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Vipassana

Discussion of Theravada Buddhism in the light of Zen.

Vipassana

Postby Chrisd on Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:48 pm

Greetings dear fellow practitioners.

I tried to look for older vipassana threads on this forum but the word vipassana is apparently so commonly used that the search function found it unworthy of a search. I even tried some magical combination of words like "What is vipassana"? Or "what is the difference between Zen and vipassana?" But alas. Am I looking in the wrong places or using the wrong words?

Anyway.

I have followed a day of vipassana today and I found the technique to be useful. We were instructed to start out with a focus on belly breathing and from thereon to label every process that occurred in our presence. If we heard cars outside we would use the label `hearing`. If there was pain in the legs we would label ´pain´. If we felt frustration then we would label `frustration´. And if there was no process to label we would just breathe.

The labelling seems to help a great deal with letting go and facing things. I wonder why this isn´t used in Zen meditation. Zen does use counting for the breaths.

I can imagine it being very useful in daily life. Like when we want to get a snack which we know isn't good for us, we can label it as "desire". This forces us to face it and to see it. It's easier than to look at it without labelling it.

I'm also wondering why Zen is so popular and why vipassana isn't. Or is this just my observation?
I had the idea of vipassana that it was some vague hippy mystic direction in Buddhism. Now I think that I was wrong.

Have you ever tried vipassana meditation? Why do you practice Zen and not vipassana?
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Re: Vipassana

Postby bubuyaya on Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:06 am

Chrisdd wrote:I have followed a day of vipassana today and I found the technique to be useful.
We were instructed to start out with a focus on belly breathing and from thereon to label every process that occurred in our presence.
If we heard cars outside we would use the label `hearing`.

The labelling seems to help a great deal with letting go and facing things.
I wonder why this isn´t used in Zen meditation.

I had the idea of vipassana that it was some vague hippy mystic direction in Buddhism.
Now I think that I was wrong.


The introspecting faculty is the base of right Zen.
Training basic Vipassana is for that introspecting faculty.
People of that faculty can try Sutra's by themself, without any methodical practice.

Vipassana is not Goal oriented.
Expert need understand the Goal.

Today's Zen and Vipassana is one sided biased practice.
Duihue's Kanhawtou and Kweingji's Mukjo is also one sided biased practice.
Zen people need absorve needed resources from Sutras, VIpassana, Kanhatou, Bodhisattva's way, and Sikantaza for themself's awakening.

Hi, Chrisdd,
Do follow your training as you do right now.
When introspecting freely, then try Kyunsung.
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Michaeljc on Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:50 am

Bubuyaya - I have read somewhere of recognition by Zen that some students can obtain realisation through the reading of sutras only – i.e. without practising Zazen. I will try and find the passage re this sutra-awakening. But, my understanding is that it is very rare. Are you aware of this?

At this moment in time I cannot agree that Zen is ‘biased’. I find it to be ‘all embracing’. What restriction does it place on you?

Just my view

m
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Mason on Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:08 pm

Zazen is similar to noting practice (it actually is vipassana, but people in the West seem to associate that word with noting practice exclusively), but there's a very important difference. In noting practice, you create space between an equanimous witness and the sensation being labeled - in other words, you objectify the sensations. That's what makes it useful for dealing with the more painful or stressful stuff that comes up. In zazen, you completely experience the whole field of perception without any form of separation.

Noting practice relies on what some call the "attention wave": a constant and subtle shifting of attention between the sensation and the observer. Zazen gradually eliminates the attention wave, which is one of the main reasons I prefer it.
Interconnectedness: it's like two sides of the same coin, except each side is everything in the universe - including the coin.
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Chrisd on Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:55 pm

Thanks for your replies.

Thus-gone wrote: Zazen gradually eliminates the attention wave, which is one of the main reasons I prefer it.


What are the other reasons why you prefer it?

Thus-gone wrote:Zazen is similar to noting practice (it actually is vipassana.


What do you mean it actually is vipassana?
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Chrisd on Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:07 pm

With the vipassana practice I experienced there was also regular discussion on how the practice was going. We would tell how it was in our minds. I said that one of my main blocks seemed to be doubt and then the teacher gave me advice on how to best deal with it.

I wish I could find a Zen school here where they did that, discussing what is actually happening during the practice in the mind and how to best deal with it. They also discuss Dharma there and finish with metta meditation.

Maybe I can practice and discuss there, while still using the Zen technique... I don't know if that would be an option.

When I talked to the teacher about it he said to me that this was one of his criticisms on what he had seen from Zen practice, they don't discuss much. He thinks this is good in the original setting in a monastery where the head monk and teacher would know everyone, but not in our Western setting.
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Mason on Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:07 pm

Chrisdd wrote:What are the other reasons why you prefer it?


It's more poetic and vital; there's more freedom and room for play; it is less detached, more of a living and evolving organism; it's more contiguous with the whole of life.


What do you mean it actually is vipassana?


Vipassana means "insight". Zazen is a form of insight practice.
Interconnectedness: it's like two sides of the same coin, except each side is everything in the universe - including the coin.
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Re: Vipassana

Postby bubuyaya on Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:52 pm

Michaeljc wrote:But, my understanding is that it is very rare.
Are you aware of this?

At this moment in time I cannot agree that Zen is ‘biased’. I find it to be ‘all embracing’. What restriction does it place on you?


There are some people, who had liberated digesting Buddha's one point lesson.
Do you know who they are?

Also there had been so many other people, who had done good Vipassanna or 37 methodical practicings very sincerely to do not enlightening by their result.

Alike,
Todays methodiacl Zens are good for people to do not enlightening.
But that may be some help for people to be liberated from their some partial daily stress.

Do you know any people who had enlightened through today's practicing Zens?
Here winter and summer session, there are 2 thousands practicing people, who do practicing sincerely, but no good news is heared that some one had enlightened.

Why?
Because Zen is only methods oriented.
Because most of such teachers and people are method oriented.

There are few who are goal oriented.
All of that enlightened who had enlightened at Buddha's teaching are only goal oriented people.

Ananda also enlightened when he had been goal oriented.
Bahiya, Unnabha, Malunkyaputta, same.
Huineng same.
Matsu same.

Where is Buddha's teaching?
Sutra.
Buddha.

Michaeljc,
People have so many their reasons to do not believe.
But there are people who are changing by themself.

Have nice day.
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Greggorious on Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:03 pm

In my experience it's the other way round Chris, you asked why Zen is so popular and Vipassana isn't. Vipassana seems to be all the rage these days, it's being used in CBT therapy now and loads of people go on vipassana retreats, many of them having no interest in Buddhism at all.
Having tried both, I can see why many people prefer Vipassana, it seems easier (to me it does anyway), Zazen is simple, yet quite difficult. The other reason I think lots of people prefer Vipassana is that it is a goal orientated practice, and here in the west we are obsessed with having goals. Zazen has no goal, it is about 'being' not about 'attaining', and this puts some people off.
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Chrisd on Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:51 pm

Greggorious wrote:In my experience it's the other way round Chris, you asked why Zen is so popular and Vipassana isn't. Vipassana seems to be all the rage these days, it's being used in CBT therapy now and loads of people go on vipassana retreats, many of them having no interest in Buddhism at all.


Alright, it's different in my country. There are Zen perfumes, Zen TV, Zen this Zen that.

Greggorious wrote:Having tried both, I can see why many people prefer Vipassana, it seems easier (to me it does anyway), Zazen is simple, yet quite difficult. The other reason I think lots of people prefer Vipassana is that it is a goal orientated practice, and here in the west we are obsessed with having goals. Zazen has no goal, it is about 'being' not about 'attaining', and this puts some people off.


Depends on where you go for your Zen practice. Some will teach it as goal orientated practice, some won't. Maybe the same with vipassana.
I think in general Rinzai is more goal orientated than Soto.
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Re: Vipassana

Postby bubuyaya on Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:18 pm

Chrisdd wrote:With the vipassana practice..........

discussing what is actually happening during the practice in the mind and how to best deal with it.

using the Zen technique......

they don't discuss much.
but not in our Western setting.


Vipassana is for self-introspecting.

Why self-introspecting?
To enlighten the lamp of self, Thatagata-I, (of each people).
To enlighten the lamp of phenomena of self, Thatagata-phenomena-I, (of each people).

What is Thatagata-I?
That's real I of each people.
The never birth never die, ABC- XYZ, Alpha- omega, Holy- Solitary.
Freedom. All-mighty.

Alike people is going to seeking place seeing the road map.
People enlighten the lamp by introspecting their mind map.

Self-frank people see and use their own thoughts apearing and disappearing.
As people see the traffic sign board in the high way.
They are able to arrive the sea of their thoughts to be the King of time-space-everything.

So here is a saying,
Well begun zen is all done.

Goal oriented is goal begun.
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Re: Vipassana

Postby mikenz66 on Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:26 pm

I posted this over at DhammaWheel:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 20#p210963
and got a few comments from Dan, but it may be of interest here.

I've been working my way through Patrick Kearney's retreat talks which used to be here:
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/Bodhi% ... _2011.html
[unfortunately only the introductory talk is now there.]
Bodhi Tree 2011
Talks given at the Bodhi Tree Meditation Centre, September 2011

Among various other interesting things [followers of this thread: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=13538 may be interested to hear how many times he reminds the retreatants that sati involves memory...], he make some remarks about the connection between Burmese Vipassana (he teaches basically Mahasi style) and Shikantaza (he started in Zen a long time ago).
As some Mahasi practitioners will recall, as one gets more adept with following rising-falling of the abdomen, etc, and builds up some concentration there tend to be gaps visible between in and out breaths. And the usual instruction is to note "sitting" and/or "touching" in that space. And sometimes just the "sitting" and/or the "touching".

Now "sitting" from the Mahasi POV means observing wind element (which is what is holding the body up), but one can also think of it as a kind of whole-body-awareness. And this is the parallel Patrick draws with Shikantaza - sitting very aware of the posture (and keeping the exactly correct posture). As others have suggested on the various Zen/Theravada meditation threads, and as Patrick notes, Shikantaza would be a rather advanced practice from the Mahasi POV. Without the preparatory work of following objects such as rising-falling, which builds up mindfulness and concentration, "just sitting" and paying attention to the posture is quite difficult.

[This discussion, and other remarks about how various Burmese schools teach paying attention to the whole body also suggests that the Mahasi and Goenka/U Ban Kihn approaches that happen to have become well-known elsewhere are just part of a whole spectrum of approaches, and are therefore not as separate as one might think from just examining the beginners instructions of both approaches.]

:Namaste:
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:49 pm

Chrisdd wrote:The labelling seems to help a great deal with letting go and facing things. I wonder why this isn´t used in Zen meditation. Zen does use counting for the breaths.

As I understand it, labelling is a beginning technique. It is part of the samatha (stopping or calming) process of stopping the monkey mind by focusing on the present experience. But the naming is elementary because it identifies the naming (nama) label but does not yet have insight (vipassana) into the phenomenon of the label. Of course the samatha aspect of labelling is inherently insightful as you note when you say labelling helps with letting go. That is exactly the description of the samatha-vipassana realized in the labelling process. Merely by labelling, some samatha and some vipassana will arise (they can't arise separately).

Zen is not concerned with labels per se. Zen is concerned with the meaning of labels or in getting direct realization about the labelling process of mind. Zen asks, "Who is it that feels and then labels the feeling as 'pain'?" "Who is it that hears and then labels it as 'hearing'?"

In other words, the labelling process points to the external world and leads us to question what is going on in the labelling itself. This is a viable practice that indirectly leads to renouncing attachment to the external world if carried to its end. The Zen method is to turn the light around from the external world of labelling and to directly question the fountainhead of awareness without any labels.

_/|\_
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Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:59 pm

Chrisdd wrote:Alright, it's different in my country. There are Zen perfumes, Zen TV, Zen this Zen that.

LOL! Let's not confuse the crass commercialization of Zen as a product label with Zen as a practice. While the word "Zen" is all the rage in modern culture, that is not the same as Zen practice being accepted widely. "Zen" is only three letters and very catchy as it rolls off the tongue so easily so people love to create their own fantasies of what it means. Many people who talk about Zen can't tell the difference between yoga and Zen. Vipassana is not so easy to say and not so commonly spoken, so people don't find it so easy to create their own fantasy about it.

_/|\_
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Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Vipassana

Postby unsui on Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:27 pm

Gregory Wonderwheel wrote:As I understand it, labelling is a beginning technique. It is part of the samatha (stopping or calming) process of stopping the monkey mind by focusing on the present experience. But the naming is elementary because it identifies the naming (nama) label but does not yet have insight (vipassana) into the phenomenon of the label. Of course the samatha aspect of labelling is inherently insightful as you note when you say labelling helps with letting go. That is exactly the description of the samatha-vipassana realized in the labelling process. Merely by labelling, some samatha and some vipassana will arise (they can't arise separately).

Zen is not concerned with labels per se. Zen is concerned with the meaning of labels or in getting direct realization about the labelling process of mind. Zen asks, "Who is it that feels and then labels the feeling as 'pain'?" "Who is it that hears and then labels it as 'hearing'?"

In other words, the labelling process points to the external world and leads us to question what is going on in the labelling itself. This is a viable practice that indirectly leads to renouncing attachment to the external world if carried to its end. The Zen method is to turn the light around from the external world of labelling and to directly question the fountainhead of awareness without any labels.

_/|\_
Gregory

Thank-you for this very understandable explanation. :rbow:
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Chrisd on Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:21 pm

Gregory Wonderwheel wrote:
Chrisdd wrote:Alright, it's different in my country. There are Zen perfumes, Zen TV, Zen this Zen that.

LOL! Let's not confuse the crass commercialization of Zen as a product label with Zen as a practice. While the word "Zen" is all the rage in modern culture, that is not the same as Zen practice being accepted widely. "Zen" is only three letters and very catchy as it rolls off the tongue so easily so people love to create their own fantasies of what it means. Many people who talk about Zen can't tell the difference between yoga and Zen. Vipassana is not so easy to say and not so commonly spoken, so people don't find it so easy to create their own fantasy about it.

_/|\_
Gregory


Indeed, my bad.

Thank you for the useful explanation on Vipassana labeling - Zen.
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Re: Vipassana

Postby island on Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:11 pm

I think that some Zen teachers would say that Vipassana is more popular now and this might be due to a number of things, partly scandals in Zen, partly the emphasis on the enlightened master and the student's relationship, which can easily go astray.

I first learned Vipassana and that labeling, but as I understand it this is basic instruction that gets more involved, and it comes from just one teaching not the whole of the tradition. There are deeper levels of developing awareness and concentration. These are very clearly mapped out, but not taught all that often.

Not to say the obvious but not all Zen is the same. Koan introspection differs considerably from both just siting and Vipassana. And even with in just sitting, there are differing ways of approach. Some people do discuss what is happening during meditation so it really depends on the group and style.

And there are different meditation techniques within different traditions of Zen so what you do on the cushion might be different from what you do while doing work meditation. I know of some people who meditate while driving. Obviously this is not meditation on nothing or you would crash the car. And there are states of absorption during periods of heightened practice where you are not deliberately meditating but you enter that state anyway. These things can be felt by the student and tracked by good teachers, but they are also states that if you had a brain scan you would see a difference in brain waves so it is somewhat objective, not completely just a subjective claim.

I just think the situation is more complex because of the reception of these traditions and changes that happen during the appropriation of the traditions to suit differing needs. I guess I am not a purist and don't think that is healthy or realistic. Buddhism is creative, whether Zen or Vipassana. I happen to prefer Zen because of its rich cultural tradition and aesthetics and ethics. And I prefer the use of koans. But there rich aspects to the Vipassana tradition even in its guise in the West. It is more often linked to psychology for instance. It has fewer internal battles and scandals. It does lots of engaged work that is very valuable.
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Re: Vipassana

Postby Jok_Hae on Tue Sep 03, 2013 6:46 pm

Chrisd wrote:With the vipassana practice I experienced there was also regular discussion on how the practice was going. We would tell how it was in our minds. I said that one of my main blocks seemed to be doubt and then the teacher gave me advice on how to best deal with it.

I wish I could find a Zen school here where they did that, discussing what is actually happening during the practice in the mind and how to best deal with it. They also discuss Dharma there and finish with metta meditation.

Maybe I can practice and discuss there, while still using the Zen technique... I don't know if that would be an option.

When I talked to the teacher about it he said to me that this was one of his criticisms on what he had seen from Zen practice, they don't discuss much. He thinks this is good in the original setting in a monastery where the head monk and teacher would know everyone, but not in our Western setting.


It is fairly common for folks who come to the place where I practice (New Haven ZC), practice a little while and then migrate over to the Vipassana group in town. I think this is exactly why. We don't talk enough! haha!

I am okay with that. There is a very deep connection that develops between people who spend a lot of time together silently. Talking isn't necessary, imho. :Namaste:
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