meditation the Buddhas way
- Dear Venerable Sirs
My query is all about jhanas in the samatha style of meditation . I
read many times in words of the lord Buddha and find he spoke many times
about obtaining jhanas before one proceeds onto Vipassana meditation.
Why is it that I read many today say it is not needed to follow the
Buddha's words as were written down but follow one who wasn't any where
comparable to our Lord Buddha.
I have been to Myanmar and viewed some of the disciples of the late Mahasi
Sayadaw but they all showed their anger to me over the smallest issues.
Can this be the sort of behavior one would expect from one who is supposed to obtain fruits of the practice within 7 days?
I am a little unsure if it is actually obtainable.
Where as Samantha meditation proceeding Vipassana would be following the
Buddhas words and hopefully to obtain the ultimate realities I so often
Please comment to a learning Buddhist.
Also please excuse any thing I may have said that may be wrong to say
to a Monk.
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[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- By your own admission, you are new to Buddhism, and obviously still
ignorant of the Buddha's teaching. If you approach any teacher with a
know-it-all attitude you may well perceive their rejection of your
wrong views as anger. That is due to your misjudgement of the
situation. If you want to learn Samatha meditation, Mahasi Yeiktha is
not the right place to go.
Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw is the most revered monk of recent times in
the whole of Burma. His knowledge of the texts and commentaries was so
exceptional that he was chosen for the central role of Chief
Questioner in the Sixth Buddhist Council. However, he was not just a
good scholar. His deep insight into the Dhamma was the fruit of long
and hard practice. After learning the Satipatthana method from his
teacher, he worked tirelessly from 1948 to 1982, promoting the
practice of Insight Meditation, according to the method of bare
insight, which is most definitely in accordance with the teachings of
the Buddha. You do not know enough to critcise this method in the way
that you do.
In the time of the Buddha many monks and some lay people had
exceptional perfections and could attain jhanas with relative ease.
They could also gain nibbana within a short period of practice,
sometimes as little as seven days, or even on the spot after hearing a
short discourse by the Buddha or his disciples. A few even attained
Arahantship at once.
Times have changed. The Buddhasasana is declining. Nowadays there are
not thought to be any individuals with sufficient perfections to
attain nibbana merely by listening to a discourse. Those who attain
nibbana within seven days would be regarded as very exceptional. Not
everyone will attain nibbana even after seven months or seven years of
In this age, therefore, cultivating jhana first before insight is not
the best method for most lay people. The Mahasi method puts the
emphasis on gaining insight, not on gaining jhana, since insight has
more long-lasting benefits. If one practised hard for seven months,
one might attain some aptitude in jhana, or one might attain nibbana.
Aptitude in jhana can be attained even outside of the Buddhasasana,
whilst nibbana cannot. The average meditator may attain neither jhana
nor nibbana within seven months, but if they follow the method of
insight they will gain valuable perfections of wisdom, which can only
be gained during the Buddhasasana.
Nevertheless, there is no reason to disparage Samatha meditation as
inferior or unnecessary. If one has a natural inclination for Samatha
one can use it as stepping-stone to insight. After practising Samatha,
one must use the method of insight to realise the nature of that jhana
as impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self. There is no other way to
nibbana than the Satipatthana Vipassana method, whether one develops
jhana first or not.
During the practice of insight meditation, we can use Samatha
techniques to aid our progress. We may practise loving-kindness
meditation, recollection of the Buddha, or recollection of the
repulsive nature of the body from time to time to stabilise the mind
before reverting to the Satipatthana method.
The following quote is from "The Heart of Buddhist Meditation" by the
German monk, Nyanaponika.
"*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
"We have to face the fact that, in this hectic and noisy age of ours,
the natural quietude of mind, the capacity for higher degrees of
concentration, and the requisite external conditions to cultivate
both, have greatly decreased, compared with the days of old. This
holds good not only for the West, but also, though in a lesser degree,
for the East, and even for a not inconsiderable section of Buddhist
monkhood. The principal conditions required for cultivating the
Absorptions are seclusion and noiselessness; and these are very rare
commodities nowadays. In addition, environment and education have
produced an increasing number of those types who will naturally be
more attracted by, and adapted to, the direct development of insight.
"Under such circumstances, it would amount to a neglect of promising
roads of progress if one were to insist rigidly on an exclusive
approach through the Absorptions, instead of making use of a method
emphatically recommended by the Buddha himself: a method which is more
easily adaptable to the current inner and outer conditions, and yet
leads to the aspired goal. To make use of it will be a practical
application of the Clear Comprehension of Suitability. ...
"These reasons of practicability referred to here, will certainly have
contributed to the fact that Satipatthana has obtained such a strong
hold on the minds of many in modern Burma. The single-minded
application to the Way of Mindfulness and the enthusiastic propagation
of it, by Burman devotees, are based on the conviction conveyed by
personal experience. The emphasis which the practice of Satipatthana
receives in Burma, and in the pages of this book, is however, not
meant to be a discouragement or disparagement of other methods or
devices. Satipatthana would not be the Only Way if it could not
encompass them all."
"*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
May you rightly understand the Satipatthana method and gain insight
knowledge leading to nibbana.