A basic question

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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 7/2/09 2:07 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/2/09 2:07 AM

A basic question

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Daniel_G
Forum: Practical Dharma

I've been following Dho for a while now, doing other reading and regular practice and I have a basic question. In meditation practice with the breath, what exactly makes one excercise Vipassana and say, counting the breaths a Samatha excercise?
In working with the 'Nada' sound also, is it a Vipassana or Samatha practice and what would make the difference?

Thanks much.
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 7/2/09 2:38 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/2/09 2:38 AM

RE: A basic question

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel_G
I tend to view samatha-vipassana as a spectrum, with extreme points of pure solidified concentration at one end (samatha), and fast, moment-to-moment investigation (vipassana) at the other.

Here's my rule of thumb:
samatha: make the object solid, smooth, beautiful, bright, clear...
vipassana: take the object apart, look for small cracks, changes...

Concentration in samatha is continuous and restful.
Concentration is vipassana locks on moment-to-moment.

Another way to view this is: You build up concentration to be able to access a mental state, a set of mental qualities (samatha). Once your concentration is good enough to reliably enter that "place", you can look around and investigate, because not all your resources are bound up with staying there, learning your way, getting to know the place (vipassana). One day, this becomes routine, and you start climbing higher, and once again, almost all your concentration is bound up with just getting there. And so on.

Some examples with the breath: concentrating on a small area and being aware of in- and out-breaths, trying to make it smooth and nice, is almost pure samatha. This can take you to solidified jhana states (very nice!)

Concentrating on the breath, but quickly zooming in on the little suction when in-breath turns to out-breath, the little muscle movements and tremors as the body exhales and inhales, the vibrations of hair on the upper lip, and so on: vipassana.

Counting entire, smooth breaths: samatha. Quickly noting individual, changing breath sensations: vipassana.

The inner "nada" sound: resting on a continuous sound: samatha (my first taste of hard jhana, btw). listening for changing sounds: vipassana. Listening for quickly pulsating sound: vipassana. tuning in on a slow beat: samatha.

Just my take on the subject.

Cheers,
Florian
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 7/3/09 1:20 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/3/09 1:20 AM

RE: A basic question

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Daniel_G

Many thanks Florian, that has got to be the clearest most concise description of technique I've seen anywhere so far! It sure gives me much more to work with.
So resting or holding the object would be closer to the Samatha side, actively watching the object as it may change, Vipassana side. I certainly see how there can be a range in between the two.

Thanks again.