Mark Foote

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About Mark Foote

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  1. Whoever, Ananda, should speak thus: ‘This [the first meditative state] is the highest happiness and joy that creatures experience’–this I cannot allow on [their] part. What is the reason for this? There is, Ananda, another happiness more excellent and exquisite than that happiness. And what, Ananda, is this other happiness more excellent and exquisite than that happiness? Here, Ananda, [an individual], by allaying initial and discursive thought, [their] mind inwardly tranquillised and fixed on one point, enters and abides in the second meditation which is devoid of initial and discursive thought, is born of concentration, and is rapturous and joyful. This, Ananda, is the other happiness that is more excellent and joyful than that happiness. Whoever, Ananda, should speak thus… And what, Ananda, is this other happiness more excellent and exquisite than that happiness? Here, Ananda, [an individual], by the fading out of rapture, abides with equanimity, attentive and clearly conscious, and [they] experience in [their] person that happiness of which the [noble ones] say: ‘Joyful lives [the one] who has equanimity and is mindful’. And entering on the third meditation [they] abide in it. This, Ananda, is the other happiness that is more excellent and exquisite than that happiness. Whoever, Ananda, should speak thus… And what, Ananda is the other happiness more excellent and exquisite than that happiness? Here, Ananda, [an individual], by getting rid of happiness and by getting rid of anguish, by the going down of [their] former pleasures and sorrows, enters and abides in the fourth meditation which has neither anguish nor happiness, and which is entirely purified by equanimity and mindfulness. This, Ananda, is the other happiness that is more excellent and exquisite than that happiness. Whoever, Ananda, should speak thus: ‘This [the fourth meditative state] is the highest happiness and joy that creatures experience’-this I cannot allow on [their] part. What is the reason for this? There is, Ananda, another happiness more excellent and exquisite than that happiness. And what, Ananda, is this other happiness more excellent and exquisite than that happiness? Here, Ananda, a [person], by wholly transcending perceptions of material shapes, by the going down of perceptions due to sensory impressions, by not attending to perceptions of difference, thinking: “Ether is unending’, enters and abides in the plane of infinite ether. This, Ananda, is the other happiness that is more excellent and exquisite than that happiness. …[a person], by wholly transcending the plane of infinite ether and thinking: ‘Consciousness is unending’, enters and abides in the plane of infinite consciousness… …[a person], by wholly transcending the plane of infinite consciousness, and thinking: ‘There is no thing’. enters and abides in the plane of no-thing… …[a person]. by wholly transcending the plane of no-thing, enters and abides in the plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. …[a person], by wholly transcending the plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. enters and abides in the stopping of perceiving and feeling. This, Ananda, is the other happiness that is more excellent and exquisite than that happiness. … the situation occurs, Ananda, when wanderers belonging to other sects may speak thus: ‘The recluse (Gautama) speaks of the stopping of perceiving and feeling, and lays down that this belongs to happiness. Now what is this, now how is this?’ Ananda, wanderers belonging to other sects who speak thus should be spoken to thus: ‘Your reverences, (Gautama) does not lay down that it is only pleasant feeling that belongs to happiness; for, your reverences, the Tathagatha ("Thus-Gone One") lays down that whenever, wherever, whatever happiness is found it belongs to happiness. (MN I 400, Pali Text Society MN Vol. II p 68-9) “…What do you think about this, reverend Jain: Is King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha, without moving his body, without uttering a word, able to stay experiencing nothing but happiness for seven nights and days?” “No, your reverence.” “What do you think about this, reverend Jain: Is King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha, without moving his body, without uttering a word, able to stay experiencing nothing but happiness for six nights and days, for five, for four, for three, for two nights and days, for one night and day?” “No, your reverence.” “But I, reverend Jain, am able, without moving my body, without uttering a word, to stay experiencing nothing but happiness for one night and day. I, reverend Jain, am able, without moving my body, without uttering a word, to stay experiencing nothing but happiness for two nights and days, for three, four, five, six, for seven nights and days.” (MN I 94, Vol I pg 123-124) Not that we disagree, any of us, regarding the importance of experience and the uniqueness of each individual's path. At least, I don't think we do! I'm just thinking nobody knows that this teaching exists, what a shame. There's a sermon where he talks about holding his breath until his head felt like it was being split by an axe, and worse. Still, he says, his mind was not impinged upon. That was during his time of ascetic practices, before his attainment of the cessation of (determinate thought in) perceiving and feeling. Interestingly, his description about holding his breath is followed by a passage about angels praised the practice: ... devatas, having seen me, spoke thus: 'The recluse Gotama has passed away.' Other devatas spoke thus: 'The recluse Gotama has not passed away, but he is passing away.' Other devatas spoke thus: 'The recluse Gotama has not passed away, nor is he passing away; the recluse Gotama is a perfected one, the mode of living of a perfected one is just like this.' The translator of the text, I. B. Horner, added a footnote to "perfected one": araham. Either the devatas were mistaken, for at this time Gotama was not an arahant in its meaning of one who had done all there was to be done, or the term is here being used in a pre-Buddhist sense. Gautama (I prefer the older spelling) goes on to describe his ascetic practices with regard to food, and the dire state he came to be in (it wasn't pretty!)--he concludes that his starvation was of no avail, as far as reaching "the states of further-men". Presumably, by its position in the text, the earlier breath retention effort didn't avail him either, as far as reaching "the states of further men". Which to me makes the passage about the devatas an addition to the text. That says to me that the notion of breath control, and of stopping the breath as a beneficial practice, was prevalent in India at the time of the Gautamid (but all Gautama got out of it was a splitting headache). Gautama goes on to describe how he remembered sitting under a rose-apple tree as his father plowed the fields (and yet, the myth is that Gautama was royal-born), and the happiness he had, as he meditated there. He realized that such meditation might be the way he had been looking for--he took nourishment and regained his strength, and began meditating. He described entering the various states of meditation: But yet... the pleasurable feeling, arising in me, persisted, without impinging on my mind. (MN I 247, Pali Text Society Vol I p 302) Happiness--ho, ho, ho.
  2. Gautama's teaching: And what… is the ceasing of action? That ceasing of action by body, speech, and mind, by which one contacts freedom,–that is called ‘the ceasing of action’. (SN IV 145, Pali Text Society IV pg 85) … those who are novices, not long gone forth (from home), late-comers into this Norm and Discipline,–such… should be roused and admonished for, and established in, the cultivation of the four stations of mindfulness. Of what four and how? (Ye should say this:) ‘Come ye, friends, do ye abide in body contemplating body (as transient), ardent, composed and one-pointed(1), of tranquil mind, calmed down, of concentrated mind, for insight into body as it really is. In feelings do ye abide contemplating feelings (as transient), ardent, …for insight into feelings as they really are. In mind do ye abide contemplating mind (as transient), ardent, …for insight into mind as it really is. In mind-states do ye abide contemplating mind states (as transient), ardent, composed, one-pointed, of tranquil mind, calmed down, of concentrated mind, for insight into mind-states as they really are.’ [Those] who are imperfect, who have not attained their goal, who abide aspiring for the peace from bondage unsurpassed,–they also abide in body contemplating body (as transient), ardent, composed, one-pointed, of tranquil mind, calmed down, of concentrated mind, for the comprehension of body… So also do they abide … for the comprehension of feelings, of mind, and of mind-states. [Those] who are Arahants. destroyers of the [cankers], who have lived the life, done what was to be done, who have removed the burden, who have won their highest good, who have utterly destroyed the fetters of becoming, who by perfect knowledge have become free,–they also abide in body contemplating body (as transient), ardent, composed, one-pointed, of tranquil mind, calmed down, of concentrated mind, with respect to body being released. So also in feelings, they are released from feelings… and in mind, they are released. In mind-states they abide contemplating mind-states (as transient), ardent, composed, one-pointed, of tranquil mind, calmed down, of concentrated mind, in respect of mind-states they are released. (1) Ekodi-bhuta. khanika-samadhina ekagga-bhuta samahita, 'by a momentary concentration become one-pointed and tranquillized.' from Sarattappakasini, Buddhaghosa's commentary on Samyutta Nikaya. (SN V 144, Vol V pg 123-124) Hadn't seen that footnote before--a momentary thing, to drop into the singularity of self-awareness, and carry on. Zen, they just go with that, but the rhythm of the four fields is an interesting study IMHO. Freedom, the mark of the cessation of action.
  3. Can you quote me a source on that, dwai?
  4. Haiku Chain

    feels like home to meee out where the buffalo roam just like Disneyland
  5. Haiku Chain

    one who thinks they steer others, think they antelope me, I got me none
  6. From Wikipedia (Tsalung): Tsalung (Skt: nadi-vayu; Tib. rtsa rlung; where "rtsa" denotes an energetic channel) are special yogic exercises.[1] The exercises are used in the Bon tradition and the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Trul khor employs the tsa lung... The exercises are used:[2] to bring the lung from the side channels into the central channel to open major chakras That coincides with mind releasing dualistic misperceptions and abiding in non-dual awareness of rigpa (Tib. rig pa). Background: The subtle body yogas systems like the Six Dharmas of Naropa and the Six Yogas of Kalachakra make use of energetic schemas of human psycho-physiology composed of "energy channels" (Skt. nadi, Tib. rtsa), "winds" or currents (Skt. vayu, Tib. rlung), "drops" or charged particles (Skt. bindu, Tib. thig le) and chakras ("wheels"). These subtle energies are seen as "mounts" for consciousness, the physical component of awareness. They are engaged by various means such as pranayama (breath control) to produce blissful experiences that are then applied to the realization of ultimate reality. That's what's fascinating about Gautama's description of his attainment of a cessation of "perceiving and feeling"--true that there were no cankers (no desire for sense-pleasures, no becoming, no ignorance), but: "only this degree of disturbance, that is to say the six sensory fields that, conditioned by life, are grounded on this body itself"--that doesn't sound so blissful! Nor is it a "realization of ultimate reality"--it's just what is, when habit and will cease. Not different from everyday reality, just without the grasping. Ok, I'll admit Wikipedia is not necessarily the most accurate description... Where do your actions come from, when "the channels and chakras" are cleared of obscurations? When you say techniques that intentionally alter the movement of breath can be very effective tools, are you speaking of actions or realizations?
  7. Natual, that was a quote from a comment added to an article entitled "The Case of the Suffocating Woman". You can read about it here. Here's the comment again, with a little more relevant to the suffocation response: My husband is a spear fisherman and he can hold his breath underwater for almost four minutes. He was trained to do so in a manner similar to how they train Navy Seals. They are able to do relaxation techniques and override their body’s impulse to panic. I’m not sure if everyone can accomplish this or if they are outliers. But one important point that I think fits into the topic here. They have to be wary of something called shallow water blackout. They will hold their breath without the panic response literally until they pass out underwater, and drown (even if they are only sitting on the bottom of a pool with a foot or two of water above them).
  8. Another translation of the quote about the relationship between breath and the mind (the quote from Pradipika): Respiration being disturbed, the mind becomes disturbed. By restraining respiration, the Yogī gets steadiness of mind "Chittam" is the word used for mind. From Wikipedia, "chitta (Buddhism)": The Pali–English Dictionary translates citta as heart or heart-mind, emphasizing it as more the emotive side of mind, as opposed to manas as the intellect in the sense of what grasps mental objects (dhamma). Citta is the object of meditation in the third part of Satipatthana, also called Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Here is the third part of Gautama's way of living, the mindfulness of mind that was his own (from "anapanasati"): Aware of mind I shall breathe in. Aware of mind I shall breathe out.” (One) makes up one’s mind: “Gladdening my mind I shall breathe in. Gladdening my mind I shall breathe out. Composing my mind I shall breathe in. Composing my mind I shall breathe out. Detaching my mind I shall breathe in. Detaching my mind I shall breathe out." (SN V 312, Pali Text Society Vol V pg 275-276) Not particularly about emotion, that. Goes to show, the understanding of words, and of practices, changes with time and with the teacher. Here's the whole section with the quote about "cittam", from "Hatha Yoga Pradipika", which is a 15th century C.E. text: अथासने दॄधे योगी वशी हित-मिताशनः | गुरूपदिष्ह्ट-मार्गेण पराणायामान्समभ्यसेत || १ || athāsane dṝdhe yoghī vaśī hita-mitāśanaḥ | ghurūpadiṣṭa-mārgheṇa prāṇāyāmānsamabhyaset || 1 || Posture becoming established, a Yogī, master of himself, eating salutary and moderate food, should practise Prāṇāyāma, as instructed by his guru. छले वाते छलं छित्तं निश्छले निश्छलं भवेत|| योगी सथाणुत्वमाप्नोति ततो वायुं निरोधयेत || २ || chale vāte chalaṃ chittaṃ niśchale niśchalaṃ bhavet|| yoghī sthāṇutvamāpnoti tato vāyuṃ nirodhayet || 2 || Respiration being disturbed, the mind becomes disturbed. By restraining respiration, the Yogī gets steadiness of mind यावद्वायुः सथितो देहे तावज्जीवनमुछ्यते | मरणं तस्य निष्ह्क्रान्तिस्ततो वायुं निरोधयेत || ३ || yāvadvāyuḥ sthito dehe tāvajjīvanamuchyate | maraṇaṃ tasya niṣkrāntistato vāyuṃ nirodhayet || 3 || So long as the (breathing) air stays in the body, it is called life. Death consists in the passing out of the (breathing) air. It is, therefore, necessary to restrain the breath. मलाकलासु नाडीष्हु मारुतो नैव मध्यगः | कथं सयादुन्मनीभावः कार्य-सिद्धिः कथं भवेत || ४ || malākalāsu nāḍīṣu māruto naiva madhyaghaḥ | kathaṃ syādunmanībhāvaḥ kārya-siddhiḥ kathaṃ bhavet || 4 || The breath does not pass through the middle channel (suṣumnā), owing to the impurities of the nādīs. How can then success be attained, and how can there be the unmanī avasthā. शुद्धमेति यदा सर्वं नाडी-छक्रं मलाकुलम | तदैव जायते योगी पराण-संग्रहणे कष्हमः || ५ || śuddhameti yadā sarvaṃ nāḍī-chakraṃ malākulam | tadaiva jāyate yoghī prāṇa-saṃghrahaṇe kṣamaḥ || 5 || When the whole system of nādīs which is full of impurities, is cleaned, then the Yogī becomes able to control the Prāṇa. पराणायामं ततः कुर्यान्नित्यं सात्त्विकया धिया | यथा सुष्हुम्णा-नाडीस्था मलाः शुद्धिं परयान्ति छ || ६ || prāṇāyāmaṃ tataḥ kuryānnityaṃ sāttvikayā dhiyā | yathā suṣumṇā-nāḍīsthā malāḥ śuddhiṃ prayānti cha || 6 || Therefore, Prāṇāyāma should be performed daily with sātwika buddhi (intellect free from raja and tama or activity and sloth), in order to drive out the impurities of the suṣumnā. (Wisdom Library, https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/hatha-yoga-pradipika-english/d/doc7975.html) "Respiration being disturbed, the mind becomes disturbed." I'm good with sitting myself down and relaxing the activity of breath, with calming the activity of posture/the senses, with detaching from the activity of mind, and with witnessing the cessation of habit/volition in an in-breath or an out-breath. That's a kind of restraining, but that doesn't seem to be what is meant in Pradipika. "The mind becomes disturbed"--when the mind is disturbed, it's not one-pointed. Gautama said "... making self-surrender the object of thought, one lays hold of concentration, lays hold of one-pointedness of mind." I can relate to that. "So long as the (breathing) air stays in the body, it is called life. Death consists in the passing out of the (breathing) air. It is, therefore, necessary to restrain the breath." This is about attaining immortality, like the Daoists? Not my goal.
  9. My husband is a spear fisherman and he can hold his breath underwater for almost four minutes. He was trained to do so in a manner similar to how they train Navy Seals. They are able to do relaxation techniques and override their body’s impulse to panic. I’m not sure if everyone can accomplish this or if they are outliers. (“The Case of the Suffocating Woman”, posted on Slate Star Codex April 5, 2017 by Scott Alexander; http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/04/05/the-case-of-the-suffocating-woman/) I'm all for relaxing. That article was checked for accuracy, by a pediatrician.
  10. Here's Feldenkrais on the tendency to hold one's breath, rising from a chair: The tendency to hold one's breath is instinctive, part of an attempt to prevent the establishment of shearing stresses or forces likely to shift the vertebrae horizontally, out of the vertical alignment of the spinal column that they constitute. ... when the center of gravity has really moved forward over the feet a reflex movement will originate in the old nervous system and straighten the legs, this automatic movement will not be felt as an effort at all. (Feldenkrais, "Awareness Through Movement", Harper-Collins p 83, 78) Here's Hida Hiramitsu, on posture in "the seated body": The strength of the hara alone is insufficient, the strength of the koshi (pelvic area) alone is not sufficient, either. We should balance the power of the hara and the koshi and maintain equilibrium of the seated body by bringing the center of the body’s weight in line with the center of the triangular base of the seated body. (“An Introduction to Zen Training: A Translation of Sanzen Nyumon”, Omori Sogen, tr. Dogen Hosokawa and Roy Yoshimoto, Tuttle Publishing, pg 59) My conclusion: If my sitting is geared toward the cessation of voluntary or habitual activity in the inhalation or exhalation of breath, then action of one kind or another, even “bringing the center of the body’s weight in line with the center of the triangular base of the seated body”, must eventually be abandoned. As near as I can tell, what remains is one-pointedness of mind, centrifugal and centripetal force at the location of mind, and the action of inhalation or exhalation. (What Remains) More from Feldenkrais: I am generally against breathing exercises in the commonly accepted notion of breathing exercises where I would be teaching someone that they must breathe like this or like that. It is exactly as if you told someone they must say this or that. If you meet with a woman, you must talk a little about politics, a little about the weather, or love, etc. You know what results from such instructions? An idiot results. It is the same thing if you tell someone how they should breathe. The instructions usually destroy their breathing. (Moshe Feldenkrais, from https://feldenkrais.com/whats-the-right-way-to-breathe-a-different-take-on-breathing-exercises/)
  11. Sounds like you're assuming the breath can be altered without harm if a person has first mastered the preliminaries. I understand that there are amazing masters of yoga in India and perhaps around the world, but if my focus is on suffering and the path leading to the end of suffering, then I would have to say the sidhis are just a distraction. And I still think willfully altering the movement of breath can lead to no good.
  12. Following up on this quote: Ancient Indian texts on Yoga describe, “As the breath moves, so does the mind, and mind ceases to move as the breath is stopped.” (S. Muktibodhananda; Hatha yoga Pradipika: light on hatha yoga (2nd ed.), Yoga Publication Trust, Bihar (2002)) That would be based off the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a 15th century classic, which Muktibodhananda translates: When prana moves, chitta (the mental force) moves. When prana is without movement, chitta is without movement. By this (steadiness of prana) the yogi attains steadiness and should thus restrain the vayu (air). (Ibid, p 150) He expands on the definition of vayu, a little farther on in the text--it's not just air: Vayu means ‘air,’ but it does not refer only to the gross air and its chemical properties; it indicates pranic air. In the pranic body, pingala channelizes prana shakti, but prana vayu moves throughout the whole body like waves of energy. It can be likened to an electromagnetic field where the energy is in constant motion. (Ibid, p 153) Muktibodhananda comments on the passage about prana and chitta: Prana and mind are intricately linked. Fluctuation of one means fluctuation of the other. When either the mind or prana becomes balanced the other is steadied. Hatha yoga says, control the prana and the mind is automatically controlled, whereas raja yoga says, control the mind and prana becomes controlled. These are two paths of yoga. (Ibid, p 150) Muktibodhananda then describes control of the breath, and in particular control of the interval between inhalation and exhalation, as the essential tool of yoga. He ascribes much of this characterization to Patanjali (per Wikipedia, author of yoga texts, living somewhere between 2nd century B.C.E. and 4th or 5th century C. E.?). I didn't realize that folks believed in such a gap between inhale and exhale and even advocated intentionally extending it as far back as that. I still think that intentionally altering the natural movement of breath is doing a violence to oneself. Muktibodhananda also gives us the alternative point of view: For many, many centuries, people have known that through pranic restraint you can control the influxes of the mind and through mental restraint you can control the influxes of prana, but various spiritual systems have been debating which is the best method to harness the two energies and induce unity. Christ and Lord Buddha said the same thing – ‘Lead a good life and your mind will be controlled.' (Ibid p 151-2) Muktibodhananda says that won't work for most people in the modern age, and begins to lay out what he conceives of as the science of yoga (and of the channels), based largely on the manipulation of the (presumed) interval between inhalation and exhalation: In the Upanishads, prana vayu is also called the ‘in breath,’ apana the ‘out breath,’ samana the ‘middle breath,’ and udana the ‘up breath.’ Prana vayu is inhalation, apana exhalation, samana the time between inhalation and exhalation, and udana, the extension of samana. ... From a yogic point of view the most important vayu is samana. It is related to sushumna nadi. Prana vayu is related to ida, apana to pingala, and ascension of kundalini to udana. Samana vayu has to be developed. This takes place by suspending apana and prana within the region of samana. Each vayu is interdependent and interconnected. In the Chandogya Upanishad it is asked, “On what are you (body and senses) and yourself (soul) supported? On prana. On what is prana supported? On apana. On what is apana supported? On vyana. On what is vyana supported? On samana.” ... Prana is the tangible manifestation of the higher Self. Hatha yoga uses prana as the key to expand the awareness of consciousness and realize the Self. Some systems of yoga aim at self-realization by purifying and concentrating the mind, others by purifying and channelizing the emotions, and some by purifying the intellect and developing wisdom. There are so many ways of redirecting the vital life force from the lower to the higher centers. (Ibid, p 155-7) The truth of all this, I wouldn't hold my breath to find out.