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Re: [Pali] Not Concentration

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  • Bryan Levman
    Dear Ven. Kumara, Thanks very much for sharing this. I think these are excellent translations for these words - esp. composure for samaadhi and settling
    Message 1 of 13 , Oct 3, 2010
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      Dear Ven. Kumara,

      Thanks very much for sharing this. I think these are excellent translations for
      these words - esp. "composure" for samaadhi and "settling" for samatha,

      Metta, Bryan








      ________________________________
      From: Kumara Bhikkhu <kumara.bhikkhu@...>
      To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Fri, October 1, 2010 1:16:00 AM
      Subject: [Pali] Not Concentration


      Dear friends,

      In the past, I was told that samadhi means concentration, and samatha means
      concentration too. (I did think that it was odd, but I knew nuts then.) Closely
      related is ekaggata, which I was told means one-pointedness.

      That's about 15 years ago, when I started to practice meditation. I practiced
      hard then—hard enough with enough of wrong ideas to end up being uptight, groggy
      and oftentimes both. It took a nervous disorder during a meditation retreat to
      seriously doubt the way I was practicing.

      I'm fortunate that I later met Sayadaw U Tejaniya who helped me immensely to get
      on the right path—'right' as in moving out of suffering, rather than into more
      suffering as I had been experiencing earlier.

      With this liberating practice, I found that some of my past understanding of the
      Buddha's teachings seem to be grossly wrong. With some knowledge of Pali, guided
      by Venerable Aggacitta, and some phenomenological research, I've decided on
      these English translations of some Pali words:

      samadhi composure
      samatha settling
      ekodibhava unified
      ekagga collected
      ekaggata collectedness

      These meanings of the Pali words agrees with the right path for me. I invite you
      to consider them in the light of your own practice. Bear in mind though that
      right meditation involves other factors, such as . These roughly covers only one
      aspect of it.

      I'm not against the use of "concentration" in spiritual or meditation practice.
      It's just a word. My understanding of it didn't work for me. I've just checked a
      dictionary and found the meaning of it that I had: complete attention; intense
      mental effort. Synonyms of it are absorption, engrossment, immersion. Yes,
      that's it. Looking at it from my present point of view, I'm thinking: No wonder
      I ended up groggy and uptight.

      peace

      Kumâra Bhikkhu

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    • frank
      Dear Ven. Kumara, Here s a thought experiment. If 15 years ago you had been taught that samadhi meant composure (rather than concentration), how would that
      Message 2 of 13 , Oct 3, 2010
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        Dear Ven. Kumara,
        Here's a thought experiment. If 15 years ago you had been taught that
        samadhi meant composure (rather than concentration), how would that
        have affected your meditation practice? For myself, it wouldn't have
        made a difference. From reading the collection of pali suttas, the
        impression of the practice of the noble 8fold path is one that is
        intense and concentrated. Just some examples, "practice jhanas, don't be
        heedless and regret it later", "practice as if hair is on fair", "rouse
        yourself! what use is sleep? Don't let the king of death take you
        down...", "Let my flesh, sinews, and blood dry up, I will not move from
        my seated posture until I attain whatever can be won with manly
        strength, manly determination, manly energy!". Consider the typical
        recommended sleep schedule for Budha's disciples was only 4 hours
        [Anguttara 3.16] 10pm - 2am, with the 4 hours before that period used
        for walking/sitting meditation, and the 4 hours from 2am-6am also for
        walking/sitting. Also consider the sutta to Sariputta on how to fight
        drowsiness. There are far more passages warning against laxity and
        laziness than passages warning against practicing too intensely.
        I do feel that you have a legitimate gripe against samadhi being
        defined as "concentration", I'm just pointing out that when we read the
        collection of pali suttas, it's pretty hard to avoid the impression
        that the samadhi portion (right mindfulness, right effort, right
        concentration) of the noble 8fold path is a very intense. In my own
        practice, since I do quite a bit of taiji (Tai Chi) perhaps that had a
        big influence on my own understanding of intensity, persistence,
        concentration, and deep active relaxation not being mutually exclusive.
        Also the beautiful similes for the 4 jhanas, and the first item
        mentioned as one of the purposes of practicing jhanas is, "for pleasant
        abiding here and now" is very suggestive of the peaceful relaxing nature
        of right "concentration".

        -Frank




        > \
        > Dear friends,
        >
        > In the past, I was told that samadhi means concentration, and samatha
        > means
        > concentration too. (I did think that it was odd, but I knew nuts
        > then.) Closely
        > related is ekaggata, which I was told means one-pointedness.
        >
        > That's about 15 years ago, when I started to practice meditation. I
        > practiced
        > hard then—hard enough with enough of wrong ideas to end up being
        > uptight, groggy
        > and oftentimes both. It took a nervous disorder during a meditation
        > retreat to
        > seriously doubt the way I was practicing.
        >
        > I'm fortunate that I later met Sayadaw U Tejaniya who helped me
        > immensely to get
        > on the right path—'right' as in moving out of suffering, rather than
        > into more
        > suffering as I had been experiencing earlier.
        >
        > With this liberating practice, I found that some of my past
        > understanding of the
        > Buddha's teachings seem to be grossly wrong. With some knowledge of
        > Pali, guided
        > by Venerable Aggacitta, and some phenomenological research, I've
        > decided on
        > these English translations of some Pali words:
        >
        > samadhi composure
        > samatha settling
        > ekodibhava unified
        > ekagga collected
        > ekaggata collectedness
        >
        > These meanings of the Pali words agrees with the right path for me. I
        > invite you
        > to consider them in the light of your own practice. Bear in mind
        > though that
        > right meditation involves other factors, such as . These roughly
        > covers only one
        > aspect of it.
        >
        > I'm not against the use of "concentration" in spiritual or meditation
        > practice.
        > It's just a word. My understanding of it didn't work for me. I've just
        > checked a
        > dictionary and found the meaning of it that I had: complete attention;
        > intense
        > mental effort. Synonyms of it are absorption, engrossment, immersion.
        > Yes,
        > that's it. Looking at it from my present point of view, I'm thinking:
        > No wonder
        > I ended up groggy and uptight.
        >
        > peace
        >
        > Kumâra Bhikkhu
        >



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Dhammadarsa
        Ven Sir Yes, thank you for your translations. They fit with my practice too. I’ve heard good stories about Ven Tejaniya. Could you tell me where he is
        Message 3 of 13 , Oct 3, 2010
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          Ven Sir



          Yes, thank you for your translations. They fit with my practice too.



          I’ve heard good stories about Ven Tejaniya. Could you tell me where he is
          located or if he travels to teach?



          I’m glad you included ekodibhava, the sutta term that takes the place of
          Buddhaghosa’s ekaggata. An interesting book I partly read recently was
          Richard Shankman’s “Samadhi” in which he studied Jhaana in the suttas, then
          Visuddhimagga and lastly as taught by 12 current meditation teachers. I had
          time to read the first section only. In the first section he noticed jhaana
          seemed to involve more awareness of the body and an enlivening experience,
          not a withdrawl and closing off [except from unwholesome action]. He decided
          to translate ekodibhava as you have.



          Kind Regards







          <http://www.vicnet.net.au/~dhammadarsa> Integrating Emotion and Intellect =
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          Dhammadarsa [Darsa] Bhikkhu
          Buddhist Monk

          Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University
          Wang Noi
          Ayuthaya
          Thailand


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          From: Pali@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Pali@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Kumara
          Bhikkhu
          Sent: Friday, 1 October 2010 12:16 PM
          To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [Pali] Not Concentration





          Dear friends,

          In the past, I was told that samadhi means concentration, and samatha means
          concentration too. (I did think that it was odd, but I knew nuts then.)
          Closely related is ekaggata, which I was told means one-pointedness.

          That's about 15 years ago, when I started to practice meditation. I
          practiced hard then—hard enough with enough of wrong ideas to end up being
          uptight, groggy and oftentimes both. It took a nervous disorder during a
          meditation retreat to seriously doubt the way I was practicing.

          I'm fortunate that I later met Sayadaw U Tejaniya who helped me immensely to
          get on the right path—'right' as in moving out of suffering, rather than
          into more suffering as I had been experiencing earlier.

          With this liberating practice, I found that some of my past understanding of
          the Buddha's teachings seem to be grossly wrong. With some knowledge of
          Pali, guided by Venerable Aggacitta, and some phenomenological research,
          I've decided on these English translations of some Pali words:

          samadhi composure
          samatha settling
          ekodibhava unified
          ekagga collected
          ekaggata collectedness

          These meanings of the Pali words agrees with the right path for me. I invite
          you to consider them in the light of your own practice. Bear in mind though
          that right meditation involves other factors, such as . These roughly covers
          only one aspect of it.

          I'm not against the use of "concentration" in spiritual or meditation
          practice. It's just a word. My understanding of it didn't work for me. I've
          just checked a dictionary and found the meaning of it that I had: complete
          attention; intense mental effort. Synonyms of it are absorption,
          engrossment, immersion. Yes, that's it. Looking at it from my present point
          of view, I'm thinking: No wonder I ended up groggy and uptight.

          peace

          Kumâra Bhikkhu

          Catch the news from Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary! To be informed of
          special activities in SBS and Dhamma teaching tours by SBS monks, join
          SBSmail:
          * EITHER register at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sbsmail/join/ (Yahoo! ID
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        • Kumara Bhikkhu
          You re most welcome. I received some very useful feedback from some people. I believe they wouldn t mind me sharing here: ... kb
          Message 4 of 13 , Oct 4, 2010
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            You're most welcome.

            I received some very useful feedback from some people. I believe they wouldn't mind me sharing here:

            Ricardo Sasaki wrote thus at 06:59 02/10/2010:
            >Thanks for your sharing Bhante! I have the same impression. Notice however that Concentration comes from the Latin con-centrare = to be near or with the center. So the original meaning of concentration is very near the one of samadhi and not an activity of intense mental effort, but rather being centered and composed.

            ajahn brahmali wrote thus at 07:56 04/10/2010:
            >On ekaggata, I think collectedness is probably ok. But the literal meaning of the Pali is closer to 'onepointedness'. The important point, as I see it, is to remember that this onepointedness comes about as a result of samatha, 'settling', and letting go, not as a result of using will-power. If ekaggata is seen as the result of a process, rather than a descriptive term for how to arrive at the result, then I think there is no problem.


            kb


            Bryan Levman wrote thus at 23:16 03/10/2010:

            >Dear Ven. Kumara,
            >
            >Thanks very much for sharing this. I think these are excellent translations for
            >these words - esp. "composure" for samaadhi and "settling" for samatha,
            >
            >Metta, Bryan
          • Kumara Bhikkhu
            You ve got a good point there, Frank. Yes, I must say I was conditioned by much of what you listed. When I said with enough of wrong ideas , it s not just
            Message 5 of 13 , Oct 5, 2010
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              You've got a good point there, Frank. Yes, I must say I was conditioned by much of what you listed. When I said "with enough of wrong ideas", it's not just about the meaning of those terms, but including much of what you said too.

              Anyway, I think I've come to understand those calls for urgency better. They are basically saying, "Don't be lazy." They don't mean, "Push yourself harder!" I think we need to consider them in the right context.

              In Burma (at least in the Mahasi tradition), there's often a lot of push for more effort. One teacher I was practicing with frankly said that he didn't believe that people can put in too much effort. He wasn't being pushy. He was just expressing what he genuinely believe. I've later realise that Burmese people (esp. those in the rural area) tend to be very lax in attitude. So, it's reasonable for the teacher to urge them to work harder.

              As for people in cultures that are already well conditioned to be work hard and fast, the same kind of advice leads them off balance.

              A wise sense of urgency is fine. There's no pressure in it. Just being clear of your direction and being on the move towards that. Being in a hurry though sets you off balanced.

              kb

              frank wrote thus at 00:30 04/10/2010:

              > Dear Ven. Kumara,
              > Here's a thought experiment. If 15 years ago you had been taught that
              >samadhi meant composure (rather than concentration), how would that
              >have affected your meditation practice? For myself, it wouldn't have
              >made a difference. From reading the collection of pali suttas, the
              >impression of the practice of the noble 8fold path is one that is
              >intense and concentrated. Just some examples, "practice jhanas, don't be
              >heedless and regret it later", "practice as if hair is on fair", "rouse
              >yourself! what use is sleep? Don't let the king of death take you
              >down...", "Let my flesh, sinews, and blood dry up, I will not move from
              >my seated posture until I attain whatever can be won with manly
              >strength, manly determination, manly energy!". Consider the typical
              >recommended sleep schedule for Budha's disciples was only 4 hours
              >[Anguttara 3.16] 10pm - 2am, with the 4 hours before that period used
              >for walking/sitting meditation, and the 4 hours from 2am-6am also for
              >walking/sitting. Also consider the sutta to Sariputta on how to fight
              >drowsiness. There are far more passages warning against laxity and
              >laziness than passages warning against practicing too intensely.
              > I do feel that you have a legitimate gripe against samadhi being
              >defined as "concentration", I'm just pointing out that when we read the
              >collection of pali suttas, it's pretty hard to avoid the impression
              >that the samadhi portion (right mindfulness, right effort, right
              >concentration) of the noble 8fold path is a very intense. In my own
              >practice, since I do quite a bit of taiji (Tai Chi) perhaps that had a
              >big influence on my own understanding of intensity, persistence,
              >concentration, and deep active relaxation not being mutually exclusive.
              >Also the beautiful similes for the 4 jhanas, and the first item
              >mentioned as one of the purposes of practicing jhanas is, "for pleasant
              >abiding here and now" is very suggestive of the peaceful relaxing nature
              >of right "concentration".
              >
              >-Frank
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >> \
              >> Dear friends,
              >>
              >> In the past, I was told that samadhi means concentration, and samatha
              >> means
              >> concentration too. (I did think that it was odd, but I knew nuts
              >> then.) Closely
              >> related is ekaggata, which I was told means one-pointedness.
              >>
              >> That's about 15 years ago, when I started to practice meditation. I
              >> practiced
              >> hard then—hard enough with enough of wrong ideas to end up being
              >> uptight, groggy
              >> and oftentimes both. It took a nervous disorder during a meditation
              >> retreat to
              >> seriously doubt the way I was practicing.
              >>
              >> I'm fortunate that I later met Sayadaw U Tejaniya who helped me
              >> immensely to get
              >> on the right path—'right' as in moving out of suffering, rather than
              >> into more
              >> suffering as I had been experiencing earlier.
              >>
              >> With this liberating practice, I found that some of my past
              >> understanding of the
              >> Buddha's teachings seem to be grossly wrong. With some knowledge of
              >> Pali, guided
              >> by Venerable Aggacitta, and some phenomenological research, I've
              >> decided on
              >> these English translations of some Pali words:
              >>
              >> samadhi composure
              >> samatha settling
              >> ekodibhava unified
              >> ekagga collected
              >> ekaggata collectedness
              >>
              >> These meanings of the Pali words agrees with the right path for me. I
              >> invite you
              >> to consider them in the light of your own practice. Bear in mind
              >> though that
              >> right meditation involves other factors, such as . These roughly
              >> covers only one
              >> aspect of it.
              >>
              >> I'm not against the use of "concentration" in spiritual or meditation
              >> practice.
              >> It's just a word. My understanding of it didn't work for me. I've just
              >> checked a
              >> dictionary and found the meaning of it that I had: complete attention;
              >> intense
              >> mental effort. Synonyms of it are absorption, engrossment, immersion.
              >> Yes,
              >> that's it. Looking at it from my present point of view, I'm thinking:
              >> No wonder
              >> I ended up groggy and uptight.
              >>
              >> peace
              >>
              >> Kumâra Bhikkhu
              >>
              >
              >
              >
              >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >
              >------------------------------------
              >
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            • Chanida Jantrasrisalai
              Respected venerable sir, Thank you very much for this useful sharing. Yours respectfully, Chanida ... -- Chanida Jantrasrisalai Australia +614 3019 8648
              Message 6 of 13 , Oct 5, 2010
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                Respected venerable sir,

                Thank you very much for this useful sharing.

                Yours respectfully,
                Chanida

                On 5 October 2010 10:37, Kumara Bhikkhu <kumara.bhikkhu@...> wrote:

                >
                >
                > You're most welcome.
                >
                > I received some very useful feedback from some people. I believe they
                > wouldn't mind me sharing here:
                >
                > Ricardo Sasaki wrote thus at 06:59 02/10/2010:
                > >Thanks for your sharing Bhante! I have the same impression. Notice however
                > that Concentration comes from the Latin con-centrare = to be near or with
                > the center. So the original meaning of concentration is very near the one of
                > samadhi and not an activity of intense mental effort, but rather being
                > centered and composed.
                >
                > ajahn brahmali wrote thus at 07:56 04/10/2010:
                > >On ekaggata, I think collectedness is probably ok. But the literal meaning
                > of the Pali is closer to 'onepointedness'. The important point, as I see it,
                > is to remember that this onepointedness comes about as a result of samatha,
                > 'settling', and letting go, not as a result of using will-power. If ekaggata
                > is seen as the result of a process, rather than a descriptive term for how
                > to arrive at the result, then I think there is no problem.
                >
                > kb
                >
                > Bryan Levman wrote thus at 23:16 03/10/2010:
                >
                >
                > >Dear Ven. Kumara,
                > >
                > >Thanks very much for sharing this. I think these are excellent
                > translations for
                > >these words - esp. "composure" for samaadhi and "settling" for samatha,
                > >
                > >Metta, Bryan
                >
                >
                >



                --
                Chanida Jantrasrisalai
                Australia
                +614 3019 8648


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Dhivan Thomas Jones
                Dear Ven Kumara, Thanks for your initial post, which has prompted such an interesting discussion. While I also like composure as a translation of samadhi, I
                Message 7 of 13 , Oct 6, 2010
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                  Dear Ven Kumara,

                  Thanks for your initial post, which has prompted such an interesting discussion. While I also like 'composure' as a translation of samadhi, I agree with others who have discussed how 'concentration' does not necessarily imply an imbalanced use of will-power. Can I also share a teaching on meditation that comes from my own tradition, which is the Triratan Buddhist Community (formerly known as Friends of the Western Buddhist Order). In our movement, many meditators have also found that wilfulness became a problem for them when they tried too hard to concentrate on the object of meditation. In order to counteract this, a distinction has been made between FOCUS and BREADTH in meditation. In order to have stable concentration, a meditator needs to have a broad basis of awareness, especially of the body. He or she can then develop the kind of focus on the object, for instance the breath, which leads to access concentration and jhāna, and hence to the possibility of effective insight reflection.

                  Good wishes,
                  Dhivan
                • Kumara Bhikkhu
                  ... You re most welcome. ... Better for you to refer to this: http://sayadawutejaniya.org Hope you expect him to be an arahant or anagami though. I m pretty
                  Message 8 of 13 , Oct 6, 2010
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                    Dhammadarsa wrote thus at 13:30 04/10/2010:
                    >Yes, thank you for your translations. They fit with my practice too.

                    You're most welcome.


                    >I�ve heard good stories about Ven Tejaniya. Could you tell me where he is
                    >located or if he travels to teach?

                    Better for you to refer to this: http://sayadawutejaniya.org

                    Hope you expect him to be an arahant or anagami though. I'm pretty sure he's not. I can say he's on the right path though, and clearly have a better direct understanding of the Dhamma than most people, incl me.

                    Also, bear in mind that he's no scholar. The terms he uses are usually quite traditionally Theravada.


                    >I�m glad you included ekodibhava, the sutta term that takes the place of
                    >Buddhaghosa�s ekaggata. An interesting book I partly read recently was
                    >Richard Shankman�s �Samadhi� in which he studied Jhaana in the suttas, then
                    >Visuddhimagga and lastly as taught by 12 current meditation teachers. I had
                    >time to read the first section only. In the first section he noticed jhaana
                    >seemed to involve more awareness of the body and an enlivening experience,
                    >not a withdrawl and closing off [except from unwholesome action]. He decided
                    >to translate ekodibhava as you have.

                    My teacher, Ven Aggacitta, recently showed me that book too. I've only read the conclusion, and see that arrived at the some conclusion as I have. He has it all quite well laid out. I also like his peaceful, balanced way. A very commendable work indeed. With this, I attach the table in his conclusion, with some extras from me.

                    kb


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Lennart Lopin
                    Dear Ven Kumara @all, I would like to second Dhivan s take on this interesting topic. The translation of concentration does not strike me as an overemphasis
                    Message 9 of 13 , Oct 7, 2010
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                      Dear Ven Kumara @all,

                      I would like to second Dhivan's take on this interesting topic. The
                      translation of "concentration" does not strike me as an overemphasis of
                      viriya either. Especially the Latin
                      etymology<http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=concentrate>and
                      contemporary understanding of the term 'concentration' seem to work
                      well
                      with the Pali samādhi - even though one could try to find an even more
                      differentiating rendering for samādhi and its related terms (as is actually
                      the case for many of these words: samathā (calmness), ekaggatā
                      (one-pointedness), ekodibhava (unification), samādhi (state of
                      concentration, absorption, attainment of a concentrated mind). Esp. Samādhi
                      seems rather to imply the result of bhāvanā and not so much the action
                      itself.)

                      Here is an interesting post on this topic (or closely related) which seems
                      to point out that it is rather an act of mental balancing which evokes
                      samādhi rather than straining oneself:

                      http://theravadin.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/surfing-on-the-wave-of-bliss/

                      much metta,

                      Lennart


                      ..., I agree with others who have discussed how 'concentration' does not
                      > necessarily imply an imbalanced use of will-power. Can I also share a
                      > teaching on meditation that comes from my own tradition, which is the
                      > Triratan Buddhist Community (formerly known as Friends of the Western
                      > Buddhist Order). In our movement, many meditators have also found that
                      > wilfulness became a problem for them when they tried too hard to concentrate
                      > on the object of meditation. In order to counteract this, a distinction has
                      > been made between FOCUS and BREADTH in meditation. In order to have stable
                      > concentration, a meditator needs to have a broad basis of awareness,
                      > especially of the body. He or she can then develop the kind of focus on the
                      > object, for instance the breath, which leads to access concentration and
                      > jhāna, and hence to the possibility of effective insight reflection.
                      >
                      > Good wishes,
                      > Dhivan
                      >


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Kumara Bhikkhu
                      Thanks, and I agree, since reading Ricardo Sasaki s (a very old Buddhist friend s) note on the Latin etymology of concentrate : con-centrare = to be near or
                      Message 10 of 13 , Oct 10, 2010
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                        Thanks, and I agree, since reading Ricardo Sasaki's (a very old Buddhist friend's) note on the Latin etymology of 'concentrate': "con-centrare = to be near or with the center". If concentration is understood that way, I think it's perfectly fine.

                        As I see it, the word just doesn't work well unqualified if the person reading it has already been very conditioned to take it the other way, esp. with the idea of having to penetrate into the ultimate truth of phenomena.

                        Retrospectively, most of the time then I did not do it forcefully. Even when I did , it didn't occur me then that I was straining or using will-power. I was aware of trying to induce a particular state of mind though, so much so that my brain may have physically went 'off-centrare'. :-)

                        You pointed out another translation of samaadhi that didn't work for me too: absorption.
                        It probably works well with the Visuddhimagga's jhaana, but not with the sutta's. In relation to this is what I got among the many responses I received. This is from Ajahn Sucitto:

                        bhikkhu sucitto wrote thus at 13:38 01/10/2010:
                        >Yes I can echo those remarks. Amazing what damage a word can do! Sometimes I use collectedness, or unification for samadhi. It seems to me that people approach it as something to do, rather than keep the qualities of mindfulness, kindness and letting go in good condition. But when we do that (i.e. follow the Buddha's instructions) then there can be an arrival at samadhi without tightening up the nervous system.

                        That part about "something to do" hit the nail on the head. (I instead hit the head on the nail. Doh!) Instead of allowing the mind to settle, I approached it as "something to do". I tried to induce a state of concentration, of absorption, and ended up somewhat wonky.

                        Here's another on a similar note:

                        Ajahn Brahmavamso wrote thus at 08:36 09/10/2010:
                        > Sadhu! I agree with you. "Concentration" is a miserable translation for the Pali word "Samadhi". It makes monasteries and retreat centres become "Concentration Camps"!!! I generally use "Stillness" as my preferred translation for "Samadhi", and "Samatha" is what you do to become still, which is disengaging or letting go.

                        I bear in mind though that his preference for "stillness" is probably based on the kind of jhaana prescribed by the Visuddhimagga. Nonetheless, disengaging is what allows for samatha (settling) and arriving at samaadhi (composure).

                        IMO, a translation preferably does not need any qualification. Ideally, the equivalent in the target language captures the meaning, usage, and (if possible) even imagery of the original word. In the case of 'samaadhi', 'composure', for me, is that word.

                        Thanks to all for this interesting discussion. Please feel free to contribute further, if you think it hasn't been beaten to death yet.

                        kb

                        Lennart Lopin wrote thus at 21:01 07/10/2010:

                        >Dear Ven Kumara @all,
                        >
                        >I would like to second Dhivan's take on this interesting topic. The
                        >translation of "concentration" does not strike me as an overemphasis of
                        >viriya either. Especially the Latin
                        >etymology<http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=concentrate>and
                        >contemporary understanding of the term 'concentration' seem to work
                        >well
                        >with the Pali samādhi - even though one could try to find an even more
                        >differentiating rendering for samādhi and its related terms (as is actually
                        >the case for many of these words: samathā (calmness), ekaggatā
                        >(one-pointedness), ekodibhava (unification), samādhi (state of
                        >concentration, absorption, attainment of a concentrated mind). Esp. Samādhi
                        >seems rather to imply the result of bhāvanā and not so much the action
                        >itself.)
                        >
                        >Here is an interesting post on this topic (or closely related) which seems
                        >to point out that it is rather an act of mental balancing which evokes
                        >samādhi rather than straining oneself:
                        >
                        >http://theravadin.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/surfing-on-the-wave-of-bliss/
                        >
                        >much metta,
                        >
                        >Lennart
                        >
                        >
                        > ..., I agree with others who have discussed how 'concentration' does not
                        >> necessarily imply an imbalanced use of will-power. Can I also share a
                        >> teaching on meditation that comes from my own tradition, which is the
                        >> Triratan Buddhist Community (formerly known as Friends of the Western
                        >> Buddhist Order). In our movement, many meditators have also found that
                        >> wilfulness became a problem for them when they tried too hard to concentrate
                        >> on the object of meditation. In order to counteract this, a distinction has
                        >> been made between FOCUS and BREADTH in meditation. In order to have stable
                        >> concentration, a meditator needs to have a broad basis of awareness,
                        >> especially of the body. He or she can then develop the kind of focus on the
                        >> object, for instance the breath, which leads to access concentration and
                        >> jhāna, and hence to the possibility of effective insight reflection.
                        >>
                        >> Good wishes,
                        >> Dhivan
                      • Lennart Lopin
                        Dear Bhante, Guess everyone has his or her favorite samannya :-) For me composure would not do it either, but such are words, its all about connotations...
                        Message 11 of 13 , Oct 10, 2010
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                          Dear Bhante,

                          Guess everyone has his or her favorite samannya :-)
                          For me 'composure' would not do it either, but such are words, its all about
                          connotations... It is always more helpful if you know someone who can teach
                          you directly, lead you to the experience, then you can use simply 'samadhi'
                          and everything is perfectly fine :-)

                          Much metta,

                          Lennart

                          On Sun, Oct 10, 2010 at 4:51 AM, Kumara Bhikkhu <kumara.bhikkhu@...>wrote:

                          >
                          >
                          > Thanks, and I agree, since reading Ricardo Sasaki's (a very old Buddhist
                          > friend's) note on the Latin etymology of 'concentrate': "con-centrare = to
                          > be near or with the center". If concentration is understood that way, I
                          > think it's perfectly fine.
                          >
                          > As I see it, the word just doesn't work well unqualified if the person
                          > reading it has already been very conditioned to take it the other way, esp.
                          > with the idea of having to penetrate into the ultimate truth of phenomena.
                          >
                          > Retrospectively, most of the time then I did not do it forcefully. Even
                          > when I did , it didn't occur me then that I was straining or using
                          > will-power. I was aware of trying to induce a particular state of mind
                          > though, so much so that my brain may have physically went 'off-centrare'.
                          > :-)
                          >
                          > You pointed out another translation of samaadhi that didn't work for me
                          > too: absorption.
                          > It probably works well with the Visuddhimagga's jhaana, but not with the
                          > sutta's. In relation to this is what I got among the many responses I
                          > received. This is from Ajahn Sucitto:
                          >
                          > bhikkhu sucitto wrote thus at 13:38 01/10/2010:
                          > >Yes I can echo those remarks. Amazing what damage a word can do! Sometimes
                          > I use collectedness, or unification for samadhi. It seems to me that people
                          > approach it as something to do, rather than keep the qualities of
                          > mindfulness, kindness and letting go in good condition. But when we do that
                          > (i.e. follow the Buddha's instructions) then there can be an arrival at
                          > samadhi without tightening up the nervous system.
                          >
                          > That part about "something to do" hit the nail on the head. (I instead hit
                          > the head on the nail. Doh!) Instead of allowing the mind to settle, I
                          > approached it as "something to do". I tried to induce a state of
                          > concentration, of absorption, and ended up somewhat wonky.
                          >
                          > Here's another on a similar note:
                          >
                          > Ajahn Brahmavamso wrote thus at 08:36 09/10/2010:
                          > > Sadhu! I agree with you. "Concentration" is a miserable translation for
                          > the Pali word "Samadhi". It makes monasteries and retreat centres become
                          > "Concentration Camps"!!! I generally use "Stillness" as my preferred
                          > translation for "Samadhi", and "Samatha" is what you do to become still,
                          > which is disengaging or letting go.
                          >
                          > I bear in mind though that his preference for "stillness" is probably based
                          > on the kind of jhaana prescribed by the Visuddhimagga. Nonetheless,
                          > disengaging is what allows for samatha (settling) and arriving at samaadhi
                          > (composure).
                          >
                          > IMO, a translation preferably does not need any qualification. Ideally, the
                          > equivalent in the target language captures the meaning, usage, and (if
                          > possible) even imagery of the original word. In the case of 'samaadhi',
                          > 'composure', for me, is that word.
                          >
                          > Thanks to all for this interesting discussion. Please feel free to
                          > contribute further, if you think it hasn't been beaten to death yet.
                          >
                          > kb
                          >
                          > Lennart Lopin wrote thus at 21:01 07/10/2010:
                          >
                          >
                          > >Dear Ven Kumara @all,
                          > >
                          > >I would like to second Dhivan's take on this interesting topic. The
                          > >translation of "concentration" does not strike me as an overemphasis of
                          > >viriya either. Especially the Latin
                          > >etymology<http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=concentrate>and
                          >
                          > >contemporary understanding of the term 'concentration' seem to work
                          > >well
                          > >with the Pali sam� dhi - even though one could try to find an even more
                          > >differentiating rendering for sam� dhi and its related terms (as is
                          > actually
                          > >the case for many of these words: samath� (calmness), ekaggat�
                          > >(one-pointedness), ekodibhava (unification), sam� dhi (state of
                          > >concentration, absorption, attainment of a concentrated mind). Esp. Sam�
                          > dhi
                          > >seems rather to imply the result of bh� van� and not so much the action
                          >
                          > >itself.)
                          > >
                          > >Here is an interesting post on this topic (or closely related) which seems
                          > >to point out that it is rather an act of mental balancing which evokes
                          > >sam� dhi rather than straining oneself:
                          >
                          > >
                          > >http://theravadin.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/surfing-on-the-wave-of-bliss/
                          > >
                          > >much metta,
                          > >
                          > >Lennart
                          > >
                          > >
                          > > ..., I agree with others who have discussed how 'concentration' does not
                          > >> necessarily imply an imbalanced use of will-power. Can I also share a
                          > >> teaching on meditation that comes from my own tradition, which is the
                          > >> Triratan Buddhist Community (formerly known as Friends of the Western
                          > >> Buddhist Order). In our movement, many meditators have also found that
                          > >> wilfulness became a problem for them when they tried too hard to
                          > concentrate
                          > >> on the object of meditation. In order to counteract this, a distinction
                          > has
                          > >> been made between FOCUS and BREADTH in meditation. In order to have
                          > stable
                          > >> concentration, a meditator needs to have a broad basis of awareness,
                          > >> especially of the body. He or she can then develop the kind of focus on
                          > the
                          > >> object, for instance the breath, which leads to access concentration and
                          > >> jh� na, and hence to the possibility of effective insight reflection.
                          > >>
                          > >> Good wishes,
                          > >> Dhivan
                          >
                          >
                          >


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Kumara Bhikkhu
                          Fair enough, Lennart. :-) kb
                          Message 12 of 13 , Oct 10, 2010
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Fair enough, Lennart. :-)

                            kb

                            Lennart Lopin wrote thus at 09:55 11/10/2010:
                            >Dear Bhante,
                            >
                            >Guess everyone has his or her favorite samannya :-)
                            >For me 'composure' would not do it either, but such are words, its all about
                            >connotations... It is always more helpful if you know someone who can teach
                            >you directly, lead you to the experience, then you can use simply 'samadhi'
                            >and everything is perfectly fine :-)
                            >
                            >Much metta,
                            >
                            >Lennart
                            >
                            >On Sun, Oct 10, 2010 at 4:51 AM, Kumara Bhikkhu <kumara.bhikkhu@...>wrote:
                            >
                            >>
                            >>
                            >> Thanks, and I agree, since reading Ricardo Sasaki's (a very old Buddhist
                            >> friend's) note on the Latin etymology of 'concentrate': "con-centrare = to
                            >> be near or with the center". If concentration is understood that way, I
                            >> think it's perfectly fine.
                            >>
                            >> As I see it, the word just doesn't work well unqualified if the person
                            >> reading it has already been very conditioned to take it the other way, esp.
                            >> with the idea of having to penetrate into the ultimate truth of phenomena.
                            >>
                            >> Retrospectively, most of the time then I did not do it forcefully. Even
                            >> when I did , it didn't occur me then that I was straining or using
                            >> will-power. I was aware of trying to induce a particular state of mind
                            >> though, so much so that my brain may have physically went 'off-centrare'.
                            >> :-)
                            >>
                            >> You pointed out another translation of samaadhi that didn't work for me
                            >> too: absorption.
                            >> It probably works well with the Visuddhimagga's jhaana, but not with the
                            >> sutta's. In relation to this is what I got among the many responses I
                            >> received. This is from Ajahn Sucitto:
                            >>
                            >> bhikkhu sucitto wrote thus at 13:38 01/10/2010:
                            >> >Yes I can echo those remarks. Amazing what damage a word can do! Sometimes
                            >> I use collectedness, or unification for samadhi. It seems to me that people
                            >> approach it as something to do, rather than keep the qualities of
                            >> mindfulness, kindness and letting go in good condition. But when we do that
                            >> (i.e. follow the Buddha's instructions) then there can be an arrival at
                            >> samadhi without tightening up the nervous system.
                            >>
                            >> That part about "something to do" hit the nail on the head. (I instead hit
                            >> the head on the nail. Doh!) Instead of allowing the mind to settle, I
                            >> approached it as "something to do". I tried to induce a state of
                            >> concentration, of absorption, and ended up somewhat wonky.
                            >>
                            >> Here's another on a similar note:
                            >>
                            >> Ajahn Brahmavamso wrote thus at 08:36 09/10/2010:
                            >> > Sadhu! I agree with you. "Concentration" is a miserable translation for
                            >> the Pali word "Samadhi". It makes monasteries and retreat centres become
                            >> "Concentration Camps"!!! I generally use "Stillness" as my preferred
                            >> translation for "Samadhi", and "Samatha" is what you do to become still,
                            >> which is disengaging or letting go.
                            >>
                            >> I bear in mind though that his preference for "stillness" is probably based
                            >> on the kind of jhaana prescribed by the Visuddhimagga. Nonetheless,
                            >> disengaging is what allows for samatha (settling) and arriving at samaadhi
                            >> (composure).
                            >>
                            >> IMO, a translation preferably does not need any qualification. Ideally, the
                            >> equivalent in the target language captures the meaning, usage, and (if
                            >> possible) even imagery of the original word. In the case of 'samaadhi',
                            >> 'composure', for me, is that word.
                            >>
                            >> Thanks to all for this interesting discussion. Please feel free to
                            >> contribute further, if you think it hasn't been beaten to death yet.
                            >>
                            >> kb
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