How long do you meditate for?

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Myotai
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Myotai » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:33 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Did you do your HYT practice not on a cushion or something? You keep talking as if tantric practitioner don't do anything on cushions, kind of bizarre. I didn't imply that for a second. Just less on the cushion from my experience.

What exactly is it that you think you are getting from pure sitting (and btw the range of of silent meditation practices is nearly as diverse as the range of tantric practices, so not all "sitting" is equal, or even similar) that you can't/didn't get from your HYT practice? I am not getting anything from it

Similarly, not to pry, but did you do ngondro etc.? If you did, did you not develop concentration doing so? I.E. Were you unable to produce the concentration needed for tantric practice without Shamatha training..is that the complaint? I am not complaining at all - just asking how long others generally sit for in formal, concentrated meditating equipoise

PS i actually "sit" quite a bit (though again, not all sitting is the same thing by a stretch), so it's not a criticism, just wondering.
I just feel there is an immanent aspect to a concentrated Samatha practice that's raw and meets the reasons I sit head on. To facilitate this I sit for longer periods.
What is an "immanent aspect"? What instructions do you use, are you mainly practicing Shamatha, vipaysana, integration of the two? How do longer periods help? Yes, both. Longer periods afford more familiarity with the mind and its nature.

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Karinos
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Karinos » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:50 pm

Malcolm wrote: Jeff, the point is that in Tibet in the Gelug tradition, śamatha meditation was not especially emphasized, historically.
The fact is that Sakyas and Gelugpas don't do much sūtrayāna style śamatha because they think sadhana practice (reciting texts, chanting mantras, and so on) is a more effective means to reach the same goal.
However, based on the model of Trungpa's Dharmadhātu, a lot of Western centers adopted courses in śamatha because they noticed that to some extent, people with background in Zen and Vipassana and so on had less difficulties with their practice in general and more stability, especially emotionally.

According to my Gelugpa Lama (Desi Rinpoche - Drepung Loseling) practitioners of tantra are practising śamatha and vipassana simultaneously during deity yoga sadhana practice, respectively during generation and completion stage. So there is no need to do it separately on formal "sitting". Two stages replace traditional sutrayana style completely.
Without going much into details, also HH Dalai Lama gave precise instruction on this during his teachings on 5 stages of Ghuyasamaja, Blue Mountains Australia 06'2015. It has to do with meditation on 3 stages as 3 kayas, focusing on seed syllables, observation from within and concentrating on whole mandala without single point of focus and finally dissolving into emptiness an so on.

There are also popular teachings within Kaguy tradition on how whole Bodhisattva path to enlightenment is contained in single sadhana.

Therefore whole vajrayana sadhana should be definitely counted as "meditation"


answering OP - I do my cushion practice usually 3-4 hours a day, if I'm super busy my "minimum daily program" is 1h. Otherwise I'm trying to do yoga deity practice 24/7 :)

Jeff H
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Jeff H » Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:33 pm

The breadth of this discussion is quite interesting, and a little foreign, to me. Although I am associated with a good FPMT center, traveling to it regularly is a problem for me, so most of my practice is alone. My practice seems appropriate and productive to me, but I’m posting this in case someone can point out ways I might be fooling myself about that. Or perhaps another beginner in the forum may find it useful.

I was taught that the Tibetan word which is translated as “meditation” means “familiarization”. I learned that in the context of the three-fold method for absorbing Dharma: listen; reflect; meditate.

Listening refers to taking in the Dharma by hearing or reading –- like asking driving directions; Reflection refers to thoroughly understanding it by thinking and talking about it -– like actually driving the route with the help of the directions; Meditation refers to internalizing it by keeping the mind focused on it, on and off the cushion –- like driving the route so often you no longer need the directions.

I am a low level trainee. I have no empowerments or Tantric commitments. I have taken pratimoksha and refuge with a teacher, and bodhisattva vows on my own. The majority of my practice is listening and reflecting. My ritual practice is a series of verses and prayers that I recite throughout the day to regularly bring my mind back to Dharma. I end the day with a simple Vajrasattva purification, reviewing the pratimoksha vows and reciting twenty-one 100-syllable mantras. I sit for an hour each morning. Half of that is a brief sadhana followed by 30 minutes of very structured, timed meditation. I use a timer because when I’ve tried not to, I think about the time too much. With the timer I forget about the time.

I began this practice 9 years ago when my first teacher gave me a meditation handbook with 21 brief lam rim meditations. I’ve since compiled three more similar handbooks of my own (revised lam rim based on Tsongkhapa's Great Treatise, “Bodhisattva Boot Camp” based on Shantideva’s 4th and 5th chapters, and Emptiness based on Khensur Jampa Tegchok’s Insight Into Emptiness). Each includes approximately 21 daily meditations.

My 30-minute timer beeps every 10 minutes. I take one meditation each day for six days, applying analytical meditation for 20 minutes, and then finish with 10 minutes of single-pointed meditation following my breath. On the seventh day I do single-pointed meditation for the full 30 minutes, and move on to the next meditation for the following week.

My intention is to thoroughly imbue my mind-stream with Dharma. It's slow but, for now, I believe I'm moving in the right direction.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:18 pm

Myotai wrote:I didn't imply that for a second. Just less on the cushion from my experience.
Vajrayana people I know spend more time "on the cushion" than other Buddhist practitioners I know, as a rule. Mainly because there are more practice requirements for average practitioners, again IME.
I am not getting anything from it
I'm unsure you're even doing it at all, since you're being so unspecific about what you've done.
I am not complaining at all - just asking how long others generally sit for in formal, concentrated meditating equipoise
You can practice equipoise with anything, it does not require silence for everyone. Again, did you do Ngondro? I can only assume that 20 years practicing HYT in Gelug means you probably did, were you unable to do ngondro due to not having the skill at shamatha?
Yes, both. Longer periods afford more familiarity with the mind and its nature.
How and why? What do longer periods and silent meditation have to do with uncovering the minds nature?
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ngodrup
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by ngodrup » Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:35 pm

Thank you, Jeff.

I can say you are on the right track. Meditation, as you have it
in translation "familiarization" --Gom in Tibetan-- more basically
means 'getting used to'. And what we are familiarizing ourselves
with on the paths of meditation, sutra, tantra or dzogchen is the
Nature of Mind.

Ultimately, all the 'hearing' of the teachings aim in the direction
of recognizing the distinction between ignorance (ignoring) and
reality (awareness of selflessness, emptiness, or the union of
awareness and...) well you get the picture. Step by step, according
to our capacity and mental flexibility.

If you have any doubt that we are talking about basically the same thing
in the different schools and vehicles as you have been taught so far, just using
different terminology and methodology, then I refer you to one small text.

http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/meditation-nature-mind

The author was an abbot of Sera-- very good Gelug credential,
from the Khon family--very good Sakyapa. His writing shows
familiarity with both Kagyu and Nyingma sources.

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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by ngodrup » Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:57 pm

I'd like to add just a little anecdote that might he helpful to
one or two people who maybe haven't done much long solitary retreat.

One of the first things I did after a four month solitary retreat
focusing on a specific deity yoga, was "sit" wit a friend.
Now, for background: with nothing else and no one else in your cabin,
meditation is the only thing to do, other than eating! Maybe making tormas.
Or maybe you can distract yourself by reading books!
So-- sessions typically are 3 or so hours or more, breaks are short.
The friend is a Theravada nuanced Zen type or is it Zen influenced Theravada?
He sits every day without fail. for decades. No doubt that he has experienced jhanic states.

We sat together for an hour in silence. and when we broke the session,
I say, "Oh, that was short."

Point being, I was very used to focusing my mind on deity, chanting,
ringing a bell and drum, making mudras, and all sorts of other, so called
distracting things. Yet could sit in silence afterward and have the experience
that it was simple, easy and short. So, exponentially speaking, what's the difference?
In meditation, you focus awareness on breath, visualized object, mantra,
a wall, the space in front of you, mind itself--- object, no object, movement,
no movement... If you do the practice eventually it all becomes the same.
Just a variation on a theme (from the point of view of the practitioner.)

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maybay
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by maybay » Mon Feb 22, 2016 6:01 pm

All this disinterested sharing makes me quite uncomfortable.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
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Malcolm
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Malcolm » Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:52 pm

Karinos wrote:
Malcolm wrote: Jeff, the point is that in Tibet in the Gelug tradition, śamatha meditation was not especially emphasized, historically.
The fact is that Sakyas and Gelugpas don't do much sūtrayāna style śamatha because they think sadhana practice (reciting texts, chanting mantras, and so on) is a more effective means to reach the same goal.
According to my Gelugpa Lama (Desi Rinpoche - Drepung Loseling) practitioners of tantra are practising śamatha and vipassana simultaneously during deity yoga sadhana practice, respectively during generation and completion stage.

Glad you agree with me.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


The knowledge imparted through the guru’s instructions that formerly was unknown (avidyā) is vidyā.


—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

Jeff H
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Jeff H » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:53 pm

Thanks, ngodrup. I downloaded the Kindle version of Meditation on the Nature of Mind. I'm working on Hopkins Meditation on Emptiness now but Nature of Mind will be next.

maybay wrote:All this disinterested sharing makes me quite uncomfortable.
Maybay, what are you referring to as "disinterested sharing", and what do you find uncomfortable?
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Myotai
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Myotai » Tue Feb 23, 2016 8:23 am

This hasn't exactly gone the way I'd have expected from a simple question. Sorry 'bout that.

Again, I wasn't casting aspersions on others practice, merely curious as to how long you spend in seated meditation as opposed to seating Puja etc. Just a simple question with no hidden agenda.

There's a subtle doubt as to my experience. Maybe I should have said I 'struggled' for 20 years with HYT practice. I suspect my initial interpretation of what meditation was/is was never matched by its practices. I am not going to divulge too much because I don't think its prudent - particularly in this forum. Having said that there are no other traditions capable of an exposition of Emptiness like the Tibetan schools. So I guess I have a foot firmly in two camps.

Please don't speculate, its fruitless.

There's a beautiful metaphor in the Ch'an tradition of the 'Golden Carp'. The carp resides in a forest pool, elusive and yet beautiful to those who are fortunate enough to see it. Many have tried to beckon it, catch it using various methods. However, one person placed his hand in the pool and kept very still and very quiet. Eventually the carp appears and gently and precariously swims to the hand.

Y...

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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:46 am

Myotai wrote:This hasn't exactly gone the way I'd have expected from a simple question. Sorry 'bout that.
You called peoples meditation lazy, refused to divulge anything, or even respond to questions you were asked, in a forum where you are specifically questioning the value of other people's practice relative to silent meditation (as you see it, but that's another story, as again not all silent meditation is the same animal at all), just try asking the question a bit differently, and i'm sure it'll be fine. I asked you some actual questions, but no response.
Again, I wasn't casting aspersions on others practice, merely curious as to how long you spend in seated meditation as opposed to seating Puja etc. Just a simple question with no hidden agenda.
That's debatable IMO, no hiding needed..just based on what you wrote. Regardless though, instead of worrying about it you might want to just answer people's questions and keep the discussion going.
There's a subtle doubt as to my experience. Maybe I should have said I 'struggled' for 20 years with HYT practice. I suspect my initial interpretation of what meditation was/is was never matched by its practices. I am not going to divulge too much because I don't think its prudent - particularly in this forum. Having said that there are no other traditions capable of an exposition of Emptiness like the Tibetan schools. So I guess I have a foot firmly in two camps.
Well that's convenient, but understandable I guess.
Please don't speculate, its fruitless.
When you get on a forum and ask fairly intimate questions, it's reasonable to expect you are willing to be somewhat vulnerable yourself, since you are asking others to share what they do, and let you put it under a microscope.
There's a beautiful metaphor in the Ch'an tradition of the 'Golden Carp'. The carp resides in a forest pool, elusive and yet beautiful to those who are fortunate enough to see it. Many have tried to beckon it, catch it using various methods. However, one person placed his hand in the pool and kept very still and very quiet. Eventually the carp appears and gently and precariously swims to the hand.
Do you believe that silence is only attainable when everything is literally silent? Can you only experience silence by imposing actual silence? Does silence go somewhere because you hear sounds? If so, that is a very limited idea of what meditation is. The quote is not AFAIK any kind of meditation instruction, but a quote about the mind, to me it does not say "do more silent meditation instead of something else" and IMO such a reading of it is pretty pedestrian.
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maybay
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by maybay » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:03 pm

They don't call him dangerous for nothing.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron

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Anders
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Anders » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:16 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:When you get on a forum and ask fairly intimate questions, it's reasonable to expect you are willing to be somewhat vulnerable yourself, since you are asking others to share what they do, and let you put it under a microscope.
I have to say, I find this a bit of a reckless and potentially unkind assumption.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:22 pm

Anders wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:When you get on a forum and ask fairly intimate questions, it's reasonable to expect you are willing to be somewhat vulnerable yourself, since you are asking others to share what they do, and let you put it under a microscope.
I have to say, I find this a bit of a reckless and potentially unkind assumption.
Why? If someone wants to have a conversation where they put your practice under the spotlight, while refusing to do the same with their own, do you think that's productive? I'm not asking (nor expecting in any way of course) that he disclose anything he is not supposed to, hopefully that's obvious.
"it must be coming from the mouthy mastermind of raunchy rapper, Johnny Dangerous”

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ngodrup
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by ngodrup » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:39 pm

So I have a simple question, without agenda...

You said:
"There's a subtle doubt as to my experience.
Maybe I should have said I 'struggled' for 20 years with HYT practice.
I suspect my initial interpretation of what meditation was/is was never matched by its practices."

So I wonder, were you taught by your Root Lama to question and doubt your HYT practice?
(...or your practice of it?) Where did this initial interpretation of what meditation is come from?
Is it yours, or somebody else's?

It looks to me, from some 40 years in Buddadharma and 35 of those in Tibetan Vajrayana tradition,
that many people get the idea that this is hard and dangerous work. Somewhere, many get the idea
that the mind is full of neuroses or worse and you are likely to have all kinds of stuff come up to catch you.
Not only that but from somewhere, superstitions come up when many enter vajrayana around the deities
themselves coming after you if you don't do it perfectly. Well, why do they call it practice? If we could do
it perfectly, wouldn't we already be enlightened? One of my teachers, a Geshe from Ganden, put it very simply
"The dharma doesn't punish, it only blesses." This same Geshe asked me why most western practitioners are
so crazy.

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Karinos
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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Karinos » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:48 pm

ngodrup wrote: One of my teachers, a Geshe from Ganden, put it very simply
"The dharma doesn't punish, it only blesses." This same Geshe asked me why most western practitioners are
so crazy.
:heart: :good:

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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Feb 23, 2016 6:21 pm

:twothumbsup:
"it must be coming from the mouthy mastermind of raunchy rapper, Johnny Dangerous”

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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Adamantine » Tue Feb 23, 2016 6:49 pm

I think it's fairly obvious at this point that our friend can't post details about his HYT background because it relates to a cultish group that is totally banned from discussion here. Assuming I am correct, I revoke all related comments I've made regarding samaya, as I don't believe samayas are applicable in that context. I apologize as I should have been more sensitive to that potential.

I'll just counter that it's possible that our friend -Yogavajra- or -Myotai- (it honestly doesn't help our view of your sincerity or transparency to be double-nicking) possibly never connected to authentic instruction or wisdom-blessings in the sacred stream of Vajrayana lineage that many of us have had the great fortune to connect with. If this may be the case, I am not surprised he may have a malformed and negative view of the entire framework, and have found deeper experience in Sutra
traditions that are not as clouded as what he's experienced in his limited exposure to so-called Vajrayana.

I hope this post is vague enough not to contradict the site rules, however I think it's been hinted at enough by the OP that it deserves our attention for the sake of context. I'm also guessing Malcolm intuited this which is why he rightfully opposed me bringing Samaya into the conversation. I apologize again for being a bit slow in this regard. Even so, it does relate to longer conversations/details that can't be addressed here.
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Ivo » Tue Feb 23, 2016 6:52 pm

With no intention to engage actively in this discussion I must say that I find several things perplexing. One is the assumption that sadhana practice is somehow not "sitting practice" and has a quality very different from silent absorption. This is amazing to me, as sadhana practice requires more skill, concentration and control over the mind than śamatha, and is in fact much harder to do properly. And it requires an awful lot of 'sitting'.

But all this aside, the other thing is the opinion that śamatha is not really practiced or taught well within the Tibetan tradition, apart from Kagyu. When I started practicing as a teenager I was put to do 5 hours of pure śamatha practice per day (initially in 2 sessions) from day 1 for a whole year as a basis for any subsequent sadhana practice, and this was according to the Sakya Lam Dre. Ngorchen Konchok Lhundrup in his exposition on the Lam De Tsog She prescribes a capacity to do a single śamatha session of 24 hours or more as a prerequisite to proceed further on the path. From the oral explanations of the Lam Dre I have received I remember instructions for up to 7 days of śamatha (single session) as a prerequisite for the next stage of vipaśyanā. And this is before you engage in any Vajrayana stuff. Not many people do that nowadays, but some still follow this path as prescribed. In my own case my teacher let me continue when I could do a stable 5 hour session. And this did require quite a bit of "sitting" and months of sustained effort to eventually achieve the ninth stage according to the tradition.

This is not limited to Sakya too, some Nyingma teachers teach proper śamatha as well. Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche is very hard to get hold of these days but I would certainly encourage anyone who wants to learn shine to try to contact him. This forum is not a place to talk about what he can do but I can at least say that in my opinion he is without a doubt one of the most accomplished śamatha practitioners in the world today. And he is Nyingma, although very Rime.

To the OP - if you want to reconcile śamatha practice with Vajrayana, you should definitely have a good look at the Lam Dre path and at least talk to a lineage holder from the Sakya tradition.

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Re: How long do you meditate for?

Post by Malcolm » Tue Feb 23, 2016 7:19 pm

Ivo wrote:Ngorchen Konchok Lhundrup in his exposition on the Lam De Tsog She prescribes a capacity to do a single śamatha session of 24 hours or more as a prerequisite to proceed further on the path.
While he certainly says that by doing short sessions one gradually can remain in śamatha for twenty four hours, he certainly never makes it a precondition for moving along to vipaśyāna, or even Vajrayāna. And certainly, it is the case that that reciting the Hevajra sadhana itself is regarded as the best means of traversing the nine stages of śamatha in Lamdre, as it is described in some detail in Saroruhavajra's creation stage commentary contained within the Eight subsequent path cycles of Lamdre, which is part of the Yellow Volume.

Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen criticizes the view that one must train excessively in sūtra before moving on the Vajrayāna practice, and this is one reason why Sakya masters tend to bestow the Hevajra empowerment right away, because they take a cig car approach based on Jetsun Rinpoche's clarification of disagreement over how best to understand the statement in the Five Stages of Nāgārjuna that, "This [Vajrayāna] is a gradual path." He asserts that sudden entry into Vajrayāna is implied by Aryadeva's amplification on this point.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


The knowledge imparted through the guru’s instructions that formerly was unknown (avidyā) is vidyā.


—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

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