Advice from Sister Khema

Advice from Sister Khema Tommy M 12/3/11 2:43 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema josh r s 12/3/11 3:34 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Tommy M 12/3/11 3:28 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Brian Eleven 12/3/11 3:36 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/3/11 4:07 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Tommy M 12/3/11 4:39 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema bill of the wandering mind 12/3/11 9:33 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema bill of the wandering mind 12/3/11 10:12 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Bagpuss The Gnome 12/4/11 7:06 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Tommy M 12/4/11 2:56 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema bill of the wandering mind 12/5/11 8:24 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 8:35 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/5/11 9:58 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 10:14 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/5/11 10:41 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 11:37 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 11:28 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/5/11 11:47 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 11:52 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/5/11 11:56 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 1:19 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/5/11 1:40 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 1:45 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Eric B 12/5/11 1:59 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/5/11 2:36 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 2:44 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Tommy M 12/5/11 3:43 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 5:31 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Tommy M 12/5/11 6:04 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 7:32 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Tommy M 12/6/11 9:38 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema John Wilde 12/6/11 12:22 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Steph . 12/6/11 1:34 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema John Wilde 12/6/11 2:23 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema bill of the wandering mind 12/6/11 3:22 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema John Wilde 12/6/11 8:52 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Bagpuss The Gnome 12/6/11 3:37 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Tommy M 12/6/11 3:52 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Steph . 12/6/11 5:21 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Nikolai . 12/6/11 6:47 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/7/11 1:31 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/7/11 1:55 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/7/11 6:22 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/7/11 2:08 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema John Wilde 12/7/11 4:00 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/9/11 4:36 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/9/11 5:16 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/8/11 7:29 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema John Wilde 12/9/11 6:09 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/7/11 8:50 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Bagpuss The Gnome 12/6/11 3:42 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema John Wilde 12/6/11 6:29 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema bill of the wandering mind 12/5/11 3:46 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 5:50 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/5/11 3:53 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema bill of the wandering mind 12/5/11 4:15 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Steph . 12/5/11 3:42 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/5/11 4:03 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Steph . 12/5/11 4:04 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/5/11 4:13 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/5/11 4:47 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Tommy M 12/5/11 5:14 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema Steph . 12/5/11 6:24 PM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema John Wilde 12/6/11 3:47 AM
RE: Advice from Sister Khema End in Sight 12/5/11 5:16 PM
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 2:43 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 2:41 PM

Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I've been talking to Steph S via email for the last wee while and she mentioned how cool it would be to get Sister Khema to come back on and talk about the material on the dhammasukha.org site and maybe offer some advice on practice, going back to the suttas and her general take on things...so i sent her an email and asked her!

Not only did she reply within a few days, she provided some excellent practical advice, a bit of information on how this misunderstanding (Vishudamagga/commentaries vs. Pali Canon) began, some tips and then extended an interesting offer to anyone interesting in talking with her about this approach to the dharma! I've asked her if it's o.k. to post her reply and she's said it's fine, she's asked us to join her yahoo discussion group[1] if we want to talk to her directly but also says she's travelling in Sri Lanka so may not be available as regularly. She seems like a really lovely person, very open and interested in how people like ourselves are working with the techniques she teaches!

Here's her replies in full:

Sister Khema via email:
Dhamma Greetings Tommy,

A wee request and a bigger answer.... hope this helps.

First, I have written a lot about this angle of things. I research this continually during my Dhamma travels with Venerable and for other monks who see a real problem facing Buddhism today. In Asia, The challenge is right out there that there is a real problem with the slippage that has happened with the teaching in modern times and that a solution must be found soon.
This slippage is largely due to the over importance placed today on the Reference Book called the Vissudhi Magga. This book was produced for the Commentarial aisle of the library combining over 100 older commentaries, ( that burned up shortly after it was written would you beieve! ) and this book was never meant to become a primary source for Buddhist Meditaition and training. BUT, in the 1950's this kind of happened during that last Buddhist Council and it has sincec caused significant problems for monastics and lay people who attempt to practice the entire teaching of Buddha Gotama.

Since I am traveling, i don't have much time right now, but I am VERY" INTERESTED that you and some others ARE INTERESTED form the San FRancisco area. Because one thing that usually happens in Vipassana practitioners usually close their minds to possibilities you see, and you are an exception in this way this time. I am certainly open for discussion.

I have a couple of ideas how I can help you folks.
First, if you want to do this privately with your own group of people to begin with, then, we can use my one yahoo list that I don't operate much, that was setup for a particular sutta study before, and it's called Ehipassikho....
This would be instead of doing this on the Regular student support group because over there, we stress confining ourselves to just dealing with TWIM issues for students and we don't go far afield with other pracitces in our topics. The Dhammasukha list is a coaching site for students to keep their progress going with some support when questions come up.
Let me know if you want to do this, Go to Yahoogroups.com and ask to join , and I will put you into Ehipassikho yahooGroup asap and we can begin there with your questions.

ALso, you guys might find the Foundation Meditation Training installments very interesting over at the www.dhammasukha.org . They soon going to be rewritten and compiled into a training manual with more of them to be written while I am in Sri Lanka. You can look at the syllabus to see what is happening there. I would enjoy your input on these installments as I work on them and we can help each other.
They need a lot of work to be edited , divided up and put into a book form for the first TWIM training manual for leaders, teachers, and monastics practicing TWIM... The goal for this book is this Spring. So I am essentially going into hiding in Sri Lanka to write this book up in Kandy.
Let me know how this sounds, ok?

Take a puruse of this material below that was to be an article of comparison for the two approaches which came about through someone's email awhile back... It was a good exercise to look at the differences....
Have fun with this and smile.
Also don't be afraid to court some questions to me directly from your group so I can consider answers on things you really want to know instead of guessing what to tell you about. OK?

MEtta and smiles.
S.D. Sister Khema


First you can take a look at this and talk it over some.


One-pointedness versus TWIM meditation

Here is an old examination that I put together to answer Mark Johnson some time back about some differences about TWIM versus one-pointed/absorption concentration practice.
I hope this will evoke some discussion about the practice..
Metta
Sister Khema
S. Korea


Dhamma Greetings Sister Khema,
In reading the recent thread on opening the heart and your email to Jaroslaw you made some very good points about opening up to understanding/insight rather than bearing down and overly concentrating on the object of meditation.
I am assuming that the over-concentration is akin to "one pointed meditation" . So in TWIM we are not practicing this one pointedness, unlike the majority of meditators and meditation schools out there.
Am I characterizing one pointedness correctly? Can you provide further illumination on the difference between our approach and that of the one pointed meditations, and how that works?
Thank you for your kind teachings,
with a big smile for you and all of our dhamma friends,
mark johnson

ANSWER from SK

Dhamma Greetings.

Certainly this is a good exercise and worth some investigation.

One interesting thing in Buddhism is to consider how long the Buddha was a Master Meditation teacher before he died.

Buddha Gotama taught meditation for 45 years. I think most of us would agree that this is long enough for him to have refined his teaching approach to the point where he knew what approach would work the best for the most people most of the time.

Perhaps this is a good enough reason to go back into the texts and re-evaluate what HE was saying in reference to an approach to meditation.

Actually, it is true that the Pali texts give us enough information so that we CAN put together the pieces of the meditation puzzle in regards to what the Buddha was doing.

We just have to be willing to take the time to rebuild the picture.

The Buddha told the monks what the outcome of the training should be very clearly in MN-21 ( see the part about HO WE SHOULD TRAIN. ( In this sutta, the results he expected us to achieve were laid out very clearly.

Lets try to take a purely analytical view of this, without prejudice, to go over some of the differences between one-pointedness meditation and Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation (TWIM):


First off, this will be a bit like comparing Apples and Oranges. Both of them are fruits and fulfill the need for fruit in the diet. But they are not the same.

This is very much like the differences between these two kinds of practice.


1. TO TRANQUILIZE OR NOT TO TRANQUILIZE
(To Crave or not to Crave, same thing)
THAT IS THE QUESTION?

The PRINCIPLE difference between these two practices is the RELAX step in the cycle of TWIM which has been put back into the instructions after research, practice and observation of results.

The student learns to observe what is arising in the peripheral areas surrounding their object of meditation by noticing changes in the arising level of tension as something arises.

As soon as the student picks up on this change happening, they RELEASE whatever has arisen, AND THEN RELAX which lets go of all remaining tension and tightness in the head especially. At that point, they will feel a natural lightening happening and an opening of mind and they become alert to a sharpening of awareness when they do this next time.

Most expressly TWIM pays attention to the additional step found in the instructions of MN-18 Anapanasati sutta and the Satipatthana sutta. The step to RELAX (tranquilize) all tension or tightness in mind and in body each time they let go of whatever has pulled them away from the object of meditation is very clearly stated in the texts.

They then return to the object of meditation and keep on going.
If they do this relax step each time, as the tension levels begin to drop, they will naturally move, without effort to make anything happen, into the deeper levels of understanding where they can make closer observation of how everything is happening. This is what their investigation is all about.
VERSUS
The RELAX step usually does not exist as an individual step within the one-pointedness meditation instruction. It is usually assumed that the relaxation step takes care of any needed relaxing of tension and tightness, but, it doesn’t, and, that is not what the suttas say to do.

NOTE: If you think you ARE letting go of all the tension when you release, check for yourself carefully to see if there is any difference in these two approaches. See for yourself what happens.

RESULT: With TWIM, the result is that as mind opens for longer periods of time, following this RELAX step, the student naturally experiences JOY and it’s after-effect of Tranquility, which is even nicer. All the time, awareness continues an just as described within MN-111, which was the description of Sariputta’s experience.


2. RIGHT EFFORT PRACTICE HAPPENS IN BOTH MEDITATIONS

When practicing One-pointedness, Right Effort is not usually taught within the instructions given or woven into the practice when it’s done. Most students practicing this way would tell me that RIGHT EFFORT means “to make more effort; work harder” in whatever you are doing in your meditation practice. But Right Effort doesn’t mean this.

VERSUS

With TWIM the student continues to practice Right Effort all the time until it becomes second nature for them. What is practiced here is per the instructions for Right Effort found in the texts. ( See MN-77 for instance – this may be called striving, because Ven. Nanamoli changed this is some suttas instead of using Right Effort as its title.)

Right Effort is defined as having 4 Steps.
1. Recognize when there is an unwholesome mindstate;
2. Release this unwholesome mindstate; ( and relax here as directed in MN-118)
3. Bring up a wholesome mindstate;
4. Keep this wholesome mindstate going. ( The most wholesome mindstate if the Object of Meditaition!)

3. UNDERSTANDING THE REASON FOR AN OBJECT OF MEDITATION

Using One-pointed concentration, the idea is to keep focusing completely on your object of meditation in a serious and determined way as if that object has something to tell you as tension arises in the head during this practice.

( note: Teachers may not really want the student to do this exactly to a serious extent. However, this seems to be what comes across to most student meditators that I have talked with and we hear they are attempting to do this in an extremely concentrated way, according to what they think he word concentration really means.…)

VERSUS

When practicing TWIM, the student should fully understand that the object of meditation holds no secrets and is expressly there as a home-base for the purpose of returning to re-center once again run the cycle of Right Effort whenever they have to release and relax during the practice. They are then to continue on with bringing up the feeling of loving kindness, giving it to themselves, and sending it to their spiritual friend whenever mind’s attention is pulled away.


4. WHAT TO DO WITH ARISING HINDRANCES DURING MEDITATON

In many cases of one-pointed meditation, instructions direct the student to move away from the object of meditation; to note or investigate whatever is arising and remain with that phenomena until it passes away;

VERSUS

Contrary to this idea, TWIM surrenders to the text’s advice concerning Hindrances. The Text is advising us to let go of everything, no matter what it is, to personally get out of the way, and to keep on observing what happens while you send out the METTA to your spiritual friend. After all we are supposed to be re-training mind to move towards nibbana where there is no tension or tightness and movement like this happening at all. So, this makes a lot of sense.

Whenever you experience a sensation arising with tension, this is indicating mind’s attention is beginning to move off your object of meditation. This is the signal for Craving arising; the symptom of craving the Buddha figured out. It is then that you should run the 6R cycle and come back to re-center your attention on your object of meditation and then continue with your observation of HOW minds attention moves again. You do not 6R arising thoughts that do not pull your attention away…. Only those where you feel the pulling sensation are 6Red.

In this way you continue to purify mind by re-training it to keep this observation going all the time. This means keeping it going in life all the time too and not just doing this on a cushion.


5. HOW FAR CAN MIND OPEN UP when using these practices?

One-pointedness approach seems to cause a natural narrowing of minds attention which does not allow the student to pick up on something as it is arising, such as a hindrance, at the earliest possible point to let go. Many times students are asked to couple this with the idea of stopping meditation to investigate further an arising phenomena. This is two meditations and not one.

Whenever you narrow your focus of mind this can cause a kind of tightness increasing tension in the head, and, in some cases, this can bring about headaches, vertigo, tiredness, and frustration. While in S. Korea, we interviewed some students who had suffered brain fevers from this approach and they had to go into the hospital and two of them lost their jobs. This was all caused by the stress put on the brain to concentrate and by coming to try TWIM, they discovered they could still do meditation AND make real progress without this kind of tension and tightness. And they use it now in life.

VERSUS
TWIM teaches us that the secret the Buddha found for FALLING into the deeper states for investigation lies in the RELEASE and RELAX steps, the letting go, RELAXING and SMILING, opens and lightens mind . It opens up with more spaciousness than we can imagine for deeper observations.

NOTE: If you are wondering about what raising the corners of the mouth can do, try it out and observe for yourself the difference in how mind can feel. Then continue on


6. THE PRACTICE IN DAILY LIFE:

One-pointedness does not seem to transfer easily into daily life. We hear a lot of stories about how meditation becomes a private place to find release from life. People say, “It is my escape from the world!” and they mean this. This is one of the most problematic points of contradiction to Buddhist teachings that students tell us about from all over the world.

They do not naturally tend to take their practice into their daily lives because it doesn’t easily transfer. Instead they talk about it in reference to ‘the night they go to sit’, or ‘when they go to the temple’, or ‘where they sit alone away from the world’ like that. So something is obviously wrong here.

This view separates meditation from life and so they don’t get to exerpeince the personality changes that are expected from this practice as it happened in the texts. It becomes rather clear that this one-pointed approach isn't something a person can begin doing in an office, school, or home environment if any difficulties come up if you try to think this through. You begin to see the problem.

VERSUS

On the other hand, TWIM, by all reports, appears to naturally step over into daily life easily and effectively with immediate results and changes do happen.

It can be carried with us and used ALL THE TIME.

It works naturally in our lives for use in all situations involving human beings at home, in school, or at work.

Once we learn the cycle of RIGHT EFFORT, as defined in the texts, and apply it, we continuously notice the results of wholesome approaches to things. We also begin to see how Dependent Origination applies to our lives. Changes happen gradually and systematically as we begin to SEE HOW things really work. We begin to observe life instead of being sucked into the drama of it without understanding.

One of the neatest things with this practice is how people begin to lean naturally into compassionate direction in life works. And this happens without any VOW to do it too.

7. REVEALING HOW SUFFERING WORKS

A person may initially and temporarily experience a calmer environment while using One-pointed Meditation but they normally don’t clearly see and understand the links of Dependent Origination that work in life. Therefore, they will not usually learn to understand anger, frustration, anxiety, depression as it arises or experience significant changes in their own habitual tendencies to react to these emotional states.

VERSUS

When practicing TWIM, these things are closely examined and understood. A student begins to take apart how things are happening and they naturally change how they handle things in life.


BUDDHIST TEACHING APPLIES TO LIFE TODAY.


These are just some of the most evident ways in which the two practices are different.

But are they alike too?

Just like the two fruits, although there have differences, both practices encourage us to strive for and uncover similar insights and end results. For instance I believe that

n . We strive to handle things in more peaceful ways and in essence, we all strive for peaceful co-existence.

n Each of us wants to uncover the complete meaning of the Four Noble Truths.

Transposing the Four Noble Truths into daily life usage we might see them like this:
What is the problem?
What is the cause?
What is the solution?
What is the way to the solution?

All these questions have an interconnection with daily life and we will come to realize their solutions through what we see in our practice.

In the time of the Buddha the most impressive thing was how people could use the teachings all the time. It affected many areas of that society.

It is time to examine this and more in Buddhism today in an unbiased way.

This is a priceless teaching and there is a definitive need to share whatever we have that is working and show how it is helping people in everyday life.

Bringing alive this practice in life will shows that Buddhist practice is NOT AN ANTIQUATED TEACHING.

n Each of us wants to experience and understand how the links of Dependent Origination work in reference to events we face in our everyday life.

This process reveals to us what is really going on and how precisely things actually work.

It can reveal how something is broken and how to fix it.


TWIM training is very practical for us to understand and use within life by shifting events and relationships into the proper impersonal perspective.

Once we understand HOW THINGS WORK, ( by learning and using several links of Dependent Origination and begin to see more clearly what’s happening on a deeper level) this knowledge leads us to ‘not being so UP TIGHT and SERIOUS’.

Space or pauses becomes available for mind to RESPOND’ more often to life ‘instead of reacting’ all the time. This is a key change for us. This is a result we can realize in everyday life.

Both practices desire us to fully understand and internalize the Three Characteristics of Existence; to deeply understand through experience the inner meanings for Impermanence, Suffering, and the Impersonal Nature of everything, ( no self; impersonal perspective )
Within the cycle of the TWIM practice, the student is continually becoming aware and being reminded of these three aspects.

Every time we practice to RECOGNIZE, RELEASE & RELAX, RE-SMILE & RETURN and keep REPEATING this cycle, we realize the impermanence of how phenomena arises and passes away. We witness how tension is the root of suffering; AND we see how the impersonal perspective sets mind free. So we are continually re-training mind to witness this each time we run the cycle.

What I have listed above are what happens when we begin to practice, for real, all the time, RIGHT EFFORT because this is exactly what TWIM is.

Right Effort has 4 steps of
1. Recognizing an unwholesome mind-state;
2. Releasing that unwholesome mind-state and relaxing;
3. Bringing up a wholesome mind-state;
4. AND keeping that wholesome mind-state going!

Now, look here a minute and tell me how human beings express relief? They smile! This is the person’s method of expressing happiness at any level. This is universal.

TWIM fulfills RIGHT EFFORT and in this way it gradually retrains mind to LET GO instead of GRABBING ONTO what is arising.

Letting go results in smiling more easily in life and accepting things more as they essentially are instead of attempting to control things in life, which causes a struggle with lots of tension...

Hope this rambling on about this a little bit is helpful for you all to get a clearer picture of how the meditation is not the same routine approach.

Smiles and much metta your way.
S.D. Sister Khema

Dhamma Greetings Tommy.
It's ok to post it if it's ok for that group. I don't know their policies.
I don't go to other groups myself and scout for people.... don't have time to do that kind of thing and actually wouldn't.
But this is your search and I see nothing wrong with you posting this as something you found and you want to share. So, literally, go for it.

If anybody wants to come into Ehipassikho.
Please ask them when they ask to get in, to let me know it's part of the Tommy group, or, whatever you want to name it... Then I know you guys are coming in and I think this is great and I WOULD like to talk to people who are really wanting to know what the Buddha did.

OK?
metta and smiles.
S.D. Sister Khema


I suggest we keep this thread for questions and discussion related to Sister Khema and the approach she and Ven. Bhante V advocate, including her yahoo group (which i don't think she'd mind us linking to from here once we've got a dialogue going, although obviously we'd ask her first) and that sort of thing. I think this could prove to be a really important point in the development of pragmatic dharma and how we're viewing the Pali canon compared to the commentaries. It'd be even cooler to think that our efforts as a community will contribute to the development of the living, breathing Buddhadharma for everyone right now.

Discussions on how these practices line up with the insight maps, or how they differ from MCTB and Mahasi-style practice may be better in a thread of their own as there's a lot of really interesting stuff to be found through examining this. Even in the last few days i've gone back to reading MCTB with new eyes (post coming later tonight) and found a lot of interesting, deep stuff i hadn't fully appreciated in previous reads or references.

'Mon the Dhamma!![2]

[1] I suggest we just call the group "The Dharma Overground" rather than the Tommy group. emoticon
[2] 'Mon the.. is a Scottish phrase usually shouted in support of something, roughly means "Come on the..." whatever you're supporting.
thumbnail
josh r s, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 3:34 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 3:23 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 337 Join Date: 9/16/11 Recent Posts
[1] I suggest we just call the group "The Dharma Overground" rather than the Tommy group.


im confused, isn;t this the already established yahoo group she was talking about?

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammasukha/

edit - oh ok ;)
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 3:28 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 3:28 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Sister Khema says:

The Dhammasukha list is a coaching site for students to keep their progress going with some support when questions come up.
Let me know if you want to do this, Go to Yahoogroups.com and ask to join , and I will put you into Ehipassikho yahooGroup asap and we can begin there with your questions.

I took it from that that she is using a specific sub-group to talk to us, namely Ehipassikho, due to what we're discussing.
thumbnail
Brian Eleven, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 3:36 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 3:36 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 221 Join Date: 9/14/10 Recent Posts
If you search Yahoo groups for Dhamma Suka two listings come up. I originally posted the link to the group I did, because it is actively used. The other appeared dormant with only one post in November. The active group seems to be a location for students of Bhante V and Sister Khema to discuss practice and get advice. The second location (Ehipassikho) would be used specifically for the Dharma Overground. I'm guessing but this explanation makes sense to me.
For what it's worth I kinda liked the"Tommy group"!
emoticon
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 4:07 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 4:07 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
I'd like to point out that I think HAIETMOBA / Actualism method fits into this model:

1. Recognizing an unwholesome mind-state;
- you ask HAIETMOBA? you realize you are feeling 'bad'
2. Releasing that unwholesome mind-state and relaxing;
- realize it is silly and drop it (perhaps by tracing it back in time)
3. Bringing up a wholesome mind-state;
- refresh your felicity/sensuousness/naivete
4. AND keeping that wholesome mind-state going!
- keep it up

Thanks for posting it, though.. it's helped me realize that I have to focus on steps #2-4 far more than I have been.
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 4:39 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 4:39 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I'd like to point out that I think HAIETMOBA / Actualism method fits into this model:

1. Recognizing an unwholesome mind-state;
- you ask HAIETMOBA? you realize you are feeling 'bad'
2. Releasing that unwholesome mind-state and relaxing;
- realize it is silly and drop it (perhaps by tracing it back in time)
3. Bringing up a wholesome mind-state;
- refresh your felicity/sensuousness/naivete
4. AND keeping that wholesome mind-state going!
- keep it up

Given that Rickyboy appropriated his attentiveness to sensousness spiel from Bhante G. (would that be fair to say?) i reckon it's a given that the whole thing can be lined up nicely. I like your breakdown though, very simply but effectively put.

Aye, she's a dharma diamond is Sister Khema and that one reply pretty much hits every nail on the head.

: )
thumbnail
bill of the wandering mind, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 9:33 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 9:33 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Wow. This feels right to me - Its like in normal concentration practices there is a learning step missing, whereas here there is a systematic retraining going on. Love it. I will start doing this - I am currently doing 2 hours a day of anapana but getting quite stuck with the hindrances and rough tensions that arise, with seemingly no way to retrain the mind to let go of the craving/aversion..

Sweet - I will read up on this and log in on my KFD log.
thumbnail
bill of the wandering mind, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 10:12 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 10:12 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Interesting - found this explanation: http://fallingleaveskungfu.com/content/6-rs-mindfulness-meditation

Thanks guys
thumbnail
Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 10 Years ago at 12/4/11 7:06 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/4/11 7:06 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Aye, she's a dharma diamond is Sister Khema and that one reply pretty much hits every nail on the head.


She is indeed. I've been naturally moving toward this approach on my own. This stuff came up around the same time and is making a lot of sense to me. Im still doing regular vipassana after anapana, but have had great results just doing anapana in the past. Thanks for posting all of this Tommy. I need to give their site a really good read through to understand the technique better, but if it's essentially anapana as a means of both concentration and insight i am SO in! emoticon

Some of the best progress i've made has been with anapana on it's own (and a kind of full body awareness accompanying it) though it's hard to say if that would have been the case without lots of straight vipassana before that.
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 12/4/11 2:56 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/4/11 2:56 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Wow. This feels right to me - Its like in normal concentration practices there is a learning step missing, whereas here there is a systematic retraining going on. Love it. I will start doing this - I am currently doing 2 hours a day of anapana but getting quite stuck with the hindrances and rough tensions that arise, with seemingly no way to retrain the mind to let go of the craving/aversion.

Awesome, great to hear this is helping you!

If you're doing two hours a day of this stuff then you'll make more progress, I'm continually amazed by the simplicity and effectiveness of this so it'll be great to see how this works for you.
thumbnail
bill of the wandering mind, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 8:24 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 8:24 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
I pulled this off of the yahoo group - figured it to be something worth sharing here:

A Meditator Puts That One Exact Step Of Relaxing Tightness
Especially In Ones Head And Brain, The Jhana Is Completely Different
And Contemplation While One Is In The Jhana Can Be Done.

Dhamma Greetings Adam,

The whole thing about jhana is when you read the suttas they give
very precise instructions about how to do the Anapanasati
meditation. When one does not follow these instructions exactly and
precisely then they will begin to practice one-pointed concentration
which by the way was rejected by the Bodhisatta. In the post that i
wrote about how to practice the meditation the way the Buddha
taught, I made a lot of statements about relaxing on the in breath
and relaxing on the out breath. Without this one step the jhana
practice becomes very difficult indeed.

The way about one-pointed type of concentration and it is true that
one cannot contemplate while in that type of jhana. But when a
meditator puts that one exact step of relaxing tightness especially
in ones head and brain, the jhana is completely different and
contemplation while one is in the jhana can be done. I know that my
definitions are different from the Pali text Society and many other
people who practice meditation and it is because of their not
understanding or practicing the meditation with the step of relaxing
in it.

When I say that each stage or step of jhana is a level of
understanding, I mean that the meditator learns more and more about
how Dependent Origination actually occurs. And this agrees with the
suttas very closely. As the meditator begins to see exactly how
mind's attention moves from one thing to another they begin to see
that this is an impersonal process and are able to observe more and
more closely exactly how it occurs.

When we hear what someone says the way to find out what was said is
to compare it to the suttas and vinaya. I have made it a habit to
read the sutta and then explain it while I give a Dhamma talk. So my
interpretation may be different from many other people who teach.

The way I teach and have my students follow is by being as precise
and exact as possible with the actual suttas. As a result, many,
many people are able to experience jhana quickly. When I am teaching
metta, if one of my students don't attain a jhana within a few days
I start asking them what they are doing and why aren't they
following the instructions more carefully. Actually I like to teach
metta more than I like to teach anapanasati because the progress in
the meditation is so much faster. And when one practices metta their
daily activities are easier to follow and smile.
Do you have an MP3 that plays CD's? I have a CD that has all of my
talks from the Joshua Tree Retreat on it but it is in the MP3
format. Other wise I won't be able to send you the talks until we
make more copies and it will be a series of 12 CD's for the Joshua
Tree Retreat. It may take 3 or 4 weeks with the high quality set of
12 CD's. These talks have both the basic practices and the more
advanced talks, so you can have a good grounding in the way I teach.
So please tell me which kind of format is best for you and I will
send it a long as soon as possible.

I do sincerely wish you all kinds of happiness and freedom from all
kinds of suffering.

Maha-Metta 2u
always
Bhante Vimalaramsi
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 8:35 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 8:35 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
It would be interesting to hear about precisely what Bhante V and Sister Khema are referring to when they talk about jhana.

I have used the method of relaxing tension (= releasing the attention wave) in my own practice for months, and I have found that usually it leads to something in which contemplation can be done if that is desired, but occasionally it leads to a more extreme state (perhaps what the commentary describes, perhaps "one-pointed concentration") in which contemplation cannot be done.

I have assumed that Bhante V and Sister Khema were simply pointing to the "non-maximal" concentration experience as a form of jhana, which makes sense to me, but now I am surprised that they claim that relaxing tension prevents the more extreme form of jhana, which is the opposite of my experience.
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 9:58 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 9:58 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
End in Sight:
I have used the method of relaxing tension (= releasing the attention wave) in my own practice for months, and I have found that usually it leads to something in which contemplation can be done if that is desired, but occasionally it leads to a more extreme state (perhaps what the commentary describes, perhaps "one-pointed concentration") in which contemplation cannot be done.

I have assumed that Bhante V and Sister Khema were simply pointing to the "non-maximal" concentration experience as a form of jhana, which makes sense to me, but now I am surprised that they claim that relaxing tension prevents the more extreme form of jhana, which is the opposite of my experience.

The purpose of their method seems to be to always be able to relax any tension that is found. Applying their method, I find I get into a more and more refined and tranquil state. The greater the tranquility, the greater the capacity for contemplation, as there is less noise, and I can actually investigate things in subtle and rewarding ways. What would prevent contemplation in a maximally tranquil state[1]?

[1] Unless you are in the 8th jhana, in which it seems all you can really do is direct the mind to stay there (no further contemplation necessary - that is the contemplation), or in the not-total-cessation NS, which I haven't experienced enough, but seems to be more along the lines of taking a break but paying attention to the entrance + exit (much like a PCE). But I don't think you were talking about those...
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 10:14 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 10:06 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
One can "force" there to be no tension by suffusing the body with pleasure (the pleasure lets one relax the attention wave, which is the cause of tensions). However, this seems to turn off the ability to do any mental task when it is done completely.

Similarly, in the case of the formless jhanas, it is possible to turn off sensory experience (and the same for the ability to do mental tasks).

While this sounds like the traditional sort of concentrated state that Bhante V and Sister Khema decry, it is reached in a way that seems broadly similar to their methods, i.e. paying attention to the breath, noticing pleasure in the body, relaxing tension...

It's possible that they advocate doing something "active" in the process of meditation which is preventing them from seeing the possibility of this further development of concentration; I haven't examined their methods clearly. (It wouldn't be a problem, as I don't think such a level of concentration is required, but it might be an oversight on their part.)

EDIT: Thanissaro Bhikkhu also claims that one needs to "step back" from maximal concentration in order to contemplate, and he also practices a kind of full-body jhana.
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 10:41 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 10:41 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
End in Sight:
One can "force" there to be no tension by suffusing the body with pleasure (the pleasure lets one relax the attention wave, which is the cause of tensions). However, this seems to turn off the ability to do any mental task when it is done completely.


This doesn't sound like what Sister Khema was advocating, so it isn't surprising that she would say that contemplation can be done in the jhana reached by her method.

End in Sight:
Similarly, in the case of the formless jhanas, it is possible to turn off sensory experience (and the same for the ability to do mental tasks).

I think this does happen if one takes this method all the way (see quote by Bhante V in this thread).

End in Sight:
While this sounds like the traditional sort of concentrated state that Bhante V and Sister Khema decry, it is reached in a way that seems broadly similar to their methods, i.e. paying attention to the breath, noticing pleasure in the body, relaxing tension...

It's possible that they advocate doing something "active" in the process of meditation which is preventing them from seeing the possibility of this further development of concentration; I haven't examined their methods clearly. (It wouldn't be a problem, as I don't think such a level of concentration is required, but it might be an oversight on their part.)


It also depends what one means by contemplation. From what I understand at the moment of the method Sister Khema advocates, the point of the object of concentration (the wholesome state) is to have something to release 'into' when tension is noticed. The method is not to ignore tension, but to release it into the wholesome state as soon as it arises. (Or more precisely, release the tension, then re-invigorate the wholesome state.) Thus over time the wholesome state gets deeper. If one defines contemplation as the ability to discern tension and release it... it seems that would never disappear. But perhaps it would no longer happen if the state is strong enough, simply because it is no longer necessary - so little tension arising.

What do you mean by contemplation? What is the benefit of the maximal-concentration jhana that prevents contemplation, over the one Sister Khema advocates?
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 11:37 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 11:24 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
End in Sight:
One can "force" there to be no tension by suffusing the body with pleasure (the pleasure lets one relax the attention wave, which is the cause of tensions). However, this seems to turn off the ability to do any mental task when it is done completely.


This doesn't sound like what Sister Khema was advocating, so it isn't surprising that she would say that contemplation can be done in the jhana reached by her method.


How is it different from releasing tension?

As far as I can see, ultimately, releasing it is not generating it. One releases it by ceasing the (mental) action that created it. The more pleasure there is (which I believe Bhante V and Sister Khema state come from their method, concerning the earlier jhanas), the easier it is to do that.

End in Sight:
Similarly, in the case of the formless jhanas, it is possible to turn off sensory experience (and the same for the ability to do mental tasks).

I think this does happen if one takes this method all the way (see quote by Bhante V in this thread).


They are talking about a special state that is at the end of the traditional jhanas, I am talking about 4 different states corresponding to each of the traditional formless jhanas.

The states I am talking about are perceptive. One perceives the jhana-factors.

I have not analyzed what kinds of sensory perception go on in "maximal" rupa jhanas (mostly because I attain those much more rarely).

What do you mean by contemplation?


In this case I mean "any volitional mental activity".

What is the benefit of the maximal-concentration jhana that prevents contemplation, over the one Sister Khema advocates?


There are many benefits, but in this context the important one is that it releases tension in a more powerful way.

If I was so good at concentration that I could get these "maximum" jhanas all the time (or even often), maybe I would have some insight into why it would be better not to go that far all the time. However, since I am not that good at concentration, I see no drawbacks at all to allowing these states to arise; they seem to complement whatever other concentration stuff I do quite well.

I still don't think I'm describing something qualitatively different from the form of jhana being advocated here, just something quantitatively different that can happen with higher concentration.
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 11:28 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 11:28 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
To clarify the similarity I claim between my method and theirs...when I say I "suffuse" the body with pleasure, I am not doing anything like visualizing breath energy or trying to move pleasure around. Generally, all I do is observe breathing and relax. This generates pleasure, which happens naturally, without any input from me. The more pleasure, the more relaxing (of the attention wave).

Other people seem to benefit from figuring out how to generate pleasure actively, so I talk about that sometimes, but the best method for me is non-active.
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 11:47 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 11:47 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
End in Sight:
To clarify the similarity I claim between my method and theirs...when I say I "suffuse" the body with pleasure, I am not doing anything like visualizing breath energy or trying to move pleasure around. Generally, all I do is observe breathing and relax. This generates pleasure, which happens naturally, without any input from me. The more pleasure, the more relaxing (of the attention wave).

Other people seem to benefit from figuring out how to generate pleasure actively, so I talk about that sometimes, but the best method for me is non-active.


Ah I see. Yea I think they are similar. My best guess is that she might not have implied what you thought she did ("...but now I am surprised that they claim that relaxing tension prevents the more extreme form of jhana, which is the opposite of my experience.") She only said that you cannot contemplate in what she calls one-pointed jhana (which is to be avoided), but you can contemplate by relaxing - not that relaxing prevents a form of jhana in which you cannot contemplate.
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 11:52 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 11:52 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Ah I see. Yea I think they are similar. My best guess is that she might not have implied what you thought she did ("...but now I am surprised that they claim that relaxing tension prevents the more extreme form of jhana, which is the opposite of my experience.") She only said that you cannot contemplate in what she calls one-pointed jhana (which is to be avoided), but you can contemplate by relaxing - not that relaxing prevents a form of jhana in which you cannot contemplate.


I see, perhaps I inferred something that ought not to have been inferred.

In that case, I'm curious why she opposes the stronger form of jhana (she does, doesn't she)? Perhaps it's just to dissuade people from trying to attain that (which can be a big waste of time) and direct them towards doing something more likely to help them, i.e. a skillful teaching method.
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 11:56 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 11:55 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
End in Sight:
In that case, I'm curious why she opposes the stronger form of jhana (she does, doesn't she)? Perhaps it's just to dissuade people from trying to attain that (which can be a big waste of time) and direct them towards doing something more likely to help them, i.e. a skillful teaching method.


Where does she say that? She says she opposes something she calls "one-pointed concentration", which she describes thoroughly in the first post. It doesn't sound like a stronger form of jhana, but rather, a wrong form of concentration.

(Note that I'm only going by what she's written in this thread.)
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 1:19 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 1:19 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
I am assuming that what I'm describing is "one-pointed concentration" and that she counsels against it, as well as the "bearing down" method that people often use in an attempt to get there.

I am not 100% certain that what I'm describing actually is "one-pointed concentration". It is experienced more as "zero-pointed concentration"...however, that is an idiosyncratic way to describe it.
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 1:40 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 1:38 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
End in Sight:
I am assuming that what I'm describing is "one-pointed concentration" and that she counsels against it, as well as the "bearing down" method that people often use in an attempt to get there.

I am not 100% certain that what I'm describing actually is "one-pointed concentration". It is experienced more as "zero-pointed concentration"...however, that is an idiosyncratic way to describe it.


What Sister Khema means by "one-pointed concentration" has at least these attributes:
  • No explicit relaxing of tension and tightness.
  • Applying effort in the sense of "making more effort" or "working harder" - tightening more around the object of meditation.
  • Keep focusing completely on the object in a serious way, as if focusing on the object alone (and nothing else) will give you insight into the tensions that arise when trying to do so.
  • Or alternatively: when a hindrance arises, move away from the object, note/investigate the hindrance until it fades away, and then return to object of meditation.
  • Narrow the mind to the point where you don't notice things arising at the earliest possible moment you can let it go. This narrowing also leads to increasing tension in the head.
  • Does not carry over easily into daily life.

This is a summary of reading the first post of the thread. (#3 and #4 seem to contradict a bit...).

Is this what you mean when you say "one-pointed concentration"?

Note that I think she is talking entirely about technique and not results... so she may not even be saying anything about what you are thinking when you say "one-pointed concentration", just pointing out that "bearing down" is not a beneficial practice.
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 1:45 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 1:45 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
The reason I provisionally associate what I'm talking about with "one-pointed concentration" is that Sister Khema and Bhante V have contrasted their approach with the commentaries, and yet the "commentary jhanas" are 1) one-pointed (according to the commentary's own definitions), and 2) perhaps similar or identical to what I'm talking about, albeit arrived at in a very different way.

Hence, the confusion.

I would expect, if Sister Khema endorsed this form of jhana, that she would say: "Ah, what the commentaries are talking about is good, but here's a different form of practice that might lead you to that..."

I suppose unless Sister Khema resolves the issue, we will not know what she thinks for certain.
thumbnail
Eric B, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 1:59 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 1:59 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 187 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
End in Sight:
In that case, I'm curious why she opposes the stronger form of jhana (she does, doesn't she)? Perhaps it's just to dissuade people from trying to attain that (which can be a big waste of time) and direct them towards doing something more likely to help them, i.e. a skillful teaching method.


Where does she say that? She says she opposes something she calls "one-pointed concentration", which she describes thoroughly in the first post. It doesn't sound like a stronger form of jhana, but rather, a wrong form of concentration.

(Note that I'm only going by what she's written in this thread.)


From page 27 of the PDF version of Bhante V's "The Anapanasati Sutta: A Practical Guide to Mindfulness of Breathing and Tranquil Wisdom Meditation" (available here) near the beginning of the section titled "The Courage to Investigate", which I was reading earlier today while on the train:

Bhante Vimalaramsi:
Moreover, the Anapanasati Sutta shows that the Lord Buddha taught only one kind of meditation, that is, by simultaneously developing both the jhanas and wisdom. (Here, the word jhana means meditation stages or illumination of mind, not deep absorption or fixed concentration (appana samadhi), access concentration (upacara samadhi) or even momentary concentration (Khanika samadhi).


So, he is not advocating hard jhana, absorption, nimittas, i.e., things at that end of the spectrum. He makes this point in various places in the text.

Eric
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 2:36 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 2:36 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Eric Bause:
From page 27 of the PDF version of Bhante V's "The Anapanasati Sutta: A Practical Guide to Mindfulness of Breathing and Tranquil Wisdom Meditation" (available here) near the beginning of the section titled "The Courage to Investigate", which I was reading earlier today while on the train:

Bhante Vimalaramsi:
Moreover, the Anapanasati Sutta shows that the Lord Buddha taught only one kind of meditation, that is, by simultaneously developing both the jhanas and wisdom. (Here, the word jhana means meditation stages or illumination of mind, not deep absorption or fixed concentration (appana samadhi), access concentration (upacara samadhi) or even momentary concentration (Khanika samadhi).


So, he is not advocating hard jhana, absorption, nimittas, i.e., things at that end of the spectrum. He makes this point in various places in the text.


Thanks, Eric. I suppose I should hold off on commenting 'till I read more about it...
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 2:44 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 2:44 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Keep in mind that the nimitta thing may be some special Visuddhimagga way of entering hard jhanas, i.e. specific to their technique. I don't experience anything that I would think of as a nimitta related to jhanas 1-4.

The formless jhanas, in my experience of them, have some kind of thing that I've thought of as a "formless nimitta", but I don't know for sure what it is.

It's possible that I'm missing the nimittas because I already have some kind of synaesthetic visual thing going on. (For instance, in my clearest experience of jhana 2, I found that the pleasure was visually, non-metaphorically "bright". But I've heard some Thai Forest tradition monks talk about the same thing, so it may not even be synaesthetic. Is that a nimitta?)
thumbnail
Steph , modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 3:42 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 3:38 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
something that was on my mind today..

the paradox of becoming was something than. bhikkhu discussed... using dissatisfaction to get rid of dissatisfaction. i can't help but think that for all of our practices, viewing things in terms of tensions and attention wave and such... viewing any of this as a problem, something to fundamentally change (i.e. thinking that when there's a tension there needs to be something different happening).. it seems like this itself might be the base layer of dissatisfaction. it just seems like a really basic form of self-hatred. how is anything other than perfection happening, if perfection is the natural state of things? what if everything, literally everything - even every "tension", every "lapse in attention" was not viewed as something to change, but met with unconditional love & happiness? i think this is what sister khema is getting at.
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 3:43 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 3:43 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Keep in mind that the nimitta thing may be some special Visuddhimagga way of entering hard jhanas, i.e. specific to their technique. I don't experience anything that I would think of as a nimitta related to jhanas 1-4.

You've probably already come across it, but anyone interested in the whole nimitta thing might enjoy this article linked to on Leigh Brasingtons site.

The formless jhanas, in my experience of them, have some kind of thing that I've thought of as a "formless nimitta", but I don't know for sure what it is.

Interesting. Since getting right into this method of jhana, non-absorbed, I'm noticing a shift when moving up into the arupas which doesn't feel like the usual state shifts so I don't know if this is anything similar to what you've noticed? Trying to describe it is pretty difficult now I think about it 'cause it's a sort of subtle mental expansion, but even that doesn't quite get at it.

Would you mind saying a bit more about your view on this?

It's possible that I'm missing the nimittas because I already have some kind of synaesthetic visual thing going on. (For instance, in my clearest experience of jhana 2, I found that the pleasure was visually, non-metaphorically "bright". But I've heard some Thai Forest tradition monks talk about the same thing, so it may not even be synaesthetic. Is that a nimitta?)

Ah! Yes, this is something I've noticed and always just considered it as being (some sort of ) nimitta.

I think it's worth going over to speak to Sister Khema about the differences you've asked about, personally I have no idea where to begin and gave up on trying until I learn a whole lot more, and I reckon there's lots to be learned from some discussions there!

Lovin' the way this thread's developed!
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 4:03 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 3:45 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Steph S:
something that was on my mind today..

the paradox of becoming was something than. bhikkhu discussed... using dissatisfaction to get rid of dissatisfaction. i can't help but think that for all of our practices, viewing things in terms of tensions and attention wave and such... viewing any of this as a problem, something to fundamentally change (i.e. thinking that when there's a tension there needs to be something different happening).. it seems like this itself might be the base layer of dissatisfaction. it just seems like a really basic form of self-hatred. how is anything other than perfection happening, if perfection is the natural state of things? what if everything, literally everything - even every "tension", every "lapse in attention" was met with unconditional love & happiness? i think this is what sister khema is getting at.


Heh, I was just thinking about this too. The conclusion I came to is that there is a significant difference between recognizing dissatisfaction (1st noble truth) and beating your breast about suffering (which aversion/rejection/etc. is naught but more suffering).

If you didn't recognize dissatisfaction, why would you undertake a practice aimed to eliminate suffering?

Recognizing dissatisfaction is important. And your paragraph didn't disagree - you mentioned "tension" and "lapse in attention" as something to be dealt with skillfully (e.g. "met with unconditional love & happiness" vs. "a really basic form of self-hatred"). And actually, it can be pleasant, since it means there is something you can drop to feel even better.

Beating your breast about it is not helpful.

I certainly have done the latter and thought it was the former, so might be a good thing for people to watch out for.

To make it explicit, there are 4 combos: recognizing dissatisfaction + whining; recognizing dissatisfaction + not whining; not recognizing dissatisfaction + whining; not recognizing dissatisfaction + not whining. You wanna go for the 2nd.
thumbnail
bill of the wandering mind, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 3:46 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 3:46 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Something that may make sense here - Culadasa has a handout here http://dharmatreasure.com/teaching-retreats/ called jhanas and mindfulness (link somewhere in middle of page) - in it he explains that there are four types of jhana which are differentiated by the strength of concentration needed to enter them: in order of ease of entry:

1. Ultralight jhanas, using all sensations of breath in the whole body as object, only level 6 of his samatha is required - interestingly he says that *some* thinking can still occur in the first jhana of this level, perhaps in others and I assume this would mean it would be a good vehicle for insight since it should be easy to lift off the jhana and investigate.
2. Lite Jhanas, Brasington style, using the pleasure itself as object, entered around level 7 in his samatha map
3. 'Light' Jhanas entered by using the 'light' generated by strong concentration on the object (as in Snyder/Rasmussen where the light merges with the breath and that is the object one enters the jhana with) - this on from level 8 I think of Culadasa's map
4.'Deep' Jhanas, the kind where all senses are mostly or completely shut off - entered from a higher level on his chart of samatha

An interesting thing Culadasa suggests to cultivate higher levels of samatha - he says that as you go up a jhana from 1st to second it is approximately similar to going up a level of concentration in his samatha maps, so that one could 'scaffold' up the samatha map by learning the first and second ultralight, then switch to the Lite for first and second, then 'Light', etc - sort of like using the lower level jhanas to increase base concentration just to reach higher ones.. Although I'm not sure that anything higher than Ultralight would be necessary or desirable to attain path - but its very interesting, and if true this could explain all the confusion and disagreement people have when talking about Jhana, if, after all, there are four different types that have different requirements/effects/purposes, etc...
thumbnail
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 3:53 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 3:53 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Actually I like to teach metta more than I like to teach anapanasati because the progress in the meditation is so much faster. - Bhante Vimalaramsi


Thanks, Bill. That a "career" teacher and author of a book on anapanasati meditation writes that progress in meditation is faster with metta is noteworthy.

Here are some translations below in reply also to the post by Sister Khema (via Tommy) offering that practitioners have metta for their "spiritual friends" (one's hindrances).

Here is a translation for the metta sutta:

Karaniya Metta Sutta: Good Will
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2004–2011
Alternate translations: Ñanamoli | Amaravati | Buddharakkhita | Piyadassi
This sutta also appears at Khp 9

[indent]This is to be done by one skilled in aims
who wants to break through to the state of peace:
Be capable, upright, & straightforward,
easy to instruct, gentle, & not conceited,
content & easy to support,
with few duties, living lightly,
with peaceful faculties, masterful,
modest, & no greed for supporters.

Do not do the slightest thing
that the wise would later censure.

Think: Happy, at rest,
may all beings be happy at heart.
Whatever beings there may be,
weak or strong, without exception,
long, large,
middling, short,
subtle, blatant,
seen & unseen,
near & far,
born & seeking birth:
May all beings be happy at heart.

Let no one deceive another
or despise anyone anywhere,
or through anger or irritation
wish for another to suffer.

As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.
With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Above, below, & all around,
unobstructed, without enmity or hate.
Whether standing, walking,
sitting, or lying down,
as long as one is alert,
one should be resolved on this mindfulness.
This is called a sublime abiding
here & now.

Not taken with views,
but virtuous & consummate in vision,
having subdued desire for sensual pleasures,
one never again
will lie in the womb.[/indent]


And here is another translation:

Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Discourse on Loving-kindness
translated from the Pali by
Piyadassi Thera
© 1999–2011
Alternate translations: Ñanamoli | Amaravati | Buddharakkhita | Thanissaro
This sutta also appears at Khp 9
Translator's Introduction


[indent]While the Buddha was staying at Savatthi, a band of monks, having received subjects of meditation from the master, proceeded to a forest to spend the rainy season (vassana). The tree deities inhabiting this forest were worried by their arrival, as they had to descend from tree abodes and dwell on the ground. They hoped, however, the monks would leave soon; but finding that the monks would stay the vassana period of three months, harassed them in diverse ways, during the night with the intention of scaring them away.

Living under such conditions being impossible, the monks went to the Master and informed him of their difficulties. Thereon the Buddha instructed them in the Metta sutta and advised their return equipped with this sutta for their protection.

The monks went back to the forest, and practicing the instruction conveyed, permeated the whole atmosphere with their radiant thoughts of metta or loving-kindness. The deities so affected by this power of love, henceforth allowed them to meditate in peace.

The discourse gets divided into two parts. The first detailing the standard of moral conduct required by one who wishes to attain Purity and Peace, and the second the method of practice of metta.

1. "He who is skilled in (working out his own) well being, and who wishes to attain that state of Calm (Nibbana) should act thus: he should be dexterous, upright, exceedingly upright, obedient, gentle, and humble.

2. "Contented, easily supportable, with but few responsibilities, of simple livelihood, controlled in the senses, prudent, courteous, and not hanker after association with families.

3. "Let him not perform the slightest wrong for which wise men may rebuke him. (Let him thinkemoticon 'May all beings be happy and safe. May they have happy minds.'

4.& 5. "Whatever living beings there may be — feeble or strong (or the seekers and the attained) long, stout, or of medium size, short, small, large, those seen or those unseen, those dwelling far or near, those who are born as well as those yet to be born — may all beings have happy minds.

6. "Let him not deceive another nor despise anyone anywhere. In anger or ill will let him not wish another ill.

7. "Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life even so let one cultivate a boundless love towards all beings.

8. "Let him radiate boundless love towards the entire world — above, below, and across — unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.

9. "Standing, walking, sitting or reclining, as long as he is awake, let him develop this mindfulness. This, they say, is 'Noble Living' here.

10. "Not falling into wrong views — being virtuous, endowed with insight, lust in the senses discarded — verily never again will he return to conceive in a womb."[/indent]
thumbnail
Steph , modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 4:04 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 4:04 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

Heh, I was just thinking about this too. The conclusion I came to is that there is a significant difference between recognizing dissatisfaction (1st noble truth) and beating your breast about suffering (which aversion/rejection/etc. is naught but more suffering).

If you didn't recognize dissatisfaction, why would you undertake a practice aimed to eliminate suffering?

Recognizing dissatisfaction is important. And your paragraph didn't disagree - you mentioned "tension" and "lapse in attention" as something to be dealt with skillfully (e.g. "met with unconditional love & happiness" vs. "a really basic form of self-hatred").

Beating your breast about it is not helpful.

I certainly have done the latter and thought it was the former, so might be a good thing for people to watch out for.


yeah, i get what you're saying here and i have come to that conclusion too. i'm saying something apart from that, though. at some point the practice has to be abandoned too - the viewing things in terms of suffering at all. just kind of curious about what that point is. what if we're unnecessarily perpetuating things by thinking there's "more to be done"?

i realize the cessation of all tensions, vibrations, whatever you want to call it, is the end... but what of that old quote "the path is the goal". the ceasing to view *anything* at all as a tension, the realization that even a tension is not inherently imperfect/bad - what if that is the means to the end?

i might be running in circles here.. haha.. but i'm in a "viewing things as simply as possible" frame of mind right now.
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 4:13 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 4:10 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Steph S:
yeah, i get what you're saying here and i have come to that conclusion too. i'm saying something apart from that, though. at some point the practice has to be abandoned too - the viewing things in terms of suffering at all. just kind of curious about what that point is. what if we're unnecessarily perpetuating things by thinking there's "more to be done"?


Well, are you suffering? If so, then there is something to be done - namely to not suffer.

Trent:
If your experience of life is not that of perfection personified, then suffering is not eradicated; and if there is suffering, one's goal should be to eliminate it. Without that goal / that intention, it will not happen, period. Further, the practical applications of goal-oriented thinking are still quite abundant even after suffering is eliminated. In other words, any inclination to do away with goal-oriented thinking is an inclination to throw the baby out with the bath water.
[link]

No longer thinking "there is more to be done" might help to end suffering, though... maybe you mean the difference between future-goal-oriented-thinking vs. present-goal-oriented-thinking (Nick's "lifestyle approach")?

And this doesn't mean you should be upset about it... or morose.. or negatively affected by it in any way.. or affected by it at all! It's just the facts. If there is something not-ideal, what is the best possible thing I can do in this moment to alleviate that?

Steph S:
i realize the cessation of all tensions, vibrations, whatever you want to call it, is the end... but what of that old quote "the path is the goal". the ceasing to view *anything* at all as a tension, the realization that even a tension is not inherently imperfect/bad - what if that is the means to the end?


If practicing that way causes the tensions to cease, that might be the thing to do. Equanimity + tranquility are usually good things, and I've certainly been lacking in them. I would suggest you try it and see... it certainly might help!
thumbnail
bill of the wandering mind, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 4:15 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 4:15 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Ahh - thanks Katy, I missed that. I think I will start adding Metta practice to my routine as well...
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 4:47 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 4:47 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
If practicing that way causes the tensions to cease, that might be the thing to do. Equanimity + tranquility are usually good things, and I've certainly been lacking in them. I would suggest you try it and see... it certainly might help!


Just wanted to ask... is the basic thing you were saying that it's kind of a bummer to notice suffering and feel obliged to do something about it? Like "oh this again", and then you have to do a practice to 'get rid of' it, and that cycle just makes more suffering... vs. just being like "wee everything is fine", noticing a tension and being like "what tension? that is an interesting pattern of sensations actually..." etc., which seems a lot more productive?
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 5:14 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 5:14 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I think Steph may be talking more about the idea that even the path is let go of at some point, a skillful letting go or something along those lines. I could be wrong, that's just what I get from what she's saying.
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 5:16 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 5:16 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Steph S:
i realize the cessation of all tensions, vibrations, whatever you want to call it, is the end... but what of that old quote "the path is the goal". the ceasing to view *anything* at all as a tension, the realization that even a tension is not inherently imperfect/bad - what if that is the means to the end?


Maybe it depends on the person, but the thing that benefited me most was to realize that everything whatsoever concerning the attention wave is a disease, a cancer, an arrow...running that through my head (and seeing *why* it was true) has produced, and continues to produce, the most profound disinterest in interacting with any of that stuff, which seems to make it fall away very quickly.

Of course (as Claudiu points out) it doesn't help to get agitated about it...because if you get agitated, that is a disease, a cancer, an arrow... emoticon
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 5:31 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 5:31 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
The formless jhanas, in my experience of them, have some kind of thing that I've thought of as a "formless nimitta", but I don't know for sure what it is.

Interesting. Since getting right into this method of jhana, non-absorbed, I'm noticing a shift when moving up into the arupas which doesn't feel like the usual state shifts so I don't know if this is anything similar to what you've noticed? Trying to describe it is pretty difficult now I think about it 'cause it's a sort of subtle mental expansion, but even that doesn't quite get at it.

Would you mind saying a bit more about your view on this?


There isn't that much more to say. Right before getting sucked into a formless jhana, there is a kind of visual experience which isn't seen via the eyes, and isn't via the attention wave, which imitates the formless object of the jhana...I recognize it, and then the senses tend to cut off very quickly.

This object is very distinctive, very "attractive" somehow, and apparently can appear on rare occasions outside of formal practice. I was recently taking a walk and had this happen, and suddenly (with no premeditation) entered a very hard 7th jhana, with total sensory cut off, for about 1/2 second...on reflection, it seemed very dangerous (what if it lasted for longer and I was walking across the street?).

The distinctive thing about the non-attention wave jhanas is that (for me) there is no real sense of anything shifting when I move between them. Even the idea that I can get "sucked into" a formless jhana is purely a metaphor. Experience just changes in a way that is free of any sort of fanfare that I notice. (The experience of a shift is something that arises in the attention wave, as far as I can see.) It's like a PCE. The attention wave goes away, and it seems like the most natural thing in the world.

What is your criterion for "arupa jhana" vs. hanging out in that territory? For me, there has to be some kind of sensory cutoff at some point (i.e. if your eyes were open you would not see anything), which is how I interpret the meaning of "transcending perceptions of form...". But, that level of concentration may lead to different experiences (or non-experiences) of shifts.

It's possible that I'm missing the nimittas because I already have some kind of synaesthetic visual thing going on. (For instance, in my clearest experience of jhana 2, I found that the pleasure was visually, non-metaphorically "bright". But I've heard some Thai Forest tradition monks talk about the same thing, so it may not even be synaesthetic. Is that a nimitta?)

Ah! Yes, this is something I've noticed and always just considered it as being (some sort of ) nimitta.


Can you describe this more thoroughly?

For me, the sense of brightness is not that the normal visual field becomes bright, but that the pleasure "looks" bright, i.e. the pleasure has a visual quality that isn't experienced in the mind's eye.

I think it's worth going over to speak to Sister Khema about the differences you've asked about, personally I have no idea where to begin and gave up on trying until I learn a whole lot more, and I reckon there's lots to be learned from some discussions there!


Maybe I'll pursue this question with her some other time, as it's rather theoretical for me (I have no plans to change my practice).
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 5:50 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 5:49 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
bill of the wandering mind:
Something that may make sense here - Culadasa has a handout here http://dharmatreasure.com/teaching-retreats/ called jhanas and mindfulness (link somewhere in middle of page) -


Still reading this over, but I found something bizarre:

Culadasa:
In all but the deepest forms of jhāna practice, some degree of
pleasurable sensation related to the physical body persists...in the deepest jhāna practice, pleasure associated with the body is absent even in first jhāna, and mental happiness is the only form that sukha takes.


In very concentrated rupa jhanas, I have observed that the pleasure that is experienced appears not to be bodily, but rather appears to be formless. However, I have found on reflection that this isn't true:

* The pleasure experienced in these jhanas does not correspond with the dimensions of one's body image...but the dimensions of one's body image are based on the attention wave and distort the actual experience of the body (and thus experience without this distorted body image seems "formless"),

* When there is (virtually?) no thinking, jhanic pleasure is extremely strong,

* This pleasure is easily confirmed to be exactly what one experiences in the body during a less concentrated jhanic experience (albeit much more powerful during high concentration).

I used to have a concept of "mental happiness", but I realize now that it was only a form of tension associated with the attention wave, and misperceived; so I can't say I know for sure what quality of jhana this is supposed to refer to.

So, perhaps Culadasa is talking about attention wave jhanas, or perhaps he has not analyzed this phenomenon as precisely as me, or perhaps he understands something about this phenomenon that I don't...whatever the case, this is a significant divergence in our descriptions.
thumbnail
Steph , modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 6:24 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 5:54 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
I think Steph may be talking more about the idea that even the path is let go of at some point, a skillful letting go or something along those lines. I could be wrong, that's just what I get from what she's saying.


yeah that's partially what i was getting at.... and my mention of viewing of everything, even tensions, with love/happiness is probably similar to what sister khema is talking about with regards to release/letting go. i don't mean treating things with an affective love/happiness - but the love/happiness that is an inherent equanimity. viewing literally everything in these terms is what will probably eventually lead to the point of no dissatisfaction. i.e. all things being equal...so there's nothing to move towards or away from and the whole thing collapses on its own.
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 6:04 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 6:04 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
There isn't that much more to say. Right before getting sucked into a formless jhana, there is a kind of visual experience which isn't seen via the eyes, and isn't via the attention wave, which imitates the formless object of the jhana...I recognize it, and then the senses tend to cut off very quickly.

This object is very distinctive, very "attractive" somehow, and apparently can appear on rare occasions outside of formal practice. I was recently taking a walk and had this happen, and suddenly (with no premeditation) entered a very hard 7th jhana, with total sensory cut off, for about 1/2 second...on reflection, it seemed very dangerous (what if it lasted for longer and I was walking across the street?).

The distinctive thing about the non-attention wave jhanas is that (for me) there is no real sense of anything shifting when I move between them. Even the idea that I can get "sucked into" a formless jhana is purely a metaphor. Experience just changes in a way that is free of any sort of fanfare that I notice. (The experience of a shift is something that arises in the attention wave, as far as I can see.) It's like a PCE. The attention wave goes away, and it seems like the most natural thing in the world.

And at somepoint that just went waaaaayyyy over my head. emoticon

I'm miles from the mark here, I think I'm talking about something far less advanced than this. I have noticed something which might be similar to what you've described here maybe once or twice, emphasis on the maybe 'cause what you're describing is way beyond what I was thinking. The last time it happened was during that big PCE from a few weeks ago, that metaphorical "sucking in" definitely fits the bill.

What is your criterion for "arupa jhana" vs. hanging out in that territory? For me, there has to be some kind of sensory cutoff at some point (i.e. if your eyes were open you would not see anything), which is how I interpret the meaning of "transcending perceptions of form...". But, that level of concentration may lead to different experiences (or non-experiences) of shifts.

Honestly, I don't have a clue anymore. Even what I calling "hard" jhana seems light compared to what you're describing and I'm now giving serious consideration to the possibility that I've been barking up the wrong tree for quite a while now. I'll send the cheque for this mindfucking later in the week...

Based on your criteria, I'm probably not getting into jhana in anywhere near as solidly a way as I thought before.

Can you describe this more thoroughly?

For me, the sense of brightness is not that the normal visual field becomes bright, but that the pleasure "looks" bright, i.e. the pleasure has a visual quality that isn't experienced in the mind's eye.

I would agree that it's not the normal visual field, it's more like the entire field of perception is filled by a brightness from the breath itself. It doesn't appear in the sense of it being in the minds eye, I can't think of a clear way to describe this without confusing things, but there's some sort of visual quality to it in that it's perceived as if it's being seen, as if this is the closest way that the mind can recreate it. If that makes sense.

The more I read of your descriptions, the more I'm realizing just how little I know here.
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 7:32 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 6:22 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
Based on your criteria, I'm probably not getting into jhana in anywhere near as solidly a way as I thought before.


My recommendation...do TWIM, and if you want to make it more concentration-y, focus on the pleasure (in the sense of breathing in a way that generates more of it), and relax even more once it starts coming. It's really simple.

Can you describe this more thoroughly?

For me, the sense of brightness is not that the normal visual field becomes bright, but that the pleasure "looks" bright, i.e. the pleasure has a visual quality that isn't experienced in the mind's eye.

I would agree that it's not the normal visual field, it's more like the entire field of perception is filled by a brightness from the breath itself. It doesn't appear in the sense of it being in the minds eye, I can't think of a clear way to describe this without confusing things, but there's some sort of visual quality to it in that it's perceived as if it's being seen, as if this is the closest way that the mind can recreate it. If that makes sense.


I think we may be talking about the same things. Would you describe it as synaesthetic (if you have any guess)? i.e. the pleasure *looks* bright vs. the pleasure causes a perception of brightness?

The more I read of your descriptions, the more I'm realizing just how little I know here.


This crazy concentration stuff happens fairly strictly due to the absence of passion...the more you practice, the less passion there will be, and then, if you pursue concentration, you will know a lot more about this stuff, and then we can learn more about different people's concentration experiences.

All things considered, I don't have especially good concentration skills, just fewer defilements nowadays than before to stand in the way. (I also worked some of this out on retreat, where concentration is automatically much higher.)


EDIT: Didn't you say that Seraphis' experience of sabikalpa struck a chord for you? Because it doesn't seem different from what I'm describing (i.e. a formless experience with no sensory input which is profound due to the presumed absence of the attention wave)...
John Wilde, modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 3:47 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 6:53 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Steph S:
Tommy M:
I think Steph may be talking more about the idea that even the path is let go of at some point, a skillful letting go or something along those lines. I could be wrong, that's just what I get from what she's saying.


yeah that's partially what i was getting at.... and my mention of viewing of everything, even tensions, with love/happiness is probably similar to what sister khema is talking about with regards to release/letting go. i don't mean treating things with an affective love/happiness - but the love/happiness that is an inherent equanimity. viewing literally everything in these terms is what will probably eventually lead to the point of no dissatisfaction. i.e. all things being equal...so there's nothing to move towards or away from and the whole thing collapses on its own.


There's a hugely important point here, as I see it. In the realm of mind/self, a lot of what you see is produced (and not just revealed) by the way you choose to look.... so just about every approach to practice has its pros and cons. A practice can relieve certain kinds of suffering, but in the process it can induce other kinds, or place artificial limits on further development. That's why (I think) there's no single practice approach that works best for everyone, or for any one person forever.

John
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 9:38 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 9:38 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
My recommendation...do TWIM, and if you want to make it more concentration-y, focus on the pleasure (in the sense of breathing in a way that generates more of it), and relax even more once it starts coming. It's really simple.

Gotcha. Thanks, I was having a bit of a crisis of confidence last night (mainly due to feeling weird with coming off of anti-depressant I think) and read what you were saying as if it was a foreign language! Today though it makes more sense but my concentration isn't as strong as I though it was so I'll go back to this and stick with it.

I think we may be talking about the same things. Would you describe it as synaesthetic (if you have any guess)? i.e. the pleasure *looks* bright vs. the pleasure causes a perception of brightness?

Yeah, that sounds about right. There is a sort of "Oooh, shiny" thing which seems visual when pleasure intensifies, there is definitely the perception of brightness but to pin it down as purely visual misses out a chunk of the experience, so "synaesthetic" fits as far as I can tell. I'll work with this again today and let you know if I can catch it any clearer.

All things considered, I don't have especially good concentration skills, just fewer defilements nowadays than before to stand in the way. (I also worked some of this out on retreat, where concentration is automatically much higher.)

I thought your concentration skills were way beyond mine. Also, I think you have a stronger background in contemplative practices than me and devote a lot more time to exploring the ins and out of this than I do, sometimes I'm left blown away by how concise your descriptions are. That post was a kick in the arse for me to shape up and work harder!!

EDIT: Didn't you say that Seraphis' experience of sabikalpa struck a chord for you? Because it doesn't seem different from what I'm describing (i.e. a formless experience with no sensory input which is profound due to the presumed absence of the attention wave)...

Ah, now I see what you're talking about. I just panicked when you mentioned the eyes being open but now that I re-read your post I see it was an example, I though "Oh shite, what have I been doing then?!". Ha!
John Wilde, modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 12:22 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 12:07 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
I was having a bit of a crisis of confidence last night (mainly due to feeling weird with coming off of anti-depressant I think) and read what you were saying as if it was a foreign language! Today though it makes more sense but my concentration isn't as strong as I though it was so I'll go back to this and stick with it.


I've posted the following before but have deleted it, thinking it was just too inconsistent with the hardcore Buddhist/Vipassana-oriented culture of the DhO. But given the increasing emphasis on peace rather than technicalities of practice within a single discipline, it might be worth posting this anyway. (It can surely do no harm).

If you want some peace, and you're willing to use ideas lightly and skillfully to point to something that is beyond ideas, try this:

1) Contemplate pure, deep, perfect, dreamless sleep.

2) Instead of thinking of it as un-consciousness, see it as pure consciousness shining by itself, sans object.

3) Tune in to it. Learn to rest as this peace. See that the 'you' who is looking for peace is merely a cluster of phenomena happening against this already-peaceful background, which remains undisturbed by 'you' or anything else. Learn to see this clearly as the background (and essence) of all experience, all the time.

- - if you can do this, and if this approach resonates with you on a psychological and physiological level, you might want to take it further. If not, forget it, try something else.

Further:

4) Learn to observe all objects (gross or subtle, including 'yourself') as appearances arising from this pure background, dissolving back into this pure background, and not anything other than this pure background. (Loosen up; skillful means, remember...)

5) There'll come a time when notions of 'foreground' or 'background' fall away naturally.

6) Then see what's become of the "attention wave" :-)

John

PS. Tommy, I know it's not consistent with your TWIM and straight-up sutta style; I'm mentioning it here just in case those aren't effective enough and you want to fall back on something that's less 'procedural' (and, in my experience, more deeply refreshing and soothing). No reply is sought, none needed. It's just another option to keep in the back of your mind.
thumbnail
Steph , modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 1:34 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 1:34 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
no but really... why have most of us ignored the peace/goodwill/lovingkindness/metta aspect of practice? or maybe you guys haven't, but i sure know i have. always veered towards jaded/too cool steph when it came to that type of thing, thinking it was cheesy and overly sentimental (despite doing some brief metta practice a few times and noticing it was nice). maybe it's pretty great, if done non-affectively.
John Wilde, modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 2:23 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 2:05 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Steph S:
no but really... why have most of us ignored the peace/goodwill/lovingkindness/metta aspect of practice? or maybe you guys haven't, but i sure know i have.


I was always looking for something that would make peace/goodwill/lovingkindness/metta come naturally (as a side-effect of what I was really looking for), so practising them explicitly seemed like putting the cart before the horse.

Steph S:
always veered towards jaded/too cool steph when it came to that type of thing, thinking it was cheesy and overly sentimental


Yeah, a bit of that here too. The 'spiritual' path for me hasn't been a lovey-dovey one, and I (still) tend to be uneasy about ...ummm ... fabricated good-will. [Edit: same goes for fabricated 'felicity']. Though if it helps to induce the real thing, why not?

John
thumbnail
bill of the wandering mind, modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 3:22 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 3:22 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Was the ill will fabricated? How did it get there? I think even though it is important to see the three C's of all this 'stuff', a bad habit is a bad habit, and a good one is a good one. Once a habit is autromatic then can we say it is no longer fabricated?
thumbnail
Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 3:37 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 3:37 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Steph S:
no but really... why have most of us ignored the peace/goodwill/lovingkindness/metta aspect of practice? or maybe you guys haven't, but i sure know i have. always veered towards jaded/too cool steph when it came to that type of thing, thinking it was cheesy and overly sentimental (despite doing some brief metta practice a few times and noticing it was nice). maybe it's pretty great, if done non-affectively.


That's a very good question. Concentration/jhanas etc are supposed to be a lot easier if you're able to really generate lovingkindness so i've been surprised at the lack of emphasis here (and elsewhere, including the centre/tradition i frequent).

It's something I want to really work on. Trying to find an actual retreat with a good teacher where you could really seriously learn this is nto so easy though. Im off to a workshop in London in Jan with Sharon Salzberg which should be interesting and considering a retreat in the summer at Gaia House on this.

Like most folks though I think it's a bit hard to balance in another meditation when you're working so hard on your vipassana..
thumbnail
Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 3:42 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 3:42 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
Tommy M:
I was having a bit of a crisis of confidence last night (mainly due to feeling weird with coming off of anti-depressant I think) and read what you were saying as if it was a foreign language! Today though it makes more sense but my concentration isn't as strong as I though it was so I'll go back to this and stick with it.


I've posted the following before but have deleted it, thinking it was just too inconsistent with the hardcore Buddhist/Vipassana-oriented culture of the DhO. But given the increasing emphasis on peace rather than technicalities of practice within a single discipline, it might be worth posting this anyway. (It can surely do no harm).

If you want some peace, and you're willing to use ideas lightly and skillfully to point to something that is beyond ideas, try this:

1) Contemplate pure, deep, perfect, dreamless sleep.

2) Instead of thinking of it as un-consciousness, see it as pure consciousness shining by itself, sans object.

3) Tune in to it. Learn to rest as this peace. See that the 'you' who is looking for peace is merely a cluster of phenomena happening against this already-peaceful background, which remains undisturbed by 'you' or anything else. Learn to see this clearly as the background (and essence) of all experience, all the time.

- - if you can do this, and if this approach resonates with you on a psychological and physiological level, you might want to take it further. If not, forget it, try something else.

Further:

4) Learn to observe all objects (gross or subtle, including 'yourself') as appearances arising from this pure background, dissolving back into this pure background, and not anything other than this pure background. (Loosen up; skillful means, remember...)

5) There'll come a time when notions of 'foreground' or 'background' fall away naturally.

6) Then see what's become of the "attention wave" :-)

John

PS. Tommy, I know it's not consistent with your TWIM and straight-up sutta style; I'm mentioning it here just in case those aren't effective enough and you want to fall back on something that's less 'procedural' (and, in my experience, more deeply refreshing and soothing). No reply is sought, none needed. It's just another option to keep in the back of your mind.


John what is this practice? What is the end goal? (and thanks for posting it!)
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 3:52 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 3:52 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
no but really... why have most of us ignored the peace/goodwill/lovingkindness/metta aspect of practice? or maybe you guys haven't, but i sure know i have. always veered towards jaded/too cool steph when it came to that type of thing, thinking it was cheesy and overly sentimental (despite doing some brief metta practice a few times and noticing it was nice). maybe it's pretty great, if done non-affectively.

I'll own up to that too, but I have to say that it's become more and more important in terms of my daily life over the years now. I was also the "too cool" guy, outwardly laid back to the point of horizontal but internally chaotic, and considered that aspect of practice to be either not required or something that happened naturally. In my experience it does come naturally as you go but generating metta to all beings around me, even just in work or in the supermarket, silently and without any desire for anything other than their wellbeing, is a joy and makes mindfulness much easier to maintain. Non-affectively. emoticon
thumbnail
Steph , modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 5:21 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 5:21 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
what are some good ways to generate non-affective metta?
John Wilde, modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 6:29 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 6:14 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:

John what is this practice?


I'm not sure what you'd call it. The basic idea of contemplating deep sleep as a form of pure consciousness shining by itself, sans objects, came from the Advaitin teacher Atmananda (Krishna Menon). It sounded silly at first, but I treated it as technology rather than truth (which is what I always do nowadays). It worked. It brought me into contact with something I remembered from long ago, something I quickly came to see is always present, always accessible, right at the heart of all experience. And for the first time in my adult life I had something I could rely on beyond my own mental noise.

The rest is personal experimentation from that foundation.

Bagpuss The Gnome:

What is the end goal?


Peace, clarity, happiness, benevolence, freedom, wholeness, appreciation, fulfillment..... (....)

And among the end goals, openness to the possibility of new beginnings... but without the feeling of pressure and desperation that the search once had.

Bagpuss The Gnome:

(and thanks for posting it!)


My pleasure. Hope you find some value in it in your own way.

John
thumbnail
Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 6:47 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 6:47 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Steph S:
what are some good ways to generate non-affective metta?



You could start with affective metta (repeating metta phrases and letting it get affectively strong, essentially using the attention wave as the means then end up in 4th jhana eventually, then relax the attention wave till it may drop away to make it affectless as possible. You could do the same in the 5th jhana via sending 'out' compassion in an affective way then letting attention become unfabricated and gently pay attention to space as metta phrases are chanted in the head. Let the attention wave relax till it almost drops away (this might result in another path like shift. It did for me in the 7th doing something very similar). There are suttas that describe bhikkhus hanging out in a particular jhana and seeing how it is fabricated and then getting release via this seeing and relinquishing of this fabrication. Relaxing of the attention wave? Actualising jhanas perhaps?

This practice is sort of decribed here:

http://www.dhammasukha.org/Study/Articles/beautiful.htm


What is the Beautiful ?
Initial Question:

In the practice of loving-kindness, what is the beautiful and what is the culmination of this practice?
Answer:

You brought up a good question about "Loving-kindness" practice and where it culminates. Your question was, what is the beautiful?

The "Beautiful" is equivalent to the Fourth jhana and the practice of the Brahma Viharas or Breaking down the Barriers" does lead onward nearly to the full liberation: Nibbana.

It is long overdue for me to do another examination of this sutta in a little more detail than done before. So this is a good time to do this. Why don’t we go over it from the beginning to find out exactly how far one can go while practicing Loving-kindness meditation. OK?

We’ll use the text translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi from "The connected Discourses of the Buddha, a translation of the Samyutta Nikaya" published by Wisdom Publications. Sometime I would suggest you get this book so we can work on things together in the future. It is available at Amazon.com .

The text for this begins on page 1607. It is found in The Great Book (Mahavagga) Chapter II 46 Bojangasamyutta; Connected Discourses of Enlightenment- in V The Discussions- Sutta # 54 (4) Accompanied by Loving-kindness.
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Koliyans, where there was a town of the Koliyans named Haliddavasan. Then, in the morning, a number of monks dressed and, taking their bowls and robes, entered Haliddavasana for alms. Then it occurred to them: "It is still too early to walk for alms in Haliddavasana. Let us go to the park of the wanderers of other sects."

Then those monks went to the park of the wanderers of other sects. They exchanged greetings with those wanderers and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, sat down to one side. The wanderers then said to them: "Friends, the ascetic Gotama teaches the Dhamma to this disciples thus: ‘Come, monks, abandon the five hindrances, the corruptions of the mind that weaken wisdom, and dwell pervading one quarter with mind imbued with Loving Kindness, likewise the second quarter, likewise the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across and everywhere, and to all as to oneself, dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with loving kindness, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will. Dwell pervading one quarter of the mind with Compassion, likewise the second quarter, likewise the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across and everywhere, and to all as to oneself, dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with loving kindness, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will. Dwell pervading one quarter of the mind with Altruistic Joy, likewise the second quarter, likewise the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across and everywhere, and to all as to oneself, dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with loving kindness, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will. Dwell pervading one quarter of the mind with Equanimity, likewise the second quarter, likewise the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across and everywhere, and to all as to oneself, dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with loving kindness, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will.’

"We too, friends, teach the Dhamma to our disciples thus: ‘ Come, friends, abandon the five hindrances, [ them repeat the same over again.]’ So, friends, what here is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between the ascetic Gotama and us, that is, regarding the one Dhamma teaching and the other, regarding the one manner of instruction and the other?
These others are asking about the Buddha’s teaching of what is called the "Brahma Viharas" which are composed of four parts mainly Loving-kindness, Compassion, Altruistic Joy, and Equanimity. This is really a good question about ‘what in the world is the Buddha doing that other practices were not doing’ at the time he was teaching?

Those monks neither delighted in nor rejected the statement of those wanders. Without delighting in it, without rejecting it, they rose from their seats and left, thinking, "We shall learn the meaning of this statement in the presence of the Blessed One."
Here these monks went directly to the Buddha to ask him firsthand what is the difference in the way he is teaching so they would be able to explain in future times to others! They took their alms bowls back to where they ate and had their meal and probably rested for good digestion and then afterwards, they went to find the Buddha. They told him the entire story of what had taken place and asked him to make a clear reply. At the top of page 1609 it continues on and I will break it down a little bit so you can see it more clearly:

"Monks, when wanderers of other sects speak thus, they should be asked: ‘Friends, how is the liberation of the mind by loving-kindness developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal?
How is the liberation of the mind by compassion developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal?

How is the liberation of the mind by joy developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal?
How is the liberation of the mind by equanimity developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal?

Being asked thus, those wanderers would not be able to reply and , further, they would meet with vexation. For what reason?
Because that would not be within their domain. I do not see anyone, monks, in this world with its devas, Mara, and Brahma, in this generation with its ascetics and Brahmins, its devas and humans, who could satisfy the mind with an answer to these questions except the Tathagata or a disciple of the Tathagata or one who has heard it from them.

Now here we are with the Buddha and he is letting these monks know that the answer to these questions does not lie in those other traditions. [ in other words all meditation is NOT the same and all jhana is NOT the same]. They do not have the answers for these questions. Knowing the Buddha, through other sutta texts and stories, and how curious and investigative he was by nature during his six year search when he was yet a bodisatta, one can pretty well figure that he tried those other traditions before saying this. As we are told in these stories, he had tried those traditions and it just wasn’t there that the answer lies. He continued his search for the way to liberation from the suffering and to fully understand many other things along the way.
You know, this is where Faith comes into the picture in Buddhism. The Faith is that faith we put in him that he was telling the truth and you and I do not have to go through what he went through to figure this out if we just follow his instructions without changing them. But many, many people don’t have this faith and instead, they jump all over the place trying to figure things out going tradition to tradition struggling with political correctness and any number of other things and no one seems to want to go right to the source any more and just do what the guy said to do! I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty safe in saying that if someone found something and then taught it for 45 years and left a heap of instructions, then we should examine those first and not what someone later said they mean and most especially when no one can tell you where the arahats are?

That was one of my issues in the beginning. So. Americans have been doing this Buddhism for over 50 years now and so, where are the arahats? It says right here in the scriptures that this practice he did was easily accessible, easy to do all the time, with benefits and results that happen right away in our lives. And he described those results that should be happening in many places in the suttas. So why would you go to a book about meditation that doesn’t do that? That isn’t readily accessible, that doesn’t being immediate results etc? Over time I discovered that people were just not going to the right source. It’s still here, available, with immediate benefits and results. You gotta know where it is AND you gotta know HOW to test it and examine it for yourself.

BTW- The thing that springs up for us here in this sutta is that the Buddha is using the 4 Noble Truths once again as a tool for his investigation training if you look closely. We are shown here how the 4 Noble Truths, all of them or a part of them, are a viable pattern of investigation to follow in order to figure things out! The questions here for instance,
What is Loving-kindness? What is Compassion? What is Altruistic Joy? What is Equanimity? These demonstrate the First Noble Truth being used just like with "What is Suffering?"

Then we are examining within our practice What is the Cause of Loving-kindness, Compassion, Joy, Equanimity?
By practicing Loving-kindness we come to experience the cessation of formations and this is the Third Noble Truth
Last the Buddha talks about the path talking about the arising Factors of Enlightenment with each of the Brahma Viharas and then the point of culmination as you go down the path using this method of meditation which is the Fourth noble Truth.
Then the Buddha moves on to precisely examining the destination of, the culmination, of the fruit of, and the final goal of these states.

So he is demonstrating the "uninterrupted practice " that must take place during this investigation to find this out. This is why we do retreats for this very deep level of meditation work.

As he starts in with the good stuff, the Buddha gets down to explaining the destination, the culmination, the fruit, and the final goal of each of the four stages of breaking down the barriers on the way to Nibbana, or, practicing the Brahma Viharas.
And how, monks, is the liberation of the mind by loving kindness developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, and its final goal? Here, monks, a monk develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness accompanied by loving-kindness, …[the enlightenment factor of investigation accompanied by Loving-kindness, the enlightenment factor of energy accompanied by loving-kindness, the enlightenment factor of JOY accompanied by loving-kindness, the enlightenment factor of Tranquility accompanied by loving-kindness, the enlightenment factor of concentration [collectedness] accompanied by loving-kindness, and the factor of equanimity accompanied by loving-kindness, based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release.

Here we are told that in order to reach the ultimate liberation we have to experience the enlightenment factors. The Buddha is telling us that if we practice loving-kindness we will experience these factors.
Now it is obvious here that this is not a short thing to do! To do this the Noble ones went into seclusion, meaning that to a location in the forest where they could be in sequestered retreat alone only getting food and no other activity than meditation. They did not go out of the area for the phone. Nor did they go to the library, of which there were none, to do research and think. They did not move from place to place or communicate with anyone while doing this precise in depth work of meditation other than for the logistics of supporting each others living there.

Isn't the SECLUSION here the type of seclusion you practice in the midst of all the distractions and not necessarily physical seclusion?

Yes. Now this would be true. But at the time within the Banyan tree a monk would sit alone and would be as secluded as possible from all disturbances to do this work….

They practiced with a dispassionate attitude towards everything. What do I mean? Well, for instance, all food was considered "energy" that would sustain them to continue their practice. There was not choose a cuisine but rather they accepted whatever they were given. They relinquished ‘making decisions about anything’ and mixed the food together in a bowl and ate it at the appointed time each day. Then they continued their meditation. They neither reached for or pushed away any arising phenomenon they experienced at any of their sense doors. They simply let it be, let everything fall away. They did not Crave anything because they were practicing how to let it go. They practiced ceasing of as much Clinging as possible with an impersonal perspective on everything.

Is this the CESSATION? Why wouldn't it be cessation of craving?

Actually this is the level where habitual tendency to crave has been greatly reduced. To live like this is a steady practice not to submit to the tendency of "I" like or "I" don’t like. This is where the training leads.

[ if you do not Crave, you would not cling they were gradually discovering] They let go of anything arising. They recognized any thought arising and abandoned [released] it and each time this occurred, they relaxed ALL tension in the body and the mind, smiling lightly, returning to their object of meditation and continuing on again. Sound familiar?.
Yes it is familiar - but where in this sutta does it say that?

All suttas don’t say everything. The error is to take one sutta and believe it alone is the answer. The monks who were listening to this discussion were speaking on particular points here. They had already integrated the 6 R’s we are learning completely and this talk as about how far one can go using the Brahma Viharas.

The had relinquished their possessions and here pursued the meditation, ardent and resolute on Loving-kindness to see what happened next! They encouraged each other as they went along too.

Obviously this was done over a period of time. This is why the monks and nuns seeked the Noble Supramundane Path, totally committed and doing this all the time. Lay persons found much relief learning to do the practice, using it in their lives all the time, and finding a large degree of relief. Remember too, at that time they were not reading and thinking the way we do today. They did this practice and that’s how they figured things out through personal experience.

The Buddha goes on here to explain how the monk mediated,

If he wishes, ‘May I dwell perceiving the unrespulsive in the repulsive,’ he dwells perceiving the unrepulsive therein. If he wishes: ‘May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive and in the repulsive,’ he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein. If he wishes: ‘May I dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive and in the unrepulsive, ‘ he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein. If he wishes:’ May I dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive and in the unrepulsive,’ he dwells perceiving the unrepulsive therein. If he wishes: ‘Avoiding both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, may I dwell equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending,’ then he dwells therein equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending.

In this sutta, one gets a clear picture of the meticulous investigative work the monk is doing in the meditation as he goes along. He may spend a day on each part of the above until he is at ease with it entirely within the frame of Loving-kindness before moving on to the nest phase. He is experimenting with the dispassion of it all the entire time noticing how he was hooked before by so much attachment and aversion.

It continues on:
Or else he enters and dwells in the deliverance of the beautiful. Monks, the liberation of mind by loving-kindness has the beautiful as its culmination, I say, for a wise monk here who has been penetrated to a superior liberation.
There is a commentarial opinion that goes to great lengths to explain that the ‘beautiful’ here means that the monk now uses a kasina in order to jump into the formless states but the sutta doesn’t talk about this at all and one can suspect the writer didn’t do the exercise himself to see what happens but rather assumed. If you practice yourself and check this out doing the meditation, following the instructions precisely as you have heard them in the Satipatthana sutta and the Anapanasati sutta but applied to the Loving-kindness meditation, you are likely to realize that the loving-kindness will carry you through the ‘aware’ jhanas as the Buddha was practicing very deeply. He was not talking about Absorption here.

The sutta goes on here:

"And how, monks, is the liberation of the mind by compassion developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? Here, monks, a monk develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness accompanied by compassion…the enlightenment factor of equanimity accompanied by compassion, based on seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. If he wishes: ‘May I dwell percieivng the repulsive in the unrepulsive,’ he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein… If he wishes:’ Avoiding both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, may I dwell equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending.’ Then he dwells therein equnimously, mindful and clearly comprehending. Or else, with the complete transcendence of perceptions of forms, with the passing away of perceptions of sensory impingement, with nonattention to perceptions of diversity, aware that ‘space is infinite,’ he enters and dwells in the base of infinity of space. Monks, the liberation of mind by compassion has the base of infinity of space as it’s culmination, I say, for a wise monk here who has not penetrates to a superior liberation.

Any words on how the equanimity of the Brahma Viharas is related and different from the enlightenment factor of equanimity?

This sutta sits in the Connected Discourses on the Factors of enlightenment and this IS that level of "Equanimity". Yes.
To this point, we are being told that Loving-kindness goes to the Fourth Jhana which has very strong Equanimity. Then we see Compassion go into Infinite Space.

"And how, monks, is the liberation of the mind by Altruistic Joy developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? Here, monks, a monk develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness accompanied by Altruistic Joy…the enlightenment factor of equanimity accompanied by Altruistic Joy, based on seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. If he wishes: ‘May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive,’ he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein… If he wishes:’ Avoiding both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, may I dwell equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending.’ Then he dwells therein equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending. Or else, by completely transcending the base of infinity, aware that consciousness is infinite,’ he enters and dwells in the base of the infinity of consciousness. Monks, the liberation of mind by Altruistic Joy has the base of the infinity of consciousness as it’s culmination, I say, for a wise monk here who has not penetrated to a superior liberation.

What is superior liberation?

Superior Liberation would be that liberation that is permanent and does not slip ! such liberation has reached a level of automatic Release without any more volition about it ! AND the unwholesome ceases arising altogether too.
Here we see Altruistic Joy go as far as the base of the infinity of consciousness as its culmination. This should not be believed but tested! Try it. You’ll see for yourself. It will be shown by personal investigation to be true.
You tempt me! This seems a natural to me since I have long thought and advocated a "middle road" in reacting to events - in delightful happenings to consider the downside and not get over elated and in tragic events to see the "silver lining" - to be equanimous to everything - tho I didn't use that wording. Are you actually recommending this? The meditation practice seems quite different in detail from the instructions in loving kindness meditation as presented by Bhante. - Can both methods be done together?

There is no difference. This is only a graduated level of the same meditation. Upon reaching the Arupa jhana ( Immaterial Jhanas) one continues on but the activity of anything arising is occurring at the microscopic level now, almost not at all.
"And how, monks, is the liberation of the mind by Equanimity developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? Here, monks, a monk develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness accompanied by Equanimity…the enlightenment factor of equanimity accompanied by Equanimity, based on seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. If he wishes: ‘May I dwell percieivng the repulsive in the unrepulsive,’ he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein… If he wishes:’ Avoiding both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, may I dwell equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending.’ Then he dwells therein equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending. Or else, by completely transcending the base of the infinity of consciousness, aware that there is nothing,’ he enters and dwells in the base of nothingness. Monks, the liberation of mind by Equanimity has the base of nothingness as it’s culmination, I say, for a wise monk here who has not penetrates to a superior liberation.

End sutta text.
So there you have it. How far can Loving-kindness and the practice of the Brahma Viharas go? It culminates at the point of as far as the "base of nothingness"! Many people don’t know this. Many never look into a whole sutta or if they do and they have the wrong working definitions for mindfulness and meditation, they won’t understand what they are reading. Understanding how far the Brahma Viharas go another thing becomes clear. The practice of loving-kindness is not a practice to be isolated or to be put into shortform and used bang, bang, bang! This practice, which was mentioned many more times than the breath meditation, led very far along the path to Nibbana, was meant to be embraced and used all the time and for good for all situations. It is VERY powerful tool for helping ourselves and helping others physically and mentally.
From the base of nothingness, one can then enter into the state of Neither perception nor non-perception, then on to No feeling and No perception which is called Nirodha Samapada. At that point one can experience ‘the taints being destroyed by seeing with wisdom’ which means seeing clearly the impersonal process of dependent origination forwards and in the reverse order very clearly: Nibbana.

Some differences here.
Obviously presenting the practice of loving-kindness in this way is not the norm today. You are not likely to find any books anywhere but the suttas that preserve this information. People tend to present it in a very fast progression without explanation of the power that people can develop by practicing this way You may say, well,, that doesn’t make sense. And I would have to say, well, that’s the way of it right now.

With a resolute gradual approach, this practice is a progression of power which is developed as one goes along. Each time the practitioner is examining the ‘repulsive or non-repulsive ‘etc. that is a way of testing the stableness of the equanimity within that level before moving on to the next level.

The different states here are where the practitioner experiences a change in the feeling of the practice they are doing.
For instance, at the point where a yogi is practicing loving-kindness and they reach the fourth jhana, they will feel a significant shift as they come to the base of infinite space. It will feel different and they will explain to the guiding teacher and this change indicates to the teacher that the student should now move on to the Compassion phase of the practice. It’s like that. It’s a progression you go through and the power is getting stronger and stronger all the time.

By presenting a very fast presentation of the brahma viharas or this set of meditation phases and without explanation, the student doesn’t’ get the full picture of the power of what they are learning, the good they can do with it, OR the level of attainment they can progress to by doing this practice. It isn’t clear. I have witnessed this. It’s a shame this has been diluted down to the level it has been. But at the same time, it is understandable how, if the teacher has put their faith in a commentarial work to explain what this practice is, rather than going to ask directly in the suttas, this is what happens. Although it sounds good, it disagrees with the sutta texts when it comes to meditation and it short changes the student badly..
So to answer the original question the ‘beautiful’ is at the level of strong, firm Equanimity which is the condition of the state of the Fourth Jhana and this is where the loving-kindness changes. The feeling shifts. When it shifts it is a sign to move on with the Compassion work to be done. I will not tell you how it shifts. You must come to the teacher and tell him so he will know when to guide you to the next step and so on.

Hope this helps you to understand a little better.
It was a good exercise to do this too so I can learn how to explain it more clearly.
Could still use some shortening up but it’s a start, anyway.
Much Metta.
Khanti-Khema
Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center.
Annapolis, MO
March 26th- 2006
John Wilde, modified 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 8:52 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/6/11 8:12 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
bill of the wandering mind:
Was the ill will fabricated? How did it get there? I think even though it is important to see the three C's of all this 'stuff', a bad habit is a bad habit, and a good one is a good one.


Sure. Replacing bad-unwholesome-unskillful habits with good-wholesome-skillful ones is a good thing.


Once a habit is autromatic then can we say it is no longer fabricated?


I like the way Ramana Maharshi put it: "What is practice if not an attempt to make something natural?"

And yes, I suppose once something becomes automatic it can be called 'natural'.

But I haven't found feelings to be genuinely amenable to practice in that way.

For me, good feelings aren't manufactured or rehearsed; they're a natural consequence of something else. Whenever I tried to meddle directly with feelings instead of their cause(s), my experience quickly became stale and phoney.

Other people's experience may be different... but I doubt it somehow. [Edit: I may well be wrong. It's arrogant of me to dismiss it without having done much metta/karuna practice].

John
thumbnail
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 1:31 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 1:31 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
what are some good ways to generate non-affective metta?
Hi Steph - perhaps refer to (or reflect on here in this reading) something physically sensate: e.g., take in a sensual experience like a shower (take in the temperature on the shoulders and head as water lands, the smell of soap in mist, the roll of waterways at ankles, the hair becoming heavy/flat/filled...upon each occasion of self-reflection/centricity, simply and immediately go back to the senses, the temperature on the skin at the shoulders, the air and water streams around the ankles, the mist, what have you..it's just in repeatedly going back to the senses at every event wherein the concave pull of self-centricity occurs that one can train in non-affective anything.

The above shower "lesson" can be transferred to metta. Since, as a result of meditation through various "stages", there is no longer a personal reward sought/gained in metta (in contrast to the beginning of a practice wherein metta can be an antidote to one's own anger/depression/talent-need, etc), rather metta "becomes" (is uncovered) as a logical, natural response to suffering. As with the shower, each time there is your internal pull (self-reflection/-centricity) just return to the senses and the object of metta. If the object is purely mental (a sitting metta meditation), then, because that is a willed mental experience, there is likely to be a least some inward-pulling snap of self-reflection willing you into your desired state and some self-directed snap of self that initiates stopping the mental-terrain practice. While in metta, there can be just metta, broken by self-central pulling, resotred metta, etc. As quickly as possible at the end, be the sensation of eyes opening, throat clearing, spine softening/straightening/what have you and continue in this way.

[edit: spelling]
thumbnail
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 1:55 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 1:55 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
I have found this application (senses, senses, senses) to be useful in many occasions wherein there is that interior pull (which I call "self-referential/-centricity" to acknowledge clearly that that interior pull is "mine" and "I" am generating it. If I call it something else, like attention wave, then I run the easy risk of reifying that central-pull even more by creating another face of self (my self + (my) attention wave-self) one that now, linguistically, takes on attributes of a distant/mild/partial self, when in fact this "wave" self is as its source, and it can grow many more heads (and defenses) when it is not seen accurately, honestly, humbly each time it arises.
thumbnail
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 2:08 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 2:08 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
(in the above two thoughts I posted, I skipped any explanation bridging the gap of your query regarding of "non-affective [xyz]" and my reply post with "self-reflective/-central". If anyone else read this and wonders at that language change, it is because it often and generally understood in these threads that affective states depend on an agent willfully generating them, and that agent of affective states seems to be one's self continually coming into being. Thus, to have a non-affective anything requires dealing with the agent (also called: attention wave, Witness, (shadow) being, self-reference/centricity, etc.)
John Wilde, modified 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 4:00 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 2:22 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
katy steger:
(in the above two thoughts I posted, I skipped any explanation bridging the gap of your query regarding of "non-affective [xyz]" and my reply post with "self-reflective/-central". If anyone else read this and wonders at that language change, it is because it often and generally understood in these threads that affective states depend on an agent willfully generating them, and that agent of affective states seems to be one's self continually coming into being. Thus, to have a non-affective anything requires dealing with the agent (also called: attention wave, Witness, (shadow) being, self-reference/centricity, etc.)


One small caveat here: the word 'Witness' can be ambiguous. In some contexts it refers to a witnessing (possibly detached / dissociated) 'identity', as per your usage here; but in other contexts it can refer to the pure, ever-present, pre-conceptual, pre-affective non-fabricated, witnessing awareness. (The latter has been called "mindfulness" by Bhante Gunaratna in Chapter 13 of "Mindfulness in Plain English". It has also been called "apperception" in Richard's related/derived article "Attentiveness, Sensuousness and Apperception").

John
thumbnail
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/9/11 4:36 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 10:48 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Thanks, John. Your point does come up a bit and shows a repeat linguistic challenge:

One small caveat here: the word 'Witness' can be ambiguous. In some contexts it refers to a witnessing (possibly detached / dissociated) 'identity', as per your usage here; but in other contexts it can refer to the pure, ever-present, pre-conceptual, pre-affective non-fabricated, witnessing awareness. (The latter has been called "mindfulness" by Bhante Gunaratna in Chapter 13 of "Mindfulness in Plain English". It has also been called "apperception" in Richard's related/derived article "Attentiveness, Sensuousness and Apperception").


[removed]
thumbnail
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/9/11 5:16 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 11:45 AM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
12/7/11 11:51 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
[removed]

Update: 12-9:Things are as they are.

"Deliquescent" is just another way to trigger engaging actuality (and there's really no need to have a new word for it, unless the visual of melting a fabricating ego by uptaking the actual surroundings helps...though "precipitate" does not work when thought through logically) versus fabricating mental applications/foci.

When the mind is clear(ing), things are as they are (including the actuality under agency (one's changing self)). The clear(er) seeing does simplify, develop incisiveness and the four immeasurables as a result of personal memory and current awareness of hungry, dissatisfied, and/or surfeit states.
thumbnail
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 6:22 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 6:22 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
(senses, senses, senses)
To be clear, this includes the mental faculty (unlike the usual, "western" 5-sense calculation of the senses) and assumes insight of anatta in their application.
thumbnail
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 8:50 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/7/11 8:50 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
To follow up on Tarin's recent Gombrich recommendation elsewhere, here is an essay on metta ("emotion purified of selfishness") that may be useful.
thumbnail
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/8/11 7:29 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/8/11 7:27 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
And there are times when an affective presentation is beneficial for engagement.
And this may be hard to over-appreciate: encouragement and "sympathetic joy" are massively useful tools to help one who is suffering. If a teacher (informal or formal) gets somewhat snagged by (affective?) habits of supporting others, this can also be seen as the compassionate, selfless kindness of one further-removed-from-suffering.
John Wilde, modified 10 Years ago at 12/9/11 6:09 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/9/11 6:05 PM

RE: Advice from Sister Khema

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
katy steger:
12/7/11 11:51 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
[removed]

Update: 12-9:Things are as they are.

"Deliquescent" is just another way to trigger engaging actuality (and there's really no need to have a new word for it, unless the visual of melting a fabricating ego by uptaking the actual surroundings helps...


There's the sound of it too: a word with Qs and Ls like 'deliquescence' is just too lovely too resist, especially when it connotes delight, delicacy, quiescence, (with freshness, even effervescence like sea-spray); the whole word is cool, clean, limpid, liquid, (aqua, lapping). I'd deliquesce to it any day.