New to the site

thumbnail
andrew thomas malanga, modified 11 Years ago.

New to the site

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/25/10 Recent Posts
Very happy to have found the site after being introduced to Mr. Ingram's book a year or so ago.

Without getting into my own story, let it be known that I'm new to this journey here. That said, how do I know when it is time to go from concentration to insight work? Or is there no border between the two and more of a shift from one to the other? Like I said, I am at the very beginning of my understanding of the practice. Over the years, I have had what I think have been a few moments of the Arising and Passing Away (after reading A and P in the book). Not sure if they could be called that but these experiences really made me say "Holy Shit!... there is something else going on here and now that I have been given a glimpse, I want to see and learn more." (Is that even an A and P?)

Anyhow, I know that practice is the key, but when do I know it's time to start insight work? Or will I even know when? I have caught myself doing it actually while I meditate already, and that it just from being aware of all the sensations that seem to be bouncing around, happening, popping up, running around, coming and going, and all that. Am I ahead of myself?

Well, I'm looking forward to your ideas and what-not.

Thanks all. Peace.

-Rookie
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: New to the site

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
This is a complicated question to answer. That said, my best attempt at an answer is that you should work with both. Concentration skills help the insight process work more smoothly and quickly. Insight practice itself builds some concentration too.

Also, after stream entry, it becomes much easier to do work with the jhanas. The reason is that the insight stages and the first 4 jhanas are actually the same "territory" of the mind, just viewed through different lenses. After attaining a path, you can call up any insight stage from that path when you want to (at least, after a little practice). Then you can take the pleasant areas of the path (Mind and Body, A&P, Dissolution, and Equanimity) and turn them into the corresponding jhanas (first, second, third, fourth) by choosing not to pay attention to vibrations or the Three Characteristics anymore. Instead, you essentially pretend that they are solid, stable, and satisfying states of mind. By concentrating on the pleasantness (for the first 3 jhanas) or peace/stillness (for the fourth) of these mind states without any investigation of vibrations/impermanence, dissatisfaction, or not-self, you stop seeing that area of the mind through the lens of vipassana and you see it through the lens of shamatha. Thus, it turns from a vipassana jhana to a shamatha jhana.

Also, if you've had an A&P event and are thus a dark night yogi, then you may find it pretty difficult to do pure shamatha at all until you've gotten to a path, or at least Equanimity. That does NOT mean that it's a waste of time to try, but it does mean that you need to know when your time would be better spent doing vipassana. If nothing happens when you try to concentrate, but stuff happens when you do vipassana, then there's no real point doing the concentration practice on that day. Try again the next day.
thumbnail
Ian And, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: New to the site

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Being new and all to meditation (and Buddhist meditation at that), don't you think it might be wise to find someone in your vicinity to help guide you, kind of one on one, in how to go about practicing?

The reason I mention this is because it is difficult enough trying to describe practice to someone on a board like this even when they have some experience with meditation, much less than to attempt it with someone who has never meditated before nor had any hands-on help from an experienced practitioner.

Really and truly, you might want to seriously consider finding an experienced teacher or meditation guide who can help you become acclimated to the practice before coming to a forum like this to ask questions about complications you are unfamiliar with. Once you have some experience under your belt, have a clearer idea of the terrain, and have become more familiar with the terminology, then you may be able to figure out what some people are referring to when you visit a place like this and they are providing you with suggestions for your practice.

My advice right now is: find a teacher if you are really serious about this and want to do it right. You need face to face instruction with someone who you trust knows what they are doing. There's just no getting around this when you are starting out (in my humble opinion).
thumbnail
Dark Night Yogi, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: New to the site

Posts: 138 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
"That said, how do I know when it is time to go from concentration to insight work?"

What is your current meditation practice?
In the traditions Ive been exposed to, concentration work is done at the start but its not a long time before they tell you to do insight work..I.e. in the Lay zen center, they make u count breaths up to 10, but after a few sessions, you already do Zazen which is insight, or in Goenka Vipasyana, you do concentration for 2-3 days, then do insight. I think its better illustrated like what you said "its more like a shift" that you can do even within a meditation session.

Some advice to use 1/3rd of the initial meditation time to do Concentration and the other 2/3rds to do Insight. Some also prefer to use all the time to do just insight. I do not know which approach is best but it also depends on the meditator. If you feel that your concentration ability is already strong, then you can try full insight, and if you suck at concentration (like me), then it may help to do more concentration.

But If you say you've been meditating a couple of years and have hit the A & P, then I'd think it'd be OK and about time to dive into Insight practice head-on will full force! emoticon
thumbnail
Dark Night Yogi, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: New to the site

Posts: 138 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
On finding a teacher:

I was unfortunately unable to find a teacher. I found an Ex-tibetan Lama who lead a meditation group, but he didn't really do much on being a one on one sort of teacher.. Just someone who gives short discourses and likes to insult peoples' small-selfs. When I did eventually have the option to get a teacher, it was Zen, so I passed off the opportunity in favor of continuing Vipassana and having no formal teacher. This forum and others were enough.. Even Goenka meditatiors.. None of them have actual 'teachers'.. Now they are the ones most in the dark, at least I and others with no formal teachers have access to the teachers and others here in these forums. If I did have access to a formal face to face Vipassana teacher, I would probably take it, but if it's not accessible, then its still possible to survive and thrive. emoticon
thumbnail
A T M, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: New to the site

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/25/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for all the posts guys! All great advice.

I am looking for a teacher however I think it may be tough to find someone I can have (or afford) one-on-one time with. For starters, I will not be paying anyone to learn. At one point, I was getting into Tai Chi Chuan pretty hardcore (which included lots of standing meditation and strenuous postures that pushed the mind and body to the brink, sometimes to the point of wanting to scream and cry) and I spent a boat-load of money learning from a verifiable master. I would not change a thing if I had the chance and I am glad that I had the experience, but I will not be forking over any large sum of money to anyone anytime soon.

It has come to my attention that I live very close to one of the temples founded by Mahasi Sayadaw (or one of his students here in Brooklyn, NY). I know that they have sitting sessions every night at 6 and from what I have heard a Q&A session afterwards. I am not sure if they actually teach there or not (I did call and ask about classes, but they quickly said no and hung up without a word after I thanked them). The only way to find out for sure is to go. I guess it's a good start.

In terms of meditation, I have no formal training. I have however had a few profound experiences while meditating (at least what I would call profound) including seeing green orbs spin around me, having visions of a mass of light with bits of light entering and existing the mass, intense energy flowing through my back to the point where it was actually moving by body in a way that seemed like my body was on cruise control, pleasurable energy massing up in the dan tien area that actually felt extremely sexual, magnetic energy in my hands and coming off of me, and other energetic experiences that I struggle to put into words. A teacher would probably due me good, but I am very skeptical of teachers who want cash money to teach me their "secrets." I would like to keep with the vipassana gig, but I am steering a bit clear of the Goenka crew because it seems a bit cultish. I know that it is wrong to label them as such, but my gut says go with the Burmese folks on this. However, if I were to go on a long retreat I am not sure what options are out.

Anyhow, thanks for the advice guys. Keep bringing it. Much appreciated.
thumbnail
J Groove, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: New to the site

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
If the Mahasi people in your neighborhood end up being reputable, you're really lucky to have that group there. A lot of people don't have any kind of access to face-to-face instruction in the Mahasi method. I'd check out that group for sure. But even if you just rely on help from this site and, if you're so inclined, Kenneth Folk's site, you're WAY ahead of the curve in terms of receiving practice-oriented advice from experienced yogis who aren't afraid to talk states and stages.
Best of luck with your practice!

EDIT: Weird and quirky as they are, the Goenka retreats seem to have been really valuable for countless meditators. I've heard so many stories of breakthroughs from those things. You've got an issue with paying for the dharma. They are free, 10-day retreats. Something to consider.
thumbnail
A T M, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: New to the site

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/25/10 Recent Posts
Thanks J Groove.

I should stay open minded about the Goenka retreats. Like you said they are free and I have a few friends who said was most definitely worth the trip and effort.

I'm a total noob in terms of lingo and terminology but I do not want to get ahead of myself. I just want to learn the basics and develop a solid foundation for now.
thumbnail
J Groove, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: New to the site

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
For some good noting instructions, you might want to go to this thread below. Just scroll down and you'll see links to a couple of PDF files. These are new translations of Mahasi Sayadaw's basic vipassana instructions. They've been well-received thus far.

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/443445
thumbnail
A T M, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: New to the site

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/25/10 Recent Posts
Cool. Thanks man. I found a few pdf's of Mahasi's works on his wikipedia page.

Breadcrumb