qibrush

Why keep the mind clear?

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To Jetsun,

 

You do appear to be quite blessed and doing very well - my comments have been to some specific conclusions you are hovering on at the moment and I am urging you to reconsider them. Heart aspects have been your most recent focus if I am not mistaken - an admirable thing to work in.

In essence my approach to the mind has changed in recent years, I have found trying to manipulate the mind or change it is basically just another way to go into resistance with it, so it is another trick of unconsciousness to keep you engaged and feeding its stories and existence.

 

So I find going directly to what is below the mind either in terms of basic awareness or energetic sensitivity is the best way to manage it because then you invest no energy in what the mind weaves, so it loses its power.

 

I am open to the mind becoming more silent and I'm sure that there are people with minds much more silent than mine, but who has a mind which only produces a few thoughts a day? There might be Yogis who have temporary experiences like that but I doubt they can last longer than hours or maybe days and only in the right circumstances.

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Have you ever tried? When the breath disappears, you can't find your lower Dan Tian. You can't find your body. Your mind is so bright and one pointed that your sense consciousnesses have shut down or turned off.

 

I have heard a few teachers says that focusing on the lower abdomen is good for beginners because it is easy to focus on something that is moving accompanied by easily notable sensations, but because the sensations are so coarse, you only focus there when you are in need of an easy post to hitch your horse to. Like Alan Wallace said, you will never see nimittas if you focus on the lower abdomen. It is just too coarse.

 

Then again, in zen, don't they focus on the hara?

 

Keep in mind that I am not an expert... If your concentration was really good and became one-pointed, you can focus it on anything you'd like. But I think that jhana practice is moving through the layers of subtlety and refinement as the powers of perception through "knowing" become enhanced.

 

Alan Wallace also talks about the nimittas not being mentioned by the traditional pali accounts or all subsequent masters: I.e. Vasubandhu doesn't speak about nimittas or the breath being focused on the "nose-spot"; Asanga champions an entirely different method of Anapana that is absolutely congruent with the early expositions in the pali canon: You focus on the breath throughout the whole body. Since Vasubandhu knew him, he would have objected if it was wrong. All in all, the indian masters didn't really use the "nose-spot"; it is not a recquirement of attaining shamatha and the subsequent jhana. What matters is what happens with your hindrances, and the jhana factors. Traversing along the way over there, the mind naturally takes on a more and more subtle focus, just as when using the "nose-spot" version of Anapana, one eventually leaps to the uggaha nimitta and then the patibhaga nimitta.

 

The lineages sprawling from Buddhaghosa and his writings (such as the Pa-Auk lineage) tend to follow the "nose-spot" Anapana; the others don't. Depending on the type, quality and nature of object used, there are discreet changes in object or not during the path to jhana/dhyana.

 

 

Mandrake

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Have you ever read the Shurangama Sutra, if not, it states that focusing on the Nimita is one method to attain Samadhi. So I'm guessing that any method that increases your concentration can allow you attain all of the jhanas and Samadhi.

However, I could be wrong.

 

I am almost 100% that the word "nimitta" as it is used only appears in commentaries - especially the Buddhaghosa lineage.

Are you sure Malik you understand the word? Maybe you mean/understand it as an [small, mental] object in general as a gateway to jhana/dhyana?

 

 

Mandrake

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If you are thinking in ways that cause you to feel really bad, you can meditate and feel better when you silence those thoughts.

 

Some people can calm their minds down so much, they actually feel very good in that.

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qibrush, I wouldn't try to force stillness if I were you. What happens if you do that is that you add another layer to your ego. It will feel like stillness, but will only block your spiritual progress. The thoughts you have are due to emotions. Once you start letting go of emotions, the thoughts start diminishing. Trying to concentrate on breathing or a single point to achieve stillness is actually pretty difficult.

I would recommend that you use a form of chanting like 'namo amituofo'combined with Vipassana/letting go, as for the explanation I recommend 'letting go the pathway of surrender' by david R.Hawkins.

Regards,

Jos

Edited by Josama
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Alan Wallace also talks about the nimittas not being mentioned by the traditional pali accounts or all subsequent masters: I.e. Vasubandhu doesn't speak about nimittas or the breath being focused on the "nose-spot"; Asanga champions an entirely different method of Anapana that is absolutely congruent with the early expositions in the pali canon: You focus on the breath throughout the whole body. Since Vasubandhu knew him, he would have objected if it was wrong. All in all, the indian masters didn't really use the "nose-spot"; it is not a recquirement of attaining shamatha and the subsequent jhana. What matters is what happens with your hindrances, and the jhana factors. Traversing along the way over there, the mind naturally takes on a more and more subtle focus, just as when using the "nose-spot" version of Anapana, one eventually leaps to the uggaha nimitta and then the patibhaga nimitta.

 

The lineages sprawling from Buddhaghosa and his writings (such as the Pa-Auk lineage) tend to follow the "nose-spot" Anapana; the others don't. Depending on the type, quality and nature of object used, there are discreet changes in object or not during the path to jhana/dhyana.

 

 

Mandrake

Good post. I agree. As a matter of fact, Alan Wallace has sort of back-pedaled recently about breath meditation and has gone back to a simpler teaching and practice for breath meditation. But at one time, he did say that fixing on the spot under the nostrils was one option.

I myself have experienced nimittas during "sensing the whole body", during pranayama routines, during gazing practices etc.. They come at the point when the body and mind are at a certain stage of relaxation. I've even seen very bright nimittas after waking in the middle of the night and then falling back asleep.

Yes there are different traditions. Lately I've been thinking that the unbounded space of Dzogchen is just one of the formless jhanas. It is interesting because Sadayaw says that unless one progresses through the lower material jhanas first, and in order ...

 

In the Pabbateyyagàvã Sutta in the Aïguttara Nikàya (Numerical Discourses), the Buddha says that one should not try going to the second jhàna without mastering the first jhàna. He explains that if one does not master the first jhàna thoroughly, but tries to go to higher jhànas, one will lose the first jhàna, as well as be unable to attain the other jhànas. One will lose all

the jhànas.

 

 

It is amazing that there are many contradictions and variations found under the auspices of "Buddhism".

Anyway, thank you for your post. :)

Edited by Tibetan_Ice
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Mandrake, you're right. It doesn't say nimitta in the sutra but rather it explains the method of focusing at the tip of the nose until a bright light appears. I will have to find the section when I have a chance and then post it here. I apologize for any confusion. I did not realize that you guys were literally looking for the word nimitta in the text.

Edited by malikshreds

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Good post. I agree. As a matter of fact, Alan Wallace has sort of back-pedaled recently about breath meditation and has gone back to a simpler teaching and practice for breath meditation. But at one time, he did say that fixing on the spot under the nostrils was one option.

I myself have experienced nimittas during "sensing the whole body", during pranayama routines, during gazing practices etc.. They come at the point when the body and mind are at a certain stage of relaxation. I've even seen very bright nimittas after waking in the middle of the night and then falling back asleep.

Yes there are different traditions. Lately I've been thinking that the unbounded space of Dzogchen is just one of the formless jhanas. It is interesting because Sadayaw says that unless one progresses through the lower material jhanas first, and in order ...

 

 

 

It is amazing that there are many contradictions and variations found under the auspices of "Buddhism".

Anyway, thank you for your post. :)

 

It is amazing how much depth there is in relaxation. So simple; so vital. It is easily overlooked but I opine that all practices that increases it, ultimately aid one in all practices.

 

"Lately I've been thinking that the unbounded space of Dzogchen is just one of the formless jhanas."

 

The formless jhanas are definitely not Dzogchen or any of the Dzogchen techniques. In fact, there is a point in traversing them so as to not confusing these states with Dzogchen - though it is usually done after the Mahayana path-entry. I just wanted to kindly mention this.

 

Anyway, Ven. Pa-Auk Sayadaw has two disciples in the US who teach. Can't recall their name right now, but maybe you are familiar with them? They could be interesting for you.

 

 

All my best,

Mandrake

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Mandrake, you're right. It doesn't say nimitta in the sutra but rather it explains the method of focusing at the tip of the nose until a bright light appears. I will have to find the section when I have a chance and then post it here. I apologize for any confusion. I did not realize that you guys were literally looking for the word nimitta in the text.

 

Malik:

 

 

Have you checked out the Sandhinirmocana and Abhisamayaalamkara shastras? Something tells me you would find them interesting.

 

 

M

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qibrush, I wouldn't try to force stillness if I were you. What happens if you do that is that you add another layer to your ego. It will feel like stillness, but will only block your spiritual progress. The thoughts you have are due to emotions. Once you start letting go of emotions, the thoughts start diminishing. Trying to concentrate on breathing or a single point to achieve stillness is actually pretty difficult.

 

I would recommend that you use a form of chanting like 'namo amituofo'combined with Vipassana/letting go, as for the explanation I recommend 'letting go the pathway of surrender' by david R.Hawkins.

 

Regards,

 

Josi

Cool, thanks. Yeah, that's what I ment. Mantras are great ways to reach a real intense quality of peace and calm of mind. Amazing results.

 

I learned from a certified TM teacher, and had very good results. It is easy and simple, so I can do it daily, easily, and the consistency is what truely brings home the prize in terms of results. Lots and lots of clarity and peaceful feelings. I even feel a sort of appreciation for all things, which is great fun, especially when you come out of meditation and its there throughout your whole day. Whoooh. Amazing.

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Hello, I need some insight on this question I've been wondering about. I've heard somewhere

that keeping the mind clear (no thoughts) is good to do for some spritual reason. I just wanted more explanation on that. I'm at the point where keeping the mind clear the whole day would be no problem , sure it takes a little bit more concentration but that'll only because I'm not used to doing it for that long. The problem is is that even though I know it's good I don't know why its good. So often times while walking or on the bus I have the option to keep my mind clear and just be or to think just because it's fun (who designed this bus, I wonder how it works, etc). Most of the time I'll choose to think because it's more of a habit and also I haven't learned exactly why I should choose keeping my mind empty over thinking. I'm not talking about times where one has to think but rather when one has the option to think or just be. Someone please enlighten me on this topic

 

Keeping the mind clear is similar to trying to get hold of a rainbow.

How did you come to the conclusion  that there is something you have to keep clear ?

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This is not actually correct - and repression is certainly not the key to any sort of silence as the noise of repression is quit loud.

 

To Qibrush:

 

Your original post reminds me of someone who was enlightened from a very very early age - but he did not know he was enlightened until he was in his early 20s - he was exceptional and had a great many gifts and spoke and saw spirit all the time and never lost his wakefulness - but it was not clear to him that he was already where others were trying to go until he was at a retreat one year and then realized what they were striving to achieve was where he had always been.

 

One can learn to stop ones thoughts and one can learn to follow a thought through - very very very few can do either. In all these boards perhaps three or four can follow a thought through - stopping thoughts is even more difficult - but perhaps for you it is indeed something you can master with just a little bit of work. (It is quite extraordinary if this is the case but I have no doubt it may be the case for you - not for me to call you on it).

 

Most people do not actually have thoughts - they have reactions in thought forms and trance. Food and the time of the day greatly affect their space and what arises. They are constantly kept asleep by the noise of circular debates and inclinations and digestion.

 

They never take the steering wheel though each and everyone of them will go to great lengths in disagreement with this idea.

So lacking are they in the ability to steer that the notion of ever training their minds never occurs to them - (try to find a thread that goes two feet into the thick of it - it simply can't get past an 8th inch).

If in fact you can stop your thoughts, then I would suggest a very good reason to allow them to cease frequently is to allow other abilities to be exercised within your awareness. Thinking is not necessary nor useful most of the time.

          Hello, It's been awhile since I've last been on here. Since last time I came I re-evaluated how I was keeping my mind clear and it seemed to fall more under repression. I then started to do the shamatha practice where one keeps one's attention on the mind itself, or rather the nothingness that constitutes the mind.

 

         While starting that practice I kept getting glimpses of how it is to actually have the mind clear and it felt wonderful. Now I've progressed in it well enough to have my mind actually clear for a good stretch of time. This, I realize now, is the true clear of the mind because as someone said here it's not that I'm

keeping my mind clear it's that the mind is naturally clear by itself, that this clearness is it's natural state.It does feel exactly like the mind is the sky and there is this feeling of underlying bliss in it, sometimes I stop and just listen tothis clearness of the mind and it is indescribably beautiful.

 

          As to the person who said they have been meditating for awhile and have only felt their mind clear for moments I don't know what to say. Progress isn't linear and it certainly is different for everyone but I wish you luck. As for the mind I feel like there is still some layer underneath this, I'm not sure what it is or really how to approach it but I know it's there.

Edited by qibrush
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Most of our suffering results from our subconscious beliefs.

 

So, if we could clear these beliefs out, then our benevolent true Nature (Dao) would be entirely free to express itself unhindered.  This is even far better than "positive thinking," because it transcends any limited perceptions of "good and bad" with a spontaneous, omniscient flow.  And "positive thinking" doesn't remove the problematic beliefs either, merely attempts to override them..

 

Of course, the catch is that you must clear your SUBCONSCIOUS mind, not just conscious mind.  Which I'm not sure most people can do via meditation or simply mental effort..

Edited by gendao

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