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Thread: Types of Samadhi /Jhana: Vishudimagga, Vipassana

  1. #1

    Types of Samadhi /Jhana: Vishudimagga, Vipassana

    Hi All,

    A bit technical and "geeky" Buddhist discussion here, but on the plane back to Japan today, I listened to a pair of very excellent interviews and explanations by an author on subjects that are sometimes raised here (also, the book he wrote, while technical, is also quite good) ... the relationship of "Just Sitting" Shikantaza Zen practice, Theravadan and Insight Meditation practices, the twin wings of ?amatha (calming thoughts and emotions, illuminating and dropping body-mind) and awareness and understanding of vipa?yan? (insight and awareness primarily into the nature and workings of 'self' and mental functions).

    To cut to the chase, the practice of "Just Sitting" Shikantaza which we practice at Treeleaf is placed in historical context perhaps closer to the intent of the older Pali Suttas for "open, spacious, aware samadhi which thus brings insight" than other later forms.

    Richard Shankman--a teacher in the insight meditation tradition and the author of the recently released book The Experience of Samadhi--joins us to discuss the various teachings and approaches to what in the Theravada tradition is called samadhi or concentration meditation.

    During this episode Richard shares some of his personal background with samadhi practice and also explains two different forms of deep samadhi, called jhana in the Theravada tradition--one from the time of the Buddha as captured by the Pali Suttas and another which arouse hundreds of years later and which is captured in the authoritative text, the Visuddhimagga. Listen in to find out about these different forms of deep concentration and absorption, which are a hallmark of the Theravada tradition of Buddhism...


    Discussion with insight meditation teacher and author, Richard Shankman. In this episode we continue to dissect the different kinds of samadhi and their respective fruits--what in the Theravada tradition are called jhana (or "meditative absorption"). According to Shankman there are two ways of approaching the attainment of jhana, one as was taught in the original canonical texts of the Theravada, the Pali Suttas, and the other from the later commentaries on the Buddha's teachings, the Vishudimagga. As a result we get two different forms of jhana--one called Sutta jhana and the other called Vishudimagga jhana. This two-fold understanding, though geeky, shines light on the different methods of practicing both samadhi and vipassana meditation and offers a unitary model for understanding the two together.
    Anyway, recommended for the Buddhist Geeks and Wonks out there ...

    Interview 1 ... 1166-power

    Interview 2 ... shudimagga

  2. #2

    Re: Types of Samadhi /Jhana: Vishudimagga, Vipassana

    interesting talk, well, a little -- boy, they're not kidding, "buddhist geeks" is really an accurate term, lots of analytical thought in there -- as someone who's sat retreats at ims and spirit rock, with some of the "celebrity" meditators mentioned, i have several reactions -- one, this book, and the fact that it has found a major publisher, is a reflection not so much of the teachings, old or new, but of the current state of the western theravadan culture

    yes, samadhi had for a long time been rejected by western theravadan teachers, partly because many were coming from a previous negative experience with hindu meditation, where concentration was encouraged -- being "blissed out" -- gradually over the years, a few independents do the samadhi thing, and all those who rejected it, but secretly desire a shortcut, are interested, then it gradually goes mainstream, and then we end up with this book -- permission has been granted to practice samadhi, without embarrassment, in the open -- i'm sure next year they'll be lots of theravadan "samadhi" retreats, and everyone will feel that that is what is wrong with their practice -- they need samadhi! -- and the samadhi retreats will have long waiting lists(particularly if the celebrity author is teaching) -- until the pendulum swings back the other way, and then you'll be able to buy this book for 50 cents -- jesus, should we all start mooing like the cattle we are?

    again, just like brad warner's books, there is a reason that certain things find a publisher, and it doesn't necessarily have to do with value, or practice(not to say the books don't have both, they might, for someone) -- it has to do with our western buddhist culture -- it was "time" for buddhist punk, and within theravadan, its time for samadhi -- really, who cares what time it is? -- i'd like to think that an ongoing practice, when fully engaged, is beyond time, space, culture, what buddha said, what i think ..... -- in that light, and not based on any suttas, but perhaps coincidentally in line with them(i have no idea), i continue to use the teachings that ring true to me -- in these teachings, as taught by many "progressive' theravadan teachers, extremes of concentration are avoided as too controlling, therefore, ego-enhancing -- this is the "one-pointednes" that the author refers to, i'll call it "bad" samadhi -- so no new thought there, it was taught by my teacher, and many others, since theravadan became popular in the early '70s -- and the other exteme espoused by the traditional teachers, and dropped by others, is the constant "noting", that some, often those from other schools, equate incorrectly as the only form of vipassana -- once again, the middle path of moderation, though less structured, and with less answers to our questions, is the recommended path, at least from the teachers i've chosen -- in fact, i don't ever remember dhiravamsa, my first teacher, answering a question -- it was always, "keep watching", watching whatever arises, including all the questioning, and the motivation for this questioning, the insecurity, the illusion of a seperate self, and on..... -- that is vipassana, not just "intending, lifting the spoon to my lips, tasting, ....."

    gassho, roky

  3. #3

    Re: Types of Samadhi /Jhana: Vishudimagga, Vipassana

    Roky: You look like Patrick Stewart in your profile photo. It makes me read all of your posts with a British voice attached. Hell, if Capt. Picard says it, it must be wise!

    We now go back to your regular programming...


  4. #4

    Re: Types of Samadhi /Jhana: Vishudimagga, Vipassana

    jesus, chet, i'm busy being brilliant and all you can do is compare me to a tv guy??

    at least i don't look like hulk hogan


  5. #5

    Re: Types of Samadhi /Jhana: Vishudimagga, Vipassana

    Quote Originally Posted by roky
    jesus, chet, i'm busy being brilliant and all you can do is compare me to a tv guy??

    at least i don't look like hulk hogan

    It's not 'all I can do', it's simply the least useful think I can do - which is also oddly what I am most likely to choose to do.

    Besides, Americans have a tendency to think British accents (not counting Cockney, which is whack) are indicative of greater intelligence.

    Currently, I'm trying to remove (or at least be aware of) my bias regarding the Southern U.S. accent. I, like many in my country, have a tendency to equate a Southern accent with a lack of intelligence or education.


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