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Re: Not Concentration

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 of 13 , Oct 10, 2010
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                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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