Formal practice? (was, Re: Seeing = Visible object)
- Hi Rob E
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Robert E" wrote:
> Hi Jon.
> Here are some segments that I think refer to meditation and/or meditation preparation:
J: Well the point we were looking at was your reference to "preliminary exercises that would lead to the development of jhana". But you don't identify any specific such preliminary exercises.
In fact you conclude by saying that whether an exercise is preliminary or not "is secondary to" the purposeful intent to develop awareness or samatha through formal meditation practices. Sounds like a classic bait and switch to me :-))
Anyway, I'm happy to talk about purposeful intent/formal practice.
> "...he should sit down comfortably in a secluded place and
> apprehend the sign in earth that is either made up or not made up."
> So he is instructed to once again purposely sit down [control freak that he is] in a secluded place, and "apprehend the sign," another "formal meditation practice."
J: Context again. The paragraph from which you are quoting begins like this:
"When a bhikkhu has thus severed the lesser impediments, then, on his return from his alms round after his meal and after he has got rid of drowsiness due to the meal, he should sit down comfortably in a secluded place ... "
This refers back to the outline given in para 28 of Ch III where it says: "
"But mundane concentration should be developed by one who has taken his stand on virtue that is quite purified in the way already stated. He should sever any of the ten impediments that he may have. He should then approach the good friend, the giver of a meditation subject, and he should apprehend from among the forty meditation subjects one that suits his own temperament. After that he should avoid a monastery unfavourable to the development of concentration and go to live in one that is favourable. Then he should sever the lesser impediments and not overlook any of the directions for development. This is in brief."
The passage we are now looking at is part of the 'directions for development' stage. By this stage, if not before he even thought about severing the ten impediments, the bhikkhu would be accustomed to sitting down comfortably in a secluded place as part of his daily routine. All that is being described here is what has long become a normal daily activity for him.
> RE: It's like...a formal meditation session!
J: Well it has the seated posture in common with a 'formal meditation session' :-)). But in a formal mediation session one is doing certain things with the idea that that will lead to the development of awareness/jhana. That is not the case with the bhikkhus being described in this section of the Vism.
Of course, any activity, including sitting, is by definition deliberate. The question we're discussing, however, is whether by following the course of specific deliberate activities mentioned in the texts there can be the development of samatha (or alternatively whether without following a course of specific deliberate activities mentioned in the texts the development of samatha is not possible).
> "22. For this is said: 4 "One who is learning the earth kasióa apprehends the sign in earth that is either made up or not made up...He sees to it that that sign is well apprehended, well attended to, well defined.
> "He sees to it" - more control.
J: Not control, but the development to a stage where it can be said that the sign is "well apprehended", etc.
> "Having done that, and seeing its advantages and
> perceiving it as a treasure, building up respect for it, making it dear to him, he anchors his mind to that object..."
> "He anchors his mind to the object" - more formal meditation practice with purposeful intent to fix the mind on the object.
J: According to the commentary (from which you quote in your post), the words `He anchors his mind' mean: "by bringing his own mind to access jhana he anchors it, keeps it from other objects".
So this is a reference to an actual level of attainment.
BTW, I'd be interested to know what you make of the reference to "seeing its advantages and perceiving it as a treasure, building up respect for it, making it dear to him" which you quoted above.
> "Secluded from sense desires he enters upon and dwells in
> the first jhána "
> And of course, it inevitably leads to jhana, like all the other Buddhist practices.
J: You seem to read the text at paragraphs 21 and 22 of Ch IV as an instruction for a practice that can take a person from 'zero' to jhana? A mere 15 lines of text! Sounds easy; perhaps you should give it a try :-))
I think a close reading of the texts shows that what on a superficial reading may seem like a specific physical act to be done is in fact an already-developed habit, and what may seem like a mental exercise to be undertaken is in fact a reference to a level of attainment.