Author Topic: A Reason for Shamatha.  (Read 321 times)

Offline IdleChater

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A Reason for Shamatha.
« on: April 08, 2017, 06:09:59 pm »
I took a one-day class as an introduction to meditation practice at a local Shambhala center.

The instructor was a former student of Trungpa Rinpoce and ran a great class.  She began with an overview of meditation in a Buddhist context.

She posed a rhetorical question, why do we meditate?  She went on to say there are a number of reasons, but a salient reason for meditation, especially Shamtha, is to prepare for our own death.  I was a little taken aback by this.  I wasn't expecting it.  She went on to describe Shamatha as a process of noticing a thought or an emotion arising in our awareness and immediately letting go of it.  She said this was helpful in the proces of dying.  People often cling to life when dying and this clinging extends life and the suffering that accompanies physical death.  If we can let go of our fear of dying, then death will be a gentle, natural process. In turn, this would contribute to a more favorable birth.

That's stuck with me.  It's not like I ponder death during practice, but I often practice the "Four Thoughts That Turn The Mind To The Dharma" - http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Four_thoughts - and it instills a sense of peace that I am preparing myself for that moment.  Since that class, I have borne witness to the deaths of friends and a parent.  As we get older we experience this more and more.  It's comforting in that death always came at the moment when the person finally let go and allowed death to take them.  It's a beautiful thing.


Offline zafrogzen

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Re: A Reason for Shamatha.
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2017, 10:49:58 pm »
In ancient India there was the analogy of the three types of horses.

The best horse runs at the shadow of the whip. That's someone who begins to sincerely practice as soon as they hear of death.

Then there's the second horse that only runs when it's whipped. That's a person who begins to seriously practice when someone close to them dies.

Finally there's the worst horse, that just runs when it's whipped to the bone. That's someone who only begins to practice sincerely when they themselves face death.

I just put up a short post on this topic -- http://www.frogzen.com/uncategorized/death/
« Last Edit: April 08, 2017, 10:59:43 pm by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Pixie

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Re: A Reason for Shamatha.
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2017, 12:01:11 am »
 
Quote from: IdleChater

..... In turn, this would contribute to a more favorable birth.

To me, having the idea of  getting a favorable rebirth (or 'reincarnation' which is taught in Tibetan Buddhism) is also just another form of clinging to let go of.

However, in general, practising Samatha meditation can be very beneficial for calming the mind whether one is dying or when one is fit and healthy.

_/\_
« Last Edit: April 09, 2017, 12:13:18 am by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: A Reason for Shamatha.
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2017, 07:58:14 am »
 
Quote from: IdleChater

..... In turn, this would contribute to a more favorable birth.

To me, having the idea of  getting a favorable rebirth (or 'reincarnation' which is taught in Tibetan Buddhism) is also just another form of clinging to let go of.

However, in general, practising Samatha meditation can be very beneficial for calming the mind whether one is dying or when one is fit and healthy.

_/\_

If you really want to get into it, taking the time to make a post on a forum like this is clinging. 

An idea, or a thought, or emotion, isn't clinging per se. Having that is not clinging.  Clinging is clinging and it is impossible not to, if even for a fraction of a moment.  What we learn from Shamatha is to recognize the causes and conditions for the arising of clinging and to be able to let go.

Offline Pixie

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Re: A Reason for Shamatha.
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2017, 09:34:33 am »
Quote from: IdleChater

If you really want to get into it, taking the time to make a post on a forum like this is clinging. 

An idea, or a thought, or emotion, isn't clinging per se. Having that is not clinging.  Clinging is clinging and it is impossible not to, if even for a fraction of a moment.  What we learn from Shamatha is to recognize the causes and conditions for the arising of clinging and to be able to let go.

Perhaps my choice of words was clumsy. What I meant was clinging to a BELIEF in rebirth (as rebirthers tend to do), is unnecessary for me because I'm agnostic about it. That's all, I'm not disputing that Samatha practice can be beneficial, nor looking for an argument with you.

_/\_

 (underlining facility doen't work)

« Last Edit: April 09, 2017, 09:51:37 am by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: A Reason for Shamatha.
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2017, 10:14:30 am »
Meditation on death always seems to lead to speculations as to what, if anything happens after death. IMHO that can only be resolved right here, in the present, through intuition, rather than thinking and analyzing. That's samadhi, which does produce insights (eventually). Until then I'm with Pixie, better to be an agnostic and "concentrate" on this present moment and the true nature of the current flow of phenomena.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2017, 10:46:53 am by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Pixie

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Re: A Reason for Shamatha.
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2017, 11:19:40 am »
Until then I'm with Pixie, better to be an agnostic and "concentrate" on this present moment and the true nature of the current flow of phenomena.

Thank you Zafrogzen.

I read your blog (mentioned in your first post in this topic) and have sent you a PM .

_/\_

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: A Reason for Shamatha.
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2017, 01:52:15 pm »

Quote
What I meant was clinging to a BELIEF in rebirth (as rebirthers tend to do), is unnecessary for me because I'm agnostic about it.

That means you could be clinging to your agnosticism.

It all demonstrated the pervasivness of clinging and the near impossibility of avoiding it.  Imagine the difficulty that comes with clinging to something REALLY important, like life?

But, you can practice letting go!


« Last Edit: April 09, 2017, 02:57:10 pm by IdleChater »

Offline Pixie

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Re: A Reason for Shamatha.
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2017, 05:31:30 pm »




« Last Edit: April 09, 2017, 05:35:55 pm by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

 


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