Message Boards Message Boards

Teachers

Ajahn Sona of Birken forest monastery

Toggle
Ajahn Sona of Birken forest monastery
Answer
11/26/19 9:33 AM
So this guy studied under Gunaratana at some point and has been the abbot of his current monastery in canada for like the last 20 years. He has a ton of youtube videos. He has a unique interpretation of "Right Mindfulness" that I have not seen much of elsewhere and he seems to eschew the standard vipassana noting techniques. I have found his teachings very helpful in some ways. Some of his ideas that might stick out that people might be interested in commenting on:

Right mindfulness is not nonjudgmental awareness, but is actually a discerning faculty which detects wholesome and unwholesome states so you can decide which states to downregulate and which ones to upregulate. It also applies to the FFM

Limited emotional model-He talks about an awakened person just hanging out in the brahmaviharas rather than sinking into any negative emotional states.

Emphasis on jhana- He says not to be worried about getting attached to jhana because it is the kind of attachment that gets rid of itself once you go far enough with it. It also has the benefit of being a source of happiness independent of worldly conditions, which is like half the buddhist path. Only arhats aren't attached to jhana so it's not something to worry about

Vipassana is not a technique but a result of achieving samadhi and "seeing clearly" one's body-mind complex. Insights are the natural fruit of doing jhana practices

Abandoning shadow material-He is particularly dismissive of modern psychological models that talk about dealing with one's suppressed issues. He is more in favor of just simply abandoning one's past issues. He seems to think of buddhism as a more complete psychological/therapeutic system that is far more advanced than the modern models. He sees modern psychological practice being as kind of a joke because it is based on having to help the most psychologically disturbed people and having to get them "back to normal". He talks about how the fathers of modern psychology were themselves quite unhappy. He talks about "supernormal" happiness rather. That's not to say that he's against the use of modern psych techniques but he is pointing out that it only gets a person so far, it's the last resort when someone is really down in the dumps (my interpretation of what he is saying).

Belief in reincarnation as right view- He seems to make no pretense to turn reincarnation into some sort of metaphor and rather makes a metacognitive argument for belief in reincarnation as it can "light up" the kind of very human emotional impulse towards these kinds of cosmic metaphysical worldviews. Essentially he's talking about harnessing the religious impulse to stoke one's motivation to practice

An imaginative approach to brahmaviharas- He has a whole series on metta practice that is based on using the imagination and postiive discursive thinking to spark metta rather than using standardized and dead phrases.

Anyways, some of his stuff has been helpful, some not. He has not writing, except an interesting article on the breath nimitta. His teachings are all in video/audio form. Has anybody here practiced with him? Anybody here listened to his talks, engaged with his work? I'm just curious to see a pragmatic dharma response to his line of thinking. Some of it smacks of the pitfalls warned against in MCTB yet some of it seems to slip right by that criticism and offer a stronger case for adopting.

RE: Ajahn Sona of Birken forest monastery
Answer
11/26/19 9:54 PM as a reply to Chloe Parker.
Thank you for posting so much info. I will definitely check out his stuff.

RE: Ajahn Sona of Birken forest monastery
Answer
11/27/19 3:26 PM as a reply to Chloe Parker.
Another wisdom tooth is popping, thank you for sharing! Im excited to scout his conferences.
Right mindfulness is not nonjudgmental awareness, but is actually a discerning faculty which detects wholesome and unwholesome states so you can decide which states to downregulate and which ones to upregulate. It also applies to the FFM
I don't understand what is meant by an "unwholesome state". It might just be referential to the practitioner's goal in each individual meditation. Depending on what he or she wants to achieve/manifest, certain jhanas could be conducive and others unfavorable so evolving a mindful directionality is key. The same practice will have different qualities depending on the form of posture and the speed of the breath. These can be mixed to produce a cocktail of states. Like a river changes forms, the spines degree of tilt and the position of the joints allows for certain energetic paths to open and close. Breathing controls the circulation of blood flow, but that's only the surface, the health of the blood vessels plays a role in carrying that oxygen across the system, to the capillaries and to the ventricles. Nevertheless, It can be just as simple as closing one's eyes... because the body knows what it is doing whether you do or don't. However, how mindful one is of these happenings is important in establishing control. The chemistry, the vibrancy, and the harmony of the element all matter independently together. The body is not just a well-oiled machine, every organ is a factory, every cell a cog. The various mental manifestations are then fairly influenced by the manner of posture. the same jhana will act differently standing up than sitting. I have yet to encounter any such  "unwholesome" state.
Emphasis on jhana- He says not to be worried about getting attached to jhana because it is the kind of attachment that gets rid of itself once you go far enough with it. It also has the benefit of being a source of happiness independent of worldly conditions, which is like half the buddhist path. Only arhats aren't attached to jhana so it's not something to worry about
Apart from the innumerable health benefits one can cultivate... once you have seen them through enough, jhanas should hopefully become like toys on a shelf to keep around. They're captivating for sure. Under their effects, the external world almost ceases to exist and so too should all the cumbersome worries and stresses that might come with it. A quick maintenance program, then get back to your day. It doesn't matter whether you are this or that, attachment comes from the importance you designate.

Psychology is laughable because it is still in its primitive stages but it is still a great asset emoticon I agree with most of the general analysis on the rest honestly... 

It's for the best you don't cling onto MTCB. I don't want to discredit the work as it is analytical and straight-forward just as the buddha taught but Daniel's way of doing things are just that, Daniel's way of doing things. Every individual should walk their own path rather than follow another's

The Buddha is praised for attaining enlightenment. But enlightenment is just the first stone. When he learned that, that was the moment he became enlightened.