--- In dhammastudygroup@y..., "robertkirkpatrick.rm"
Hi Robert & fellow DSG'ers,
Enjoyed reading most of the points in your post, but wanted to raise
this anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) issue again, since it's
come up again...
> What seems to be the most common object peolple choose these
> days is anapanasati, the most difficult of all objects,
> according to the texts.
As I think I mentioned before, I have been unable to find support
for this opinion anyplace in the Suttas. I suspect this conclusion
was reached by interpreting this portion of Buddhagosa's
"Although any meditation subject, no matter what, is successful only
in one who is mindful and fully aware, yet any other meditation
subect other than [anapanasati] gets more evident as he goes on
giving it his attention. But this mindfulness of breathing is
difficult, difficut to develop, a field in which only the minds of
Buddhas, Paccekabuddhas, and Buddhas' sons are at home. It is no
trivial matter, nor can it be cultivated by trivial people. In
proportion as continued attention is given to it, it becomes more
peaceful and more subtle. So strong mindfulness and understanding
are necessary here."
One important question: how do you interpret "Buddhas' sons"? That
could be interpretreted as anyone who's gone for refuge at all! Once
one has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, then
in my book, at least, that qualifies one as a "Buddha's son or
To add one comment here: I have found /no/ basis in the Suttas for
the opinion the anapanasati is /too hard/, and I would be happy if
someone, someplace, could find me a reference to the Sutta Pitaka
that states this "too hard" notion directly, or even by implication.
Anapanasati, for many, is no more difficult a meditation subject
than any other, and the benefits are manifold, as it leads not only
to pacifying the hindrances, but also opens the door to the
absorption of the jhanas (i.e. Right Concentration).
Anapanasati was praised very highly (moreso than anyo other single
form of meditation in my readings) by the Buddha, and the idea
it's "too difficult" flies in the face of countless experienced
meditators as well as what the Buddha taught in the Suttas.
Anapanasati is taught as the primary vehicle for establishing both
samatha and the absorption of the jhanas in the Tibetan tradition,
for example, as it is in the orthodox Theravada tradition. It is
notably the accorded the status of being the /first/ training
exercise in the Maha-Satipatthana Sutta as well as the abridged
Satipatthana Sutta, as a means for developing mindfulness and clear
comprehension, leading to the establishment of Right Concentration
as well as Right Mindfulness.
For those who prefer the Visuddhimagga to the Buddha's teachings
in the Suttas, it may be helpful to consider Anapanasati in light of
the descriptions of its various features (Vis. VIII.145) as
a whole, before making discouraging remarks about the development of
mindfulness of breathing. Therein are detailed all the benefits of
anapanasati, and they are numerous.
For those who prefer the Buddha's instruction in the Suttas (in the
case, the Anapanasati Sutta):
"Monks, I am content with this practice. I am content at heart with
this practice. So arouse even more intense persistence for the
attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-
unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.
"Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of
great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing,
when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to
their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed &
pursued, bring the seven factors for Awakening to their culmination.
The seven factors for Awakening, when developed & pursued, bring
clear knowing & release to their culmination."
Robert, I know of no other meditation subject spoken of by the
Buddha in such terms: "I am content with this practice. I am content
at heart with this practice."
As with any Sutta, key is understanding not only the definitive
meaning (nitattha vs. neyyattha), but also the mentality of the
audience the Buddha was addressing. In this case, it ranged from
those pursuing the first fruit of the Holy Life all the way to
arahats. In addition to the stream-winners, once-returners, non-
returners, and arahats, included are:
"...monks who remain devoted to the development of the four frames
of reference... the four right exertions... the four bases of
power... the five faculties... the five strengths... the seven
factors for Awakening... the noble eightfold path: such are the
monks in this community of monks.
"...monks who remain devoted to the development of good will...
compassion... appreciation... equanimity...[the perception of the]
foulness [of the body]... the perception of inconstancy: such are
the monks in this community of monks.
"...monks who remain devoted to mindfulness of in-&-out breathing."
So in this Sutta the Buddha addresses those falling within the
entire spectrum of disciples, from those who have cast off the yoke
of samsaric existence comlpetely to those with a long way to go.
> This object does need special conditions
> - erect back, fixed posture, quiet, much application etc.; thus
> when on dsg we talk about vipassana in daily life it perhaps
> seems so different from what people are used to thinking of as
That may or may not be the case. In my training (on the Tibetan
side), mindfulness throughout /all/ activities is strenuously
emphasized. It is, in fact, a root vow. However, mindfulness is not
taught separately from planting ass on cushion and meditating on the
breath to establish samatha conjoined with vipassana meditation on
emptiness/anatta, but as an integral whole. The formal training and
resolute application of mindfulness play vital roles in ensuring
there is enough of what the Zennists call "joriki" (deep
concentration borne of meditative momentum, or power):
I submit that this type of bhavana, with perhaps a few rare
exceptions, is a requisite condition for "daily life" meditation,
since it is the basis for developing a degree of mindfulness and
concentration sufficient to condition insight amidst daily
activities. Without having developed deep enough concentration by
yoking oneself to the disciplines that engender mindfulness, clear
comprehension, and concentration (samma samadhi a natural by-product
of well-established mindfulness), then I'd suggest that the odds of
sati arising in the course of daily activities is extremely low.
Perhaps one helpful question to answer for oneself is, "how long can
it is possible to maintain unbroken mindfulness, even while
sitting?" If the answer is "for a few seconds" or even "for a few
minutes," then I submit there is a lot of bhavana needed before
mindfulness and concentration are well-enough established to arise
amidst daily activities, consistently, to the point they yield the
fruits of the Holy Path. I realize this is one opinion only, but it
is entirely consistent with what I've been taught and most
importantly, in experience (not pretending to have mindfulness in
all daily life situations though! Much bhavana needed for that