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Questions on Samatha.

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  • Nina van Gorkom
    Dear Sarah, Kevin, Alex and other friends, I think that Kevin had important questions on samatha and these are questions many people have. I like to go into
    Message 1 of 110 , Jan 10, 2011
      Dear Sarah, Kevin, Alex and other friends,
      I think that Kevin had important questions on samatha and these are
      questions many people have. I like to go into them and give some
      additions.
      -------

      S: Kevin's discussion with KS and myself (#109607). Kevin had asked
      why the Buddha ad mentioned jhana "hundreds or thousands" of times if
      there was no need to talk about jhana. KS replied by asking whether
      among those who became enlightened, were there more who did so by
      just developing vipassana or those who developed vipassana and
      samatha (to jhana levels). The answer is by vipassana alone.
      -------
      N: Yes, there is a Text in S I, which Robert K also mentioned in his
      forum. Also we know from the Susima sutta and from the Puggala
      Pa~n~natti that also people who did not develop jhaana attained by
      dry insight.
      But apart from this, I find it a relief that there are no rules, that
      it all depends on the individual's accumulations when or whether he
      develops jhaana.
      ---------

      S: KS had previously mentioned that whilst developing vipassana,
      there was no need for extra samatha and asked which was better -
      samatha or vipassana. Kevin had suggested this implied "attachment to
      vipassana or aversion for lower kusala" and that all kusala was good
      and a support for wisdom. KS said that just samatha was not
      understanding realities as not self, just knowing the difference
      between kusala and akusala. If it were more, then those before the
      Buddha could have attained the Path. We have to stress vipassana from
      the beginning. And in terms of "what's better", think of suttas such
      as the Anathapindika Sutta which stresses how much more valuable a
      moment of anicca sanna, the understanding of the impermanence of
      dhammas is, compared to sila, dana, metta and samatha of all kinds.
      -------
      N: All perfections are needed, but each perfection has to be
      developed together with right understanding of realities, otherwise
      it is self, self, all the time. But I remember Kevin's words in
      another post I found very refreshing, that he reminded people to
      develop right understanding also when going to a retreat.
      ----------

      S: 9. Kevin's comments contd (2nd page of same post).
      Kevin: ".. Then there can be kusala citta that wants to practice
      samatha...." KS: "having more kusala in a day - the way to have more
      samatha." What's the characteristic of sati? Anatta. There is no
      understanding of anattaness of sati (when there's an idea of wanting
      to practice samatha). Desire is lobha.
      --------
      N: Some people misunderstand Kh Sujin's words and believe that she is
      against samatha. We have to carefully consider what she means. She is
      so concerned about it that people will practise samatha with an idea
      of self, or with attachment.
      She said in other context: "KH S: This moment, what can understanding
      know? If there is no understanding, can there be practising or
      meditating? "
      She also said that samatha and vipassana are developed together, that
      they should not be separated. I am listening to a Thai recording
      about the four kinds of nutrition, and she speaks about the foulness
      of the body when eating. When we see foulness, there will be less
      clinging. Considering this will bring calm. But, as I see it, no
      rule. It all depends on the citta from moment to moment.
      -------

      S: 10. continuing. Anapanasati, practicing meditation, Vism
      description, access concentration..... KS: "What for?" Do those who
      develop samatha know about vitakka, vicara, piti, ekaggata and
      upekkha from the beginning (not the names or theory)? One knows that
      without vitakka about that particular object, it's impossible for
      there to be more kusala factors of jhana. If there is no
      understanding of vitakka to have that object more and more often by
      seeing the benefit of that object to condition kusala at that moment.
      Panna can condition more kusala by vitakka, touching the object.
      -----
      N: Here it is stressed how difficult it is to know the jhaanafactors
      of vitakka, etc. Not just their names.
      -------

      S: Kevin's comment about (Vism) counting the breaths and so on. KS
      stressed the importance of panna understanding moments of kusala and
      akusala. Kevin's comment questioning whether those who "practiced
      samatha" in the suttas only had kusala moments. KS said that it seems
      like life is different for those developing samatha and that it's not
      daily, developing gradually. It doesn't mean we can have samatha of
      that degree in a short time. It depends on accumulations and takes a
      long time, aeons, for samatha to develop to that degree.
      -------
      N: Here we see Kh Sujin's concern about people who think that samatha
      is easy. If one takes for jhaana what is not jhaana it is dangerous.

      To conclude: I believe that it is essential to understand citta at
      this moment and I appreciate it that Kh Sujin is reminding us of this
      time and again. I like her dialogue with Alan:
      S: Is there depression now?
      A: No.
      S: Is there happiness now?
      A: Yes.
      S: Does it last?
      A: No.
      S: Does it belong to anyone or is it just a dhamma?
      A:Just a dhamma.
      S: Same for unhappiness, seeing, visible object - all dhammas. Not my
      happiness, sadness or thinking that we're used to finding so important.
      --------
      Nina.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Robert E
      Hi Ken O. ... Thank you, I will look those up! Best, Robert E. - - - - - - - - - -
      Message 110 of 110 , Apr 11, 2011
        Hi Ken O.

        --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, Ken O <ashkenn2k@...> wrote:

        > KO:  the three links I give you are all ancient commentaries.  Look at the
        > commentary translation and forget about the introduction or the preface, look
        > below after the sutta ended, that is where the ancient commentary are being
        > translated

        Thank you, I will look those up!

        Best,
        Robert E.

        - - - - - - - - - -
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