MEDITATION unit 3 topic 6 (VIPASSANA (insight) MEDITATION (PALIBODHA - 10…
MEDITATION unit 3 topic 6
NATURE OF MEDITATION
The aim of meditation is to attain an altered state of consciousness which is induced in a controlled manner. This allows the individual to access the jhanas and samadhi (concentrations).
Meditation is "a laser beam... when light is diffuse it is relatively powerless, but when focused and concentrated it can cut through steel." - D. Keown,
Buddhism, a Very Short Introduction
PRACTICE OF MEDITATION
Alara Klama: Buddha's teacher, who taught a meditation state known as the 'sphere of nothingness', whereby the mind goes beyond focusing on any one object, and instead focused on the nothingness beyond.
Uddaka Ramaputta: a form of mental stilling whereby consciousness barely exists, known as the 'sphere-of-neither-perception-nor-non-perception'.
The mind is not easy to settle. Buddhists compare the mind to being a monkey, swinging through the trees, taking hold of one branch after another. Meditations who are particularly adept may achieve samadhi - the state of rapt absorption and complete and unwavering inner stillness.
SPHERE OF PURE FORM
1 - Rapture, detachment, joy.
2 - As above, plus concentration.
3 - As above, plus equanimity.
4 - As above, but a state beyond pleasure and pain: clairvoyance, clairvoyance, retro cognition, telepathy, and psychokinesis.
SPHERE OF FORMLESSNESS
5 - Infinite space.
7 - Nothingness.
8 - Neither perception nor non-perception.
The attainment of cessation - Touching Nibanna with the body.
Description of the Jhanas transcends our linguistic categories. Yet, the higher states are increasingly subtle and sublime. This leads to ekaggata (one pointedness of mind), in which the mind is solely focused on meditation.
Buddha progressed through all of the Jhanas, but proclaimed that they are not always an effective means. Eg, it is better to hire a boatman than to walk on water.
In the deeper levels of trance, the brain produces more alpha waves which indicates calmness and relaxation. Feelings of disembodiment, seeing lights, and lightness in limbs is also common. Buddhists see this as the mind stripping away the static of every-day life, and starting to remodel the self to see true reality.
SAMATHA (CALMING) MEDITATION
1 - Sensual Desire - the mind draws happiness form the senses.
2 - Ill-Will - the mind becomes bitter and resentful of meditation.
3 - Sloth & Lethargy - overcome the passivity of the mind.
4 - Restless Worry - the mind diverts between excitement and unease.
5 - Doubt - the mind wonders whether meditation is worth the effort.
The five hindrances can be compared to water diluted with dyes, mud, steam and dark. One cannot see a true reflection of themselves. Whereas, if the water is clear, they can. This is how the mind works. - R. Gethin
FOCUSING THE MIND WHILST MEDITATING
SIX RECOLLECTIONS: To calm the mind, Buddhists can focus on Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, Good Conduct, Generosity, and the Gods.
KASINA: Required for basic and advanced stages: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Blue, Yellow, Red, White, Light, Limited Space.
FOUR FORMLESS MEDITATIONS: Only able to cultivate an advanced Samatha mediator. Jhanas 5, 6, 7, 8.
FOUR FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS
Kaya (body), 2. Vedana (feelings), 3. Citta (states of mind), 4. Dhamma (objects or phenomena).
DEVELOPMENT OF SAMATHA MEDITATION
Buddhist monk Vasubandhu listed forty stages of meditation as well as forty meditation subjects to help the student to focus their mind. According to the Buddha, Samatha meditation is "mind-created, mind-produced, conditioned. They [the Jhanas] have nothing to do with reality, truth, Nirvana." - W. S. Rahula,
What the Buddha Taught
Samatha meditation existed before Buddhism, so is not purely Buddhist. This means an individual can begin to progress toward enlightenment without knowledge of Buddha's teachings.
"There is one way... for the purification of beings... that is to say, the four applications of mindfulness." - Satipattha Sutta,
Discourse on the Application of Mindfulness
Right Mindfulness: RM begins with 'bare attention', that is, "clear and single minded attention of what actually happens in and to us, at successive moments of perception". By developing ekeggata, the individual overcomes the five hindrances.
"Mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out." - Satipatthana Sutta. The aim is to focus solely on breathing, letting all distracting thoughts and feelings fade away.
Anapanasati is an "exercise in mindfulness, not a breathing exercise", and thus is a bare observation of the flow of breath. An important element of physical and mental health due to its calming effect. - Nyanaponika Thera
FOUR MEASURELESS STATES
Loving kindness (metta), compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita), and equanimity (upekkha).
FIVE STAGES OF METTA BHAVANA
The most important measureless state is Metta-Bhavana: deepening attitude of benevolence, friendship and goodwill toward all living creatures.
1 - Love for one-self. "We can never make peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves." - Dalai Lama. The meditator must come to terms with his strengths and weaknesses, and recite 'May I be well with myself' and 'May I be happy and free from suffering'.
2 - Love for Others - 'May they be well, may they be happy'. The love must be extended to our peers, "like a skilled ploughman marks out his field and then covers it".
3 - Love Those We Dislike - Neutralize feelings of hatred toward others by focusing on their humanity, and regard them as a self and friend.
4 - Replace the Hatred with Love - Counter feelings of dislike with metta and positive thoughts. Mahayana Buddhists imagine the individual as their mother in a previous life. Waves of loving kindness should radiate from the heart to everywhere.
"May all beings be happy and secure... without exception. Let him cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings... without any hatred, without enmity." - Metta Sutta, P. Harvey
VIPASSANA (insight) MEDITATION
When Samatha and Vipassana meditation are brought together, (yuga-naddha), nirvana may be experienced.
Buddha realised that the trances taught by his teachers were temporary. True, lasting philosophical insight into the nature of things is needed to attain nirvana.
AIM: To generate penetration and critical insight (panna) by which the three fires of greed, hatred, and ignorance can be extinguished and thus, nirvana achieved.
Developed by Buddhaghosa in 500 BC: also need to practice restrain, follow the rules, and partake in the Patimokkha ceremony.
PALIBODHA - 10 IMPEDIMENTS
1 - abode (avasa), 2 - family (kula), 3 - gain (labha), group (gana), activities (kamma), travel (addhana), relations (jati), illness (abadha), study (gantha), and supernatural facilities (iddhi).
"Interestingly, study and supernatural faculties are mentioned, which would count among commendable 'religious' activities. Since they engage faculties other than the meditative mind, though, they have to be 'cut out'". - Klostermaier
A teacher to assist the person in developing their meditation practice. A "dearly lobed, revered, a counselor, a patient listener, a speaker of profound words, one who does not waste a student's efforts". - Buddhaghosa.
SIXFOLD PERSONALITY SCHEMA
PERSONALITIES DOMINATED BY EMOTION
Raga-Carita (greed) - deceit, craftiness, fickleness... = corpses
Dosa-Carita (hate) - anger, envy, grudges... = universal virtues of metta and karuna
Moha-carita (delusion) - worry, excitability, perplexity... = mindful respiration
PERSONALITIES DOMINATED BY INTELLECT
Saddha-carita (faith) - serene confidence, generosity, guilelessness... = recollections such as the three jewels
Buddhi-Carita (intelligence) - gentleness, moderation, wise... = peace and death
Vitaka-Carita (argumentative) - talkativeness, brooding, dislike for discipline... = mindful respiration
TRIGGERS OF ENLIGHTENMENT
The individual will observe different emotions and daydreams, without engaging with them. This will highlight the facet of the complex interactions of the five skandhas. The person will realsie the truth of anatta.
Whilst meditating, the individual must notice muscle twitches, aches and pains, but observe these bodily sensations arise and subside without reacting to them. This breaks the stimulus-response, so that the person can choose how to react to things. This leads to the realisation that the body is merely an assemblage of material pieces (anicca).
MAHAYANA DEVELOPMENTS OF MEDITATION
1 ACTION - Vipassana and Samatha meditation characterized by tranquility and withdrawal continues, which forms the basis for moral actions in the world.
2 MAGIC - Powers gained by the fourth Jhana allow the person to construct an alternative reality, the Pure Land, where he is reborn. "He visualises himself being born in the Western Land of Happiness, seated within a lotus... he opens his eyes and sees the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas filling the sky!" - Amitayus Sutra
2 MAGIC - Person creates a tantra, a world in which he is Buddha, abiding within a divine mansion of knowledge called a mandala. Here, using powerful magic, the person can coerce the attainment of Buddhahood.
3 SPONTANEITY - A direct experience of freedom, perhaps an instant enlightenment through a liberated mode of action amid the events of daily life 1 - concentrates 2 -watches thoughts flash by 3 -allows the natural flow of thoughts 4 -recognises the emptiness of events and is freed 5 - realises that a bugger emptiness is enlightenment 6 -abides spontaneously in the flow of daily life.
ZEN BUDDHISM AND ZAZEN MEDITATION
"The entrance into Zen is the grasping of one's essential nature... it is accomplished only by the experience of self-realisation through Zazen." - Yamada
Zazen: Sitting in absorption. there is an emphasis on the sudden awakening of Buddha-nature to enlightenment (satori), which happens instantaneously. When this happens, the Buddhist has an in-depth appreciation of emptiness (Sunyata) of all events.
"When your consciousness has become ripe in true Zazen... anything may serve as a medium for realisation." - Basho.
EVALUATION OF MEDITATION
All Buddhism incorporates meditation, whereby the goal is the maturation of concentration and insight, which leads to enlightenment.
Meditation has unequal value in the different Buddhist traditions.
Lay Buddhists are excluded form using meditation as a means to enlightenment, because they cannot devote the time and effort necessary. Such Buddhists are the majority within the religion.
Meditation is a life long experience, so even those who just touch upon an aspect of meditation would agree to its value and importance for all Buddhists.
Competitive meditation is not Buddhist. The parajikas underline that boasting about spiritual achievement is alien to a monastic setting.
Meditation is offered by counselors and the NHS, so much have some mental health benefits to all, not just Buddhists.