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Samatha-Vipassana: Tranquillity and Insight, Hand-in-Hand

Daily Mahasi practice in combination with occasional samatha [Eudoxos .] [M

Daily Mahasi practice in combination with occasional samatha [Eudoxos .]

Eudoxos . - 2014-04-28 09:40:32 - Daily Mahasi practice in combination with occasional samatha

Hi everybody,

I am fairly new here. I've been doing daily non-buddhist concentration practices since 1998, then stopped in 2008 due to psychosomatic problems (spiritual perfectionism), went almost by accident to the basic course in the Ajahn Tong tradition in Dhammacari in 2011; that solved most by physical&neurotical troubles, I've done 8 retreats with various teachers from that tradition since then, with (extended) fruitions in last 2.5 years, and substantial changes to my personality (in good ways) and such.

In the Ajahn Tong tradition, concentration practices are really recommended against (they lead to attachment since they are pleasant, suck up a lot of energy, and don't lead to permanent uprooting of suffering - those are arguments I've heard).

In last few weeks, besides daily vipassana practice (usually 30/30 walking/sitting), I try to do 30-60 minutes of samatha (breath concentration) practices when I have time. When in a good shape (not tired and such), I go up to the 2nd or 3rd jhana, usually spelling out some intention when the practice is finished (regarding insight of mine or people close to me, or in general - sort-of like the traditional metta meditation); developing some basic siddhi would be welcome, though it is not the goal.

Contrary to what MCBT says, I don't seem to experience pleasant states during samatha (save for absence of unpleasant feelings, plus some kind of self-satisfaction from being able to make the mind very concentrated). After the practice, I usually have higher "energy level" (mind buzzing, but in a sort-of pleasant way), but also being less grounded (which already is my problem in daily live usually), as if slowed down externally and sped up internally.

So, well, the questions I am asking myself (and I welcome any comments on) are: 

* how is the pleasure aspect to be cultivated? Is it desirable? My sense of pleasure has been rather damaged through my extreme renunciation before I started vipassana and learned to accept myself a bit, could that be the root cause, and perhaps also a thing I might deal with in samatha by focusing on the pleasure aspect? 
* is there an interference between vipassana and samatha, when practiced in separate sessions?
* how strongly should I concentrate on the object (breath)? I am generally over-concentrated (being programmer, my usual problem when being with people, with headaches and such), perhaps I am missing the pleasure because I ignore it?
* anything else basically emoticon