RE: Concentration or insight

Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 2:25 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 2:25 PM

Concentration or insight

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/1/22 Recent Posts
It seems like  a lot of people on here are reaching  path  after only a few months meditation. I know most on this sight lean toward mahasi style noting. I however  do concentration meditation mostly.    Would it be more useful for me to just sit and start mahasi style insight.  Do people advance quicker that way.?
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Ni Nurta, modified 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 4:15 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 4:15 PM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 931 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
If by advancing you mean spiraling down in to madness then yes.
What is the issue that you are having?
Is this something critical that you cannot postpone while you learn things useful on the path?
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 4:43 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 4:43 PM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/1/22 Recent Posts
If you where me ? And you wanted the fruits of meditation and had 2 hours a day to spend on it ,1 in the morning  and  on at night.      Would you  A - try to achieve the Samatha jhanas. Or B- sit down and  and do vipasana (just using bare awareness)  .    Which one would be more productive  at the end of a years work?     Opinions from anybody welcome 
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T DC, modified 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 6:02 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 5:54 PM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 467 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
A strong base of mindfulness / vippassana is the core of progression towards genuine insight.  Whereas the jhanas are attractive, but harder to achieve.  Personally I was only able to really get into jhana once I had the mental boost of some initial insight (stream entry).

So as far as realistic goals on the path, try expanding your practice to include significant vipassana (between 50/50 to 70/30 vippassana/ shamatha), and don't worry too much about getting into jhana until you make some initial headway with insight.  My two cents.
Martin, modified 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 5:55 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 5:55 PM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 482 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
The answer to that question is often complicated but, if you lay out your practice history to date, what you want to achieve, and why you want to achieve it, in some detail (for example, three hundred words) then some of the people here who are teachers (I'm not one) will very likely be able to give you some suggestions. 
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Dustin, modified 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 8:56 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 8:56 PM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 112 Join Date: 12/28/17 Recent Posts
Matt Jon Rousseau
It seems like  a lot of people on here are reaching  path  after only a few months meditation. I know most on this sight lean toward mahasi style noting. I however  do concentration meditation mostly.    Would it be more useful for me to just sit and start mahasi style insight.  Do people advance quicker that way.?

You can advance really quickly with Mahasi noting. I'm not sure about reaching path with in a few months but reducing anxiety, letting go of things being personal, feeling more spacious, being more aware and having more wisdom can all be attained before a path moment. Mahasi noting can lead to difficult states but so can life. Ity can also lead to profound states of calm and equinimity. Having a teacher is good and also knowing what you want from meditation now and in the future can help. Also watching parts of the self, seeing impermanence and suffering can get weird so having some good concentraion and tranquility is good.
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 5/2/22 7:36 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/1/22 10:18 PM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 1191 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Matt Jon Rousseau
It seems like  a lot of people on here are reaching  path  after only a few months meditation. I know most on this sight lean toward mahasi style noting. I however  do concentration meditation mostly.    Would it be more useful for me to just sit and start mahasi style insight.  Do people advance quicker that way.?


Noting is fine, but I don't recommend you do it as your only practice.

https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html
But if you look directly at the Pali discourses — the earliest extant sources for our knowledge of the Buddha's teachings — you'll find that although they do use the word samatha to mean tranquility, and vipassana to mean clear-seeing, they otherwise confirm none of the received wisdom about these terms. Only rarely do they make use of the word vipassana — a sharp contrast to their frequent use of the word jhana. When they depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana." And they never equate the word vipassana with any mindfulness techniques. In the few instances where they do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together.


My advice is not to look at it as an "either or" choice but as how to get both tranquility and insight from your meditation technique.

And I think the correct meaning is tranquility not concentration. The point, in my opinion, is not to concentrate so hard that you drive away all thoughts and emotions, but to quiet the mind so that it can be controlled consciously - used to observe and understand the the origin of dukkha and the cessation of dukkha

Insight means, in my opinion, observing the activity of the mind: thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations, the sense of self.Tranquility practice (such as breathing in a relaxing way and noticing the pleasant feeling of relaxation, or metta, or producing sukha (tranquil bliss), or jhana) helps to quiet the mind and helps ease (counterbalance) the unpleasant effects of seeing what is really there deep in your mind and then letting go. Without tranquility you will too easily become distracted, lost in thought and carried away by emotions.

[UPDATE: I don't know exactly the right way to say this, what I wrote below isn't exactly right but it isn't exactly wrong either so I have it crossed out but you can still read it. It can take courage to acknowledge your attachments and aversions, but letting go removes (evaporates) the mental difficulties which is different from the analogy I used.]
My opinion is that meditation can bring you to the precipice of letting go but letting go is something you have to do that is outside meditation. It is like climbing out of the trench and running at the enemy machine gunner. It takes courage. The pain of letting go is similar to the pain of actual loss. You have to be willing to give up all those thing you like and face all those things you don't like in order to be non attached. That courage comes from understanding that normal consciousness is worse. Being attached is worse than than letting go. The way you see that is by observing the mind with a tranquil mind.

I use several different techniques in my practice. I start with techniques that are usually considered relaxation exercises but in reality can also be considered types of meditation / mindfulness practices. Then I do sitting meditation. Then I practice in daily life. During each phase I am trying to relax and observe the activity of my mind.

https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/easy-meditation.html
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/09/when-you-cant-find-tranquility.html
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/a-quick-guide-to-producing-bliss-with.html
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/metta-meditation.html
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2019/09/aspects-of-meditation.html#asp_med_surrender

When you judge a style of practice because people say it helped them awaken, you have understand what they mean by awaken.

My opinions about awakening are explained here: notice the measurement of awakening is based on behavior in daily life, not by something you experience in meditation (or anywhere else). 
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2019/09/gradual-enlightenment.html
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/04/my-views-on-gradual-awakening.html


When you don't use behavior as a means of measuring enlightenment you get phenomenon such as these:
https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/scandals-buddhist/
https://tricycle.org/magazine/sex-sangha-again/
https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/sex-sangha-apparently-we-still-havent-had-enough/

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/21393142 (see several of my posts in this thread)
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/9570391

How is it possible for arahants to exhibit bad behavior? It happens when their attainments are judged by what happens to them in meditation and not by what they do in daily life. In my opinion, it's because they have had all the required experiences in meditation to earn them the titles, but they have not really let go of attachments and aversions.
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 3 Months ago at 5/2/22 4:29 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/2/22 4:29 AM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/1/22 Recent Posts
It sounds  like stream entry is easier to achieve than jhana . Strassman stated that on Guru viking.   I find that odd.  Isn't  stream entry a  entry high realization on the way to enlightenment.and Isn't  jhana(samadhi) just a temporary  transendence?
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 5/2/22 5:35 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/2/22 5:35 AM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 1191 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Matt Jon Rousseau
It sounds  like stream entry is easier to achieve than jhana . Strassman stated that on Guru viking.   I find that odd.  Isn't  stream entry a  entry high realization on the way to enlightenment.and Isn't  jhana(samadhi) just a temporary  transendence?


The terms stream entry and jhana are used differently by different people. Producing piti and sukha is probably easier than stream entry. Going past 8th jhana to get to stream entry might not be the easiest way for some people to get to stream entry. Some people consider jhana imples very deep levels of absorption, others disagree.

Jhana Wars!
https://simplesuttas.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/jhana-wars-pt-1-what-the-heck-is-jhana-a-first-pass/

Reinterpreting the Jhanas
https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/jiabs/article/download/8818/2725
T DC, modified 3 Months ago at 5/2/22 11:03 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/2/22 11:02 AM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 467 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Matt Jon Rousseau It sounds  like stream entry is easier to achieve than jhana . Strassman stated that on Guru viking.   I find that odd.  Isn't  stream entry a  entry high realization on the way to enlightenment.and Isn't  jhana(samadhi) just a temporary  transendence?


Context is important here.  Stream Entry is special and important because it is the first real attainment on the path, but it's also the first of many attainments on a very long path.  The jhanas themselves, relative to experience at the 1st to 4th path level, are significant and profound states of concentration.  Although they may be temporary, it still takes significant meditative skill (i.e. refinement and power of awareness) to get into them, which is where they intersect with insight.  The boost in power and clarity of awareness provided by Stream Entry and 2nd / 3rd path greatly increase our ability to achieve the jhanas compared to our level of awareness pre-stream entry.  The jhanas only really lose their strength and appeal as we progress farther beyond 4th path.

​​​​​​​Basically IME, 1st to 4th path is prime-time for jhana achievement and appreciation on the path - we're advanced enough to attain them and experiment, but not too advanced to where the innate power and clarity of our awareness outstripps that of the jhanas and thus reduces their appeal.  
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Ni Nurta, modified 3 Months ago at 5/3/22 3:43 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/3/22 3:43 AM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 931 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
If you where me ? And you wanted the fruits of meditation and had 2 hours a day to spend on it ,1 in the morning  and  on at night.      Would you  A - try to achieve the Samatha jhanas. Or B- sit down and  and do vipasana (just using bare awareness)  .    Which one would be more productive  at the end of a years work?     Opinions from anybody welcome

Mindfulness is something person should cultivate 24/7. There should be continuous effort in cultivating it and continuous improvement.

Even when practicing concentration mind should prioritize being aware of what arises and why over distractions. Meditation object should be only one and have absolute priority BUT when mind starts shifting away from the object we should make sure that whatever the reason for these distractions is it should trigger mindfulness.

My recommendation is that you should continue Shamatha practices.
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Also do two types of Shamatha practices:
- concentration practice - you really keep your awareness on meditation object and do not even worry about jhanic bliss or any kind, its object or die
- jhana practice - awareness shifts to jhanic mind as result of seclusion from unskillful qualities - this one you also do while in waking awareness while you also make sure you are mindful
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Dream Walker, modified 3 Months ago at 5/4/22 5:46 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/4/22 5:46 AM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 1452 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Matt Jon Rousseau

It seems like  a lot of people on here are reaching  path  after only a few months meditation.
not true, but possible with good technique and the right amount of time/effort
I know most on this sight lean toward mahasi style noting. I however  do concentration meditation mostly. 
 The people on this site have a variety of different opinions and types of meditation.
Would it be more useful for me to just sit and start mahasi style insight. 
Just? What do you do now? how do you define your concentration practice?
Do people advance quicker that way.?
Equinimity is the place to be to get a shift. However you get there and are able to stay there.
Training the mind to investigate the moment by moment sensations as they occur and investigate the permenency, the feeling of me-ness, and whether it has satisfactory feeling or not seems to be the training to get rapid results.
It is not one or the other but both concentration and insite. Anyone who thinks that you can do one without the other really have not looked very deeply at the practice.
Good luck
~D
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Chris M, modified 3 Months ago at 5/4/22 8:34 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 5/4/22 8:34 AM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 4482 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
What Dream Walker said!
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 2 Months ago at 5/16/22 6:26 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 5/16/22 6:26 PM

RE: Concentration or insight

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/1/22 Recent Posts
Thank-you
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