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Are suttas necessary to practice meditation? - Dhamma Wheel

Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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mikenz66
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Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:30 am

I didn't really know what a sutta was until I'd been involved with Buddhism for a year or so. I just went to the Wat, chanted, had lunch, helped in the garden and eventually (a few months later when an English-speaking teacher turned up) had some meditation instruction.

Subsequent reading of suttas confirmed that the teachers were actually practising and teaching in accordance with the satipatthana sutta, and other suttas (noble truths, eightfold path, anatta, obvious bits of dependent origination, hindrances, faculties... ) and, like all teachers, their instructions were an elaboration of certain points in those suttas. [In the case of my teachers the elaborations were from the Mahasi school.]

The experience that really convinced me that what was communicated in the suttas was from real knowledge was when I was sitting a Goenka retreat a year or so after I'd started serious meditation. By that stage I'd read In the Buddha's Words
and was working through Bhikkhu Bodhi's talks on the Majjhima Nikaya. I recall sitting though (naturally) all kinds of hindrances and realising that the similes in SN 46.55 of the hindrances as water in a bowl obscured by dye, boiling, weeds, ripples, and mud really did describe what I was experiencing. (Strangely, that sutta is hard to locate on line, though the similes are in a Wheel publication by Ven Nyanaponika: The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest ).

Did I get any "instruction" from suttas? Not really (and obviously not at all at the start). I did get confirmation that the instructions were on the right track though, which is good to know...

:anjali:
Mike

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Ben
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:37 am

Hi Mike

A very similar experience to you.
I was practicing meditation for years before I came in contact with the suttas. And, very glad that I did.
The intellectual insights gleaned from studying the suttas I have found to be extraordinary benefit in my understanding and practice.
I think its extremely important to marry both practice and study.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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bodom
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby bodom » Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:56 am

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

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retrofuturist
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:28 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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ground
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby ground » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:20 am

Since the Buddha did not invent meditation suttas certainly are not necessary. But in order to practice according to his teachings which have liberation from dukkha as their goal the suttas are necessary.


kind regards

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mikenz66
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:40 am

Good point TM, which possibly explains why detailed instructions on establishing mindfulness and concentration are not apparent (at least to me), whereas details of correct attitudes and the result of correctly applying mindfulness and concentration are.

I get the impression from suttas such as the first two discourses, , and that they are addressed to people who have already developed quite a lot of "technique", but need some nudges in the "idea" side.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:51 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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mikenz66
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:09 am

I don't see any contradiction with what I said. One needs the right view to make liberative use of the concentration and mindfulness (which then makes it "right concentration", etc). One doesn't need right view to get to highly mindful and concentrated states (as in the Buddha's experience with his teachers, and various other traditions).

:anjali:
Mike

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retrofuturist
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:13 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Ben
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:48 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Ben
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:54 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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retrofuturist
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:13 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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retrofuturist
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:14 am

Greetings,

How does one avoid stepping foot in here...?

Image

It looks nice enough from the outside.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Ben
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:22 am

Hi Retro,
I think that may be the fruition of one's past kamma that has led one to Dhamma rather than adhamma.
I was skating around Buddhism for years before I went to a Goenka retreat. I remember my interest being piqued at the age of nine. And then during my teenage years I was reading Zen (or Zen-inspired) literature. Looking back at it, I sometimes see the trajectory and think that it was possibly inevitable that I would find my way to Dhamma.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

PeterB
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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby PeterB » Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:25 am


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retrofuturist
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:28 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

User avatar
retrofuturist
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Posts: 17855
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:33 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

PeterB
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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby PeterB » Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:37 am

I cant answer for Ben...but in my case its simple..I learned Vipassana before the NKT existed.

The OP is, are suttas necessary to practice meditation. If suttas is interpreted as a reference to the Pali Canon then the NKT wouldnt qualify anyway and neither would any Vajrayana school.
However the Geshe ( Kelsang Gyatso . "Geshe" is the equivalent of a Doctor Of Divinity and involves many years of sutra and commentary study ) who founded the NKT is one of the leading sutra scholars, and was before he founded the NKT.
The issue there is political , not one of scholarship.

PeterB
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby PeterB » Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:07 am

To return to the topic, it was not the suttas that attracted me to Dhamma. Although once I started on the process of learning vipassana and samatha I for a while did some sutta study..
I dont see them as essential to meditation as long as you have a teacher who is part of a recognised authentic lineage ( I am using lineagein an informal way ). Some of the most highly accomplished meditation teachers have been illiterate.
I see the suttas as a rag bag of material. Some poetic, some factual and highly instructive. Much of it dodgy as a description of the world as it is. All thrown together centuries after the event. The event being the event under the Bo Tree.
Scientists tell us that the echo of the Big Bang is still discernible in deep space.
To use an analogy I think that the echoes of the event under the Bo Tree are still discernible when we still our minds.

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mikenz66
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Re: Are suttas necessary to practice meditation?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:49 am



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