6 - Calm and Insight-The Two Wings of Buddhist Meditation...

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Calm and Insight The Two Wings of Buddhist Meditation Part I: Calm/ Ś amathaā
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The Dynamic Duo “There are many paths for entering the reality of Nirvana, but in essence they are all contained with two practices: stopping and seeing. Stopping is the primary gate for overcoming the bonds of compulsiveness. Seeing is the essential requisite for ending confusion. Stopping is the wholesome resource that nurtures the mind. Seeing is the marvelous art which fosters intuitive understanding”— Shinzen Young
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What Zhiyi said about Calm- Insight “Stopping is the effective cause of attaining concentrative repose. Seeing is the very basis of enlightened wisdom. A person who attains both concentration and wisdom has all the requisites for self- help and for helping others... It should be known, then, that these two techniques are like the two wheels of a chariot, the two wings of a bird. If their practice is lopsided, you will fall from the path. Therefore, the sutra says: To one-sidedly cultivate the merits of concentrative repose without practicing understanding is called dullness. To one-sidedly cultivate knowledge without practicing repose is called being crazed. Dullness and craziness, although they are somewhat different, are the same in that they both perpetuate an unwholesome perspective.” From the Xiao zhiguan by Zhiyi
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Why should calm be the basis of insight? What is the logic in Ś amathaās preceding vipa ś yanā? Actually, it is possible for the latter to precede the former in practice but that is another issue
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Why should calm be the basis of insight? possible answers Theorizing about Right Understanding not sufficient; requires direct and deep observation; but such observation is unlikely without a trained attentional basis
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Goals of the Cultivation of “Calm” “Voluntary” or selective attention instead of involuntary/unselective attention “Observation” instead of “reaction” (e.g. suppression, diversion, indulgence, etc.) Attentional duration and sustainment Attentional vividness that is devoid of laxity/dullness ( laya ) and excitedness/discursiveness ( auddhatya ) ; the balance of relaxation and alertness
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Can attention be trained?
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  • Spring '08
  • WilliamChu
  • Psychology, Buddhist meditation, trained attention, Shinzen Young

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