Sun, 26 Mar 2006
... don't you have the impression that the danger of a mental break-down has been recognized and been taken in account with certain questions in the application-forms? (at least tentatively) Of course, the application-forms assume you are responsible for yourself, just as in the courses. And that they have to. Although - taking up ones responsibility - is not really developed with many people jet. That's why we do such practice, don't we? A so called 'independent evaluation' I don't consider worthwhile - or possible - it sound like arrogance and selection. The approach of psychological training to avoid the escalation of psychic problems - on the other side - I consider useful and I hope it will become implemented.
Tue, 28 Mar 2006
The newer application-forms - in my opinion - only took legal inconveniences into account (one teacher told me that such grave incidences as I came to know - in the United States could have caused the financial ruin). That the teachers would get training-sessions in client-centered counseling - one could hope in vain for decades. But with public pressure many incorrigible already have improved.
Mon, 27 Mar 2006
... when I wanted to take my 3rd course, I mistakenly put on the application-form that I practiced Reiki - but that lay already many years back. Why I did that? - I don't know. In any case, a short time later followed a call in which I was remembered and exhorted that a serious student is not allowed to practice any other methods - especially no energetic healing-methods.
I found this call quite strange, because I haven't had anything to do with this organization - I only meditated by my self at home. Also I could never get real confidence to any of the always changing teachers of the courses. With questions asked during courses, I always received similar answers - going little into any depths - therefore, at one point I just gave up asking anything. I again felt inconsistencies.
Nevertheless, I visited the next 10-day course. This time immense and fundamental anxieties came up. Through the deprivation of sleep my nerves lay so bare, I couldn't oppose anything against it and fell in a permanent condition of panic-attacks and crying fits - out of which I could not free myself through the prescribed methods. I consulted the teacher - this time not an European, but a Burmese man. Soon I noticed that I could not expect any help from him - also the course-manager was not in the position to help at all.
I knew I had to leave the course, because I already had light hallucinations. Of course, it was attempted to make me stay. In the conversation with the teacher I became aware that he was on a completely different level and very likely with a huge difference in the cultural background too - I was (and am) not enlightened, and I still have very human anxieties.
That he laughed about me, when I sat full of tears in front of him, I perceived as psychologically off the mark. In the end they let me go and I was very relieved and glad, to be able - at last - to talk about my experiences with 'normal' human beings again.
Despite this, in 2005, I completed the next course which went relatively quite. But for me it was clear that this method could not be the real thing. I started with Kundalini-yoga, a method which really works differently. There I found teachers who could give me complex answers to my questions. I could observe positive changes in my personality very fast - and more important:
There is no dogmatic refusal to practice also other methods! A very trustworthy teacher of Goenka told me, I could continue with my practice of Vipassana, but better with a time-period in between. For example: in the morning yoga, evenings Vipassana - because there really is a energetic difference.
Here it is completely allowed to receive help from other people, because at times one doesn't get any further without active help. And if I can't cope with a point out of the philosophical super-structure of yoga, I don't have to deal with it or I'm even allowed to criticize and doubt openly - without being threatened with restrictions.
Important is what works - and that is really meant if someone says this. Overall I feel that Kundalini-yogis are more heartier and a real Sangha, whereas the Vipassana-organization appears rather cold to me.
I too, see a contradiction that Metta-bhavana is given, what in my eye is an active energetic help - but other kinds of energetic help are refused.
Sat, 1 Apr 2006
... that some of Goenka's co-worker give such an unfriendly impression I attribute to the unfortunate circumstance - that to partake in the meditation and Dhamma-work - one has to blind fundamental things out. Unfortunately, upright essential qualities which would be supportive to the practice of Vipassana. No wonder, if such co-workers appear less and less compassionate - especially with themselves.
In the end - the first of the four noble truths deals with suffering - and many seem to think, that self-perpetuated suffering would not be opposed to the path. Beside the cultural perplexity - this might have been another reason for the laughing of your Burmese teacher about your huge inner pain - I guess he might equaled your suffering with the evolving realization of the first noble truth. With a Burmese meditator he probably would have been right and reacted with his joy consenting (just speculating).
Luckily, I met on my path enough Buddhist co-meditators and teachers, who truly do justice to the teachings of the Buddha - as you did in Kundalini-yoga. All the qualities you ascribe to your yoga teachers - also a teacher of the Dhamma should have, as far as he really is one.
I am glad to hear, you found a way to leave those hindrances behind and that you continue on your path - as it appears to me - with big steps. Especially that you didn't get fooled by the alleged harmfulness of the use of different methods - but only by your own experience of what is wholesome for you - and by that for others too.
Thu, 30 Mar 2006
Many thanks for you most interesting text. I have not had time yet to fully consider its contents but I am assured that your motives are honorable. I think the biggest challenge Vipassana faces is that it harks back 2000 years and does not recognize the intervening achievements of people seeking (and finding) ways to live a more enlightened life. I found that my practice of Vipassana could not help me through certain challenges in my life, while other techniques that I discovered could.
Especially with regard to psychological 'illness' I think the technique does not provide help to those who cannot supplement the meanings of the old Pali texts by recognizing their links to more modern ways of understanding the human psyche. I believe there is a place for Vipassana, and that giving people an opportunity for retreat from the values of Western society is valuable in its own right. I also believe that Vipassana does put individuals in touch with themselves, however, it doesn't always provide the best way of dealing with that awareness.
Sat, 1 Apr 2006
I agree quite in some aspects with your view: That not being able to see connections, for example, in practical approaches of psychology to the many adapting ways of the Buddha to help seekers - makes Vipassana become merely a technique and not a very helpful to so many, who are not ready for it without any preparation.
And I do start to consider such practical approaches like 'Focusing-assistance' (by Eugene Gendlin, client-oriented) - with its emphasis of awareness with body sensations and investigation and insight in the meaning of such phenomena - with its result to skillfully listen and speak to help wholesomeness states develop in both - the listener and speaker - to complement the 8-fold path in just this area of skillful 'right speech'. An area which usually is absent in Goenka's way of training or guidance by his teachers.
But for me Vipassana remains the essential practice. Just not for everyone at anytime - not because it would not provide a very skillful way of relating with such awareness - but because of lack of skill in differentiating its ways of relating by our teachers, and as it was done at the time of the Buddha as it is described vaguely in the Pali Suttas.
And without devaluing other methods as being allegedly only for those of lesser capabilities, thereby coming dangerously close to slander. It doesn't help to assure in a second sentence that one doesn't want to - if it is repeatedly done at first - and replays such discourses a hundred thousand times.
The fundamental problem in Goenka's Vipassana I see more in forgetting that Sila, Samadhi and Panna has 8 limbs. And if one is not able to integrate something so important as 'right - wholesome - speech', oppositely painting such an integration as a mixing of 'techniques', competing with Satipatthana - as if those practicing Satipatthana could do without, because they are more advanced - all of it becomes lost. If you would like to share - I would be really interested in your personal findings in this respect, as we seem to differ a bid in our opinions.
Sat, 1 Apr 2006
many thanks for your detailed reply, which I look forward to replying to in detail. For now let me say that I share your respect for the Vipassana technique. And for me the crucial moment in our practice comes when we leave the retreat center, or rise from our daily cushion, and recreate ourselves in the world through language. Here the notion of right-speech is useful, however the technique does not offer much on articulating right speech or right action in a way that fully fully embraces the possibilities of our short span of 21st century conscious life. More to follow.
Wed, 17 May 2006
... I guess, you are fully embracing the possibilities of our short span of 21st century conscious life?
Wed, 17 May 2006
Ha Ha Wolfgang, you're damn right! My thoughts are on marriage and family. But I'm constantly reminded about the essential quality of all experience, especially those as they react with, what I consider myself, an addictive personality.
I will have a look at your Dhamma thoughts as soon as I can. You know? - I think you should do more yoga. With love and best wishes
Fri, 21 Apr 2006
Thank you for your enormous courage in taking on the challenging of a structure. Like Luther and all before you who did this, you are in for a bumpy ride, but all will come clear in the end.
In all my experience of the teachers, no matter what I asked or how distressed I became, I was just told to, and I quote: "Keep on meditating" or at times: "Are you feeling the sensations?" - On my first course the female teacher could not even speak English and so none of my questions were understood, and that was just to do with the technique, never mind any deeper mental shit, which I did not even bother to raise.
There was certainly no effort made on other courses to go into any psychological help as that was seen as noise of the mind. As someone who spent years familiar with the suicidal impulse, I know that at that level of mental distress, Vipassana would be damaging, as the ego is screaming for help, and to essentially tell it, it is of no importance, while certainly being true, is miss-timed in those circumstances.
I have been through the Vipassana process and come out the other side freer than I was, but in my opinion, which is based on my experience and therefore will not be true for anybody else, I think Vipassana was a starting block, and work I did afterwards has helped me further to actually go beyond Vipassana. Vipassana is a structure, and anything that has structure, discipline, rules, denial, etc: becomes a cage.
If I may share with you the amazing mind of Krishnamurti who said exactly that. Whatever you try to enforce, whether a rule or a method, becomes in itself an attachment. As well as whatever you try to give up, you immediately become married to it! The stronger the resistance, the more you are holding on, actually.
Anthony de Mello, whom I also recommend as a wonderful teacher, said that when monks come for counseling, all they talk about is sex, and when the whores come, all they talk about is god! Beware of structures and resistance to what is. Krishnamurti said the trick is to understand what is, accept it and find that indeed you are free in the accepting of it, which removes resistance, and FROM THAT NON-RESISTING STATE OF MIND you take steps to change the situation, if needs be.
The line is very fine and requires a quiet mind. Krishnamurti's definition of quiet mind certainly does not indicate one that is concentrating on something, whether it is breathing, or sensations. You do not concentrate, you merely notice. There is a difference. In Vipassana there is not much care given to point that out, although I do think that is what they are trying to teach.
Also, the concentration is something you can do initially, but it is easy to mistake the process of quieting the mind for the meditation. Krishnamurti's definition of what meditation IS is very far from what most people understand it to be, including what people seem to think of Vipassana.
Krishnamurti also said that to get lost in words is very easy because the words are not the thing or the experience itself, but we have to try and communicate. I recommend reading his work - he answered a lot for me that Vipassana WOULD NOT, never mind could not.
I wish you all the love in all the whole shebang of this grand project, and you may quote anything I have said in future writing, but I would ask you not to distribute my mail address, as I may get floods of letters from the furious, and I am not as courageous as you are in facing that! With all my love, and metta (which I humbly feel should be practiced whatever the physical or mental state because "love is not something you DO, love is something you ARE")
Sat, 22 Apr 2006
... times have changed: Nowadays no courage is needed to speak out what one thinks - than certainly Luther must have had. Except maybe, for daring to write things not really matured yet. But if one's pretence is not to speak as a wise, than there is nothing wrong in becoming blamed lack of intelligence. As long as I'm offered something to investigate in exchange ...
Of course, I really appreciate Krishnamurti's freeing way of speaking. But I want to explain why I consider some traditions - as Krishnamurti's - almost poisonous to me: When I came to Vipassana I badly needed a way to bring me back to life - which was going on all the time within my body. Before in life - I became very skilled in blinding out all 'bad' emotions with a system of thought - very, very similar to Krishnamurti's. But without claim of having understood his profound depths.
I also do know a friend who lost quite much of her bearings after Krishnamurti had died. She was left with a deep-rooted aversion to any form of trying to change a situation, or to meditate. It always seemed she waited for a teacher like Krishnamurti - and meanwhile led her life past by (my impression only). I see with every person - who really speaks wise - the danger for others to become enchanted and leave their thinking to such much respected.
By my search to find a way of speech which really encourages enquiry and listening to one's own depths, and not to place ones confidence in the experiences of experts, brought me to - admittedly another method - focusing: Being a process- and experience-oriented counseling method basically based on feeling sensations and inquiring into their reflected meaning to life - it gave me a glimpse of what it could mean to exercise real listening and skillful speaking. Something completely ignored in Goenkajis tradition.
And what's more - not to become associated with authority other than the one the listener finds in himself. I really don't give much into not using any 'self-improving' techniques, if they only open up to see what's there. And as you say - that can be aimless love - if one is looking only deep enough.
It seems with either teacher it can give rise to the same self-defeating assumptions: The belief that only one method would be proper - like the only one Goenkaji knows to teach and how it helped him. - I guess it a similar mistake to take the experience of Krishnamurti, that any way to get somewhere would lead only to more self-inflicted suffering - as long as this is not ones own experience - a pretty debilitating belief.
For me I could not imagine any other way than to try to find out for myself. Ending up with self-inflicted suffering and - through such personal experience - become very glad in let it all go. - Out of my experience - to try to let go, without having experienced with full force ones own grip and fear and deeply suffer from it - could merely become a pose. Maybe this only holds true for myself.
After reading your letter a second time it seems I have only expressed - what you wrote - with my own words and particular background. Somehow, I really can relate to it - though not in the sense of taking to books of Krishnamurti. But if I merely imposed my words on something which could imply much more to you, please feel free to reply at any time.
Mon, 24 Apr 2006
I hear what you say about your friend who lost her way after Krishnamurti died. Again we see the danger of attaching to anything, be it a tradition, a method and especially a teacher. Krishnamurti himself was very strong in his teaching that you can only ever find things out for yourself and must never give importance to the authority of another. You can follow a way another has walked, but your walk is your own.
Vipassana teaches that too. He would also have not blocked out bad thoughts, but encouraged investigating them. He did not teach body sensation awareness as an aid to investigation, which is why Vipassana (kept pure) is a wonderful tool.
I also got a message this morning from a friend in ... who teased me because he could not make head or tail of Krishnamurti. I laughed because neither did I before I did Vipassana! It was my experience of Vipassana that opened the way for me to understand Krishnamurti! For that I am so grateful.
But I stay careful to move through each experience and each learning, and move on so I do not stay clinging to any particular method, teaching, etc. Accepting my life and everything that occurs in it moment by moment IS the teaching put into practice. Of course I still find myself clinging to this and that, sometimes to a person and so on.
Vipassana has given me the gift of awareness. Krishnamurti gave me the gift of understanding that it is all right if I do not resist the moment as it is, but keep moving through it. As always, it is quite hard to explain states of mind with words, as many of the experiences go beyond words.
If anyone attacks you, then they are themselves in doubt, for you only attack if you feel threatened. What you are doing for them is giving an opportunity for them to question their own attachments and doubts, but most people find it uncomfortable so would rather blame and attack another. Again I wish you love for I see you as a very determined and devoted person and you deserve encouragement and may the very best come to you..
> link to an exchange which turned to this topic in the general responses section <</span>
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The evening-talks of the long-courses could clarify many simplifications of the 10-day courses (but also add some other). And many essential beginners meditation-instructions would be taught there. For this reason I really recommend them to every serious meditator.
But, because many would have to become dishonest about their Sila - with very self-defeating results - I noted the teachings of a 20-day course for interested Goenka-disciples down (out of memory with the possibility of mistakes - and certainly with a different emphasis).
And please don't give too much importance to such things as Jhanas - which seem to be interpreted by every Buddhist teacher differently. Best of all these interpreters still remains Ven. Buddhaghosa with the biggest Chapter in his Vissudhimagga: 'Samadhi'. Where he gives the statistic: Out of 1 to 10 million meditators - who try to practice Jhanas - only 1 would reach mastery of the 1st Jhana !
The Formalities - The taking of refuge and surrender to the teacher: By repeating the Pali-words played by a tape-player.
Ekayano-Maggo only means: Sila, Samadhi and Panna.
The 5 requirements for serious meditation in long courses are: Devotion, good health, no self-deception, effort and wisdom. In comparison - the requirements asked of a student to be allowed to long courses are only superficial.
The 5 requirements: Devotion, good health, no self-deception, effort and wisdom.
The 3 ways of breaking Sila: Doing it, encouraging it, or applaud it.
The 3 necessary components for it to be considered to be broken Sila: An intention to, a tool to, and a visible living being (not going to extremes, for example with bacteria in the air).
Be self-dependent - don't rely on the guiding teacher or the Dhamma-worker. Keep eyes downcast.
The importance of Sila as foundation for meditation. About right livelihood.
This Dhamma-land (i.e. meditation-center) has very fertile soil, and of every deed done - be it wholesome or unwholesome - the fruits will become multiplied by the purity of the Dhamma-land. Which is not to be believed blindly, but because of the law of nature.
The story of a former physician who became Arahat-monk and thereafter refused to treat his own mother with medicine. But instead gave her truth - to heal her - by exclaiming: By the truth of my virtue of not looking intentionally up to a female since my ordination ... (i.e. Kiriya-sacca).
The 3 kinds of help in ones meditation: Keep eyes downcast, looking only 2-3 steps ahead - keep complete silence - knowing the right measurement of food.
At the time of the Buddha the monks received meditation instructions - and then left to practice in solitude until they became liberated.
Anapana: Observing the in- and out-flow of respiration through sensations at the upper lip, without any verbalization.
There is no I doing it, but Anatta - bare awareness and mere observation.
Mental storms will come and go, face them with equanimity and bravely. If the storm becomes to strong - use right thought (Samma-sankappo) to overcome them, but only temporarily: Thoughts about the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, about Dana given, the Sila one has kept, ones devotion, etc. The simile about the first rain after the hot season - making the air smell earthen. Likewise this work towards purity of mind will cause defilements to come up.
Protect Sila as your own life.
Use hard breathing only for a view minutes and so subtle - even your neighboring meditator could not hear it. In Anapana one goes from the gross to the subtle, from deep to short and shallow breathing.
There are many wrong ways of Anapana, 4 alone in Burma:
- Description of Ven. Sunlun Sayadaw's Anapana, where one could hear the heavy breathing a hundred yards away from the meditation center;
- Imagining the in and out breath with colors;
- Counting the breath and verbalizing it ('in' - 'out');
- In India Pranayama is practiced for good health and feeling good.
But all these methods will not lead to the liberation the Buddha intended. Only observation as it is - the natural breath - will liberate.
Mental Storms can be handled with hard breathing - or by recollecting ones Paramis, or the triple gem, etc. - but always come back to respiration and sensation.
As concentration develops: Light- or Vision-nimittas can appear - but this is not a necessity - never take them as meditation-object! Nimittas are only milestones passed by - if one stops to glare at these milestones - every progress stops. Remain with respiration and sensation.
Mara - which for example could be ones Sankharas, or a celestial being - will try to tempt you: For example with other meditation objects, fantasies, discontent, good-yogi conceit, etc.
Good Samadhi with Anapana will also bring good results in daily living: For example at the moment of ones death to keep a balanced mind; and as an initial object, which brings ones awareness instantly back to body-sensations.
Keep eyes downcast, keep complete silence, know the amount of food you need.
Sila helps Samadhi, Samadhi helps Panna. Each is interrelated with each other, like: Panna helps Samadhi, Samadhi helps Sila.
By facing mental storms, they strengthen us. But when storms become overwhelming - better use Yoniso-manosikara (wise consideration). For example about the amount of necessary Paramis to be admitted to such a long-course.
Or to be reborn a human at a time when Vipassana-teachings are available. Such a time was lasting only for 500 years after the Buddha's Parinibbana. Another 500 years later Samadhi was gone, again 500 years later Sila, then Dana, and 500 years - before our fortunate period began - only scriptures were in use. Of course - this is not to be believed blindly.
If we are concentrated only for a moment it is called Khanika-samadhi, which is already enough to start with Vipassana. In long courses this period of concentration prolongs up to 10, 15, 20 minutes, than it is called access-concentration or
Upacara-samadhi - which enables to go much deeper with Vipassana.
Finally there would come absorption-concentration - Apana-samadhi.
By overcoming the 5 hindrances we get strength.
There are 2 sorts of Sila - like the 2 sides of a coin - and only when both sides are developed it becomes perfect Sila:
1. Varita Sila, Sila of abstention (5 precepts)
2. Carita Sila, Sila of a pure mind full with love.
By keeping Varita Sila one develops Samadhi and Panna - which lead to Carita Sila.
Keep complete silence, eyes downcast, and know the right amount food you need .
Protect Sila as your own life - to develop Samadhi and Panna.
Story of Ven. Mahatissa, a Sri Lankan monk, who practiced in the forest, became sick and therefore couldn't go for Pinda-pat (alms-round) anymore. He became weaker and weaker. Finally he decided, that he had to get help from the village. On his way - while passing through a mango-grove - out of his weakness fell and couldn't get up anymore. But he wouldn't eat the overly-ripe mangoes lying all around him - despite being starved for days - for not to break his Sila.
Then the owner of the mango-trees came and gave him the Mangoes to eat. Very impressed by this steadfast monk, the owner of the mango-grove promised Ven. Mahatissa to bring him from now onward his food - until he would become healthy again. And carried Ven. Mahatissa on his back home.
While being carried on the back of the lay devotee, Mahatissa reflected on: How wonderfully Sila has helped me - which filled his mind with gladness and joy (Pamojja and Piti) and his body with pleasant sensations (Sukkha). Thereby he became calm (Passaddhi) and he entered Samadhi with Sampajanna. Further Ven. Mahatissa proceeded through 1., 2., 3., and finally Arahata-phala, still on the back of the Lay person.
How much Sila-, Buddha-, Dhamma-, Sangha- and especially Maranupassana can help us to strengthen in Samadhi.
The Story of a criminal, who was promised freedom from prosecution by the king, by walking with a full cup of oil across a crowded fair-ground - without spilling over even one drop. Similarly, don't miss even on breath in view of an uncertain death.
The 8 Jhanas: with the momentary-, access- and absorption- stage of each. How their value is in using them with Sampajanna. And how the Buddha's Dhamma gets misrepresented - if the Jhanas are not only a mean - but its end. Leading only to other planes of existence, but not out of cyclic existence.
Entering the field of Panna, with Anicca-vijja, Anatta-vijja, and Dukkha-vijja of all the 5 aggregates. Turn every Kalapa of your body into Panna (with Anicca-vijja, Anatta-vijja, and Dukkha-vijja).
Use Anapana as needed. Keep your Sila strong. Follow all rules and regulations of this meditation center.
Meditate day and night, except during deep sleep. But don't force yourself up, like some meditation-centers in Burma ask to. Also don't start to worry if you don't find any sleep: Become instantly aware of Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha.
Keep your eyes Downcast, at least for the 19 days of this course. But not to such extremes like in the story of a monk, who kept his eyes downcast for 60 years, never seeing the painting on the wall of his cave, etc. Have a good measurement of the food you need.
In Vipassana one goes from apparent- to ultimate reality - from apparent solid matter to the ultimate flow of Kalapas - where matter is dissolved. From solidified mind and mental-concomitants, to the dissolving of it into mere wave-lets (by way of observation of the sensations on the body) till one experiences for the first time Nibbana (Sotapanna-phala - with only 7 more rebirths left, etc.), an experience completely beyond mind and matter. But one has to know all this on the experiential - and not only the intellectual level - to become liberated.
The same as above: The whole world is nothing than vibrations. Every Sanna (recognizing, distinctions, valuating through the colored glasses of past conditioning, i.e. Sankharas) has to turn into Anicca-sanna, Panna, Dhamma-dhatu, and Bodhi-dhatu - which will develop into Nibbana-dhatu.
The 4 noble truths. The first noble truth - Dukkha on 3 levels:
1. on an ordinary level
2. on the level when pleasure ends, it turns into Dukkha
3. on the level of atomic life - with its friction, radiation, etc. - is not peaceful at all, but agitated and painful.
The second noble truth - the cause of pain lies in us (and not outside of us) by our reaction with craving and aversion.
The third noble truth - pain ends as much as we have let gone of our reactions.
The fourth noble truth - the path: Sila - Samadhi - Panna.
But not the intellectual-, but only the actual experiential-wisdom will help.
The story of a monk who saw in a passing by beauty nothing but a heap of bones (a mass of bubbles = Panna).
Sila is the base to strengthen Samadhi - with strong Samadhi one develops Panna.
Anicca-vijja, which chases away the habit pattern of the mind. Dhamma-dhatu, the understanding of Dhamma. Bodhi-dhatu, the enlightenment of experiential truth which ultimately leads to Nibbana-dhatu.
The story of a monk, who plugged a Lotus flower from a pond where other people had done the same: A nearby celestial being (Deva) warns him of his broken Sila, explaining that a serious monk is like a clean cloth and every little stain is already too much on such a bright cloth.
Therefore - never compare yourself with others, who are already dirty. The monk, very glad about this celestial warning, asks the Deva to become his guard and to warn him in future too. The Deva rebukes the monk for his silly plea.
Dhamma should make a serious meditator to be self-dependent. Don't expect warnings from others.
Everyone - not gone to the end of the path like the Buddha - will form a philosophical belief, a sect altogether, from what he had experienced till the stage he reached on the path.
The 62 main philosophical views. But only one who has experienced the 4noble truths completely can have real Samma-ditthi.
About Sampajanna: to the continuous experience of arising and passing away, one has to exercise it like Anapana - when the mind wanders away, just bring it back till it stays Sampajanna - like when Samadhi becomes good.
Having done a few 10-day courses, where you always succeed from a base of Sila - now - with some more experience of the path you can start the 8fold noble path in the right way: With 'right-understanding' as its very first step.
...62 major wrong views (as the day before), like:
Everything is determined by God, or Kamma, or by chance.
In all these 3 views there is no possibility for liberation.
Also all scientific-curiosity (except for livelihood) don't help.
Only when one has experienced the 4 noble truth within oneself (and not only intellectual) - one arrives at Samma-ditthi.
Samma-sankappo also has to be with right view: That the mind matters most - everything is mind made - in a deed (kamma) done always the volitions counts.
Samma-ditthi - in the same way - has to be with Samma-vaca, Samma-kammanta, Samma-ajiva, Samma-vayamo and Samma-sati: Awareness of the body-sensations, with their arising and passing away, i.e. Sampajanna.
Only Samma-samadhi with Sampajanna (on the level of body sensations) from the very first Jhana onward will liberate. In this way one has to include Samma-ditthi on every step on the noble 8fold path.
Again: Every step on the noble 8fold path has to be with Samma-ditthi, Sampajanna, Anicca-vijja-nana, Bhavana-maya-panna, etc.
The story of a recluse, who wanted to reach beyond the world by walking to the end of the world. The Buddha advised him: Only within oneself can one go beyond the 31 (Buddhist) planes of existence - by way of the 8fold path and Sampajanna on the level of body-sensations.
At first, all those Sankharas - which could drag one at the next rebirth to the 4 lower planes, are cleared out. Until this kind of Sankhara is completely gone - and one experiences for the first time Nibbana, and becomes Sotapanna etc.
Only with Anicca-vijja on the level of body-sensation one eradicates Sankharas. But when one very strong Sankhara threatens completely to overpower you - than use temporarily for your help: Work a bit (laundry), lie down; Sila-, Dana-, Buddha-, Dhamma-, Sangha-, Maranupassana, Metta-bhavana, hard breathing, etc.
Daily repeated Instruction:
'Every moment, moment to moment -
every moment, moment to moment - every moment, moment to moment -
may you all experience Dhamma-dhatu, arise Bodhi-dhatu:
The awakening to the truth on the experiential level pertaining to the 5 aggregates.
Mind and Matter, Mind and Matter, constantly arising and passing away -
arising and passing away - arising and passing away.
Realizing this reality,
surveying the whole body from heat to feet and from feet to heat in different ways.
Keep on realizing this reality - keep on realizing this reality -
keep on developing Dhamma-dhatu, Bodhi-dhatu,
which ultimately will turn into Nibbana-dhatu.
Keep on working - keep on working - keep working - keep working.'
Between 2 Sammasambuddha the teaching always gets lost. Because the teachings are taken to extremes: Like giving too much importance to only 1 of the 5 Silas (like not to kill, extreme fasting etc.). Thereby the middle-path is lost. And even by only a little diversion from the path - liberation can not be reached.
Also the 8 Jhanas without Sampajanna and Anicca-vijja only leads to higher Brahmic-planes and after death (after many eternities) Brahmas are reborn in a lower realm with a lot of pain - because the Bhava-sankharas, which lead to such destinations - have only been suppressed.
The 8 Jhanas, which lead to higher planes are call ed Lokia-jhanas (worldly-Jhanas).
Starting, for example, with a Kasina in a disc form: The first stage with a acquired sign, called Parikamma-nimitta comes with Khanika-samadhi (momentary-).
The second stage with Uppaha-nimitta relates to access-concentration.
At the third stage, called Apana-samadhi, the Nimitta becomes Patibhaga.
The elements of the 1st Jhana are:
1. Vicara (attention to the object)
2. Vitakka (continued attention to the object)
3. Piti (mental joy)
4. Sukkha (pleasant bodily sensations)
5. Citta-ekagata (one-pointedness of the mind)
For changing to the 2nd Jhana: one proceeds through Khanika-, Upacara- and Apana-samadhi - absorption of the 2nd Jhana - where the 1st and 2nd elements: Vicara and Vitakka, subside.
For going into the 3rd Jhana one follows the same approach as before -and Piti will subside.
At the 4th Jhana: Sukkha together with all 5 sense-door-impressions of the body (Rupa) subside completely. And only Citta-ekagata and Upekkha (equanimity) remains.
The object for the 5th Jhana is infinite sky.
For the 6th: Infinite consciousness.
At the 7th: Nothing is there.
At the 8th Jhana the object is: Neither Sanna (recognizing, valuating) nor Non-sanna.
These 8 Jhanas purify only partially.
But only with Sampajanna on the level of body sensations - this happens to the depth of the mind - and already with Khanika- or Upacara Samadhi.
If you can not enter the stream of Sotapanna, at least by Sampajanna you are entering the stream of Dhamma and become a Cula-sotapanna (lesser Sotapanna: who will find good conditions in his next life for practice again).
While doing a long course, one starts to see the Dhamma clearer and clearer. As scientist knows the cause and its effect, so a Sammasambuddha knows cause and effect of mind and matter together.
To show the relation of what's necessary to know - of the noble 8fold path for the ending of suffering - and what is superfluous to know: The Buddha equaled the few leaves in his hand to those leaves of the whole forest.
A Sammasambuddha knows as much as there are leaves in a forest - compared to the leaves one hand can hold - and what is really necessary to know about cause and effect.
By eradicating this cause - that effect is eradicated. As in Paticca-samupada.
The Buddha said: One who knows the Paticca-samupada - knows the Dhamma (and vis-versa).
It is Vedana which leads to clinging. But the real cause is Ignorance by which all Sankharas start. With Anicca-vijja-nana - Avijja get eradicated and no Sankhara can start.
Mind and Matter cause 6 sense-bases, 6 sense-bases cause contact, contact causes Vedana, Vedana causes Sanna to give a valuation, valuation causes Vedana to turn pleasant or unpleasant, such Vedana causes clinging or aversion etc. ...
But with Vijja (Sampajanna) - vibrations (sense-objects) meet other vibrations (sense-doors) which cause further vibrations (Vedana all over the body) - and no more reaction (craving or aversion) will occur. In this way misery is eradicated.
The story of Sariputta who became Sotapanna only after hearing second-hand about the Dhamma: Everything arises on the mind because of an cause - with the eradication of that cause everything ceases.
Remain Sampajanna day and night - know the arising and passing away at the 6 sense-doors - continuously.
Paticca-samupada is the law of nature (same as above).
What is Avijja? It is the ignorance of this law and the 4 noble truth, which also implies the reverse order of Paticca-samupada.
The only remedy: Anicca-vijja-nana - constantly Sampajanna on the level of body sensations.
About birth, death and Bhava-sankharas.
Paticca-samupada. With Vedana there is a crossroad: one leading to Dukkha, the other to the ending of Dukkha.
A Sutta: Many winds blow on a mountain... alike many different feelings are found in the body. Be aware of sensations with the understanding of impermanence, continuously.
Anicca-vijja-nana - Sampajanna day and night: Half fallen asleep, but still aware of sensations: Arising and passing - but without forcing yourself (don't go to extremes).
Asava, the flow of intoxication, is the flow of hormones in the blood circulation during occurrence of defilements. An-asava is the complete freedom of such influences. First one has to learn to remain equanimous with unpleasant sensations, which is relatively easy. Next one has to learn to be equanimous with the pleasant sensation (Bhanga), which is full of danger and fearful - because in the name of Vipassana one starts to create Sankharas of craving, which are nothing than agitation and misery.
Finally one experiences neutral sensations in a very calm stare of mind, i.e. Passaddhi, before one reaches Vedana-nirodha.
The Buddha's advice to meditators was: Be Sato, be Sampajanno and let the time ripen by itself (be aware of sensations - know that they arise and pass away - and leave the rest to Dhamma).
Equanimity with the understanding of impermanence will bring up the sleeping defilements (Anusaja-kilesa). With equanimity alone - as in the 4th Jhana they wouldn't come up - but only become suppressed.
Story of Ananda, trying hard to become Arahat for the first Buddhist Council of 500 Arahats right after the Buddha's death. As long as he struggled too much for it - with too much ego involved - he failed. The moment he relaxed and gave up, just before sunrise of the day the council to be held, laying down - and before
touching the pillow with his head - Ananda proceeded from Sotapanna (which he already was) through Sakadagamin, and Anagamin to Arahat.
Never give a time-limit to success in your meditation efforts!
The 5 Nivaranas (called: enemies) keep us away from being continuous Sampajanna.
But the 5 friends (Indriyas, Balas) will help us (Saddha, Viriya, Samadhi, Sati, Panna).
Also the 7 enlightenment-factors (Bojjhangas) will help - as they develop 1 by 1 to full strength:
Sati: Sampajanna with sensations.
Dhamma-vicaya: dissecting, diverting, disintegrating. Analyzing and investigating reality - for example the 4 elements of the body as they arise and pass away - or of the mind: Vedana - arising and passing. The same with Sanna and Sankharas. Even with Vinnana on has to be aware of arising and passing of the 6 different Vinnanas at the 6 sense-doors, conditioned by the contact of sense-objects and sense-organs;
Bhanga is full of danger - Adinava - and full of threat - Bhaya - because it is so easy to crave for it. And by craving also pain and unpleasantness get conditioned at the same time.
Be continuously Sampajanna and try to understand Dhamma clearer and clearer.
The 7 enlightenment factors are:
1. Sati: continuous awareness of arising and passing away
2. Dhamma Vicaya: analyzing the elements of body and mind and experience continuously their arising and passing away
3. Piti: pleasant sensations. First one makes unpleasant sensations to tools to eradicate the Sankharas of aversion (with Sampajanna). Once the worst of these unpleasant sensations are gone, one has to do the same with pleasant sensations - like a flow of subtle vibrations and Bhanga - in respect to Sankharas of craving. But here one has to be very alert and see the danger and threat (Adinava + Bhaya) of craving for it.
The story of a parrot, who got many times warned of a certain hunter. The parrot learned and repeated the warnings verbally again and again. Yet, finally he was caught by the hunter. This is a warning of mere intellectual understanding. When one craves - one only creates further misery for oneself.
But if one experiences Bhanga with Anicca-vijja-nana, then Piti turns into an enlightenment-factor
4. Viriya: the effort to stay in the present moment with Anicca-vijja-nana, and not in thoughts of the future or the past.
5. Passaddhi: calmness, with which the ignorance related to neutral sensations can get eradicated. One has to be very alert not to mistake this calmness as Nibbana, as there are no more thoughts - but one has to look-out for a tiny oscillation with the understanding of Anicca - to turn it into a Bojjhanga
6. Samadhi: a concentration without thoughts but the understanding of Anicca, to make it a Bojjhanga.
7. Upekkha: equanimity with Anicca-vijja, for it to become a Bojjhanga. Otherwise it cant help, as the Upekkha of the 4th Jhana.
Once the worst Sankharas are gone, who would otherwise lead to the lower planes of existence, one experience for the first time Nibbana of the Sotapanna stage. Then one has to continue the work in the same way... till reaching Arahat stage.
But even as an enterer of the stream of Dhamma, one will be reborn in a place where one can practice: 'Atapi Sampajanna Satima' (the teaching of the Satipatthana-discourse course).
The 37 elements pertaining to the path: The noble 8-fold path, 5 faculties, 5 strengths, 7 factors of enlightenment, 4 efforts (Patthana), 4 Satipatthanas (Kaya-, Vedana-, Citta-, and Dhammanupassana) and the 4 bases to spiritual power (Iddipada):
1. Canda: determination, one knows with the first 10-day course: this is the path and stays on it.
2. Citta: concentration, one is very skilled in Jhanas
3. Viriya: effort, one who is very energetic in meditation
4. Muncita: one with strong analytical understanding.
Every yogi has all 4 bases - but usually one is very predominant, because of its development in former lifes.
The 7 Visuddhis (Sutta of the 7 relays-chariots of a king): Sila-, Citta- (Samadhi), Ditthi-, Doubt-, Maggo-amaggo-, the 9 Insight-knowledges: Udaya/Baya, Bhanga, Adinava, Bhaya, (the story of a men with his hair on fire), Nibbida, etc.
The work always remains the same: Anicca-vijja-nana, day and night, 'Atapi Sampajanna Satima!'
Day 16 and 28 of a 30-day course - 'Bhavanga Instructions':
Certainly, many Dhamma-friends would dissuade me to publish this highest teachings of Goenkaji. But in reality, already in a 10-day course Goenka instructs to penetrate any point in the body for a minute or two where gross sensations remained - with awareness of Anicca - and after so-called Bhanga has occurred!
Because it happens quite naturally with many meditators that already in 10-day courses at the heart such spots remain - one can read about this centerpoint-method of Sayagyi U Ba Khin elsewhere too - and the teachers in 10-day courses make quite a fuss and don't want to clarify this alleged advanced instruction and keep it secret only for meditators in the long courses - I consider it very helpful to publish it here.
The warning - such advanced instructions could do harm (many meditators experience a pain similar to a heart-attack with it) - doesn't count, because already with the ordinary 10-days meditation-instructions one plays around with these body-energies equally - and in this very vulnerable mental state of a retreat:
! Which already does harm to a few - without any teacher seem to know: That by concentration on any point of the body (first for 3 days at the upper-lips, than at the top of the head) one accumulates natural life-energy there, and then - by moving increasingly faster with this concentrated life-energy through ones body - energy-blockades are blown up there (often caused by traumatic childhood experiences) !
As Goenkaji says in the Satipatthana-discourse question & answer talk: 'Silly talk about Kundalini - everywhere in the body is energy - Kundalini can even be felt in the small finger.'
'Once the surface and the inside of the body-sensations have dissolved,
even if there are still some gross sensations left -
but a undercurrent of subtle vibrations going through them -
it is considered Bhanga-state.
In this case one may stay 1-2 minutes one-pointedly at the center-point below the chest bone,
the place of the physical heart,
the solar plexus and Bhavanga -
the deepest level of the subconscious mind.
After that always spread your awareness of sensations for 1-2 minutes over the whole body.
Finally sweep the whole body in one breath.
But don't force anything,
just let it happen.
In the case one has experience with this center-point technique,
one may stay up to 5 minutes with Bhavanga.
Whatever the experience may be,
moving from place to place with gross sensations,
or sweeping the whole body in one breath,
or piercing the spine,
or with Bhavanga,
or feeling the whole body at once,
it does not matter!
Only by not reacting and remaining equanimous with the prevailing sensations -
with the understanding of impermanence -
defilements and misery get eradicated.'
Please remain aware, that all of these meditation-instructions are noted out of memory, and could contain possible misrepresentations.
I strongly dissuade everyone to follow the Bhavanga-instructions
- unless one has received them from a qualified teacher !
Be warned of the seriousness of such an undertaking -
and try to become proficient in the protective practices Goenka teaches first!
Any hurt or harm suffered - as in the long- and even beginner-courses - out of not understanding my warning and dissuasion, nobody can be made liable, than yourself.
If such happens accidentally in a first 10-day course and you experience what seems to be hallucinations and paranoia - and you can not handle these experiences anymore - (such experiences many meditators do have, but still can handle them - the Buddha to be had to go through such ordeals too):
Stop to meditate ! Don't believe a teacher or Dhamma-worker - who might try to convince you that by stopping you could do harm to yourself. By this statement they show their non-competence in psychological assistance. Only you can really know yourself. Be kind to yourself, eat much and spicy, do lots of bodily demanding work or sports. Talk to gentle people and ask them to be with you - to assist you in going through such a psychosis. Although painful to ones core, people do come out more matured after such experiences. In most cases meditation-induced hallucinations will end soon after leaving the meditation.
If it continues and you have no one to assist you - or can't take it any longer - get psychiatric help. They can help you to dive through such experiences - by suppressing its symptoms - but can not really heal it either. You might end up on medication the rest of you life. This applies in particular to one percent of all citizens, who - according to statistics - suffer at one point in their life schizophrenia (of which about 50 percent heal spontaneously) - and which could be ignited by a first course. And to others, more vulnerable through childhood-abuse or life-long inclination to depressions, suicidal thoughts, etc.