Selection of a meditation subject

Mackerel Ace, modified 10 Years ago.

Selection of a meditation subject

Post: 1 Join Date: 12/19/10 Recent Posts
Hi all,

I've been investigating the best meditation subject (for me). I am hoping this post, and your subsequent replies will enable me to do so.

My short term goal is to attain all the jhanas (rupa and arupa). I've discovered that mindfulness of breathing works well for me.

I've read through MCTB, Visuddhimagga and Henepola Gunaratna's Path of Serenity and Insight. These are the basic practical texts I am currently using on a daily basis.

My question arises due to a recent reading of Richard Shankman's The Experience of Samadhi, where (on page 48) he mentions that jhanas 5-8 are unattainable using mindfulness of breathing. Kasina practice is the only way to get there. is this true?
I'd like to hear first hand experiences, if possible.
If this is true, I will need to change my practice from breathing to kasina.

I don't mind doing that, but I'd just like to know for sure, if Shankman is correct in this case. In the past, Tratak (which IMO is a modified Indian variant of Kasina practice) has worked well for me too.

I am always on the lookout for practical manuals of meditation that don't have too much theory, so any other book recommendations are also welcome.

Thanks!
MA
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Ian And, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Selection of a meditation subject

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Mackerel Ace:


My question arises due to a recent reading of Richard Shankman's The Experience of Samadhi, where (on page 48) he mentions that jhanas 5-8 are unattainable using mindfulness of breathing. Kasina practice is the only way to get there. is this true?

This is absolutely, unequivocally untrue. Whatever gets you there, gets you there. It could be kasina practice, or mindfulness of the breath practice. It all depends on what one responds best to.

I've never, personally speaking, been a fan of visualization type meditation (which is what kasina practice engenders). So, for me, it would not work. Following the simple yet pleasant rhythm of the breath allows me access to a pleasant sensation which I use to launch into deeper states of quietude.

It all comes down to different strokes for different folks, however. Don't ever let anyone talk you out of doing something that you have an intuitive sense and affinity for (in your case, using the breath to deepen absorption). As far as I can recall from the suttas, Gotama used anapanasati to practice the arupa jhanas. If it's good enough for him, who am I to argue with success!

That's not to say that you couldn't have success with kasina practice. Only that it is not the ONLY way!

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