0

I have a friend who recently did Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as designed by Jon Kabat Zinn. I haven't done it myself but he explained to me that it is based on the Vipassana technique of awareness-based body scans.

I have done S.N.Goenkya's ten days meditation courses but I currently follow Ajahn Brahmas meditation guide book Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond. When I told my friend who didn't know about Ajahn Brahma, he said 'his teacher said that calming the mind is a wrong technique of meditation'.

Now when I look at it, S.N Goenka's Vipassana technique though good for healing the subconscious mind does not talk about reaching higher meditative absorption of Jhanas. Whereas Ajahn Brahm, in his book and
in his youtube videos talk about reaching Nimmitas and Jhana through Anapanasati i.e. Breath Awareness Meditation.

I want to ask;

  1. Which is the right way to go?
  2. What is the difference between Vipassana and Anapanasati goals of attainment?
  3. Can I attain Nirvana without doing Vipassana but by just doing Anapanasati?
  4. Is there a difference between Vipassana Jhana and Anapanasati Jhana?
1
  • I've closed this question as a duplicate. Please look at the other questions that I've linked to see if it answers your question. If you think your question is totally different or if you want to change your question so that it is different, please reply to me here in the comments. – ruben2020 Nov 22 '20 at 4:46
1

designed by Jon Kabat Zinn... the Vipassana technique of awareness-based body scans...I have done S.N.Goenkya's ten days meditation courses

Awareness-based body scans in themselves are not "vipassana". It appears Jon Kabat Zinn & S.N.Goenkya have simply hijacked or misappropriated the word "vipassana".

The word "vipassana" means "clear seeing" and does not mean any specific method of tracking a meditation object.

While it is possible awareness-based body scans may result in "vipassana" happening, awareness-based body scans in themselves are not "vipassana".

In summary, there is no record of the Buddha ever teaching awareness-based body scans.

I currently follow Ajahn Brahm's meditation guide book Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond. When I told my friend who didn't know about Ajahn Brahm, he said 'his teacher said that calming the mind is a wrong technique of meditation'.

Ajahn Brahm's book emphasizes "jhanas", which are the final component of the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path. Ajahn Brahm's book also correctly refers to "insight/vipassana based on jhana" (p 223), quoting the sutta MN 43.

Ajahn Brahm's book quotes & teaches a method of practise the same as the Lord Buddha taught from SN 48.9 (which is also taught at the very end of the Anapanasati Sutta), namely, making "letting go (vossagga)" the meditation object.

Now when I look at it, S.N Goenka's Vipassana technique though good for healing the subconscious mind does not talk about reaching higher meditative absorption of Jhanas.

S.N Goenka's technique is unrelated to "vipassana". If S.N Goenka's technique resulted in "vipasssana" then "jhanas" would arise from that vipassana because the Pali suttas say jhanas & wisdom develop eachother, as follows:

Natthi jhānaṃ apaññassa, paññā natthi ajhāyato ; Yamhi jhānañca paññā ca, sa ve nibbānasantike.

There is no meditative concentration for him who lacks insight, and no insight for him who lacks meditative concentration. He in whom are found both meditative concentration and insight, indeed, is close to Nibbana.

Dhammapada 372



Whereas Ajahn Brahm, in his book and in his youtube videos talk about reaching Nimmitas and Jhana through Anapanasati i.e. Breath Awareness Meditation.

The Buddha practised & taught Anapanasati. Refer to SN 54.11 & MN 118.

Which is the right way to go?

The Buddha taught Anapanasati.

What is the difference between Vipassana and Anapanasati goals of attainment?

Anapanasati practised correctly results in vipassana. Anapanasati describes 16 sequential experiences/steps and vipassana begins to occur at the 3rd step, which is called 'experiencing all bodies' (refer to this book), which means experiencing how the quality of the mind conditions the quality of the breath and the body, which is an insight into the Four Noble Truths.

In addition, if anapanasati is practised correctly (with a clear mind established in letting go), the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness & not-self of the breathing is also seen starting at step 3.

Each of the four tetrads of Anapanasati includes "vipassana". The 4th tetrad of Anapanasati is exclusively vipassana. Try to ignore those who have not fulfilled the training; when they say false things, such as: "Samatha tetrads 1 to 3 and Vipassana tetrad 4".

In the Anapanasati Sutta, each step (except steps 1 & 2) is preceded by the instruction: "He trains himself". This means the practitioner is developing the Three Trainings of higher morality, higher mind & higher wisdom, therefore, developing vipassana in each step starting at step 3.

Can I attain Nirvana without doing Vipassana but by just doing Anapanasati?

Anapanasati is vipassana. The teachings of Jon Kabat Zinn & S.N.Goenkya are not necessarily vipassana. If they were, you would be already enlightened.

Is there a difference between Vipassana Jhana and Anapanasati Jhana?

The above terms are invalid and unrelated to what the Buddha taught.

1
  • 1
    Thank you very much for this detailed answer. It answers all my questions. – The White Cloud Nov 22 '20 at 15:40
2

Practice unfolds according to view. When a practitioner declares, "this works!" or "this does not work!" there is always context to be considered. What was the original individual view?

The Buddha himself pointed this out regarding the practice of serenity and discernment:

AN4.94:2.1: As for the person who has serenity but not discernment: they should approach someone who has discernment and ask: ‘Reverend, how should conditions be seen? How should they be comprehended? How should they be discerned?’ That person would answer from their own experience: ‘This is how conditions should be seen, comprehended, and discerned.’ After some time they have both serenity and discernment.
AN4.94:3.1: As for the person who has discernment but not serenity: they should approach someone who has serenity and ask: ‘Reverend, how should the mind be stilled? How should it be settled? How should it be unified? How should it be immersed in samādhi?’ That person would answer from their own experience: ‘Reverend, this is how the mind should be stilled, settled, unified, and immersed in samādhi.’ After some time they have both discernment and serenity.
AN4.94:4.1: As for the person who has neither serenity nor discernment: they should approach someone who has serenity and discernment and ask: ‘Reverend, how should the mind be stilled? How should it be settled? How should it be unified? How should it be immersed in samādhi?’ How should conditions be seen? How should they be comprehended? How should they be discerned?’ That person would answer as they’ve seen and known: ‘Reverend, this is how the mind should be stilled, settled, unified, and immersed in samādhi. And this is how conditions should be seen, comprehended, and discerned.’ After some time they have both serenity and discernment.

Serenity and discernment work together. We need them both. It doesn't help to neglect a weakness to practice a strength. We need to understand what is lacking and work to strengthen what is lacking. Different people have different views of what is needed. Your friend and you are different people with individual views. What works for your friend may or not work for you. The end goal is the same, but the practice will differ according to view. Approach the teacher with the right view.

AN3.53:1.1: Then a brahmin went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. Seated to one side he said to the Buddha: “Master Gotama, they speak of ‘a teaching visible in this very life’. In what way is the teaching visible in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves?”

2
  • Practice unfolds not according to need but according to view. Apart from this, the sutta quotes are useful – Dhammadhatu Nov 21 '20 at 23:53
  • Thank you. Updated answer and added clarifying quote. The word "need" was indeed awkward. – OyaMist Nov 22 '20 at 14:02
1
  1. Which is the right way to go?

A monk, no matter how renowned or knowledgeable, unless s/he's already attained enlightenment would still hasn't had 100% complete understanding of the Dhamma. Hence it's important to always go back and validate what they say against the Buddha's words. And the Buddha said the right way is to go with the Noble Eightfold Path, which involves both elements of Samatha/Tranquility and Vipassana/Insight.

  1. What is the difference between Vipassana and Anapanasati goals of attainment?

Anapanasati is an implementation of both Samatha( tetrads 1 to 3 ), and Vipassana( tetrad 4 ).

  1. Can I attain Nirvana without doing Vipassana but by just doing Anapanasati?

See 2. above.

  1. Is there a difference between Vipassana Jhana and Anapanasati Jhana?

Notice there's a wide spectrum on the Samatha/Vipassana scale, but even on the extreme spectrum of Vipassana, the "dry-insight", there's still element of Samatha ( the KhanikaSamadhi/MomentaryConcentration, see Ven. Gunaratana's "The Jhanas" for more details ).

5
  • this answer confused me because it criticized monks, praised the buddha, but then refers to a monk saying things that appear not to be the buddha's words. – Dhammadhatu Nov 21 '20 at 20:05
  • You're always confused even at the most straightforward answer. I never suggested not to listen to monks at all. One can listen and verify at the same time. – santa100 Nov 21 '20 at 20:33
  • In the Anapanasati Sutta, each step (except steps 1 & 2) is preceded by the instruction: "He trains himself". This means the practitioner is developing the Three Trainings of higher morality, higher mind & higher wisdom, therefore, developing vipassana in each step starting at step 3. – Dhammadhatu Nov 21 '20 at 21:14
  • Why don't you two get a (chat)room?:) – user19910 Nov 21 '20 at 23:52
  • It's a lot more fun sparring in public ;-) – santa100 Nov 22 '20 at 2:33

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.