practice applying what existed at the time Veda  (Hindu) meditation practice. He did the concentration breathing meditation ( known as anapanasati at Goenka retreat ) and attained the 8 jhanas but found out that the purity of mind was fleeting as soon as he came out of the meditation.

Then, he remembered how he meditated as a child and easily attained jhana. He decided to meditate like that again and became enlightened. His breathing meditation is described in the anapanasati sutra, which makes NO REFERENCE to rising and falling of stomach or noticing air at the nostril. Simply, be mindful of breathing and breath in a way that it relaxes and calms your body and mind. Be aware of your field of awareness. This method contains introspection awareness, so it is samatha and vipassana in tandem.

There is no meditation method used by Buddha for his enlightenment that is samatha first, vipassana second or vipassana first, samatha second or vipassana only.

1000 years later, Buddhaghosa, who didn't have knowledge of Buddha's meditation practice, wrote commentaries called Visuddhimagga or Path of Purification, heavily relied on my Theraveda teachers. He inserted the vary meditation practice that Buddha abandoned and called it anapanasati. He inserted samatha  and vipassana as separate meditation practices.

Visuddhimagga emphasizes strenuous meditation practice and pain tolerance. The jhanas have 8 levels.

Buddha emphasizes relaxed meditation  practice and middle effort. The jhanas have 4 levels.

Even when you are talking about jhanas, you have to say absorption (Visuddhimagga) jhana or sutta (Buddha) jhana.

Unfortunately, the commentary not only did not elaborate Buddha's teaching but distorting it making meditation strenuous and difficult.

Goenka and Mahasi retreats are all based on Visuddhimagga. They are not the original teaching of Buddha.

You can follow either track. My personal direct experience is that Buddha's meditation practice is far superior. It releases hindrance while absorption method suppresses hindrance such that they are released when you are not meditating.  Buddha's path reaches jhana so much easier. Relaxing is letting go of hindrance. One can reach enlightenment faster.

I hope this clarifies a lot of confusion surrounding Theraveda Buddhism. You don't have to believe in me. You can research on your own. You can ask yourself do you get he aches and tightness of heads which many have complained about the anapanasati taught at Theraveda school of Buddhism.

Buddha's teaching is neither Theraveda, Zen, Tibetan. It simply is the original sutta established by the first council.