Present – online newsletter for women in Theravada

As recommended by our readers, here’s the latest and wonderfullest edition of Present.

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84 thoughts on “Present – online newsletter for women in Theravada

  1. There’s a lot going on in this newsletter – everyone please take a look. Thanissara, thank you for your breathtakingly beautiful article. It was healing for me to read such a sane and kind articulation of the concerns we’ve been struggling with. I doubt it could be better said. Thank you, thank you.

    • Hi Jackie,Thanks. Well – I appreciated the process of writing through the deeper currents in regards to the struggle of the feminine within Theravada monasticism. Of course it feels personal at many levels – however I also do feel that the article is a vehicle for many voices/ perspectives/experiences – so its collective representation – just one contribution to the on going inquiry.

      I’m trying to trust a deeper process in all of this. And while it feels very split and divided at the moment, maybe the dhamma itself will help us all work it through to something more whole and healed. However seems like healing can’t happen until the poison is extracted.

      Wishing you well – and wishing us all some sanity!

  2. Still reading, but very nice so far and yes wonderful article by Thanissara. I couldn’t help but read this section on the 5 points:

    “If a thirty Vassa nun has to wait until a one Vassa monk decides whether to invite her to give a Dhamma talk or lead a blessing chant, the cumulative result has to be that the worth, importance and voice of a seasoned, mature nun is less valuable than a novice monk.”

    How is this not utterly stupid? As a layperson going for talks, why on Earth should a one Vassa monk – or nun even – be able to decide if I should be able to hear an experienced voice on Dhamma matters? I know years don’t necessarily equal knowledge, but I would have far, far more respect for someone who had been trying for thirty years than a beginner (who I also have respect for), regardless of gender.

    Equality issues aside, I just cannot see how whoever came up with these 5 points was thinking with any amount of simple common sense.

    • Howdy Pilgrim :-) We appreciate your questions, thank you. Subscription is free and dana is humbly and most gratefully received. At the moment Present is available only in digital format. With metta, Brenda

  3. I always find it quite deeply paining to read womens experience in Monastic circles. I do think this is a pain which is conductive to liberation and not to be avoided, but I also wonder, from where does the pain stem?

    I think the root might be this, that to me, the Sangha, as a component of the Triple Gem embodies compassion, kindness, forgiveness, unconditional love and all those beautiful, soft, encompassing attitudes.

    When confronted with evidence that challenges this, even directly contradicts this, it is painful to bear. Buddhism is meant to be for everyone, without discrimination.

    Of course I know the solution is not to bung up my ears or to silence the women who would speak, but to do everything I personally can to bring this ideal closer to reality (and if I can’t do anything, let go).

    And the other point, is that my faith in WPP is fairly subdued (my faith in the Buddha and the Dhamma and Ajahn Brahm is blazing, but my faith in the average monk is about the same as my faith in a robe not wearing a person or a person not wearing a robe).
    But as for those Monks (and unordained people) who DO have a heap of faith in the elders as embodying those attitudes of compassion, kindness, forgiveness and so on – the pain of acknowledging a reality to the contrary would be too much to bear. So hence the, silence, denial and refusal to engage in dialogue.

    • I just noticed this Avuso Blake.

      Don’t fret if your faith in the monastic Sangha is subdued. I’m quite sure that the Sangha in which we take refuge and engender confidence for Stream Entry is the Ariya Sangha. Your saddha is very well-placed!

    • And yet, I would rather (have back) the happiness and comfort from a broader faith in the ‘Sangha refuge’, for this happiness and comfort settles and empowers the mind.

      I mean even the Bhikkhus I do have faith in, I don’t necessarily think they deserve that faith at all, but I think “even though they do not deserve this faith and veneration, perhaps it will help inspire them to become worthy”. Or in other words, I bow to their potential…

      There is no reason – in principle – why I can’t do the same in the heartfelt way to even the Bhikkhus who have acted in the most rotten ways – for they still have that potential. It’s just easier ‘in principle’ than to actually do it (somehow, the knowing they’re rotten, makes it all the harder – oh the tyranny of knowing!)

    • Dear Anagarika Blake,

      Anagarika Blake wrote : “And yet, I would rather (have back) the happiness and comfort from a broader faith in the ‘Sangha refuge’”

      I know, the recent event can be shattering.

      ” for this happiness and comfort settles and empowers the mind.”

      Personally, I just think the monastery/ retreat is conducive for meditation because you are given the time and space to allow the mind to settle, instead of because I am part of a large group of virtuous people. For inspiration , there is always Buddha, Dharma, and the teachings from various Ariya sangha members.

      Anagarika Blake wrote: ” why I can’t do the same in the heartfelt way to even the Bhikkhus who have acted in the most rotten ways – for they still have that potential. It’s just easier ‘in principle’ than to actually do it (somehow, the knowing they’re rotten, makes it all the harder – oh the tyranny of knowing!)”

      I think the sooner you can find a way to forgive and let go the sooner you are able to heal from this ordeal. If not for them, do it for your practice. Aversion is the second biggest hindrance to meditation. Therefore, it is best to find a way to let go of any kind of aversion in daily life and meditation.

      I think that many of them doesn’t ” acted in the most rotten way” intentionally. Some might not even know that they have falsely mistreated an innocent man. They simply follow what they have been taught and take that to be the fact. Considering this factor might make it a little bit easier to forgive them.

      For others that know what is right but didn’t act in the most wholesome way, they might be under a lot of pressure and are not allowed to follow their hearts. Let’s face it, many are still practicing and have not become fearless arahants yet. We are still practicing as well. Maybe looking at it in this way can make it a bit easier to forgive.

      Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote that “many monks — the vast majority in fact — are still worldlings (puthujjana)”

      ” the order of monks is not itself the Sangha which takes the position of the third refuge. The Sangha which serves as refuge is not an institutional body but an unchartered spiritual community comprising all those who have achieved penetration of the innermost meaning of the Buddha’s teaching. The Sangha-refuge is the ariyan Sangha, the noble community, made up exclusively of ariyans, person of superior spiritual stature. Its membership is not bound together by formal ecclesiastical ties but by the invisible bond of a common inward realization…..

      Though the way of life laid down for the monastic order, with its emphasis on renunciation and meditation, is most conducive to attaining the state of an ariyan, the monastic Sangha and the ariyan Sangha are not coextensive. Their makeup can differ, and that for two reasons:

      first, because many monks — the vast majority in fact — are still worldlings (puthujjana) and thence cannot function as a refuge; and second, because the ariyan Sangha can also include lay people. Membership in the ariyan Sangha depends solely on spiritual achievement and not on formal ordination. …

      By virtue of this inner mastery these individuals possess the qualifications needed to guide others towards the goal. Hence the ariyan Sangha, the community of noble persons, can function as a refuge…” -Bhikkhu Bodhi

    • “But as for those Monks (and unordained people) who DO have a heap of faith in the elders as embodying those attitudes of compassion, kindness, forgiveness and so on – the pain of acknowledging a reality to the contrary would be too much to bear. So hence the, silence, denial and refusal to engage in dialogue.”

      In response to your thought here A.Blake –

      There are consequences to speaking out: For men, the journey to move outside the ‘club mentality’ and risk being ostracized is a difficult one. It’s scary. It can involve the loss of privilege, respect, placement and security. It is not a false assumption. Experience has proven that challenge to the status quo is social death. You suddenly find yourself outside the warmth of the tribal camp fire.

      So better to hunker down, wait for the storm to pass, and not really investigate the depth of what is going on around you. If you just stick it out long enough, you will get the bonus of seniority – the reward of loyalty at all costs – power and access to privilege. However in the process, an authentic ground for Awakening is severely diminished. People become caught up in giving over their power to shore up a tradition, rather than the tradition allowing itself to truly be responsive to the imperative of Awakening.

      Truth takes courage, however when courage is lost – loyalty replaces authenticity.

      These recent events has offered an invitation for the collective consciousness of those involved in the FS to mature and step beyond this tribal mentality, and all that is involved in it. The invitation to go through a more open door has been turned down.

      For now……….

      The invitation will reappear in a thousand different guises. The Dhamma is ever inviting – it doesn’t belong to Theravada or Buddhism. The Dhamma per-existed before the Buddha. It ever knocks at the door, waking us up. If we want to sit in the seat of Awakening, nothing short of true authenticity will do. Loyalty just won’t cut it.

    • AAaaaaaah Thanissara,
      I am leading a training on gender relations tomorrow with a lovely and challenging group of men and women from several countries in West Africa… I loved this and find it most useful:

      “There are consequences to speaking out: For men, the journey to move outside the ‘club mentality’ and risk being ostracized is a difficult one. It’s scary. It can involve the loss of privilege, respect, placement and security. It is not a false assumption. Experience has proven that challenge to the status quo is social death. You suddenly find yourself outside the warmth of the tribal camp fire.”

    • While acknowledging the courage it must take even to take the robes…let alone lose one’s tribe when that is “all one has”…but it really ISNT all one has, is it??????? A true warrior is not afraid to walk the path alone…as the Buddha said….better to be alone than in the company of fools…yet trusting the Dhamma (via Buddha) “If we are facing the right direction, all we have to do is walk…”
      I am meeting a great Sufi master tomorrow in a village outside Dakar…somehow that seems fitting…Senegal is majority Sufi…I see LOVE in peoples eyes here….really….love…I love Rumi’s writing because it always urges us to walk on that edge…let go of security at every chance you have…I am not nearly at the level of our Beloved monks in doing so…but if I am not mistaken they too are called to do so…that is the path of awakening…is there a middle way in this too? Or is it Rumi’s full on let it go, let it all go!!!

    • (Including, Go your way, practice and teach the true Dhamma, even if it means letting go of your tribe…)

    • @ Brenda – yes – humility is a word that comes to mind. Definitely a journey of humility –

      @ Lisa – love that you working on gender relations & are drawing on Rumi – to move from the warrior archetype ( as in Thai FS ) to lover archetype is an important journey for all of us – but particularly men – Rumi can give some great hints!

      Enjoy Africa – sounds wonderful!

  4. Thank you, Thanissara, for pointing to this lovely article by Lisa, who is a long-time Vancouver, BC area meditation practitioner.

    “Bahiya did not efface himself with obeisance and veneration for the Buddha. He demanded what he knew was necessary for him to fully realize his human potential, awakening. And the Buddha respected his spiritual urgency. Women are now in a similar position. We should insist that our needs for full equality on the path to awakening be heard by our venerable teachers, who indeed are wonderful, but not perfect…..

    We, the laity, and especially women who form such a large part of the lay sangha, should not through our respect and silence, tacitly allow discrimination and unfairness, to continue in our Buddhist centers in this age and most particularly not in the west. We should speak up, clearly and without anger, but we should insist upon being heard. There may well be some distress, fear or anxiety on the part of the bhikkhus, as the full flowering of the female path may well look rather different than that of the male. However, it should only complement and balance that path, rather than threaten it.”

    Sadhu Lisa.

  5. Off this topic. Just reading a comparison between Samyutta Agama and Samyukta Nikaya.
    SN 22. 56-57 says the aggregate of material form is conditioned by nutriment, whereas SA 41-42 says it is conditioned by delight in and desire for material form.

    Anyone who knows what they’re talking about can shed light on this? :) which one is right, the SA or SN? or both?

    (it’s a bit related to a previous discussion we had on Sujato’s blog on nutriment)

    • Hi dania,

      You’re reading Mun-keat’s book on the SA/SN I presume – good on you!

      On page 37 he notes that both SN 22.82 and SA 58 state that the cause of the rupakkhandha is the four elements, while as you say, the other suttas claim that either ‘food’ or ‘delight and lust’ is the cause.

      I would say this is an area where they are all right. In a general sense, desire is the cause of all conditioned things, which of course includes the rupakkhandha. More specifically, the rupakkhandha is conditioned by the four elements, in the sense that any structure of material form is made up of simpler elements. To say that the rupakkhandha is conditioned by food implies a narrower understanding of the rupakkhandha – i.e., that it is the body. This is not strictly speaking the case, since rupakkhandha is ‘all rupa, internal & external…’. Nevertheless, the rupakkhandha is fairly commonly treated as a kind of shorthand for ‘the body’, so to say it is conditioned by ‘food’ is not really wrong, just a looser usage.

    • yes I am reading Mun-keat’s book! it’s quite amazing, it’s wonderful hearing these teachings of the Buddha’s from both the SA and SN. :) :) it’s a heavy book so i just read little by little :)

      Thank you for the explanation Bhante, after you mention it in that way it seems quite obvious! that it’s just two ways of looking at it :)

    • Hi Bhante and Dania,

      OOOOOH! It is quite difficult to track down this book (it’s rare). If either of you – or any of the readers here – know where to procure a copy, would you please let me know? bbatke [at] bhikkhuni [dot] net

      Many thanks – and enjoy, Dania!

      Brenda

    • Sorry, I meant to qualify that I’m looking for an *affordable* copy. All of the ones I’ve come across are typically CDN $100-$150 and up.

      _/\_

      Brenda

    • It’s his Ph.D. Thesis, so there’s an off-chance you can contact the university where he wrote it and ask his department for a copy. That will almost certainly cost less, if it’s possible.

    • Yes, so: the Australasian Digital Theses Program lists the work here, and the process for getting a copy from the University of Queensland is here.

    • Hi David, Great idea, thanks very much. Unfortunately the least expensive copy (i.e. $100) that I’ve come across so far IS the copy from the University of Queensland. The book itself (printed by Harrassowitz Verlag) is prohibitive, generally listed in the $250-$1000 range. Metta, Brenda

    • Hi Brenda,

      I also did a search for this book after I read the exchange between Dania and Bhante Sujato. I had no luck either finding an affordable copy. Please let me know if you come across a source!

      Thanks,
      Linda

    • I see what you mean; an out-of-time moderated post of mine is incoming with details on getting a copy that way, in any event.

      However! I wonder if all the University might want after they offset printing and post costs is proper attribution; if so, an internet version becomes possible… depends on the book contract I suppose.

      Perhaps an email to the author might inspire a personal copy?

    • Have been mulling over that very idea for a couple of years now but just never felt comfortable about going that route. An electronic version would be ideal… did come across a PDF last year but even that was $100. Seems like an airtight publishing contract is in place. Looking forward to hearing about the reply to your post, and thank you so much for your help with this, David. Maha metta, Brenda

    • Hi Brenda, I borrowed mine from a library…. because i couldn’t find a copy that is ‘affordable’ either! :)
      Maybe you can ask your local library if they can order one in for you and you can keep renewing it? :)

    • Dear Dania and all,

      Just to let you know I contacted the author, Choong Mun-keat, and he recommends getting a copy direct from the publisher.

  6. Not sure I posted this on the right thread – so here it is again – linked to Present – the publication from Alliance for Bhikkhuni’s – Feel it’s important to take into account A.Brahm’s clarification, in the light of so much dis-information.

    Clarification from Ajahn Brahm in response to the article: Take it or Leave it & the Ground Between

    http://www.bhikkhuni.net/present/spring2010/present-groundbetween-spring2010.pdf

    Dear Thanissara,
    I have just read your excellent article in “Present”, but would like to correct a couple of minor points.

    Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth was never a member of the “Elders Council”, I was never invited to any of their meetings, nor was I ever informed of what they discussed or agreed upon. This council was made up of senior monks from Amaravati, Chithurst, Harnham, Devon Vihara, the Swiss monastery, the Italian monastery, Abhayagiri and Bodhinyanarama in New Zealand.

    This was because Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth began when Ajahn Chah sent Ajahn Jagaro to Australia. It was a direct offshoot of Wat Pah Pong. It did not originate as an offshoot of Amaravati/Chithurst, and so was never under Ajahn Sumedho. This was why we were never part of the “Amaravati Group”. For this reason, the Sangha in Perth felt no obligation to consult with this council prior to the Perth Bhikkhuni Ordinations last year. That I did personally inform Ajahn Sumedho and Vajiro about the ordinations about 10 days’ beforehand was out of courtesy, not obligation.

    However, I did consult the Thai Elders Council (Mahatherasamakom) through its leader, Somdej Pootajarn. He famously told me three times in response to my direct question on Bhikkhuni ordination in Australia that “Thai Sangha Law does not extend to the West”. I also consulted with Phra Prom Gunaporn (Phra Payutto), probably the most esteemed scholar currently in Thailand, and he advised to act compassionately. A copy of his letter is posted on Ajahn Sujato’s Blog.

    I also consulted with the head of Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University, Phra Dhammakosajarn, but he declined to reply.The oft repeated charge against the Perth Sangha of non consultation is a myth.

    Lastly. I was organising the 2009 WAM. When I asked for subjects to discuss, only Ajahn Sucitto gave any suggestions. All the other Theras supplied nothing. It was myself who suggested that we discuss Bhikkhuni Ordination at the WAM. No-one else showed any interest. Once I discovered in November about the Five Points, I realised why none of these monks were interested in discussing Bhikkhuni Ordination.

    All is well in Perth. The Sanghas are thriving, the lay supporters are growing in numbers, and tonight I give my first talk in Bangkok since the Perth Bhikkhuni Ordinations.

    With Mega Metta, Ajahn Brahm

    • Thanissara, thanks for posting Aj. Brahm’s clarification.

      On these issues, I feel like a veil has lifted for me in the past few days. It finally dawned on me that almost every discriminatory/oppressive program makes appeals to tradition. There are countless examples (plantation slavery and segregation in the U.S. South come to mind), and I’m struggling to think of an exception. I had already noticed that some of the western ajahns’ arguments that, “well, there’s equity for women but there’s also respect for tradition” were falsely setting up an equivalence of a moral issue (gender equity) and a non-moral issue (tradition/hierarchy of the Thai tradition). A clear example of this can be found in Aj. Punnadhammo’s post: http://bhikkhublog.blogspot.com/2009_11_29_archive.html
      Of course, another problem with this argument is the conflation of Thai tradition with Theravada tradition with Buddhist tradition, as has already been pointed out. Not to mention the actuality that there is constant change within traditions, i.e. tradition is more of a construct than a reality.

      But when I take a step back and notice how privileged groups have historically appealed to tradition in many, many instances, it puts that argument in a whole new light. Appeals to tradition are simply not ever a legitimate argument for maintaining or instituting discriminatory/oppressive practices. I expect that such arguments are often made in sincerity, because privilege is blinding, but the sub-text is most likely a conscious or unconscious fear of change and fear of loss of privilege.

      This was probably already obvious to many of you, but I haven’t seen it put quite this way. What I wonder now is why it took me so long to see this obvious and ancient red herring. Did it require being out of a monastery environment altogether for the past few months to clear my mind? Or maybe it was catching up on some of the more recent social discourse around oppression. Here’s one of the milder pieces I’ve read lately that might be of interest: http://www.derailingfordummies.com
      If you don’t object to satire, there’s a lot to learn there.

    • Hi Jackie, I hadn’t seen that either – thanks for pointing that out, I’m interested in exploring that dimension.
      And what indeed is tradition?
      And how reliable is it as a refuge – given that it is so susceptible to change, distortion and the agendas of those who benefit from its entitlements, economics and power privilege????

    • Thank you, Thanissara, for your article. It is a deep reflection on the current problems of Buddhist monastic communities in the Thai Forest Sangha in particular, but its true to the Theravada world in general. This insightful observation only can expressed by someone who was or is in that system. In my personal observation, i see that monks who have good relationship with their mothers and sisters, use to be more open and honest than those who were cut off from mothers’ care at an young age and those who were psychologically wounded in relationship with women in their early years.
      However, your personal experience as a young nun in the aftermath-event of disrobing of a monk in your community is something need to be examined under the law of karma. that negative energy would not hit you unless there was a karmic connection between the parties involved in that event. In the relative/relational world where karma operate in time and space, things do not happen accidental, it happens as cause(s) and effect(s) in a sequent order. What do you think about this? Have your experience been predetermined by your own projections?

    • To everyone, I came across this beautiful story and liked it, for our thoughts.

      Beautiful Thought by Lord Buddha:
      “Once Buddha was walking from one town to another town with a few of his followers. This was in the initial days. While they were travelling, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there and Buddha told one of his disciples,
      “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there.”
      The disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed that right at that moment,
      a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!”
      So he came back and told Buddha,
      “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”
      After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake.
      This time too he found that the lake was muddy. He returned and informed Buddha about the same.
      After sometime, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back.
      The disciple reached the lake
      to find the lake absolutely clean and clear with pure water in it. The mud had settled down
      and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.
      Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said,” See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be…. and the mud settled down on its own – and you got clear water.
      Your mind is also like that! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. “It is effortless.”

      Quoted by someone:-
      – Having ‘Peace of Mind’ is not a strenuous job; it is an effortless process!
      – TREAT EVERYONE WITH POLITENESS EVEN THOSE WHO ARE RUDE TO YOU; NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT NICE, BUT BECAUSE YOU ARE NICE…

    • Dear Thanissara,

      I observed that some Dhamma teachers can preach very well to others but it is hard for themselves to practise what they preach. It’s like the saying “it’s easier said than done”.

      Similarly, with Ajahn Brahm, who asked others to “let go” and do not go to the past and let the past hurt you another time each time you look back but in this case, Ajahn has not at all “let go” and move on. My instinct tells me that Ajahn still has a lot of guilt-feelings,ego and emotions not cleared up yet and is always anxious in changing and stirring up things all the time to his satisfaction.No peace of mind.

      I believe if something is in harmony and in accord with the Dhamma and Nature (coupled with right timing), there will be no disagreement and arguments, not even from those who disagree. A good example of a wise Buddhist Teacher is the late Ven KSri Dhammananda Maha Thera who helped those who have problems or doubts with his wisdom and one could not disagree with his advice as it is in accord with the Dhamma and Nature. One advice he gave pertaining to politics: (The link to his Q & A is shown below).

      Answer by Ven KSri Dhammananda Maha Thera to a question by devotee:-
      (Quote):
      First, we must ask ourselves why the Buddha instituted the Sangha Order. It was not to enable them to improve worldly conditions but to help them concentrate on their spiritual development and to be free from rebirth in this world of suffering.

      They were forbidden to handle money and they had to rely on the generosity of others to get their daily sustenance. Therefore, if monks get involved in politics they are actually getting further immersed in social problems and not concentrating on their spiritual development.

      The two do not go together. Of course a monk (or nun) is obliged to care for the welfare of lay people and be concerned about their wellbeing. This means that if he sees people being oppressed by a cruel government, he must speak up. But this has to be done by teaching the Dhamma to influence their thinking.

      The monk cannot incite the people to violence or to struggle. Deeply motivated by compassion for all parties, he has to strive to replace the ignorance that causes immoral behavior with wisdom. He has to explain the Buddha’s teaching on good governance as contained in the Mangala Sutta ( ), the Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta ( ), etc. He can teach people about their constitutional rights but he himself cannot be involved in politics. There is nothing to stop him from disrobing and doing whatever he likes, but he cannot give the wrong impression about what the robe represents. He can of course serve society by getting devotees to be active in community service and to help themselves, but like the lotus, he must not be defiled by mundane concerns. With the Blessings of the Noble Triple Gem,(Unquote)

      http://www.ksridhammananda.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=41&Itemid=44

      Thank you for the opportunity to share here.

    • Excuse me for my ignorance on this issue.
      A.Brahm said,
      “This was because Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth began when Ajahn Chah sent Ajahn Jagaro to Australia. It was a direct offshoot of Wat Pah Pong. It did not originate as an offshoot of Amaravati/Chithurst, and so was never under Ajahn Sumedho. This was why we were never part of the “Amaravati Group””

      So, does that mean Bodhiyana Monastery in Perth is a branch monastery of Wat Pah Pong and not a branch of the Amaravati monastery? I thought all Ajahn Chah monasteries in the West are under Ajahn Sumedho, as I read his bio that he is the first Western Monk from Ajahn Chah lineage.

      I thought monk/nun have less problems but now I find that they have more problems than householders. I guess it is hard to resist gain,fame, honour and all the worldly temptations if one is not yet an Arahant, as our minds cannot be trusted, we can be good one minute and bad the next minute,it is fickle and I find that this mind keeps changing its mind, it is as if we have two minds in our mind. One of them is Evil and the other is Saintly and both are always arguing and disagreeing.

    • Hi Lee-Ann,

      Yes, this is a common misconception. Ajahn Sumedho is the senior Western monk in the WPP tradition, but as he has been living in England for many years he has not been directly involved in developments in Thailand and elsewhere. Often in Thailand people would say that I was a student of Ajahn Sumedho, whereas in fact I have never been his student, and would only meet him on occasion when he visited Thailand for a few days.

      As stated above, Bodhinyana was established seperately by invitation from Thailand and has never been part of the ‘Amaravati group’. Several other monasteries in the WPP tradition were established overseas in the same way, such as Bodhivana in melbourne. Such monasteries are part of WPP but not part of the Amaravati group, although of course they maintain their ties with the Amaravati group to a greater or lesser extent.

    • Thank you Ajahn for the clarification.
      In my opinion, it would be great and beneficial to establish a Western Elders Sangha from the Ajahn Chah forest tradition for purpose of unity, uniformity, mutual understanding, co-operation & goodwill, as cultures, needs and society are different in the West, as a Sangha community in the West rather than as a separate individual Sangha.

      Hope all the monasteries in the West from the Ajahn Chah forest tradition can come together as one big happy family in the West. It will make the lay people happy too.

    • ..as a Sangha community in the West rather than as a separate individual Sangha…..(to add)
      to continue the lineage of the Theravada tradition or the Buddha’s Sangha lineage started by and originated from the Buddha.

    • …as cultures,(to add)climate or weather, food (eg cheez/chocolate maybe more palatable or a necessity in the West but rice, vege,salted fish or frog meat maybe more palatable in the East), education level, mentality, upbringing, needs and society are different in the West.

    • Lee-Ann,
      May I correct you on what you said, the vehicle to Nibbana is 8-fold Noble Path.

      My logic is that, the 8-fold Noble Path is the vehicle to Enlightenment, and the 4-foundations of Mindfulness is the vehicle to Nibbana (a state where we could detached body and mind as they truly are in reality).

  7. Dear Ayya
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments and taking time to read Take it or Leave it…

    In regards to your question to me. That incident was a long time ago, memory is subjective of course. Also the field of shared projections and karma in such a close community are hard to thread out. Karma is also somewhat unfathomable.

    However why I used that example was that it was a moment when my mind was very clear and I felt much equanimity around the disrobing of the monk that morning. My natural feeling was to wish him well.

    It was very evident that the sudden impact of emotion did not arise from my mind state – that it was displaced from the abbot. As I said, it ‘rolled’ across the floor. I literally felt the energy ‘latch’ onto me. Like a foreign body.

    It was such a powerful physical impact that i had to get up and leave the room. I left through the abbots door – I had never before walked through that door (it was strictly a monks door) feeling the weight of grief and anger.

    All I can say (I can’t prove it or thread out the karma) is that it was not mine at that moment, I didn’t feel particularly attached even to the process as i experienced the grief – more observant – I felt that I was grounding the energy and that my body was literally moving and living through the abbots unexpressed and repressed feeling. Perhaps, by going through his door, even his wish to leave.

    This was insightful for me as before that I had not understood so well how displaced feeling can be transfered. And while I admit to my many and often unskilful projections onto others – on that morning I feel confident that I was feeling peaceful.
    What was felt through my body and mind was not my personal reaction.

    I do not see that my projections predetermined that effect. And when i consider the process from this perspective now – I still see that I could not have predetermined that effect. Also I feel a little unclear as to what exactly you are saying.

    Why I brought this point into the article is that because women tend to be more receptive by nature, the nuns often found themselves processing the disallowed emotions of the monks.

    I’m sure monks find themselves processing projections from nuns & women, which must be equally weird.
    I will have to leave them to talk about that.

    I can only really talk from the subjective perspective of what was a common experience while in a dual community where denial of emotion was common. (In those early years of training) Unfortunately the abbot would often be critical about ‘emotional nuns’ which I now see as lacking in psychological sophistication (and honesty) as to how the dynamic of displaced emotion plays out.

    The abbot would also be very unconscious of his own anger and the devastation of it, which he used as a teaching modality. In the climate of no feed back allowed – I see that this has become a real problem. When any attempt for reflection gets ignored or shouted down, it seems even a further muddle to imply, even subtly through the teaching of karma, that the problem could arise from the recipients own projections.

    This would dove tail very nicely into undermining the possibility for more open communal consensus. Reactions to this particular abbot’s style – have always been met with – ‘its your problem, you aren’t practicing properly’ And so what is actually abusive become justified by ‘dhamma double speak.’ Those then, that hold power over the community dialog/ dynamic never to look into their own heart as to their own shadow, as it is conveniently lived out by others.

    Why I also put this example into the article is that it is my sense that at the moment much of the community in the main UK monasteries is caught up in living out the deep wounds around the feminine of a few monks who hold power inappropriately.

    Until that can come to light and be owned, i see not much hope as to authentic solutions other than an on going fracturing of the ‘field of relationship’ which is currently undermining cohesive community, and is leading to nuns disrobing or leaving to go out under their own steam.

    Meditation doesn’t always facilitate that work – it is more within the realm of the therapeutic, relational and by necessity has to include dialog.

    I would qualify all of what I have said by agreeing that, of course, all those (us) who are caught up in the dynamic have their karma together.

    • Displaced emotions is truly weird – it’s probably something that has to be experienced to be believed, having experienced just that kind of thing, I can say it has nothing to do with projection – the feeling is completely and utterly alien and has the characteristic of arising only once then passing away within an hour or two – unlike our usual emotions which tend to be serial-offenders.

      It seems to be related to ‘radiating’, someones mind, due to mental power (from meditation or force of will or just strength of emotion), starts radiating their mental state powerfully and it’s pushed into receptive people. This is fantastic with metta or compassion, but when the radiated emotion is rage, terror, trauma or lust – it gets weird and can freak out people who aren’t experienced with the principle.

      Actually it’s really not an unusual thing, it’s really mundane and I think it happens all the time. It’s like when two people upset each other, or when one person comforts another, or even seduction – there’s a flow of emotions, feelings and desires operating at a level deeper than words.
      This is a really helpful thing to understand, because it demonstrates that words often aren’t so important. It’s what we’re putting ‘out there’ with our mind, directly, that can make the biggest difference to how people react to us. If we want people to stay away from us and reject us – then, they feel that. If we want them to feel safe and comfortable around us, then they feel that.

    • Dear Thanissara,
      Thank you & Anagarika Blake for clear answers to my question.
      “In the climate of no feed back allowed – I see that this has become a real problem. When any attempt for reflection gets ignored or shouted down, it seems even a further muddle to imply, even subtly through the teaching of karma, that the problem could arise from the recipients own projections.” This is true, too. and you are partly right when stating that meditation can’t do away every problem in a dual community that need a fair dialog. I say it’s partly because insight meditation or deep reflection can help to easy out the intense of emotion, and in this process, real ‘letting go’ happen, not displaced or disowned the unwanted emotions and let it floating & hit others like the case you experienced!
      In insight meditation, the knowing mind and acceptive attitude of the practitioner simply dissolve the negative force, not suppress it. When one use meditative power or rational reflection to suppress some unwanted emotions, one makes them ghosts. I my self experienced this in my early years of intensive meditation practce in Burma, but i was lucky, I met an insighful teacher, the late Swe O Min Sayadaw who pointed out the relative value of good and bad, the sense of self /ego and the controlling tendency that make problems worst.
      i feel doubtful about the method of meditation in Thai forest tradition, as they emphasis a lot on samadhi or mental absorption which, according to some early texts, only have the power of temporary suppression, not eliminate defilements. Another weird is that tradition insists on strict Vinaya especially on outward exhibition of how to wear your robes, how & what & when to eat, etc. i do not intent to undermine the effort and commitment of many sincere practitioners in that tradition and their success in keeping the Vinaya and reintroduce meditation to the modern world. However, many of their disciples seems to content with the bark of the tree, not the heartwood. Another problem in the meditative world is that when someone tries to prove his/her PARANORMAL or SUPERNORMAL STATE when he/she has not actually reached it, he/she becomes abnormal.
      Sometimes i feel so pity or sympathized for some Abbots or teachers, because of their positions, they have to pretend to be noble when they are still ordinary human beings. If only they have the courage to admit their ordinary mind states, then, there would not come the problems as we just discussed above.

    • Dear Ayya Dharma,

      Ayya Dharma Wrote: ” Another weird is that tradition insists on strict Vinaya especially on outward exhibition of how to wear your robes, how & what & when to eat, etc. i do not intent to undermine the effort and commitment of many sincere practitioners in that tradition and their success in keeping the Vinaya and reintroduce meditation to the modern world. However, many of their disciples seems to content with the bark of the tree, not the heartwood.”

      I think it will make more sense if you refer to the Vinaya and read the story on why the Buddha created that rule.

      ” Now at that time Bhikkhus who were going on their rounds for alms did so with their under garments or their robes improperly put on, and not decently attired, and they entered dwellings without deliberation, and left them without deliberation, and they entered dwellings roughly, and left them roughly, and they stood at too great a distance or too near, and they stood too long or turned back too soon.

      And a certain Bhikkhu, on his round for alms, entered a dwelling without noticing where he was going to, and taking (a doorway) for a house-door he passed into an inner chamber. A woman was lying asleep naked on her back in that chamber; and when the Bhikkhu saw her he went out again, perceiving that that was no house-door, but a chamber. Now the husband of that woman, seeing his wife in that position in the chamber, thought: ‘My wife has been defiled by that Bhikkhu.’ And he seized him, and beat him.

      But the woman, being woke up by the noise, said to the man, ‘Why, Sir, are you beating this Bhikkhu?’

      ‘You have been defiled by this Bhikkhu.’

      ‘Not so, Sir. This Bhikkhu has done nothing’ (said she), and had the Bhikkhu set free.

      Then the Bhikkhu, on going to the Ârâma, told the matter to the Bhikkhus . . . murmured . . . . told the Blessed One . . . . he said to the Bhikkhus:

      ‘Therefore, O Bhikkhus, do I establish a rule of conduct for Bhikkhus going their rounds for alms, which they are to observe therein.

      2. ‘A Bhikkhu, O Bhikkhus, who intends to go his round for alms, should put on his waistcloth .

      ‘When he enters a dwelling, he should take notice (where he goes, saying to himself), “By this way will I go in, and by this way will I come out.” He should not go in, nor come out, roughly. He should not stand too far off, nor too near, nor too long; and he should not turn back too easily…………………( and so on.)

      ‘This, O Bhikkhus, is the rule of conduct which I establish for Bhikkhus going their rounds for alms, which they are to observe therein.
      it makes good sense.” – Eight Khandkha

      I hope it makes more sense on why the Buddha created the rule on dressing properly when going to gather food and why is it important for the monks to follow it.

      Ayya Dharma wrote: ” i feel doubtful about the method of meditation in Thai forest tradition, as they emphasis a lot on samadhi or mental absorption which, according to some early texts, only have the power of temporary suppression, not eliminate defilements.”

      I am not sure about what meditation other monastery in the Thai forest tradition practice. I don’t think they all practice the same way due to differences in how they understand the suttas. However,I do practice according to AB’s technique which emphasizes on Samadhi. And I think the reason that AB didn’t eliminate Samadhi because it is #8 on the Noble Eightfold Path ( Samma Samadhi). If he left that out , he would be practicing the Noble Sevenfold path which is not something that the Buddha created.

      Also if we read Transcendental Dependent Origination ( the sequence leading to Awakening), the Buddha didn’t leave Samadhi ( jhana) out of the sequence . Also, it is showing Samadhi in front of Wisdom / Insight instead of the other way around:

      1 – Faith (saddha)- From understanding one develops faith in the practice of the Noble 8 Fold Path.

      2 – Joy(pamojja) arises automatically in one who is free from remorse.

      3 – Rapture (piti) arises automatically in one who is glad.

      4- Tranquillity (passaddhi) arises automatically in one who is joyful.

      5- Inner Happiness (sukha) arises automatically in one who is tranquil.

      6- SAMADHI ( jhana) arises in one who is inwardly happy.

      7- WISDOM (Seeing things as they truly are) arises in one who has jhana.

      8- Disenchantment (nibbida)

      9- Dispassion (viraga)

      10- Liberation (vimutti)

      11 – Knowledge of destruction of the cankers/taints (asavakkhaye ñana) or knowledge and vision of release. -From Transcendental Dependent Origination/ Arising

      Let’s say we leave out samadhi all together and just try to arouse insight when the 5 hindrances are not absent. It is true that there are some light insight before nimitta and jhana, but it is not as strong as after jhana when the hindrances are absent temporarily. Because it is only absent temporarily, that is why we don’t just stop practicing all together after having jhana but go on to use that opportunity to arouse wisdom so that it will be eliminated permanently. How deep can insight be if we are trying to see the nature of non-self with a mind full of hindrances. The Buddha said trying to see with a mind when desire is not absent is like looking into a bowl of water filled with dye, you will not be able to see your reflection. Likewise, you might not be able experience self-realization when trying to penetrate the nature of ” self” with a mind where desire is present. The same goes with the other 4 hindrances ( the simile used to describe them is slightly different but I think you get the idea).

      Ayya Dharma wrote: ” Another problem in the meditative world is that when someone tries to prove his/her PARANORMAL or SUPERNORMAL STATE when he/she has not actually reached it, he/she becomes abnormal.”

      There is a rule on not showing or claiming Paranormal or supernormal state whether the person has actually reached it or not. Why would anyone try to prove that they have it.

      I totally agree with this rule that the Buddha created, because enlightenment is not one more achievement to wear on your sleeve. If someone can teach others to find contentment and liberation that is enough. I believe that those who are truly enlightened, they are inwardly content. Their happiness doesn’t come from other people or approval from others. These things are transient and part of duality. When there is fame, there is also blame. Happiness based on fame is unstable.

    • Dear Ayya Dharma,

      Ayya Dharma wrote: ” Another weird is that tradition insists on strict Vinaya especially on outward exhibition of how to wear your robes, how & what & when to eat, etc.”

      There doesn’t seem to be any reason indicating that the rule about when and what to eat was not created by the Buddha. If that is the case then I think it is a good idea to analyze why he might have set up these rules in the first place. For example, not eating dinner.

      1. I believe when you are not allowed to indulge in various unnecessary sensory enjoyment, the mind will try to gratify itself through whatever other outlet available. The monks are still allowed to take food. If the Buddha allow them to eat whenever and whatever they want, it is likely that the mind will try to find stimulation through food and overindulge. After all, they are taking up the practice of taming the mind.
      2. Considering the monastic lifestyle was set up so that the monks can have time to meditate, I think that eating 3 meals a day or more might give them more calories than their lifestyle require. So eating a light breakfast, a full lunch, and have some drinks in the evening is just fine. (Of course, there are always exception when a monastery is new and require the monks to build before they can settle in their regular practice, then that is a different story). Overindulgence in food might cause their body to put on more weight than it is healthy for the body.

      3.About what kind of food is allowed outside the regular meals:
      Sometimes people get sick, they might require some special diet to recover. That might be the reason why the Buddha specifies what kind of food qualify to be used for the purpose of recovery from illness outside of the allowed meals. Without specifying, the monks can eat any kind of food and say that it is for their illness.

      4. Some other benefits of the rule about eating is that it is more convenient for the laypeople and monastics. Before, monks actually have to go on alms for food. This spare them from having to worry about going out to get food every couple hours throughout the day. I think more time can be dedicated to their practice this way.

    • Dear Imeditation,
      It was my first training in Theravada tradition, at that time i learnt together with the monks, and it was the first time Theravada academic authority allowed nuns and lay people to learn Vinaya. My first impression of the Vinaya was the Buddha is so compassionate, perhaps, the greatest Teacher or Father that I have ever perceived. i read the whole Vinaya books with amazing about the detailsedtreatments on many topics concerning the monastic life. Of cause, i knew quite well about the case stories, the reasons, and how to understand each rule, its analysis of offence and non-offence and how to apply it in the practical monastic life (with Burmese style, of cause, because we learnt with Burmese monks).
      Now, come to my point in saying that Thai forest monks, and more specific, the second and third generations are just borrow central Sangha standards(Dhammayut & Mahanikai) style to make themselves appear more dignified in public eyes. If you do not belief me, pl. read Forest Recollection, compiled by Kamala Tiyavanich. A cautious here is necessary, as most of recollections, the incidents and comments therein had been modified to fit the view of the writer and publishers. Now many of them insist on how a monk/nun have to carry 3/5 robes with them whenever they left monastery, this make them always carry Sanghati (the double layer robe) even when they go for alms-round. This is quite weird now a day, when monks do not wander from place to place without intention to come back. The rule was laid down because some monks were careless, let their properties unattended for a long time, that made their robes & other articles damaged. At that time, robe material are difficult to find, not like now a-day, ready make robes for monks are every where. They insist on wearing only 3 robes, and when it rain for quite a long time, the washed robe have not dried yet, they have to use heater to make it dry, what a wasteful of energy when in the monks’ store, there a many extra robes are keep. Being contented with little things are good and virtuous, but making a fuss at ‘how strict/scrupulous i am’ is not a virtue at all!
      Now how / when and what to eat. At the Buddha time, there was no clock, the time was indicated by the position of sun and shadow. Monks are expected to eat one meal a day. This is good, because they devote most of their time for meditation, they do not need a lot of energy produced from foods, if they eat too much, it become a hindrance for meditation practice, not to count it burdensome for people who support them. Now, many monks insist that they have to eat before 12 pm, if they stay in their monastery, it OK, but sometimes, on a trip to foreign countries, where food are not available at an early hour, it become a difficulty for their supporters. I do not have time to specify many inconvenient that some monks who stick to a particular custom/tradition make it hard for supporters and for their own health and life. In these cases, i do not see that particular Vinaya practice conducive to the peace of mind or to inspire faith in the faithless people they happen meet on their ways. I have to say further that Vinaya is not a practice for convenience, but a discipline on body and verbal conducts, to that extent, it is indispensable practice on the Buddhist path summarized in 3 stages: Sila (morality), Samadhi (unity & purity of the mind) and Panna (wisdom). However, the code of rules which were laid down in relationship to a particular custom/ culture/ economic /natural and politic set of a time, is a different topic of discussion.
      Again, Samadhi or the unity and purity of the mind is an indispensable stage of practice, however, samadhi is not the end of the path, rather, it enables the practitioner to experience thing(dhamma)in a different dimension from ordinary senses. When i write, they emphasis a lot on samadhi, this refers to the tendency of indulgence in calm and inaction, that does not lead to liberation.Ref. this sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.008.nypo.html
      This should be enough for now.

    • Ayya, rejoice arose with that Sutta. I humbly seek your teaching on what is exactly the meaning of this English word “effacement” (in Dhamma viewpoint) as I still don’t understand even after checking from the Dictionary that says rub or wipe out one’s mark,recollection,impression. Sadhu.

    • Hi lee-ann,

      The Pali word is ‘sallekha’, which is apparently derived from the root ‘likh’, to scratch or inscribe. This is the Indic word used for writing or inscriptions (cf English ‘legible’, etc.). The metaphor seems to be that by practice one gradually ‘wears away’ the defilements, like an inscription or marking is worn away.

    • Dear Ayya Dharma,

      Ayya Dharma wrote: “Again, Samadhi or the unity and purity of the mind is an indispensable stage of practice, however, samadhi is not the end of the path, rather, it enables the practitioner to experience thing(dhamma)in a different dimension from ordinary senses.”

      Yes, this is clearly shown in the sequence of Transcendental Dependent Origination / Arising. After Samadhi there is the need to develop Wisdom, Disenchantment,Dispassion before arriving at Liberation.

      1 –

      2 –

      3 –

      4-

      5-

      6- SAMADHI ( jhana)

      7- WISDOM

      8- Disenchantment (nibbida)

      9- Dispassion (viraga)

      10- Liberation (vimutti)
      – Upanisa Sutta

      Ayya Dharma wrote: “When i write, they emphasis a lot on samadhi, this refers to the tendency of indulgence in calm and inaction, that does not lead to liberation.”

      It is certainly possible that a someone might think that it is enlightenment after Samadhi and just stop there without knowing that there is the need to cultivate liberating realization.

      I wouldn’t worry about that too much ( to the point that it stops one from developing samadhi). It is not a big problem that can’t be solved. If this happens, the person simply need someone/ sutra to point out that they can now utilize the pure state after jhana to cultivate wisdom and arrive at liberation.

      What I am concern about is that certain insight practitioners fear or try to avoid samadhi altogether because they hear someone say that samadhi is not the end of the path therefore it should be avoided.

    • Ayya Dharma, I have you to be grateful and thankful for, for linking the Sallekha Sutta to dismiss many teacher’s misconception about Jhanas and its importance in eradicating defilements.

      I am reading it over and over again and I am convinced that Jhanas alone cannot wipe out or uproot our defilements according to the Buddha in this Sutta. It is very clear here and I think this Sutta is very very important and should be highlighted to all meditators who practice only Samadhi. You are right Ayya, Samadhi is only for tranquility not for purification. In Dhp Buddha said: Samadhi is the highest tranquility.

      In this Sutta, Buddha clearly mentioned clear mindfulness in 3rd & 4th absorption (very important). 1st & 2nd is vitaka & vicara. Based on that Sutta, if one is not mindful in 3rd & 4th Jhanas, then it is Wrong Jhana.

      So, I finally kind of found the answer to my seeking on meditation, how to eradicate defilements, it is clearly written in that Sutta under Effacement(practical for all and makes sense) – it is a sum total of 8 fold Noble Path, 5 or 8 precepts, Letting Go, Detachment (views),Non-clinging, Avoid Evil,Do Good,Purify the Mind, Determination, Will power,Mindfulness, Knowledge, Avoidance of wrong views etc.

      Now I am convinced that the Right Tool to practice in eradicating defilements is Mindfulness; and Samadhi is for Peace/bliss/tranquility but need to be skillful as without mindfulness, even in Samadhi, one can be absorbed into wrong Jhana and still have all the defilements lying latent not wiped out, perhaps become worse. Now I am convinced on why some meditators cautioned me before to be very careful when practicing Samadhi/Deep absorption alone without mindfulness.

      I think some experienced practitioners should advice people on this danger for those who have not practised Mindfulness before and not skillful in Mindfulness yet. My understanding now after reading that Sutta (I have no doubt about this Sutta because it made sense and it is applicable to all. even for the Christians,Muslim etc) is that one needs to be skillful in mindfulness first before attempting Samadhi Meditation.

      Actually, this word Enlightenment is very misleading and obscure. Enlightened should be one that has eradicated all the defilements and detached(mentally not socially), not like seeing light or explosion or travel to space or levitating etc. I hope I am right on this. I am still seeking the right method of Meditation.

      So, iMeditation, please consult further on Samadhi. Ayya, Sadhu to you again. Well done. So Bhikkhuni can also help to enlighten people. Buddha is right, Bhikkhuni can also be an Arahant too.

      Ayya, I am so happy to have come across this Sutta. May you be enlightened this life.Wish you and all good health.

    • Lee- Ann wrote: ” the Sallekha Sutta to dismiss many teacher’s misconception about Jhanas and its importance in eradicating defilements.

      I am reading it over and over again and I am convinced that Jhanas alone cannot wipe out or uproot our defilements according to the Buddha in this Sutta. ”

      Nobody said that Jhana alone will wipe out or uproot defilements, but rather a necessary supporting condition. If not then how do you explain this sutta. Should we just pretend that it didn’t exist:

      “The DESTRUCTION OF THE TAINTS monks, is for one who knows and sees, I say, not for one who does not know and does not see. Knowing what, seeing what does the destruction of the cankers occur? ‘Such is material form, such is the arising of material form, such is the passing away of material form. Such is feeling… perception… mental formations… consciousness; such is the arising of consciousness, such is the passing away of consciousness’ — for one who knows and sees this, monks, the destruction of the cankers occurs.
      “The knowledge of destruction with respect to destruction has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for the knowledge of destruction? ‘Emancipation’ should be the reply.

      “Emancipation, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for emancipation? ‘Dispassion’ should be the reply.

      “Dispassion, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for dispassion? ‘Disenchantment’ should be the reply.

      “Disenchantment, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for disenchantment? ‘The knowledge and vision of things as they really are’ should be the reply.

      “The KNOWLEDGE AND VISION OF THINGS AS THEY REALLY ARE, monks, ALSO HAS A SUPPORTING CONDITION , I say, IT DOES NOT LACK A SUPPORTING CONDITION. And WHAT IS THE SUPPORTING CONDITION for the KNOWLEDGE AND VISION OF THINGS AS THEY REALLY ARE? ‘CONCENTRATION’ should be the reply.”

      – Transcendental dependent origination

      The Sallekha Sutta is not the evidence that Jhana should be ignore. The Buddha just said that it is not enough to have jhanas only but there is the need to practice sila also. Note that in meditation retreat, people usually have to keep precepts relating to sila as well. It is practiced simultaneously along with jhana. This sutta doesn’t say that Jhana is not necessary or dispensable, it just points out that there are other things that also needed to be practiced.

      Lee- Ann wrote: ” You are right Ayya, Samadhi is only for tranquility not for purification.”

      Perhaps you missed the part where Ayya Dharma wrote:

      ” Samadhi or the unity and purity of the mind is an indispensable stage of practice”

      From this , I am assuming that she meant that Jhana shouldn’t be left out of the path of practice.

      Lee- Ann wrote: “Now I am convinced that the Right Tool to practice in eradicating defilements is Mindfulness; and Samadhi is for Peace/bliss/tranquility but need to be skillful as without mindfulness, even in Samadhi, one can be absorbed into wrong Jhana ”

      Mindfulness of the breath (or other objects) needs to be there at the beginning before settling into stillness. After coming out of Jhana , you are naturally in a mindful state because you are no longer in absorption. How can one get into jhana without some degree of mindfulness initially.

      Do you prefer to leave out # 8 ( Samma Samadhi) of the Eightfold Path?

      Lee- Ann wrote: ” and still have all the defilements lying latent not wiped out, perhaps become worse.”

      The 5 hindrances need to be absent before you can be in Jhana. But after you come out you have both mindfulness and the absence of the 5 hindrances for a while. If you can develop wisdom at this point, only then can defilements be permanently eradicated.

      Lee- Ann wrote: “I think some experienced practitioners should advice people on this danger for those who have not practised Mindfulness before and not skillful in Mindfulness yet. My understanding now after reading that Sutta (I have no doubt about this Sutta because it made sense and it is applicable to all. even for the Christians,Muslim etc) is that one needs to be skillful in mindfulness first before attempting Samadhi Meditation.”

      This appears to contradict what the Buddha said :

      “I thought: ‘I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. COULD THAT BE THE PATH TO AWAKENING?’ Then following on that memory came the realization: ‘THAT IS THE PATH TO AWAKENING.’ I thought: ‘SO WHY ARE MY AFRAID OF THAT PLEASURE THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SENSUALITY, NOTHING TO DO WITH UNSKILLFUL QUALITIES?’ I thought: ‘I AM NO LONGER AFRAID of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities,” – BUDDHA in the Maha-Saccaka Sutta

      Lee-Ann wrote: “So, iMeditation, please consult further on Samadhi. ”

      I explored dry insight meditation before practicing this method where Samatha and Vipassana go hand in hand. It is in accordance with many suttras of the Buddha. The Buddha stated that:

      “There is no wisdom without jhana;
      But for one with both jhana and wisdom,
      They are in the presence of nibbana.”- Buddha

      If we go by your logic ( that jhana is not needed for the wisdom to eradicate defiements), how do you explain this statement by the Buddha? Should we listen to you or the Buddha.

      From my practice according to the Buddha and some of his monastic sangha members, it is amazingly effective. Therefore, I have no doubt regarding their expertise in this area.

    • iMeditation, point taken. You are also right based on those words of the Buddha. I was purely referring to that particular Sutta alone and my understanding based on it and it is crystal clear. I am still a learning student not a Buddha, and out of concern (please don’t get upset).

      I guess I need to read other Suttas before making any claims, as one Sutta may only refer to that occassion or one question on overcoming personal views. I am sorry if there is any misconception made by me. I am still exploring the Dhamma and the right meditation method as I hear many contradictions from meditation teachers, some say you must practice this in each retreat I attended, different methods are taught.

      Who to listen? I have come to a point now, I will only listen to the Buddha as per the Suttas, and my own experience and investigation. I will also not ruled out what you firmly mentioned. Sadhu.

    • Hi again iMeditation, I read that Sutta again and again. The first part talked mainly on Jhanas (starting to end). The end result of Jhanas starting from abiding in here and now (I think it is abiding in present moments or concentration) to peaceful abiding (peaceful) with no thoughts,perception,thinking i.e emptiness(absolute). That’s all Buddha said about Jhanas in that Sutta but however, Buddha may say in other Suttas that Jhanas is also conditioner for wisdom and sila/virtues conditioner for Jhanas, I think it is all interlinked like what you said earlier Dependent Origination, nothing can exist alone like Kamma too, there must be a cause for a result.

    • Lee- Ann, it’s just a dhamma discussion. Don’t worry about it. I am glad that you are also keeping an open mind.

    • iMeditation, it was a healthy discussion and investigation of Dhamma, and I think Ayya Dharma has made an important point on Jhanas in Samadhi. Buddha’s words in the Suttas are very precise, and for me, I had to read every word to really penetrate into his Dhamma eg Buddha said in Jhanas #5 to #8 (in Sallekha Sutta), HE said “some monks” and no mention of awareness or purity of mindfulness in these last 4 stages.

      From my poor understanding so far, after reading these few Suttas that you and Ayya have posted, I begin to differentiate between Enlightenment and Nibbana. From it, I feel that we as practitioners should not be concern with Enlightenment, as Buddha had expounded the Truth, like, after his 4th Jhana, HE re-discovered Kamma, Rebirth, Hell & Heaven from his concentration, for us.

      So, we should not waste our time trying to get the same enlightenment as Buddha (if we have Saddha in the Buddha’s re-discovery of the Dhamma). Instead, we should concentrate in achieving Nibbana (after many teachers teachings, to me Nibbana is a state of liberation from Samsara, ending rebirth, free of defilements,cravings and ignorance)and the vehicle to Nibbana is the 8-fold Noble Path.

      In conclusion, I support Ayya’s claim that Samadhi alone cannot liberate us from Samsara. I think there are a lot of misconceptions in the word “enlightened” and many of us Buddhist thought Enlightened means Nibbana, so most people chase after enlightenment by focusing on Jhanas with still defilements not totally removed yet.Buddha in Dhp:”those with mental disturbances uprooted and removed can attain Samadhi by day and by night.”
      This confirmed that defilements must be uprooted first before can be enlightened like the Buddha. To me, Buddha has done this TASK for us, our ultimate goal is to end rebirth (Nibbana) and not seeing the past,seeing Kamma, seeing Hell & Heaven etc (i.e. enlightenment) because we still have defilements not uprooted yet. The culprits are our defilements. After defilements uprooted, then we can choose to do Jhanas to proof Buddha’s enlightenment (see Kamma,rebirth,hell & heaven etc). This is my understanding of Enlightenment and Nibbana. Ayya Dharma is right on Samadhi.

    • Dear Lee-Ann,
      If you just want to utilize the Buddha’s teaching to be more comfortable in samsara or have a better rebirth then don’t worry about entering First Jhana, or any other Jhana. The the answer to the question whether jhana is needed for wisdom that truly liberate is only important to laypeople that are interested in utilizing the teaching to liberate themselves from the endless cycle of samsara. There are laypeople that actually adjust their lifestyle to be able to follow the teaching fully, such as simplifying their life to enter retreat or taking up the monastic lifestyle.
      To release stress, rejuvenate and revitalize your mind and body so that you can be more healthy , have mental clarity, reduce depression and the like, it is not necessary to reach jhana. You can just practice mindfulness while moving ( in daily activities) by directing attention to what is going on in this moment rather than allowing your attention to become scattered in thoughts about past and future. When you are sitting still, just do the same thing. Simply be aware of whatever that is in this moment, for example, the sensation in your body, the sounds that are going in the present, breath going in and going out. Just simple mindfulness is enough to keep your energy from being scattered or become wasted in restless thoughts. This energy increase happiness and decrease feelings of depression, physical and mental exhaustion. This can also increase mental clarity and give rise to light insight that is deeper than thinking with a restless mind.
      For these purpose, it doesn’t matter if you are practicing ” jhana technique” or ” insight technique” , because the few initial steps in jhana technique are very similar to insight technique. Before jhana, both technique are similar and give rise to similar effects. There are insight along the way , it doesn’t just come after a jhana. The only difference I see between the two types of practitioner is that jhana practitioners feel that the unification before jhana is not enough to give rise to insight that liberates because we are not sure if the 5 hindrances are really absent before jhana. While insight practitioners feel that it is not necessary to go that deep to have insight that liberate a person from the endless cycle of samsara.
      When it comes to improve the quality of samsaric life, I believe all meditation retreat centers are providing a great service to society by teaching people to meditate. Whether it is a jhana retreat, insight retreat, or mindfulness practice, it is beneficial in many ways. If you are quite happy being living life in samsara don’t have a problem with returning again and again then simply stick with mindfulness. Only the ones who wanted to practice for liberation ( lay and monastic) needed to ponder about both mindfulness and concentration, whether they should practice this or that method.

      About whether the 5-8 jhanas are necessary or not:
      I believe there are “discernment-release” and “released in both ways”. The ones that become liberated by ” discernment – release” might just need to emerge from the 1st jhana and develop liberating wisdom. The ones that are ” released in both ways” have all the jhanas and liberating wisdom as well. It depends on the person. It is not necessary to have all 8 jhanas. Of course, the Buddha taught both ways, so it is great to have someone to explain everything that the Buddha taught.

      About Past lives knowledge:
      I believe knowledge about your own countless past lives in particular can be helpful in eliminating your identification with the role you play in this particular life and this body. Maybe after seeing the countless forms that you have ( animal, man, women, deva) and countless role that you play in different lives ( clerk, truck driver, minister, cat, angel) might help you to see that your body ( in this life) is no more than a costume that you put on in different movies. And this role that you play in this life is like the role that an actor or actress take up in different films. It is not something to identify with or call self. You take things more lightly without seeing yourself as a woman having a certain role. The entire identity itself is impermanent and will pass away just like all your past identity ( in past lives) have passed away and be forgotten as if it never existed, or become totally irrelevant.

      Did the Buddha intended for jhanas to be practiced by himself only and not his disciples ?
      During the Buddha’s time, he taught many of his disciples to enter jhanas . In the Kutadanta Sutta , when a Brahmin was about to perform a sacrifice and asked the Buddha what kind of sacrifice / religious rituals is most beneficial when performed. The Buddha started with teaching a bloodless sacrifice then gradually lead him all the way to other practices which include jhana.:
      “Then the Khattiyas put their gifts to the east of the sacrificial pit, the advisers and counsellors set out theirs to the south, the Brahmins to the west and the wealthy householders to the north. And in this sacrifice no bulls were slain, … nor were living beings subjected to slaughter … Those who wanted to do something did it, those who did not wish to did not … The sacrifice was carried out with ghee, oil, butter, curds, honey and molasses. Thus there were the four assenting groups, and King Mahavijita was endowed with eight things, and the chaplain with four things in three modes. This, Brahmin, is called the sixteen-fold successful sacrifice in three modes.”

      And, Reverend Gotama, is there any other sacrifice that is simpler, less difficult, more fruitful and profitable than this three-fold sacrifice with its sixteen attributes?” “There is, Brahmin.”

      “What is it, Reverend Gotama?” “Whenever regular family gifts are given to virtuous ascetics, these constitute a sacrifice more fruitful and profitable than that.”
      “Why, Reverend Gotama, and for what reason is this better?”
      “Brahmin, no Arahants or those who have attained the Arahant path will attend such a sacrifice. Why? Because there they see beatings and throttlings, so they do not attend. But they will attend the sacrifice at which regular family gifts are given to virtuous ascetics, because there are no beatings or throttlings. That is why this kind of sacrifice is more fruitful and profitable.”
      “But, Reverend Gotama, is there any other sacrifice that is more profitable than either of these?” “There is, Brahmin.”
      “What is it, Reverend Gotama?” “Brahmin, if anyone provides shelter for the Sangha coming from the four quarters, that constitutes a more profitable sacrifice.”
      “But, Reverend Gotama, is there any sacrifice that is more profitable than these three?”
”There is, Brahmin.”
      “What is it, Reverend Gotama?” “Brahmin, if anyone with a pure heart goes for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, that constitutes a sacrifice more profitable than any of these three.”
      “But, Reverend Gotama, is there any sacrifice that is more profitable than these four?”
”There is, Brahmin.”
      “What is it, Reverend Gotama?” “Brahmin, if anyone with a pure heart undertakes the precepts – to refrain from taking life, from taking what is not given, from sexual immorality, from lying speech and from taking strong drink and sloth-producing drugs – that constitutes a sacrifice more profitable than any of these four.”
      “But, Reverend Gotama, is there any sacrifice that is more profitable than these five?”
”There is, Brahmin.”
      “What is it, Reverend Gotama?” “Brahmin, a Tathagata arises in this world, an Arahant, a fully-enlightened Buddha, endowed with wisdom and conduct, Well-Farer, Knower of the worlds, incomparable Trainer of men to be tamed, Teacher of Gods and humans, enlightened and blessed. He, having realised it by his own super-knowledge, proclaims this world with its Devas, Maras and Brahmas, its princes and people. He preaches the Dhamma which is lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle, lovely in its ending, in the spirit and in the letter, and displays the fully-perfected and purified holy life. A disciple goes forth and practises the moralities. Thus a monk is perfected in morality. He attains the four JHANAS (Digha Nikaya 2 verses 75-82). That, Brahmin, is a sacrifice … MORE PROFITABLE. He attains various insights , and the cessation of the corruptions . He knows : “There is nothing further in this world. That Brahmin, is a sacrifice that is simpler, less difficult, more fruitful and more profitable than all the others. And beyond this there is no sacrifice that is greater and more perfect.” – Kutadanta Sutta
      Notice that the Buddha didn’t say that jhanas are only meant for the Buddha and not meant for his followers to practice.

      You quoted the Buddha:
      – .Buddha in Dhp:”those with mental disturbances uprooted and removed can attain Samadhi by day and by night.”
      I take this to mean that those who uprooted mental disturbances can enter Samadhi any time. There are those who just have jhana once or twice by chance but haven’t develop liberating wisdom from it to uproot mental disturbances , and cannot enter samadhi by day and by night. Many times they try to get back into it but can’t because mental disturbances haven’t been uprooted. But once the person enter jhana and develop wisdom after emerging to uproot mental disturbances ( 5 hindrances) permanently, he / she can enter Samadhi by day and night ( anytime) . The line that you quoted doesn’t mean that you need to uproot ( permanently eliminate) mental disturbances before being able to enter jhana once, or once in a while. There are many people who entered jhana by chance without having permanently uprooted mental disturbances but when they are absent temporarily. Because these mental disturbances haven’t been uprooted, they can’t go back in jhana anytime they want ( by day and by night).

    • Dear Lee-Ann,

      This is an interesting topic and I have to participate with my comments after taking a long break from blogging.

      My logic of Jhanas. From my logic, I find that monks should not teach the lay people Jhanas(those who are not celibate for long period) as there are a lot of pre-requisites to fulfil before one can achieve Jhanas – Right Jhanas (for enlightenment) or Wrong Jhanas (for psychic power).

      Those Hindus devotees who perform kavadis (during Thaipusam ceremony where the devotees pierce their body as vows), they had to undergo very strict pre-requisites like being a vegetarian,celibacy,pureness mind & body for certain period etc to be able to have this psychic power. Similarly with those Hindu yogis who could buried themselves for a long period and still alive.

      From the Susima Sutta, Buddha does not encourage us to become Thieves of Dhamma.So my logic is, to become an Enlightened (i.e on par with Buddha) is, one had to be a Bodhisattva with virtues (paramis) of a Bodhisattva (Buddha was one before he was enlightened) and to be a Bodhisattva one had to perfect those virtues of a Bodhisattva (there are many stories in Dhammapada). To be able to go to Jhanas (right or wrong Jhanas), one had to fulfill the pre-requisites for Jhanas, according to Buddha to uproot all mental disturbances.

      Another logic is if anyone can just easily enter Jhanas, why Buddha ask to renounce, why there is a need to be a monk or nun and train to remove or pacify sensual desires and to be a celibate? This tells, one had to be very pure bodily and mentally to be able to attain Jhanas. The Buddha’s 8-fold Noble Path (see the word Noble) is to be followed step by step in that order and one cannot choose the last 3 of the Path before perfecting the 1st 6 of the Path i.e moral/sila/virtues must be perfected as pre-requisites.

      In my opinion, those monks who teach any lay people (not a renunciant)m Jhanas under the pretext to end rebirth or for bliss and beyond are irresponsible, questionable and with wrong views. Jhanas are for strictly monks/nuns who have perfected their Sila (main criteria: celibacy both body and thoughts/mind must be pure)according to the 8-fold Path (for Enlightenment).

      For Arahanthood, if we can follow the Effacement Sutta I think we can achieve Nibbana. In my opinion, after attaining Nibbana (free from defilements and cravings,clinging) can one qualify to practise for Enlightenment through Jhanas, like the Buddha who first had to go through the 8-fold Noble Path and perfected them (perfect paramis) before Buddha could be enlightenment made only possible by many eaons of birth (for enlightenment) but for Nibbana, as long as one is free from defilements, we are in the state of Nibbana. This is my logic and understanding of Nibbana.

    • Sorry, edgar, this is just wrong, there are plenty of suttas where the Buddha taught jhanas to lay people, or which state that lay people had jhanas, and plenty of lay people today who have jhanas.

    • Dear iMeditation,

      In your comments, you quoted Buddha ““What is it, Reverend Gotama?” “Brahmin, a Tathagata arises in this world, an Arahant, a fully-enlightened Buddha, …”

      Buddha said first an Arahant then a fully-enlightened Buddha.
      My logic is, one has to be an Arahant first before one can be Enlightened like the Buddha. Nowadays, sometimes, we say this one is enlightened that one is enlightened and so on. My logic is, if so many are enlightened, then there are so many Buddhas around. No logic, when Buddha only appeared 9 times over a span of many world cycles. As for becoming an Arahant, it is possible as even Buddha said to Gotami that women can also attain up to Arahant and one had to be a man to become a Buddha. This shows Enlightened One has to be an Arahant first and to be be a Buddha one had to be a man first.all these are mentioned by the Buddha. It is like we have to finish our secondary before we can quality for tertiary education or we have to be 17 years of age to be able to qualify for a driving licence. I am just trying to clarify with logic and not trying to be smarter or more enlightened than anyone here. Seek forgiveness and your enlightenment, if I have made any wrong view.

    • Dear Edgar,

      Edgar wrote: ” From my logic, I find that monks should not teach the lay people Jhanas…….Jhanas are for strictly monks/nuns …Yes! this Dhammapada verse is in line with my logic.
He, who has pacified mental disturbances, UPROOTED AND REMOVED, will surely attain concentration (SAMADHI) by day or by night. – Buddha

      This is another proof that one had to be an Arahant first before one can attain Jhanas in Samadhi. So, Jhanas are for Arahants, not lay people unless one is already an Arahant in previous lives or now a Bodhisatva. ”

      The Buddha doesn’t go by that logic, because
      there are records and stories of various laypeople entering jhana and became Non-returners during the time of the Buddha. For example, Citta (Citta-saṃyutta -SN 41:9/IV 300-2) , Nandamata (AN 7:50/IV 66-67) and others .This shows that the Buddha didn’t forbid laypeople from learning or practicing jhana. Also one doesn’t have to be an Arahant before entering jhana.

      Edgar wrote :”Another logic is if anyone can just easily enter Jhanas, why Buddha ask to renounce, why there is a need to be a monk or nun…”

      These laypeople who had jhanas doesn’t just sit at home and suddenly know how to enter jhana like the Buddha did when he was a child . They must have visited a monastery and listen to teachings from the Buddha / his monastic disciples or learn from them while they are wandering . Aside from being a place for dedicated people to come and practice, monasteries also serve as an outlet for propagating the dharma for generations to come. It is where people can gather to learn about the dharma. Also , the Buddha mentioned that it is a field of merit.

      Another thing is there are more records of monastics becoming Arahants than laypeople ( there are mostly stories of lay non-returners). There are a few stories of laypeople becoming Arahant but mostly right before they die or become ordain . In general, the number of Awakened lay people are a lot lesser than Awakened monastics. It might indicate that the monastic lifestyle is more conducive to the practice .

      It is similar to home study and going to a university to study/ live at a university dorm and study. Although a few might manage to get their degree online, but that doesn’t mean that universities should shut down. Besides , the online courses might be provided by the people in the universities in the first place. Some people might find that they learn their skills more easily or better when attending classes than online studies .

      – Monastics are obligated to live according to the code of conduct set up by the Buddha ,therefore preserving the practicing guidelines prescribed by the Buddha ( Vinaya).

      Edgar wrote “Buddha said first an Arahant then a fully-enlightened Buddha. My logic is, if so many are enlightened, then there are so many Buddhas around. No logic, when Buddha only appeared 9 times over a span of many world cycles. ”

      It is true that the Buddha is also considered an Arahant. But just because a person becomes an Arahant, it doesn’t necessary mean that he/she is a Buddha. A Buddha re-discovers the path to Awakening for others . The other Arahants are not a Buddha because they needed to learn the path to Awakening from someone else. When the path is no longer available for others to learn, a Buddha comes into the world and re-discovers it for others to become Arahants . It is said that many of the Buddha’s disciples became Arahants at the time of the Buddha, but that doesn’t mean that we have hundreds or thousands of Buddhas at the same time.

    • Dear Ayya Dharma

      I think it may be helpful if it is acknowledged that your tradition may be most comfortable in an approach grounded in the Abhidhamma.

      Unlike the Suttas which universally define Samma Samadhi as the 4 Jhanas, the Abhidhammikas have tweaked that important definition by introducing this unusual concept of lokiya Jhanas (ie the 4 sutta Jhanas) and lokuttara Jhanas (ie the 4 Path Cittas and 4 Fruition Cittas). Perhaps your teachers’ understanding is a product of even later exegesis, when the 8 lokuttara cittas are compressed even further into little khanika cittas, instead of being allowed to be “tasmin samaye”.

      It’s workable defence for the “dry insight” school. But I don’t think it should be allowed to muddy the waters of how Jhana is presented in the suttas. We should acknowledge these doctrinal differences that seperate Early Buddhism from its Abhidhamma phase, and its even later Commentarial phase.

    • Daer Sylvester,
      You and many others might surprise if you know that i have no tradition! And i have no desire to defense for any tradition, just smile (sts joking) when people enthusiastically argue and try to protect their tradition. If you meet me, by my appearance, you might identify me as ‘a Theravada nun’, but i consider i just a practitioner following the Buddha Dhamma as I have learn from different teachers of different traditions, that’s all.
      With mudita,

    • Dear Ayya Dharma,

      I am glad you are having an open mind.

      I don’t see a need to impose that everyone should practice vipassana, samatha, or both . At the end of the day, each of us is largely effected by what we ourselves practice, instead of what another person practice. So there is no point to get upset at someone who made a different choice.

      Let’s just exchange our understanding to have a better idea of what the other path is all about. And if it happens that there is something that we can learn from the exchange that help us make better choices then great, if not then that’s perfectly fine too. We are just fellow dhamma practitioner having a conversation about dhamma.

      I am not too concern about what tradition I am identified with. My only concern is whether I am practicing correctly in accordance with the Buddha’s instruction.

    • iMeditation, I appreciate your suggestions. I see that you are pure in your heart and a very serious meditator as your pseudonym implies.
      For now, after some dhamma discussions here and appreciate Bhante for this blog, giving us the opportunity to thrash out our doubts, I have a lot of mental cleansing works to do first i.e pass the 5 precepts hurdle first then later gradually wipe out my defilements (as in the Effacement that Buddha mentioned in Sallekha Sutta) and follow what Buddha said – to uproot and remove all mental disturbances first before I do Maha-satipatanna (samatha-vippassana) that looked to me like for monks practice. Even the 8fold Noble Path looks to me like a path for monks/nuns to follow for enlightenment. Edgar commented Noble Path, so should be for the noble ones. I don’t consider myself noble before renouncing.

      I think I will do Metta Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation and study all the Suttas first before I attempt more advanced meditation like in the Mahasatippatana Sutta as I find it is difficult if we still have the 5 hindrances ie.sensual desires,sloth torpor,restlessness,worry,doubts.
      I wish you lots of progress in your Jhanas.

    • Ayya, this Sallekha Sutta corresponds with Dhp.V:250 –

      He, who has pacified mental disturbances, UPROOTED AND REMOVED, will surely attain concentration (SAMADHI) by day or by night. – Buddha

    • Dear Lee Ann,
      To different person, the Buddha taught Dhamma somewhat different way /method, however, the essence of Dhamma is always the same. It is because the Buddha knew the inclination & disposition of each individual, so he gave instruction in a way that suit that person understanding at a given time. Even to the same person, the Buddha might give Dhamma differently in other occasions, depending on the progress of that person on the spiritual Path. This makes the Buddha Dhamma very rich, and we are so fortunate to be able to learn them all in this age of exploring information through internet. The richness of the Dhamma is not a problem, but the problem is that some teacher or his followers tend to think & affirm that only his/her method is right, all else is wrong. This approach is very narrow-minded that the Buddha in many occasions pointed out that it is not a right attitude in noble search.
      Yes, too many information sometimes make things confusing, but if we know how to select and apply the theory into practice, finally it will go well. My approach to Dhamma is learn all and at the same time, apply them as much as i can to see what is the most suitable method for my given condition. I owned many teachers for helping me through on my journey of noble search. May you soon find what you need, then be well, contented and happy.

    • Yes! this Dhammapada verse is in line with my logic.
      He, who has pacified mental disturbances, UPROOTED AND REMOVED, will surely attain concentration (SAMADHI) by day or by night. – Buddha

      This is another proof that one had to be an Arahant first before one can attain Jhanas in Samadhi.So, Jhanas are for Arahants, not lay people unless one is already an Arahant in previous lives or now a Bodhisatva.

    • Hi Edgar, I think you have some valid logic there. Siddharta was a Bodhisattva, was from Tusita Heaven, was a dignatory’s son with 4 palaces, later renounced, became an Arahant and later entered the 4th Jhanas and finally became Enlightened.

      So, an Arahant is the criteria for enlightenment or to become a Buddha. I read somewhere in the Sutta, our next Buddha is Maitreya who is also residing in one of the Heavens now. It looks like these are the standard criterias to become a Buddha in that order. So, we need to go to Heaven first and also to be a Bodhisattva first, then renounced, then be an Arahant,then only can become a Buddha. This really makes sense to me. I was told all of us can be a Buddha – it sounds like a piece of cake. It would be an insult to the Buddha if it was so easy to be a Buddha. For me, just to pass the test on the 5 precept is so difficult, what about 8 precepts, 10, 227 precepts for monks/331 for nuns. I read quite a few Suttas in accesstoinsight and found that all the Suttas I read so far are addressed to monks with O’Monks. They are for monks,not lay people. So, I googled for Suttas for lay people or householders and I am happy to find this link:

      http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=259

      For me, I feel I have to know how to live like a lay person first according to the Buddha’s Dhamma before embarking on the monks’ suttas. Monks suttas are applicable for monks only and not householders/lay people like me. I need to efface my defilements first otherwise it is hard to meditate. Thanks Edgar, for your comments.

    • Dear Edgar,

      Edgar wrote: “This is another proof that one had to be an Arahant first before one can attain Jhanas in Samadhi.”

      There are many stories in the suttas about stream-enterers and non-returners with jhanas.( ie.. Nandamata, Citta,etc..). They are not arahants yet.

      Edgar wrote: “So, Jhanas are for Arahants, not lay people unless one is already an Arahant in previous lives or now a Bodhisatva. ”

      Even non-returners don’t have to return take birth on the earth plane , but in the pure abode instead. Arahants are liberated from the cycle of rebirth in samsara. If someone is already an Arahant in a previous life, chances are the person won’t be here in this life. Only stream-enterer and once-returner still have rebirth.

    • iMeditation, you are right on this “If someone is already an Arahant in a previous life, chances are the person won’t be reborn in samsara. ” I should correct it to “potential Arahants”, as Arahants have no more rebirth, just like what Buddha said, like a flame blown off from the wick of a candle. My logic is if there is conditions then the flame can still be ignited. Arahants have “burnt-out” their desires from their minds and stay in Middle Path with desires/likes on the right and aversion/dislikes on the left like walking through the path with no reactions and inclinations when likes and dislikes arise (Nibbana = unconditional).

      My logic is Jhanas, are suppressing those desires & aversions, to temporary stay in calmness via concentration on one object but those desires and aversions cannot be get rid off or “burnt-off” just by concentration, like if we read a book with full concentration, we have peace of mind but all our desires & aversions are still there and we still do not know how to handle them when they arise and if we have not trained our mind through mindfulness to see them as they really are (anicca dukkha anatta). The desires & aversions can never be got rid off or be
      “burnt-off” but the mind do not cling to them or get excited and repulsive and do not have to get rid of them, for arahants, they can live with peace along with desires and aversions by their sides. Online the meaning of Nibbana and Arahants and it explained clearly.

      So, Arahants are always happy because they can dwell in bliss or tranquility in Jhanas and we cannot stir him anymore as his mind is unperturbable!

      If we do samadhi now before becoming Arahant, we will still react to desires and aversions after that concentration “bliss”. Problems are still there. I look at it as more like a temporary escapism but not directly adddressing the real problems realisticly. Of course, saying is one thing, doing is another.

    • Dear Edgar,

      Edgar wrote: “My logic is Jhanas, are suppressing those desires & aversions, to temporary stay in calmness via concentration on one object but those desires and aversions cannot be get rid off or “burnt-off” just by concentration… …..and if we have not trained our mind through mindfulness to see them as they really are (anicca dukkha anatta). ”

      The Buddha said that ” seeing things as they truly are” is not without a supportive factor . And Samma Samadhi is that supportive factor (From the Sequence Leading to Awakening/ Upanisa Sutta).

      It is true that when you are in Samma Samadhi there is bliss and no thought. But sooner or later, don’t you have to come out ? After you come out, the mind is so purified that whatever you incline the mind toward or want to know is is possible/ easier to know. For example , past lives, dhukkha, 5 aggregates, non- self , etc.

      An example of this can be found in the Bhayabherava Sutta :

      “I entered upon and abided in the fourth jhāna, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity………….”
      “When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints. I directly knew as it actually is……………

      “When I knew and saw thus, my mind was liberated from the taint of sensual desire, from the taint of being, and from the taint of ignorance. When it was liberated, there came the knowledge: ‘It is liberated.’ I directly knew: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’- Buddha

      Edgar wrote: “If we do samadhi now before becoming Arahant, we will still react to desires and aversions after that concentration “bliss”. ”

      Should we wait until after we become Arahant , then practice samadhi? The Buddha usually list concentration before wisdom, instead of the other way around. If it is possible to Awaken without Samadhi then why would the Buddha taught the Eightfold Path when a Sevenfold path will do. Some might say that the Eightfold path is not important . But the Eightfold Path is part of the Four Noble Truth. You can’t tamper with the Eightfold Path without tampering with the 4 Noble Truth also. I don’t think it is a good idea to alter the Four Noble Truth of the Buddha. These are considered major aspects of the dhamma , they are not minor rules to be tampered with.

      Concentration is also found in many other important sets and suttas. For example, the Five Faculties and so on:

      “(There are), monks, these five Faculties. Which five?

      “Saddhindriyaü, Viriyindriyaü, Satindriyaü, SAMADHIndriyaü, Paÿÿindriyaü.

      The Faculty of Faith, the Faculty of Energy, the Faculty of Mindfulness, the Faculty of Concentration, the Faculty of Wisdom.” ……..

      Katamaÿ-ca, bhikkhave, Samàdhindriyaü?
      “And what, monks, is the Faculty of Concentration?”

      “Here, monks, a noble disciple, having relinquished sense objects, attains concentration,

      attains one-pointedness of mind.

      “He, quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unwholesome things,

      having thinking, reflection, and the happiness and rapture born of seclusion,

      dwells having attained the first absorption.

      With the ending of thinking, and reflection,

      with internal clarity, and one-pointedness of mind,

      being without thinking, without reflection, having the happiness and rapture born of concentration,

      he dwells having attained the second absorption.

      With the fading away of rapture he dwells equanimous,

      mindful, clearly knowing, experiencing happiness through the body,

      about which the Noble Ones declare: He lives pleasantly, mindful, and equanimous,

      (thus) he dwells having attained the third absorption.

      Having given up pleasure, given up pain,

      and with the previous disappearence of mental well-being and sorrow,

      without pain, without pleasure, and with complete purity of mindfulness owing to equanimity,

      he dwells having attained the fourth absorption.

      Idaü vuccati, bhikkhave, Samàdhindriyaü.
      This, monks, is called the Faculty of Concentration.”- Indriyasaüyuttaü, SN 48.10

      Edgar, you yourself pointed out in another post that people should be more responsible by not teaching about Buddhism without referring to the suttas . Also they shouldn’t be altering the teachings of the Buddha. Would you mind providing some references in the sutta where it says that Samma Samadhi can be eliminated from the Eightfold Path, Transcendental Dependent Origination ( the sequence leading to Awakening), the Five Faculties, and so on.

      So far Sallekha sutta was brought to our attention because of a misunderstanding of that sutta. So that sutta was not actually a support for eliminating Samma Samadhi from the Eightfold Path, nor does one scene in Bahiya’s life ( while ignoring other parts of his life that lead to the climax / final scene). May I suggest that we be a little more careful when reading a sutta before jumping to the conclusion. So far it seems like the claim about dispensing away with Samma Samadhi has more to do with someone’s own speculation / mental proliferation rather than the teachings of the Buddha himself. It is only responsible to provide some substantial references from the Suttas for these claims / speculations before repeating it.

    • Hi Ayya, sorry to disturb you again on the Sallekha Sutta. I noticed there are 8 absorptions (or we called them Jhanas?).

      1st to 4th absorptions (up to Equanimity)Buddha mentioned: with clear mindful and aware and purity of mindfulness in equanimity, and end results are abidings in ease here and now.

      From 5th to 8th absorptions, there is no mindful or awareness mentioned and end result are peaceful abidings. I came across a talk from a sutta expert monk that said we need 4 Jhanas to be enlightened, so does that mean we lay people just need to do up to 4th absorption i.e equanimity + purity of mindfulness (what does it entail?)to get wisdom or if we are lucky enough, enlightenment?

      The 5th to 8th absorptions are for those who want peaceful abidings and not necessary for wisdom? If anyone knows and could confirm this, that would help tremendously and we would not be afraid to practice it up to 4th absorption which is essential and a criteria for wisdom (as what iMeditation pointed out earlier).

      Ayya/Bhante, could you help to clear this doubt?

    • Hi Lee-Ann,
      In the Suttas, the Samma samadhi are defined as consisting of four stages of Jhana in what mindfulness and clear-comprehension are present. A Sutta in Samyutta Nikaya named Susima, Ref. here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.070.than.html
      talks on the deliverance (Vimuuti) without achieving supernormal powers. At the end of the Sutta, the Buddha affirmed that these Arahants belong to a kind of Panna Vimutti, i.e., liberating through wisdom. Commentary and sub-commentary on this Sutta say that there are dry-insight Arahants, i.e., they did not attain Jhana before they use insight power exploring the modes of existence & eliminating clinging of any kind, hence liberated themselves from every mental suffering. Having insight power without the supporting condition of mental unification is doubtful, but it is not always necessary to reach four stages of mental absorption before one can develops insight. This is still a subject of controversy.
      In Myanmar, different meditation teachers say different things on this. According to some of Mahasi-stem-teachers, Jhana is not the absolute condition, however, they instruct Yogis to develop concentration to a certain degree before to explore further. According to Paauk Sayadaw, Yogis have to develop concentration of mind first, the most commendable is to fourth jhana before doing Vipassana. Some other teacher say that meditation have no method. If you are still adhere to a particular method, your mind are still in a conditioned state, how can a conditioned state experience unconditioned element (Nibbana)?

    • Greatly appreciate your speedy reply, Ayya. I think everyone is correct to a certain degree, it depends on which level of attainment we want to achieve and our purpose i.e whether we want to go to Brahman world or to stop rebirth (Nibbana).

      For me, those 2 destinations are beyond my lay-life’s wildest dream. We just want to know how to overcome our defilements to be able to cope living in this samsaric world and able to detach our so called mundane sufferings with Dhamma and meditation, like to stop anger or ill-will to become volitional and cause another new kamma to be born, by using for example, concentration on 4 foundations of mindfulness as taught by Buddha, so that we are able to see them, with undeniably some initial practice and footwork of the first 2 stages of concentration (with mindfulness of pain and pleasure) and 3rd & 4th stage i.e. equanimity (without pain and pleasure), virtues and understanding of the Dhamma and Right View.

      Since we buy into Kamma (after gaining Right View), we just want a Way to end our old defiled kamma from arising and at the same time not creating any new defiled kamma. I understand an Arahant does not create defiled and even undefiled (wholesome) kamma. For lay people like us (not Ariyas), it would be a big step and success if we could know the right method to stop creating defiled kamma.

      So, I find this Sutta very applicable for us lay people as it is practical, achievable and effective in purifying to prevent creating new defiled kammas that will pull us downward to woeful states, our greatest fear and purpose of practice.

      Most of the suttas on meditation are for monks/nuns and most teachers sometimes use those monks/nuns for monks/nuns to teach to lay people, causing more sufferings as we still cannot renounced yet. They have to teach the lay people those meditation that are suitable for lay people eg as in the Sutta, in my opinion 5th to 8th Suttas are not the domain of the lay people.
      I feel that, if the teacher teach this to lay people, he/she is trying to boast of his/her attainments, because it is not useful for us lay people.So, I appreciate this Sutta to know where we stand.

      Sadhu Ayya for your compassion and open mind.

    • Ayya, this is confirmed in Maha-Saccaka Sutta –
      Buddha- I entered & remained in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

      “When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives….

      I am satisfied this Truth is reiterated in Maha-Saccaka Sutta and Susima Sutta. So, I am convinced that Jhanas #5 to #8 are not profitable, practised by some yogis who want supernatural powers like Buddha’s previous teachers.

    • Sorry, typo mistake:
      …in my opinion 5th to 8th Suttas are not the domain of the lay people.

      Should be read as:
      … in my opinion 5th to 8th JHANAS are not the domain of the lay people.

  8. No wonder, they say: when two Burmese monks (or a group of practitioners who bear the Dhamma – impression form Burmese teachers) come together, they talk on Abhidhamma & Vipassana. But when two Thai (or related to Thai style of Practice) come together, they talk on Vinaya and it is very likely their talks will develop into about Samadhi!
    We should rejoice at the richness of Buddhist spiritual practices after 2554 years the Teacher passed away. Will we?

    iMeditation :
    Dear Ayya Dharma,
    Ayya Dharma wrote: “Again, Samadhi or the unity and purity of the mind is an indispensable stage of practice, however, samadhi is not the end of the path, rather, it enables the practitioner to experience thing(dhamma)in a different dimension from ordinary senses.”
    Yes, this is clearly shown in the sequence of Transcendental Dependent Origination / Arising. After Samadhi there is the need to develop Wisdom, Disenchantment,Dispassion before arriving at Liberation.
    1 –
    2 –
    3 –
    4-
    5-
    6- SAMADHI ( jhana)
    7- WISDOM
    8- Disenchantment (nibbida)
    9- Dispassion (viraga)
    10- Liberation (vimutti)
    – Upanisa Sutta
    Ayya Dharma wrote: “When i write, they emphasis a lot on samadhi, this refers to the tendency of indulgence in calm and inaction, that does not lead to liberation.”
    It is certainly possible that a someone might think that it is enlightenment after Samadhi and just stop there without knowing that there is the need to cultivate liberating realization.
    I wouldn’t worry about that too much ( to the point that it stops one from developing samadhi). It is not a big problem that can’t be solved. If this happens, the person simply need someone/ sutra to point out that they can now utilize the pure state after jhana to cultivate wisdom and arrive at liberation.
    What I am concern about is that certain insight practitioners fear or try to avoid samadhi altogether because they hear someone say that samadhi is not the end of the path therefore it should be avoided.

  9. Lee-Ann :
    Ayya, rejoice arose with that Sutta. I humbly seek your teaching on what is exactly the meaning of this English word “effacement” (in Dhamma viewpoint) as I still don’t understand even after checking from the Dictionary that says rub or wipe out one’s mark,recollection,impression. Sadhu.

    The English word relates to the verb ‘efface’ which means: To destroy, as a mental impression; to wear away.
    [1913 Webster]
    Efface from his mind the theories and notions vulgarly received. Bacon.
    Syn. — To blot out; expunge; erase; obliterate; cancel; destroy. — Efface, Deface. To deface is to injure or impair a figure; to efface is to rub out or destroy, so as
    to render invisible.
    The original Pali was explained by Bhante, I will not repeat here. In the Buddhist terms, the word is used to denote the eradication of defilements, purging one’s mind of impurities which had long impressed or embedded, that is the sense of self, the ego consciousness.

    • Thank you so much Ayya Dharma & Bhante Sujato, for that clear defination. It helped me to understand the Sutta better now. I really appreciate that Sutta as I can meditate along these guidelines from the Buddha and not meditate blindly. Sadhu!

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