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Magick and The Powers

reading as an object for concentration practice?

thank you for reading..

I am doing concentration training. I use mostly Vajrayana style visualisations. One author says that

"and there are probably thousands of concentration exercises. Some very commonly used objects of meditation are the breath (my personal favorite), our posture, a mantra or koan, a colored disk, an image, a candle flame, various visualized objects from simple to complex, feelings such as compassion, and even the experience of concentration itself. The object you choose should be one on which you would be happy to steady your mind."

I am happy to steady my mind on both reading itself and also the content of what I read...but

is it advisable to use reading dharma books (and in a way, also the content of what I read) as an object for practicing concentration?
Is it as good of an object for as classical ones mentioned above?
do some good teachers recommend this practice?

...also thank you for answering (those who decide to) and best wishes to all

RE: reading as an object for concentration practice?
Answer
1/4/19 3:00 PM as a reply to Jan Pavuk.
I guess I'd ask what length text you're thinking of concentrating on reading.  If it's something on the order of a handful of sentences, I could see that shading into concentration practice.  If you're just reading a novel or a longer work with interesting concepts that you're considering, then that seems like it'd take away from the goal of really increasing how much attention you can bring to bear.

I think in a way it may be much easier to use reading complex things for insight practice -- then you can make sure you're noticing all the different internal visualizations, half-thoughts, feelings, etc. and build up mindfulness in the process.

RE: reading as an object for concentration practice?
Answer
1/4/19 3:13 PM as a reply to Jan Pavuk.
Hi, Jan --
is it advisable to use reading dharma books (and in a way, also the content of what I read) as an object for practicing concentration? 
Is it as good of an object for as classical ones mentioned above?
do some good teachers recommend this practice?

I've never heard of reading being used as an object of concentration. This is probably because the kind of concentration we're trying to develop in meditation isn't the same kind of concentration we use when reading. Reading concentration engages the narrative, thinking and evaluating, active mind. Meditative concentration is attempting to develop a quiet, non-active mind.


RE: reading as an object for concentration practice?
Answer
5/29/19 5:42 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Hi, Jan --
is it advisable to use reading dharma books (and in a way, also the content of what I read) as an object for practicing concentration? 
Is it as good of an object for as classical ones mentioned above?
do some good teachers recommend this practice?

I've never heard of reading being used as an object of concentration. This is probably because the kind of concentration we're trying to develop in meditation isn't the same kind of concentration we use when reading. Reading concentration engages the narrative, thinking and evaluating, active mind. Meditative concentration is attempting to develop a quiet, non-active mind.


aloha chris, jan,

   Reading is good but not a substitute for meditation. Chris expresses this well. But it begs the question, what is the role of reading in spiritual practice?

   The goal of all spiritual practices is prajna, deep insight into nondual reality. Individual thoughts are, as dan points out, dualistic. Think of black marks seen against an (ignored) white background, or reflections seen in an invisible  mirror: images on a screen.

   All of us have read a great deal; daniel has even written books.

   The sufis say there are three books one must read: holy scripture, the book of the soul, and the book of nature, that is of the cosmos. We discern, we discriminate good and bad, holy and profane; we have a moral compass and a sense of gravity, of up and down. Our understanding is embodied in a set of ideas, a "paradigm," if you will. By reading these three books we improve, we practice, we perfect. We grow and mature.

   You might try reading only the best stuff - using your own judgment and respecting your intuition and guidance - and spending half of your time with it reflecting on what it means. Meditate as needed for balance. The more you fill your mind with ideas, the more you have to empty it out. (Think of it as a game, for surely it thinks so of you.)

terry


from saadi, the golestan


Story 25

If people injure thee grieve not
Because neither rest nor grief come from the people.
Be aware that the contrasts of friend and foe are from God
Because the hearts of both are in his keeping.
Although the arrow is shot from the bow
Wise men look at the archer.

One of the Arab kings ordered his officials to double the allowance of a certain attendant because he was always at the palace expecting orders while the other servants were engaged in amusements and sports, neglecting their duties. A pious man who heard this remarked that high degrees at the court of heaven are similarly bestowed upon servants:

If a man comes two mornings to serve the shah
He will on the third certainly look benevolently on him.
Sincere worshippers entertain the hope
That they will not be disappointed at the threshold of God.
Superiority consists in attending to commands.
The neglect of commands leads to exclusion.
Who possesses the criterion of righteousness
Places the head upon the threshold.

RE: reading as an object for concentration practice?
Answer
1/5/19 9:34 AM as a reply to Jan Pavuk.
I like to read novels, and when I do I make a point of visualizing the characters and settings according to the author’s descriptions as far as possible. I’ve always done this, not as a chore but as a reflex. On a recent retreat one of the teachers suggested that this is actually a fine exercise for concentration. The retreat itself was for fire kasina practice, highly visual, and developing one’s visual imagination is a key part of the practice itself. 

I do agree with Chris that samadhi is not the same kind of “concentration” that one utilizes in reading either narrative or any kind of expository writing, and so if you’re wanting to develop it you’re best using a practice that is designed to do that. But I did have an odd experience recently upon leaving a theater at the end of a movie: I experienced everything as part of a flow state, the traffic, the lights, the bustle around me, etc. My mind had been concentrated on the screen for the period of the movie, and brought that state into the world in a more pronounced way than usual. This isn’t necessarily an argument for staring at more screens (as if anyone needs to do that!), but rather it’s interesting to notice how your mind is responding to input moment by moment as you go through your life. 

RE: reading as an object for concentration practice?
Answer
1/6/19 10:27 AM as a reply to Jan Pavuk.
Maybe a bit of maths too ?

http://www.bodysoulandspirit.net/mystical_experiences/read/notables/koestler.shtml

RE: reading as an object for concentration practice?
Answer
5/25/19 3:08 AM as a reply to Jan Pavuk.
Yes, actually you can. The point of mindfulness is to use it in everyday life after all, and reading also counts. I also enjoy doing LVKM or Loving Kindness Meditation as you read a book, especially when there are characters in trouble doing it. It's just good practice.

RE: reading as an object for concentration practice?
Answer
5/26/19 6:57 AM as a reply to Bianca.
Bianca:
Yes, actually you can. The point of mindfulness is to use it in everyday life after all, and reading also counts. I also enjoy doing LVKM or Loving Kindness Meditation as you read a book, especially when there are characters in trouble doing it. It's just good practice.


Metta for Gollum.