I have never fully comprehended the difference between "concentrating", "meditating" and "mindfulness". Any clear cut explanations from Mahayana point of view?
- Johnny Dangerous
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I dunno, really just all seems like different methods of teaching techniques for the same thing. Maybe in one concentration is developed simultaneously with insight etc... I also imagine that even within specific traditions it varies from student to student how often, and when they overlap.
and the ocean of wisdom fully attained. -The Aspiration of Samantabhadra
Rakshasa wrote:What I mean is, do each of them have to be completely mutually exclusive?
No. Each has aspects that the other has and does require.
In order to practice shamata there has to be a level of mindfulness (sati) to detect and counter distractions immediately.
In order to practice Satipatthana there has to be a level of shamata (calmness and concentration).
In order to practice Vipashyana a level of both, shamata and mindfulness, is required.
Rakshasa wrote:If yes, shouldn't Shamatha directly lead to Vipashyana, ...
No because the dynamics of dependent arising is missed because shamata as stand-alone pratice is merely static concentration.
Rakshasa wrote:In other words, practicing Shamatha is the only requirement to gain enlightenment?
No, actually Satipatthana is the only complete way in itself because it has all aspects required: shamata aspects calmess and non-distraction, sati and vipashyana.
Sure, you 'can' practice them separately, but you want to plant your seed in fertile soil don't you?
Typically in the Tripitaka and other traditions with the terms, the idea is that the calmness which comes from samatha is what conditions the possibility that vipassana, i.e. insight, can arise successfully.
As far as I've read, there aren't contradictions to this approach in the Mahayana. There are of course always the deviations from one monk to another as to whether samatha is concentrating or relaxing the mind. But other than that, what you find are just elaborations of the same formula. Thus sati, is a form of practice leading to samatha, among others.
Explains both Shamatha and Vipahsyana and the process of learning to meditate.
The Path Is the Goal: A Basic Handbook of Buddhist Meditation
by Chogyam Trungpa
So yes - they're interrelated and you need all three, but it's not simply one after the other. Ultimately - on the paths and grounds leading to becoming a Buddha - you need mostly Shamatha: concentrating on the insight on emptiness you already have. But for us, at our level, to get that insight we need mostly Vipasyana: thinking about emptiness and the other Buddhist teachings and how it applies to our life, relationships etc.
As for Sati - in order to be able to sit still long enough to achieve Shamatha, you need satipatthana.
Though there is neither canonical nor commentarial basis for this view, it might be maintained that satipatthana is called ekayaa magga, the direct path, to distinguish it from the approach to meditative attainment that proceeds through the jhanas or brahmaviharas. While the latter can lead to Nibbana, they do not do so necessarily but can lead to sidetracks, whereas satipatthana leads invariably to the final goal.
As I learned it, the jhanas are primarily developed through shamatha. So there's that.
Edit: evidently some also speak of vipassana jhanas. I don't know if those are relevant in the above quote, but from my cursory glance it seems not.
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?
2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.
3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.
4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.
1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
Astus wrote:Satipatthana (smrtyupasthana) is a complete method in itself that includes both calming (samatha) and insight (vipassana/vipasyana). Although it is not necessary to master several stages of absorption (jhana/dhyana), some level of mental peace is always required by every meditation system in Buddhism that I know of (including modern Burmese vipassana). The method of calming doesn't lead to liberation because it is simply a temporary tranquillity one gains and without insight there is no turning away from grasping at phenomena.
The four applications of mindfulness sometimes aren't explicitly mentioned in the context of the development of śamatha alone, possibly because the development of śamatha on it's own is considered to be a mundane path. But the meditation practices taught under the development of śamatha include meditation subjects listed in the Smṛtyupasthāna Sūtra, such as mindfulness of breathing and meditation on foulness.
The four applications of mindfulness are the initial four of the 37 requisites of awakening. According to Yogācāra treatises such as the Madhyāntavibhāga the first 29 requisites arise at the time of attaining the path of seeing and all 37 are further developed during the path of meditation. Attaining the path of seeing and the subsequent path of meditation require the development of both śamatha and vipaśyanā.
[...that] Vipassana and Shamatha were only taught as separate disciplines post-canonically.
I like that someone previously stated that Satipatthana incorporates both, because many Theravadin teachers I have read and heard myself constantly refer to Satipatthana as the cornerstone of Theravadin practice.
- Eihei Dogen Zenji
Unfortunately, many Westerners use these words and don't know what they mean.
I'm sorry that you were born in a place where there is so much confusion about even the meaning of the words.
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