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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:40 pm 
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What I mean is, do each of them have to be completely mutually exclusive? My analysis is that since Shamatha is the practice of being able to hold a single object one-pointedly, it can lead to the ability to easily hold the Four Stations (body, mind, feelings...) in mind for long time (Satipatthana). And when one can hold Sati, one can effectively observe that the phenomena are transient (Vipashyana). Is this correct? If yes, shouldn't Shamatha directly lead to Vipashyana, which would further lead one to enlightenment (Arhathood or Buddhahood?)? In other words, practicing Shamatha is the only requirement to gain enlightenment?

I have never fully comprehended the difference between "concentrating", "meditating" and "mindfulness". Any clear cut explanations from Mahayana point of view?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:48 pm 
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I asked a similar question not too long ago regarding the difference between something like Shikantaza vs. Shamatha and Vipassana.

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.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:56 am 
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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.

:sage:


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:54 pm 
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In Burma, you will find the answer is a big no, you can do Vipassana without Samatha, and should only do that unless you want the government to hunt you down.

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.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 1:34 pm 
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Rinpoche tells us in the book that he teaches how he was taught.
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


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:33 am 
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My teacher (Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen - gelugpa) stresses mostly vipasyana (aka thinking about the teachings) and Shamatha (aka concentration on an object and keeping the mind still). You do need all three on the path and a level of concentration is necessary for vipasyana, but for real Shamatha any movement of the mind is a problem and that includes thinking a topic through from various perspectives.

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.

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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 4:03 am 
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Bhikkhu Bodhi writes:

Quote:
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.

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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 8:34 pm 
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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.

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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 11:00 pm 
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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.

:good:

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.


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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 8:36 pm 
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My understanding is that an "orthodox Theravadin" take on the OP's question is such:

[...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.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:44 am 
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Shamatha and vipassana are qualities of jhana. They are not separate practices.

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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