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A Gradual Training - Dhamma Wheel

A Gradual Training

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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daverupa
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A Gradual Training

Postby daverupa » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:38 am

Instead of using, say, the anapanasati suttas ( et al) or the satipatthana suttas (, et al), I would like to see if others here also practice primarily from a gradual training sutta (, et al).

In MN 51 we find householders who, from time to time, practice satipatthana, but I am interested in the practical experiences of others here with respect to the other highlighted aspects of the gradual training, which is perhaps neglected in our discourse on those aspects of the path to which we give concerted effort over time.

For example: Later this morning I'll have some time to add a bit on my understanding of guarding the six sense gates via not grasping at signs and features; is this part of anyone else's daily practice?

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Kamran
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby Kamran » Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:53 pm

I am interested in any information posted on this and guarding the 6th sense doors. Thanks.
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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daverupa
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby daverupa » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:03 pm

So, my current understanding is that yoniso manasikara is the antidote to grasping any signs and features of the sense spheres. It is inappropriate attention that finds something to grab or to reject in the environment; this day is just today, but "today is Monday" begins to get freighted with all sorts of additional features I might grasp: first day of a work week, and so on. Indeed, "first day of the work week" is, again, a certain feature which I can overlay on top of the given fact of any particular daylight period (but it is no good to try to destroy the function of perception; the problem is not signs and features, but the grasping).

As the Suttas say, some brahmins strove to perceive night as day & day as night, but the Dhamma encourages us to see night as night, day as day. See things as they are, including any proliferations. The goal is not to cease sense function or to blunt a sense sphere such that it ignores input, but rather to see all sense spheres in operation in order to learn and see anicca, etc. The senses are not distracting, it is grasping which makes for distraction (a loud noise which interrupts a conversation can be left behind quite easily, yet it often suddenly becomes, for a moment or two at least, the new topic of conversation with much "halloo" and "oh dear" noises). So, it is not a strained, concerted focus nor a lazy, free-form flow which guards the sense gate, but a voidness where once there was agitation and a perception of personal stake.

One thing to watch out for is passivity; right effort demands that we shepherd the mind away from unwholesomeness the way a herdsman would shepherd their cows away from crops, not simply note "ah, the cows are in the arugala" while doing nothing about it. If the cows are in pasture appropriate to them, then awareness need only be maintained to the extent that "there is a cow herd" (or "there is a body") lest they start to wander (papanca-sanna-sankha).

This sort of practice can be maintained throughout the day, and forms as necessary a backbone for seated meditation as does Sila.

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Dmytro
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby Dmytro » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:22 pm



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mikenz66
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:35 pm

Hi Dave,

I've always seen the Gradual Training Suttas and the Satipatthana Sutta as very much related, just differing in the amount of detail of some aspects. Many modern teachers (Mahasi and so on...) teach retreats that emphasise the restraint, mindfulness, and so on, described in those suttas, and of course it is those aspects of the Gradual Training Suttas that one tries to also maintain in "everyday" situations.

:anjali:
Mike

danieLion
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby danieLion » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:41 pm


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daverupa
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby daverupa » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:47 pm


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mikenz66
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:47 pm


Nyana
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby Nyana » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:54 am


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mikenz66
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:20 am

Thanks Geoff,

It seems the Abhidhamma and Dave are largely in agreement when it comes to practice. Which is what one would hope, of course, for interpretations of the Buddha-Vacana...

:anjali:
Mike

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daverupa
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby daverupa » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:59 am

In my experience, one way to frame the practice of not grasping at signs and features is that, having become aware of liking or disliking, remember that it is a sign or feature of a sense sphere that is liked or disliked, and note that action which takes up that perception from the surround; this helps to clarify in experience what is meant by the later satipatthana injunction to calm feeling & perception.

In any event, this also means that pleasant/liking and unpleasant/disliking are known for oneself to be separable, which begins to build a foundation for equanimity.

danieLion
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby danieLion » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:18 pm

Hi all,
1) Are we distinguishing between "formal sitting" practice versus "daily life" practice in this topic?

2) These seem like Chicken/Egg "problems", and they if are, can we validly make distinctions without rendering the apparently disparate approaches impractical?

E.g., EITHER satipatthana's what you do to support jhana OR satipatthana's what you do in jhana. When we frame it like this it feels like it deflates the potency of both.

There also seems to be a more general dichotomy here: There's the notion you can't practice jhana without being secluded, silent, still, with eyes closed, etc...; yet, there's also the notion you that what you do outside of jhana itself influences and is influenced by jhana?

Finally, it might be helpful to distinguish between cultivating jhana factors--something you can do with any activity--versus practicing jhana in more formal, sitting, secluded, silent, eyes closed, etc... ways?

Kind regards,
Daniel

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daverupa
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby daverupa » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:52 am

I think the problem is partly in thinking about jhana much at all; for the most part, I anticipate that generally people are engaged in a sitting practice without having engaged with six sense restraint, etc. - though perhaps in Zen you get a heavy emphasis on the satisampajanna component of the gradual training - and that while Sila receives some emphasis, the other aspects (which are not sequential, but form a constellation of practice) seem to be neglected and are due for a long-term engagement. Here, "walking up and down and sitting" is the postural reference, so there is no seated practice apart from daily practice.

These practices are to be maintained at all times - the difficulty of jhana is precisely the difficulty of making these practices consistent, which solitude supports and which a crowded & dusty householder lifestyle does not (though it can be made to be supportive, to greater or lesser degrees).

The specific sitting practice, which does seem to be something one gets to after these preliminaries have been developed,* seems to be specifically addressed to the hindrances in order that, with their cessation, jhana is a result - not something to 'go for', but rather what 'shows up' when the hindrances are gone.



---
* "And when, Aggivessana, the ariyan disciple is possessed of mindfulness and clear consciousness {BB: full awareness}, then the Tathagata disciplines him further, saying: 'Come you, monk, choose a remote lodging in a forest..."
Last edited by daverupa on Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mikenz66
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:56 am


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daverupa
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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby daverupa » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:02 am


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Re: A Gradual Training

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:16 am



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