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Mantra&Vipassana
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7/11/19 2:29 PM
Does any one have experience doing mantra practice up through insight stages? Is it possible? 

Can a person do mantra & vipassana at the same time? Like mantra and bare witnessing?

Anybody have any thoughts on practice when noting doesn’t seem to work like it use to? 

The deal is i is I have been practicing for a couple years and looking for something new to do. Been doing breath at the nose concentration and Mahasi noting or 3 speed transmission and looking for a change up. 

RE: Mantra&Vipassana
Answer
7/11/19 9:39 PM as a reply to Dustin.
Anybody have any thoughts on practice when noting doesn’t seem to work like it use to? 
I have tried noting and it never really felt right compared to other forms of meditation. I use it occassionally during daily life as a mindfulness practice to keep the mind focused but I don't use it in an intensive form or as a main route to something greater. But my purpose for meditaing has always been to help me realx, quiet my mind, and cope with stress so I am drawn to relaxing types of meditation. Some authors translate "dukkha" as "stress" and that fits with my view/experience of things.
Can a person do mantra & vipassana at the same time?
It depends on what you mean by "mantra" and "vipassana".

I do a kind of meditation (when sitting, walking, lying down, etc) on the breath (I use a "mantra" counting breaths or thinking "in" and "out" as I breathe) which is very relaxing and puts me into a very relaxed state.

I have written about my practice on my log in these forums
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517
and on my web site
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/meditation-1#meditation_serenity

I notice (while meditating and during daily life) when thoughts arise and produce emotions (sensations in the body) that interefere with the relaxed state and then I try to relax (let go) and return to the relaxed state. I see that those emotions disappear when the thought ends as I return to the relaxed state so all those thoughts/emotions/tensions are really illusions produced by the mind. When I observe emotions as sensations in the body and observe the body becoming relaxed again as the thought ends, I consider that a form of vipasana. So in my view meditation is both concentration and vipassana, they are part of the same practice, which I think is the correct view:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html
One Tool Among Many
The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
in the eyes of those who assembled the Pali discourses, samatha, jhana, and vipassana were all part of a single path.
...


It has made me more relaxed and happier since the first day I tried it. I have practiced meditation for most of my life and tried various different systems and I developed this system myself and I find it yields more benefits and I have made more progress with this than other forms. (What is uinquie about it is that the focus of meditation is the pleasant feeling of relaxation produced by inhaling and exhaling in a realxing way.) The form of meditation I do can produces intense states of bliss, but that is not really necessary to the practice, I find they are somewhat dependent on nutrition and can become tedious if over indulged in - like they are just another illusion. A pleasant illusion but an illusion nonetheless.

I also distinguish between emotions that are caused by thoughts, and emotions caused by innate biological factors. I think meditation can have a huge influence over emotions caused by thoughts but maybe only a (very) limited influence over emotions produced by innate biological factors. If someone has anxiety or depression because of innate biochemical factors they might get benefits from meditation but they should not assume it can cure the anxiety or depression.

I haven't noticed the type of meditation I do producing "dark nights" and I wonder why anyone would follow a system that advertises them as a natural part of the practice. Just being relaxed for days at a time and feeling happy more often than not is a huge improvement compared to my life before I started practicing like this so I have a hard time understanding why people want more than that. 

But recently I have been having new kind of feeling: when the mind is quiet and the body relaxed and all the ususal mental chatter is greately reduced, the absence of the usual mental chatter creates a feeling like something is missing, a feeling of emptiness, like if someone said something unpleasant, there would be no one to be offended, like it is the mental chatter that produces the feeling of self. I can't say where this is going, but it seems suggestive.

RE: Mantra&Vipassana
Answer
7/12/19 12:54 AM as a reply to Dustin.
Hi Dustin,

In general, Vajrayana buddhism makes extensive use of Mantra in their practice which, if done correctly and in combination with Vipassana, leads to progression in emptiness insight.

In the practice system I use called Open Heart, which has elements of Vajrayana, two different kind of practices are employed dependent on your stage of development: one first uses a method called 2-Part Formula to effect first awakening (first insight into emptiness, kensho, etc) and thereafter, a tantric method (called Open Heart Yoga) is used for further mind purification.

Mantra is extensively used in Open Heart Yoga and as a practice it has a rather different feel from a practice such as Mahasi noting. 

There is less of active monitoring of mind/body phenomena, but more of following a routine set of yogic exercises (chanting Mantra, visualization, breathing and even shouting of Mantras etc.) followed by a relaxed, receptive tuning into the result of that exercise in mind/body. 

In any case, those who use this approach go through cycles similar to insight stages and experiences series of awakenings called opening of bhumis, which reveals ones natural state (first revealed in the 1st awakening) more and more.

So, I am definitely positive in that Mantra can be used and if done correctly progress in emptiness insight can occur.

For a good experiential account of how this happens, you may be interested in reading this account by a pragmatic dharma practioner who used this kind of approach to stabilize her natural state after having attained 2nd path (although please note that in her case, she used the part of Open Heart Yoga that does not involve empowerment/initiation, but nevertheless, the part she adopted involves effective use of Mantras).

RE: Mantra&Vipassana
Answer
7/12/19 10:23 PM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
Thanks Yuki and Jim for the info and the websites. 

RE: Mantra&Vipassana
Answer
7/13/19 9:09 PM as a reply to Dustin.
I use a mantra with vipassana - just as walking meditation shows you the process of intentions and physical actions, meditating with a mantra can show you the process of internal narration and the intentions that lead to it. Try looking to see where the words come from and where they go. See how early on you can catch the word-generation process.

RE: Mantra&Vipassana
Answer
7/13/19 10:40 PM as a reply to J C.
That makes sense. I was noticing where the words come from but not where they go and also not really thinking how the practice could be investigated like that. I can also see where the mantra takes off on its own sometimes and I can just kinda watch from the side and see it keep going. 

RE: Mantra&Vipassana
Answer
7/13/19 10:47 PM as a reply to Dustin.
Yeah, everything that comes up is fertile ground for investigation. I also like trying to note the impermanence of each of the sounds that come up internally, and really look at what that internal sound of self-talk feels like.