Samatha vs. Vipassanā
I have a meditation question but first want to say that although I have been practicing a while now, I am still a newbie relatively speaking and most definitely compared to you all.
I have only used samatha meditation and it is really working in my practice so please no negative comments about it. Only because I’m way to early on my path to understand and it will only be a hindrance. All that said I’ve noticed the Dhamma talks and teachers I follow with in the Pali tradition seem to be kind of divided on using samatha vs Vipassanā. But that may be a misunderstanding on my part. So is there even a debate on that and do different traditions with in Theravada only teach one style. If so should I only stick to teachers that use samatha or would I be safe listening to both and just using what works for me. Again I am a newbie and very well may be way off in this entire thing in my thinking on this subject.
Samatha vs. Vipassanā
I think this advice on how to recognise dhamma as dhamma and not dhamma as not dhamma is very helpful.
"Gotamī, you might know that certain things lead to passion, not dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulation, not dispersal; to more desires, not fewer; to lack of contentment, not contentment; to crowding, not seclusion; to laziness, not energy; to being burdensome, not being unburdensome. You should definitely bear in mind that these things are not the teaching, not the training, and not the Teacher’s instructions.
You might know that certain things lead to dispassion, not passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to dispersal, not accumulation; to fewer desires, not more; to contentment, not lack of contentment; to seclusion, not crowding; to energy, not laziness; to being unburdensome, not being burdensome. You should definitely bear in mind that these things are the teaching, the training, and the Teacher’s instructions.”
[Edit… adding below]
“Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome’: You may categorically hold, ‘This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher’s instruction.’
“As for the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome’: You may categorically hold, ‘This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’”
It is an active debate in Pali Buddhist circles. It’s not just you.
The latter, I’d say. Listen as wide as you like and figure out what works for you (where “works” is defined as leading to the qualities @Punna quotes above: dispassion, etc. and keeping in mind that what works may change as you do )
You are great. Thanks so much.
From Dhammapada 372: There is no absorption (lit. jhānaṁ) for one without wisdom, no wisdom for one without absorption.
Also, I’m reminded of the simile of the stick used by Ajahn Chah when he was once questioned on this distinction. You can’t help but pick up both ends of the stick.
Awesome idea if I’m following correctly
Entirely comes down to the source one uses.
Those who follow Traditional Theravada which is mainly the Vissuddhimagga see a divide between Samatha and Vipassana and therefore there’s two “meditation methods”.
Those who follow early buddhism don’t see a divide as “wisdom” is covered by Right View, the first step of the path, so they would say that the Buddha didn’t teach wrong Samadhi, only Samma Samadhi which results in both samatha and vipassana.
So pick whatever you want, but you can’t really hold onto both paradigms (traditonal vs ebt) at the same time as they conflict with eachother on a lot of theory.
Personally, I’ve been all over the past 20 years, went to Mahasi Sayadaw and Ajahn Tong Sirimangalo retreats, been to thai forest monasteries for long periods, Goenka, etc…
My personal opinion is that the systemic “Progress of Insight” taught in Vipassana is nonsense, and has nothing really to do with what the Buddha taught. Thanissaro Bhikkhu has a good little essay on the origin of the Progress of Insight as well.
These days I lean towards EBT and a belief mix of Nanavira, Punnaji and Buddhadasa, which are different takes and interpretations of the suttas.
So in short, if you were to ask me personally, I’d tell you to stick to the suttas and follow the noble eightfold (not sevenfold) path as the Buddha taught it and not later scholars.
Just a friendly reminder that discussion of personal practice is not permitted on the forum:
Thanks to everyone for keeping the discussion more general.
-On behalf of the moderation team
Thanissaro Bhikkhu is my route teacher . Especially for my meditation practice. I do don’t realize there was a difference between Theravada and Early Buddhism. How can you tell the difference?
This post by Bhante @Sujato has a great essay on that.
Wow I have a lot to learn, thank u kind friend
One of the main differences is the pali nikaya for EBT is the 4 main nikayas (SN, DN, MN, AN) and 6 books from the khuddaka nikaya (dhammapadda, Itivuttaka, therigatha, theragatha, sutta nipata, and udana) are considered early.
Abhidhamma, other books of the khuddaka nikaya like jataka, and other commentaries like Vissuddhimagga, vimuttimagga, etc… are not considered early.
As for the differences in theory, well, there’s a lot, some are obvious, others are more nuanced. Aside from bhante sujato’s work, other monks that write about the differences between are thanissaro, analayo, dhammavuddho (has great talks comparing ideas), nanavira, ninoslav nanamoli, and bodhesako, are some off the top of my head, but I’m sure there’s several more.
If you’re new to Buddhism, there’s no major need to rush into this stuff though, just stick with the basics outlined in the suttas and try to understand the motivation behind the instruction.
Absolutely dear friend in the Dhamma I will do just that
Hi … I would suggest that you do not immerse in yourself any reli-politics or reli-intriques. Just rely on the Suttas.
As you can see you, The Buddha in Satipathana Sutta, do not mention anything about Samatha & Vipassana. So in the Anapanasati Sutta. Read it carefully word by word, did he mention it? Only deluded people does.
You are taking your own limited knowledge to state that opinion which is very bad thing to do:
“These two qualities have a share in clear knowing. Which two? Tranquillity (samatha) & insight (vipassana).
“When tranquillity is developed, what purpose does it serve? The mind is developed. And when the mind is developed, what purpose does it serve? Passion is abandoned.
“When insight is developed, what purpose does it serve? Discernment is developed. And when discernment is developed, what purpose does it serve? Ignorance is abandoned.
“Defiled by passion, the mind is not released. Defiled by ignorance, discernment does not develop. Thus from the fading of passion is there awareness-release. From the fading of ignorance is there discernment-release.”
Maybe, my knowledge limited, therefore I make sure myself that the only right thing is only what The Buddha said and just forget every analysis was made not by The Buddha himself.
It’s good thing but this can not be excuse, you can take it as you taking it now which is good thing but with open mind and you will fine