Should we have a 'Practice Corner' category?

[quote=“SarathW1, post:24, topic:4019”]
[/quote]I thought it was Dungeons & Dragons when I first saw reference to “D&D”![quote=“Gabriel_L, post:23, topic:4019”]
I have re-opened the poll. So far 21 of the 140-220 active users of D&D have manifested their opinion on the topic. I invite all those who haven’t yet to do so. :anjal:
[/quote]I am one of those who has not contributed their opinion to the poll, because, for me, SuttaCentral is largely a specialized forum concerning inquiry, scholarly and general, by nonspecialists and specialists alike, into EBTs themselves, with a secondary focus on how these impact Buddhist practice. The balancing between these two functions, inquiries into contextualizing as well as identifying the teachings found within EBTs and how EBTs express themselves textually, and inquiries into the consequences of these inquiries for Buddhists who value the Dhamma expounded in the EBTs as authoritative for how they should interface with the Buddhadharma in the way that the earliest Buddhists did, lies at the heart of the question in the poll, as I understand it.

However, regardless of if this is a forum dedicated moreso to the former, inquiries into EBTs and their contexts, or the latter, inquiries into how EBT teachings are adapted to practice in the here-and-now and/or how contemporary extant traditional Buddhist practices embody and stem from the teachings found in EBTs (or don’t occasionally), I will still use the forum the same, and when posts pop up that I am not interested in, I don’t feel any obligation to read them (although I will probably become curious if it is evident that a discussion is brewing that is not a mess of misunderstandings and/or trolling).

So, to me, regardless of whichever way the “official focus” goes (not having an “official focus” between the two seems like a fine state of affairs to me), it isn’t going to impact how I post on the site, and which posts I read, so ultimately I don’t have a stake in the matter.

I think other people may not have voted for the same reason, perhaps, regardless of how they use the forum.


Few (if any) people here practice the 16 step anapanasanti meditation described in the suttas. Therefore it is difficult to have a practice corner on a forum based on EBT when nobody uses the EBT method of meditation.

All discussion that would take place there would be about non-EBT methods of meditation, be it Mahashi or all kinds of methods invented in the last century. And then people would complain about being criticized for practicing non-buddhist meditation techniques. But since the forum is EBT focused, then it would be only normal for people to point out they are practicing wrongly so that they don’t waste their time.

“Bhikkhus, whether for a layperson or one gone forth, I do not praise the wrong way. Whether it is a layperson or one gone forth who is practising wrongly, because of undertaking the wrong way of practice he does not attain the method, the Dhamma that is wholesome. And what, bhikkhus, is the wrong way? It is: wrong view … wrong concentration. This is called the wrong way. Whether it is a layperson or one gone forth who is practising wrongly, because of undertaking the wrong way of practice he does not attain the method, the Dhamma that is wholesome.

Discussion about “I did this meditation technique and became so calm” would be more suited for a self-help forum, or in any case not a EBT focused forum.

The 16 step formula is an advanced practice and there are progressions leading up to this level of practice.

Discussing Samadhi and reduction of hindrances is EBT. We need to be able to connect the two together!

with metta

I’ve never heard of this in the suttas. Can you point out the sutta you have in mind when saying this ? And what makes you think anapanasanti is an advanced and difficult way of practice ? Have you ever tried it ?

Discussing Samadhi and reduction of hindrances is EBT. We need to be able to connect the two together!

I agree. But I’ve seen such sections dedicated to practice on other forums and maybe 1% of topics are about hidrances and things of that sort. Most are about “I just got to second jhana” - of course by doing a meditation technique not taught by the Buddha, achieving a “jhana” that has nothing to do with the jhanas described in the EBTs.

Dear @dxm_dxm and @mat just a friendly reminder to avoid off-topic posts.
Creating a new topic is super easy in D&D and I encourage you both to start one to discuss the fascinating topic of anapanasati steps in a new dedicated topic.
Thanks in advance for your understanding and collaboration.

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Please note that I’m trying to see if it is possible to to make an EBT based practice corner, which (hopefully) wont end up looking like site with threads like ‘my first taste of enlightenment’ (which would still have genuine advantages in discussing). Dxm_dxm was requesting some background on what I my suggestion on how to connect EBT with ‘messy’ practice. I think most of us here would have enough grounding in EBTs not to let discussions ‘fly off the handle’. If it was going to happen there is no reason why it wouldn’t have happened already. This site is easily available as other Buddhist forums.

with metta

At you’re recomandation I started a new topic about anapanasanti.


On the topic of how useful could a Practice Corner be I would like to share the view that we would end up missing the point if we were to make it a place to debate things like whether or not one hears, feels or thinks in jhana, etc.

While the suttas definitely do provide us some hint on what one is to expect as our practice of stillness strengthens, they may not necessarily be fully consistent or comprehensive on the minor details of how the experience of this development is going to take place at the subjective level. In fact, this is in my view exactly why the Buddha started a community of contemplatives in which those junior in terms of cultivation of the path are free to seek guidance from those senior in practice, and encouraged to do so with a critical mind.

Any conversation on that topic outside the environment of a truly contemplative community framework will most of the time either go into a crazy and inconclusive fight to convince another or an enforcement of an authoritative view on the topic (e.g. Ajahn X says jhana is Y, the majority agrees in theory and thus this is right, etc).

Instead of going down that path, I reckon we should first acknowledge we may not be a community of individuals fully invested in a contemplative livelihood. Then, only then, if such a Practice corner were to be focused on simpler things like sharing how we manage to develop in ourselves the most basic aspects of the practice, then maybe, yes, we could end up coming up with something constructive and useful to others.

The suttas are rather clear on the checklist of things that one should see weakening or disappearing as the eight path factors converge in his mind and heart. I am here alluding to the five lower and five higher fetters.

If one does not see any of the lower fetters fade away as he cultivate the path factors day by day he/she is probably doing something wrong.

In most of cases, people (like me) fail miserably in the very first and basic elements of the path, like cultivating the threefold right intention. Without that checked, sorry, one should not expect things like right stillness and mindfulness to properly grow in oneself.

Another path factor usually misunderstood is the right understanding or view. For someone still “to the left” of the threshold of insight and liberation, the development and cultivation of right view can be approached as a constant coming back to the basic practical aspects of the four noble truths and its respective ennobling tasks.

In fact, in my view, most of the stress and animosity we find in online Buddhist forums has to do with people totally misunderstanding what the development of samma ditthi is all about.

People end up coming up with their own theoretical models of the Dhamma and understandably grasp fiercely to that as they truly believe they are checking the box of the right view. Then when faced with others’ different theoretical models of Dhamma endless debates ensue. They truly believe they are doing their homework! :sweat:

If instead of that we were to have a Practice Corner focused on sharing how we manage to develop in ourselves this constant practical reminder of how some things are to be fully understood (e.g. suffering and all things related), other things are to be abandoned (e.g. the causes of suffering in all its different aspects), other things are to be individually verified (e.g. freedom from suffering in all its degrees) and other things are to be individually developed (e.g. the 37 bodhipakkhiyādhammā), then maybe we could end up with something that would benefit us all.



As it happens, yesterday, I took part in a very nice, gladdening discussion on AN 7.71. The following analogy was the point of focus:

Suppose, monks, a carpenter has an axe and its handle shows the marks of his fingers and thumb. He will not know that so much of the handle has worn away today, so much yesterday, and so much at other times; but he will just know of what is wasted that it has worn away. It is similar with a monk who applies himself to the meditative development of his mind: though he has no knowledge that so much of the taints has worn away today, so much yesterday and so much at other times, yet he knows of what is wasted that it is worn away.

All in attendance happily recognised what a lovely encouragement was being given here, and how reassuring it was to dwell on the fact that assuredly at some point the ‘marks’ of the wearing away of the taints would be as clear those on the axe handle.

What I found most intriguing (and actually reassuring), however, was one person’s observation that the other implication of this analogy is that one necessarily can’t always see changes as they occur and it is only after some considerable time that they may become apparent.

As ever, to me it feels like the middle way (in terms of expectations of the visibility of results in particular this instance) might be best. :wink:

On the general point of a practice corner, for the 2 pennies that it is worth, my instinct is that it is a beautiful idea that would almost inevitably go horribly wrong - I just have such little faith in the internet forum form to providing conducive enough conditions for it work out well.

By my estimations, the best possible hope for a successful (ie. supportive & roughly speaking harmonious) internet-based exchange along the lines given in your post, gnlaera, would be to set up a private group with entry by even just slightly more demanding application than “have you got an email address?” and one which might do well to make use of internet tools such as Google Hangouts. As I say, just my humble assessment of the available tools/forms and the results they’re likely to yield.



I’m glad you brought up this sutta with the wonderful simile, which I’ve always loved and found encouraging. Inevitably in practice there will be times which can seem discouraging when things seem to plateau or even ‘go backwards’ (“geez, I didn’t think I’d find myself reacting to that again… :disappointed_relieved::disappointed:”)


A key takeaway from​ that sutta for this discussion could be that it would be rather pointless to have a space to discuss individuals’ daily practice aspects or preferences. That would be equivalent to people discussing where and how each hit of the adze/axe against the wood does or not wears it off.

In line with what I wrote before, discussing more basic things like how one faces the challenge of putting into practice more fundamental aspects of the path - like the right threefold intention, or an attitude to life aligned with the four noble truths and its respective enobbling tasks etc - could prove helpful to those still waving the adze/axe in the air!

Ultimately that would be close to the sort of right conversation we find in some Suttas like AN10.69 being advocated by the Buddha:

“There are these ten topics of [proper] conversation. Which ten?
Talk on modesty,
on contentment,
on seclusion,
on non-entanglement,
on arousing persistence,
on virtue,
on concentration,
on discernment,
on release,
and on the knowledge & vision of release.
These are the ten topics of conversation.
If you were to engage repeatedly in these ten topics of conversation, you would outshine even the sun & moon, so mighty, so powerful—to say nothing of the wanderers of other sects.”

Note however that the progressive order of the topics does refer to different points of progress along the path. Therefore the safest catch all topics for an online forum would be,in my view, the first five or six at most.


I kind of have a suspicion that when delusion-tainted minds meet basic things, things can get quite complicated and messy in no time at all… just sayin’ :laughing:

These are all wonderful things (and I myself, would be delighted if virtue was included as I tend to feel it can often be treated a bit like the ugly cousin of the training facets family and is unduly shunned if favour of the more glamorous family members).

You’d maybe have to clarify the limits of this with D&D’s creator gods, but as far as I can tell there’s already scope to discuss such things:

The main theme of this site is Early Buddhism. We are interested to discuss early Buddhist texts, their meaning and historical context, how these teachings evolve and relate to later traditions, and how they may be applied in the present day.

(D&D guidelines)

I’d, personally, be a bit weary of discussion on the topics you mention that aren’t at least in some way anchored by the suttas, and as far as I understand things discussions with connection to the suttas is the fundamental purpose of D&D.

Even in this context though, speaking for myself, I still don’t quite see the attraction of having a dedicated category… if there’s a particularly strong will to segregate those kinds of discussions from others, maybe use a tag, in the way Bhante does for his translations?


Agreed. But mind that I am one who votes for not having the category created. Nevertheless I reckon it would be nice to have the aforementioned sutta somehow reflected in the forum or guidelines.

For example, someone finds something - a video, a picture or a quote - that inspires him/her towards modesty, contentment or reclusion , he/she should feel encouraged to share here (in Watercooler I would) and people should be more prone to manifest their appreciation than go straight away into fault finding / judging mode, or start firing misplaced sutta quotes for the sake of promoting their own theories about the deepest aspects of the Dhamma.

My only reservation with regards to the topic of virtue is that people (mostly non-monastics) tend to fall into two extremes. They either end up prone to boasting/bragging about their own efforts and achievements towards virtue or they end up feeling threatened by a perception of lack of thereof and hence end up looking for ways to play down the role of virtue in the path.

All that said I reckon it is valid to approach the fundamental virtue topics such as compassion, generosity, friendliness, respect, reverence, gratitude, patience etc.


Applause, applause, applause!!!

You’re quite right, I fully recognise the concerns you highlight. I think my point came from a different angle, with different issues in view. Focusing on the positive aspects of virtue, as you suggest, is a great approach.

Lead and they will may follow. :wink:

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Yes, this is true. However a feature of ‘adult education’ is that adults do not learn what is being taught, but rather remember what they want to hear or learn about- ie that which is interesting to them. Didactic teaching is not the best way. In such a situation the person asking the question may well not take the advice given. However they may be attracted to what the causes dictate the effects (form of practice) should be.

It might be helpful to have a range of answers to pick from- or even better- answers as a sounding board for practitioners to come up with answers that suit them best. It could even be as simple as asking them what worked for them in the past (drawn from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy/Socratic questioning). The answers should be EBT based or based on the EBT first principles. Peer-review and asking questions about how answers are EBT based, can be used when in doubt, if the answer already doesn’t show it clearly.

We cant read minds :slight_smile: so I think the best approach is to allow the answer to be wrong occasionally. I wouldn’t be stretching it to say it is impossible to get it right, as in an answer that would take someone all the way to full enlightenment. Bahiya being the exception!

We can offer a choice of options to ‘what to do next’ type questions. As long as they have an ability and enough information to decide what to do, the decision can be theirs.

Like you said, it is best to avoid labels and attainments as they can be a hindrance to further practice.

They are likely to go off the rails without our support anyway IMO. Doctors have to give up on patients, sometimes. Therpeutic omnipotency doesn’t work, nor should it be a cause to stop extending any support we can. The Three foundation of mindfulness for teachers are equanimity regardless whether the student accepts, is neutral or rejects the teachings, possibly based on how useful the student found the teachings.

In UK psychiatrist take an hour to assess a patient. In Sri Lanka it can be done in minutes! The lack of precision in the latter is probably worth, considering the larger numbers that are treated. It can be a ‘person based’ approach which takes longer or a ‘symptom based’ approach which is more compact. Also with experience, the time required becomes a lot less. The question that is asked I believe is indicative of underlying issues, and these are likely to be the similar (if not the same) in most practitioners as they will have the similar situations. Particular causes give rise to particular effects. Clarifying questions are helpful, of course. If we answer in line with the principles of the Dhamma that is ‘good enough’, IMO. Whether someone is able to do that, or to stick rigidly to suttas is another question, however. I suppose if the Noble Eightfold Path is used as a guideline, it cant go far off the track.

As for a immature spiritual practice being like a little bird, In my experience, the problem is the rock like defilements hiding the little bird! Its a miracle if someone manages to get through. :smile: But seriously, there is a sutta (DN12) where someone asks the Buddha ‘how can one person teach another’ and the Buddha rejects this and says it is wrong not to help. However he also goes on to say that trying to teach without being enlightened oneself i.e. neglecting oneself, is to be criticised. This would be reasonable if one sets oneself up as an enlightened teacher. However there is a softer approach of the kalyanamitta.

PTSD diagnostic criteria include 1) a catastrophic event, the degree of which is likely to cause loss of life and limb etc 2) flashbacks …3) etc. Thrown out of a internet forum isn’t likely to stand up in court… or given anyone PTSD…!

Correct. The Buddha would often give short statements of Dhamma and go back into seclusion. As professionals we are expected to provide comprehensive ‘solutions’- but this is different to that. This works through ‘spiritual friendships’. It is much softer, less hierarchical (unless someone wants it to be that way of course), and approachable.

D&D is nice and quiet. The moderators are doing a great job. I’m sure we can come up with good guidelines that will be effective on this kind of bad behaviour. I think if we try out a pilot project of a Practice corner, I’m confident it can be managed well. If not, it can always be redistributed among the current threads. Actually, I feel it wont be any different from the occasional practice threads that we see now- ie without much strife (our theoretical threads are not without strife). I don’t think the general level of strife will increase. The idea of having a special ‘corner’ would be that it attracts those who feel diffident about their sutta knowledge as well. Those asking the questions should be made aware that the site is not responsible, and SC and DD are well protected.

with metta

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[quote=“Mat, post:44, topic:4019, full:true”]

PTSD diagnostic criteria include 1) a catastrophic event, the degree of which is likely to cause loss of life and limb etc 2) flashbacks …3) etc. Thrown out of a internet forum isn’t likely to stand up in court… or given anyone PTSD…![/quote]

Probably right, but there are known cases of intenet bullying resulting in suicide (mostly among teenagers), some of which, if I recall, have resulted in legal proceedings (in the USA).

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True. Being banned from an Buddhist forum is however an unlikely cause of ‘internet bullying’. Here are some good examples:

Right speech would be upheld long before it got to anything like that I would presume.

In any case we can pilot it and always have the option of not going ahead with it, if it doesn’t work.

with metta

Thanks for your thorough working through of the various issues involved.


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Don’t mind if I do. :slight_smile: - [practice_corner]

I note the vote is in favour of starting something of that nature, as well.

with metta