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03/20/21
15 -21-3-2021 LESSON 3627 Buddha-Sasana-A Culture of Awakening
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 15 -21-3-2021 LESSON 3627 Buddha-Sasana-A Culture of Awakening





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Buddha sasana jawa
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A Culture of Awakening:
the life and times of the Buddha-Sasana
Bhikkhu Cintita
Sāsana
is a Pali expression that means literally teaching, but that is
generally used, particularly when expanded as Buddha-Sāsana, to refer
to living Dhamma, that is, to Buddhism in its personal, cultural, social
and historical dimensions.
Sasana
is something organic that can be located in time and space, that can
grow, thrive, propagate or wither and disappear, that can uphold the
authenticity of the Dhamma, in the midst of change, or degrade. “Sasana”
has been variously translated into English as “the Buddha’s
dispensation,” as “the Buddhist religion,” simply as “Buddhism” or even
as “the Buddhist church.” “Buddhism” itself has never been a good
rendering of “Dhamma” because Dhamma is by nature something much more
static and ideal. Dhamma is like the joke that has been preserved in its
functional authenticity, and the Sasana like that which carries the
joke along in real time, in real places and by real people, ideally, but
not always, maintaining its integrity.
The logic of this essay can be summarized briefly as follows:
1.
The structure and functionality of the Sasana itself was established in
the early teachings of the Buddha, particularly in the ancient Vinaya.
2. This structure and functionality has remained surprisingly stable over a span of a hundred generations.
3.
Resilience and malleability, that is, Buddhism’s capacity for retaining
its integrity and simultaneous tolerance of adaptation and variation,
are emergent properties of this structure and functionality.
The
Sasana is a living organism that knows how to self-regulate, to adapt,
to propagate and to brighten any landscape with its civilizing
influence. If we understand the Sasana, we can make sense of how it has
evolved historically and how it shapes cultures. We can also assess the
particular way in which Buddhism is developing in the West.
No
systematic modern account of the Buddha-Sasana, of its doctrinally
determined structure and function, of its origin and history, of its
commonalities and variations, of its virtues and faults, of its modern
manifestations and of how it is taking root in the West. First attempt
at a comprehensive account of the Buddha-Sasana, in its doctrinal,
historical, cultural/sociological and personal dimensions.
Buddha sasana jawa
http://sitagu.org/austin/About/Cintita/documents/Sasana6×9-010715.pdf

Spiritual or Religious?

Are you spiritual, or are you religious?

The answer probably has to do with the amount of consideration you give to the Sasana rather than to the Path.

The Path and the Sasana represent two distinct perspectives to Buddhist life, practice, and understanding.

The Path perspective is centered in personal practice toward development of character and ultimately toward liberation.

The
Sasana perspective is more centered in the life of the Buddhist
community. Quantitatively the Sasana perspective has almost always
dominated, though qualitatively the Path perspective is the most
sophisticated, sublime and extolled. Indeed the Sasana perspective tends
to carry those elements we generally identify as “religious,” for
instance, devotional, ritual, liturgical and institutional features,
which tend to express themselves in the context of community. For
instance when we consider the Noble Eightfold Path, the heart of the
Path perspective, we fail to come across things like:
• Right Bowing,
• Right Robes,
• Right Ecclesiastical Governance.
Yet
the Sasana perspective is the precursor of the Path perspective and the
Path perspective is an integral part of the Sasana perspective. This is
why the Sasana perspective is critical.




  1. Sasana has
    many elements that share at least a passing family resemblance to religion.
    Among these elements are:







ritual and ceremony                      
sacred spaces


sacred artifacts                              
veneration

devotion and worship                   
sense of tradition

liturgy                                             group identity

common world view/conviction   salvation


clergy                                             institutions




The common statement, “I’m spiritual but not
religious,” seems often to sweep aside all of the elements on this list at once.
Why this list comes together as something meriting special attention, and often
alarm, in Western folk culture is discussed in a later chapter. Suffice it to say it
is a reaction peculiar to our culture.

While all of these “religious” aspects are found in Buddhism from the earliest
times, it is worth noting that each of them is also found also in what would
normally be regarded as distinctly secular contexts. For instance, table
manners along with proper arrangements of cutlery, plates and glasses in a
proper table setting, exhibit a large number of these features. Sports events
involve ritual, ritual spaces, worship, chanting, group identity, and typically a
sense of tradition. Government functions and places of government exhibit
almost every one of these features, by my count, with appropriate substitution
of terms: elected officials for clergy, etc. Armies likewise exhibit most, with
analogous substitutions, maybe because they need to be equipped to deal with
fundamental issues of life and death. Even academia exhibits many of these
features.

Let each speak for itself in terms of its purported
functionality and authenticity within the Buddhist project. We will see that
each of them is found at least in some embryonic form in early Buddhism, and
with a clear and quite rational function. While many of them are systematically
and clearly encouraged in early Buddhism, others are carefully circumscribed.
However, historically, in almost every case, the tendency has been toward
greater embellishment and toward the accretion of similar elements from local
folk cultures. But seldom, does this elaboration actually
happen in a way that obscures the early Buddhist message or the functional
integrity of the Sasana.


Which Buddhism?

Any given Buddhist tradition considers itself almost invariably to be the
almost unique heir of Buddhist authenticity. Yet in exploring other lands and
other sects its adherents are faced with peculiarity and anomaly in the practices
and beliefs of the other laity, the garb of the other monastics, the style of other
liturgy, the presence of unfamiliar figures in temple statuary, unfamiliar rites at
temple altars, unknown scriptures on temple bookshelves, and hocus pocus all
around. For many in the West who first come to Buddhism and survey the vast
array of traditions with no prior bias toward any particular tradition, the
variance is even more striking, and it is easy to see how one might throw one’s
hands up in despair and perhaps entertain the hope that Baha’i or Sufism is
easier to sort out.

Buddhist traditions have developed for centuries, or even millenia, in quite
divergent regions and under quite divergent cultural influences. They have
evolved, then cross-bred with each other and with other religious traditions,
such as Tantric Hinduism, Taoism and an array of regional shamanistic and
animistic practices, to produce doctrinal variants, sects, innovations, new
cultural expressions and religious hybrids. A result is that Buddhists of
different traditions rarely agree on the contents of their respective scriptural
corpora. Buddhism has proved particularly malleable under these influences
and this is probably at least partially responsible for the Sasana’s ability to
project itself beyond its original cultural boundaries and for its status as the
first world religion, predating Christianity and Islam.

What is truly remarkable, but not always obvious, about Buddhism is its
resilience, its capacity to retain the authenticity of early Buddhism, the
functional integrity of what is most basic, even while it bends to vicissitude.
Somehow, transmitted through many centuries, through many traditions and
cultures, and in spite of its accrued variety, Buddhism has preserved an
essential core in most of the traditions, a core that includes, for instance, a
more-or-less common understanding of liberation and of the Path of training
toward liberation, a Path which focuses on virtue, wisdom and development of
mind, and a recognition of greed, hatred and delusion as the primary qualities
of mind to be attenuated. It also includes as fundamental trust in the Buddha,
the Dharma and the Sangha, a prominent role for the monastic order and a
particular emphasis on the practices of generosity and virtue. In many ways
the structure of the Sasana, as we will see, has been more conservative than the
structure of the Path. As a result, Buddhism seems to have much more
consistency of purpose and understanding than, say, Christianity, in spite of
Christianity’s more-or-less agreement on its scriptural foundation.

Buddhism is adept at carrying a good joke into new forms while protecting the
integrity of its core meaning. It knows how to make the joke meaningful for
the Indian, the Burmese, the Tocharian and the Mongol. There is, in other
words, a common Dharma that shines constantly through the various Buddhist
traditions, a Buddhism visible first in the earliest scriptures and a common
edifice behind the many often wild and perplexing guises appearing under the
name “Buddhism.” I realize that the claim of a relatively consistent core in
Buddhism is for many controversial. However I expect it to become much
more compelling in the course of this essay after we have located where the
more orthodox elements reside and alongside more bohemian elements within
the living Sasana. Once we do this we will also recognize the mechanisms
responsible for the exceptional resilience of Buddhism in preserving
authenticity.


Buddhist Authenticity

The early manifestation of Buddhism derived from what was taught literally
by the Buddha. Scholars have a fairly good idea of what early Buddhism
looked like before it began to undergo retelling, that is, before identifiable
sects emerged. It consisted of two parts, the Dharma and the Vinaya, the
doctrine and the discipline. Roughly the Pali Suttas, particularly the Digha,
Majjhima, Samyutta and Anguttara Nikayas as well as the Suttanipata and the
Dhammapada of the Khuddhaka Nikaya along with the equivalent Chinese
Agamas are acknowledged by scholars to constitute the most reliable evidence
of the early Dharma. The Vinaya, the monastic code, is available in several
redactions.
3 I should note that these ancient Suttas and the Vinaya are still not
entirely reliable texts, having passed through both oral and orthographic
transmissions and suffering from faults of memory, embellishments, insertions,
deletions and other edits along the way.

The Buddha and his early disciples seem to have anticipated that what he had
taught would change in different and unpredictable ways and to have
expressed his interest in preserving the functionality, rather than the word, of
doctrine and discipline. First, he defined Dharma broadly to include whatever
served the same narrowly defined functions.

“But, Gotamī, those things of which you might know: ‘These things
lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to bondage; to
dismantling, not to building up; to fewness of desires, not to strong
desires; to contentment, not to non-contentment; to solitude, not to
company; to the arousing of energy, not to laziness; to being easy to
support, not to being difficult to support,’ you should definitely
recognize: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the discipline; this is the
teaching of the Teacher.’”

So, Dharma was not strictly confined to the words of the Buddha, but includes
whatever shares their function.

Second, the Great Standards (Pali, Mahāpadesa)5 generalized recognizable
teachings to novel or uncertain circumstances. A particular view that suggests
itself under such a circumstance can be tested by standing it against the
Dharma and the Vinaya and if it accords then it can be accepted.

Third, the Vinaya provides specific support for applying the Great Standards to
monastic rules by providing for every rule an origin story to reveal the
function of the rule. This is an invitation to generalize on the basis of first
principles. For instance, there is an early rule that monks should not drive ox
carts. The origin story clearly reveals the intent of the rule in avoiding the
exhibition of extravagance. Applying this to modern circumstances entails that
monks probably should not fly first-class, nor drive a Mercedes, … but that ox
carts are probably now OK.

Finally, the Buddha anticipated that a community of adepts in the Dhamma would be required for its preservation, like a committee of skilled humorists
who understand the point of a good joke and can tell others how to retell it
properly. This was a function of the Monastic Sangha as we will discuss in
detail in the course of this book.

We can think of the core of authentic Buddhism as a kind of eau de
Boudhisme. It is the functional system that shines through in early Buddhism,
but stripped of this particular manifestation and stripped of extraneous
elements of the ancient texts irrelevant to the functionality of that system.
Authentic Buddhism thereby turns away from the allure of literalism that
adheres to texts, and toward the flexibility admitted by the Great Standards, by
the expansive meaning of Dharma, by the early functions revealed in the
Vinaya origin stories and by the adepts in their role of retelling the authentic
Dharma in a way that best preserves its integrity in a particular cultural
context.

This functional view of authenticity can also be helpful in interpreting faulty,
misspoken or difficult early texts, to recover what is really authentic. It
suggests that it might sometimes be more interesting and helpful to ask, when
confronted with a particular teaching, not “Is this really true?” but rather “Why
was this said?” in order to lay bare the function of the teaching. For instance,
there is constant reference to devas, godly beings, in the early texts. (These are
very old texts; of course they are going to have things that raise modern
eyebrows.) The question of whether devas really exist or whether as Buddhists
we should believe in devas, is of little consequence. Much more fruitful is the
question, What role do these supernatural beings play in the texts? If they have
no recognizable function, maybe they are not core teachings. In fact, devas in
the texts generally pop in on the Buddha much like laypeople, bowing to the
Buddha and listening to discourses. They certainly are not there to demand
worship or sacrifice. Instead they venerate the Buddha and even the monks,
and generally act as cheerleaders of the Dharma. Their role therefore seems to
have been largely rhetorical; it would have impressed the ancient Indians that
even the gods look up to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The search
for the functionality, if any, quickly reveals the connection of any particular
element of the teachings to authentic Buddhism.

As mentioned, the ancient scriptures are often an unreliable victim of ancient
editing. However, seeking functionality can help the adept reader of the early
scriptures interpret them properly. His task is like piecing together a jigsaw
puzzle in which some pieces are missing, and in which other pieces have been
mixed in from other jigsaw puzzles. At some point he nevertheless recognizes,
“Oh, I get it: This is the Golden Gate Bridge!” A particular interpretation of the
whole has shone forth that he cannot easily back out of. Although it cannot be
proven decisively, and still admits of debate, the convergence of evidence from
many sources becomes so overwhelming to those who see what shines
through, that doubt disappears. And what shines forth in each case is a
functional system. The Buddha was a very systematic thinker.

The Buddhist adept accomplished in Buddhist practice is in a far better
position to witness this shining through than the mere scholar, because the
former has his own practice experience as potentially confirming evidence. He
is like the jigsaw enthusiast who has actually been on the Golden Gate Bridge,
who is already familiar with its features and the contours of the land- and sea-
scape around it. Once the Golden Gate Bridge has shone through, it becomes
the basis of interpreting the remaining unplaced pieces, and rejecting some of
these altogether as intruders from other people’s jigsaw puzzles.

Nonetheless, it can be exceedingly difficult to actually trace a functional
feature of authentic Buddhism from early Buddhism into a later manifestation,
as found, for instance, in Chinese Mahayana or Tibetan Vajrayana, in order to
make the case that the later counterpart actually preserves the function of the
original. The difficulty is compounded by the substitution of later texts for the
earliest scriptures, which is endemic in the history of Buddhism. For instance,
although many find Zen close to the Theravada forest tradition on the basis of
experience in both traditions, there is scant strictly textual basis for the
connection. Part of the genius of Zen language as compared to Indian is the
former’s minimalism, its ability to focus on the one thing upon which
everything else hinges, to describe that one thing and to let the rest find its
place implicitly. Because of such subtleties we must hope that the adepts, and
ideally the Noble Ones (ariya-sangha, those who have attained at least an
initial level of Awakening), have been ceaselessly at work ensuring
authenticity as these traditions have developed historically.

By way of example, mindfulness practice is clearly a key functional element
of early Buddhism, one formulated in the lengthy Satipatthana Sutta and in
other early discourses. In Japanese Zen there is a method of meditation that
was named shikantaza by Dogen Zenji,
6 which clearly has something to do
with mindfulness or awareness but is described by Dogen with very concise
instructions that are textually quite distinct from the Satipatthana. It would
therefore be very difficult to make an argument for functional equivalence that
would satisfy the scholar, but an experienced practitioner of both techniques is
unlikely to fail to recognize their alikeness. If this subjective testimony can be
taken as reliable, this is one example of a feature of authentic Buddhism that
has been carried historically through place and culture, evolving into a
radically different manifestation, yet has fully maintained its authenticity right
down to the punch line. This is the genius of the Sasana.

Overview

I will progressively look at Sasana from a doctrinal, then historical, then
sociological and finally a personal perspective. The logic of this study is
revealed when we consider that the Sasana is a living organism. Just as I might
study a flower from the perspectives of physiology, evolution, ecology and
consumer choice, I study the Sasana according to the following metaphorical
correspondences:

Doctrine =
Physiology

History =  
Genetics, evolution 

Sociology =
Ecology, horticulture

Personal engagement = Consumer choice


The study of doctrine will draw on early sources, particularly the Pali
discourses and the monastic code, to show how the physiology of the Sasana
was explicitly defined in early Buddhism, that is, its functional structure,
particularly how the Triple Gem, the monastic and lay communities, the Path
of practice and the goal of liberation contribute to an organic functional whole.
The first three chapters describe the functions of the whole and of the parts of
the Sasana in detail, first, the whole organism, second, Refuge, and, third,
community.

It turns out that this organism has been very resilient in reproducing the same
functional structure throughout Buddhist history. The study of history reveals
how the forces of evolution, propagation and cross-fertilization have brought a
mixture of innovations into the Sasana, particularly under cultural pressures,
and sometimes altered the shapes of the parts of the Sasana, but only rarely
disrupted their early functionality. The Path itself reveals itself as most fragile,
sometimes to the degree that liberation is no longer feasible in certain
traditions.

The study of sociology of the Sasana looks at its inner dynamics, the inter-
actions of the many members of the Buddhist community, each with a different
position in the ecological landscape, under differing cultural and religious
influences and with a wildly varying set of Buddhist understandings and
practices. It is here that we can most fully appreciate the roles of Refuge and
of the Monastic Sangha as domesticating forces within the Sasana, capable of
upholding an influential and authentic Buddhism at the core of a very complex
demographics.

Finally, we consider the personal perspective of the individual Buddhist or the
would-be student and practitioner of Buddhism as she explores the great
variety of Buddhist traditions, Eastern and Western, spiritual, religious and
secular, early and traditional, Theravada and Mahayana, village and forest,
folk and adept, as it were, completing the journey from the field to the buffet
counter. This chapter is vaguely prescriptive and forward looking.

This essay is intended primarily for a Western readership and progresses step
by step from early Buddhism toward increasingly modern concerns. The
content of the early chapters may be unfamiliar to many Western readers,
though commonplace throughout most of Asia. The reason is that the Buddha-
Sasana has yet to fully and successfully establish itself in the West with
anything like its early and traditional structure. By the end of the essay I hope
to have given the reader a perspective that will help to make sense of
bewildering array of crops that are taking root in the Western landscape and to
see why Sasana matters.


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Pali Chanting In The Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery - Theravada Buddhism
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Monks chanting sutras in a Buddhist funeral at Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery
1. Namo tassa
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4. Vipassana-Bhumi-Patho
5. Karaniya Metta Sutta
6. Anicca vata sankhara
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Buddham Sharanam Gachchami Chant
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This is a very important chant of Buddhism. Buddham Sharanam Gachchami means-I take refuge in Buddha.
Lyrics and meaning-
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I take refuge in Buddha
Dhammam saranam gacchami
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is a very important chant of Buddhism. Buddham Sharanam Gachchami
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Morning Chanting (Thai), Beautiful Buddhist Chanting | Daily Buddhist Theravada Pali Chanting
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Lagu Buddhis Mangala Sutta ini mengambil paritta Mangala Sutta sebagai liriknya. Evy Luciana membuat musik untuk lagu ini.
Almarhum Rinaldi menggubah aransemen nya.
Chant ini pernah dibuatkan CD nya dengan judul Bodhi Nada sekitar tahun 2012
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Lagu Buddhis Mangala Sutta
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Seeing Eye to Eye: Comparing Yoga + Buddhist Traditions
When it comes to practicing mindfulness, the yoga and Buddhist traditions have much in common.

When it comes to practicing mindfulness, the yoga and Buddhist traditions have much in common.
yogajournal.com
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Seeing Eye to Eye: Comparing Yoga + Buddhist Traditions
When it comes to practicing mindfulness, the yoga and Buddhist traditions have much in common.
When it comes to practicing mindfulness, the yoga and Buddhist traditions have much in common.
Not long ago, I was flying from Boston to San Francisco late at night. As the plane roared down the runway, the young woman sitting next to me appeared to be meditating. Given the restraints of air travel, she had adopted a remarkably good posture–eyes closed, sitting with her hands palms-up on her thighs. She sat that way for a good 30 minutes.
Later, as the flight attendant began to serve snacks, my seatmate introduced herself as Beverly. She had just been on a retreat at the Insight Meditation Society, a well-known New England center for vipassana meditation. I told her that I was a yoga teacher and I had done many different kinds of meditation, including vipassana. We dived into a long conversation about yoga and meditation, and after a while she stopped for a moment, clearly thinking hard about something. “Can I ask you a question?” she asked, furrowing her brow. “If you teach yoga, how can you be doing vipassana without getting confused? I thought yogis taught samadhi practice and Buddhists taught the insight practices.”
Indeed, Beverly was voicing an interesting and persistent misunderstanding that the yoga meditation traditions teach only what she referred to as samadhi–by this she meant concentration practices–and that the Buddhist traditions primarily stress insight, or vipassana, practice. This misperception is often flavored with the view that samadhi is really about “blissing out,” while insight is about the more serious business of seeing clearly. I have noticed that this confusion has become a stumbling block–especially for the many yoga students who are learning the deeper practices of meditation almost exclusively from Buddhist teachers.
The word samadhi has different meanings in the yoga and Buddhist lexicons. To Buddhists, it usually refers to a whole spectrum of concentrated mind states. (The Buddha said, “I teach only sila, samadhi, and panna“–ethical practice, concentration, and insight.) To yogis, on the other hand, samadhi frequently refers to advanced stages of practice–stages that may, in fact, include much of what the Buddha referred to as both samadhi and panna. In classic yoga, of course, samadhi is the eighth and final limb of the eight-limbed (ashtanga) path.
This confusion has led to the misperception that the classic meditation traditions in yoga–those based on Patanjali‘s Yoga Sutra–rely exclusively on concentration techniques for enlightenment. This is not so. There are many views about the role of meditation–not only between practitioners of Buddhism and yoga, but also within each of those wide-ranging traditions. But my seatmate and I were in luck: She practiced a form derived from Theravadan Buddhism (based on the Pali Canon), and I practiced a form derived from classic yoga. As it turns out, both are part of the same classic meditation tradition; each relies on sophisticated methods of training in both concentration and insight.
It All Starts with Concentration
In each of these classic paths, practice begins with the cultivation of the mind’s natural capacity for concentration. This capacity reveals itself all the time in daily life. For example, while on a recent vacation in Florida, I was lying on a beach reading a book. My body and mind were already relaxed–an important precondition for attentional training. I lifted my eyes for a moment, and they drifted to a tiny red granite rock that was just in front of my towel. I was fascinated by its color and shape. My attention sank into the rock and examined it. The rock held my attention for a couple of delightful minutes of spontaneous samadhi.
Several curious things happen when one’s attention sinks into something in this fashion: The stream of thoughts in the mind narrows; external, distracting sensory input is tuned out (I was no longer aware of the sun burning my skin); brain waves lengthen; feelings of oneness with the object arise; a peaceful and calm mind state emerges. These experiences happen to us more frequently than we think. At the symphony, the mind gets locked onto a beautiful violin line in a Bach concerto. At dinner, we find a morsel of food particularly remarkable. Both of these experiences involve a natural emergence of one-pointed attention.
It turns out that this natural capacity for attention can be highly trained. The mind can learn to aim at an object, stay on it, penetrate it, and know it. The object can be either internal, like the breath or a body sensation, or external, such as an icon or a candle. As concentration develops on the object, the mind becomes still and absorbed in the object.
The side effects of this highly concentrated state are quite delightful and can include equanimity, contentment, and–sometimes–rapture and bliss. These concentration experiences are, in fact, sometimes even referred to as “the experiences of delight.” In Buddhism, they are highly cultivated in a series of concentration stages called the jhanas (absorptions). In the classic yoga tradition, a similar, but not identical, series of stages is identified in the development of the final three limbs of the path–dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi.
As our concentration matures through these stages, we are trained to sustain attention on the object without lapses for longer periods of time. Our uninterrupted concentration now becomes powerful–like a laser beam–and we see only the “bare” qualities of the object, beyond categorization and discriminatory thinking.
At these deepest levels of the training, another remarkable result emerges: The mind becomes secluded from the pull of distressing emotions and is temporarily free of craving, clinging, and aversion. In Western psychological terms, we might say the mind is completely secluded from conflict. As a result, concentration techniques provide a much-needed haven for the mind.
Insight: Exploring the Steady Mind
Through the practice of concentration, the mind becomes a highly attuned instrument. And as the mind matures in steadiness, something extraordinary begins to happen: This concentrated mind develops the capacity to explore itself. It becomes capable of systematically examining the ways in which all phenomena–thoughts, feelings, and sensations–arise and pass away into the stream of consciousness. Mental phenomena previously too fleeting to be noticed begin to fall within perceptual range. In effect, the mind may begin to take itself as its own object.
The rudiments of this subtle investigative mind are perhaps not so common in everyday life as the rudiments of a concentrated one. Nonetheless, anyone who has entered a contemplative mode may have experienced them. Sitting in church, at prayer, we are suddenly aware of the ways in which other thoughts intrude. Or, resting quietly under a tree, we watch as a wave of difficult feeling moves through the stream of consciousness like a dark storm cloud and then drifts away.
It turns out that this investigative capacity of the mind can be systematically developed and trained. And this training, as you might imagine, depends on an altogether different attention strategy: Rather than narrowing the stream of attention, we learn to methodically widen it and observe the endless fluctuation of thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations.
Through insight practices, the meditator learns to attend to as many mental and physical events as possible exactly as they arise, moment to moment. The meditator sees precisely how the world of ordinary experience and the Self are actually constructed. (“I have seen the builder of the house,” said the Buddha on the night of his enlightenment.)
This type of training is known as insight training, and though it has been well developed in the Buddhist meditation traditions in America, it has not been quite understood in the yoga traditions as they’ve been transmitted to us. This explains our misperception–and Beverly’s–that insight practice does not exist in the yoga tradition.
The question of why the insight series of Patanjali‘s program remains neglected in actual practice–at least in America–is a fascinating subject for another time. (Yet it’s undeniable that his program does depend on the development of insight—as the conclusions of Books Three and Four of his Yoga Sutra make clear.)
Once Patanjali lays out the training in concentration–dharana, dhyana, and samadhi–he instructs the practitioner to use the resultant attention skills to explore all phenomena in the created world, including the mind itself. The yogi learns to use the “perfect discipline” (samyama) of concentrated mind to explore the entire field of mind and matter. Indeed, much of the third book of the Yoga Sutra, which is widely believed to be just about the attainment of supernormal powers, actually contains Patanjali‘s instructions for a systematic exploration of the field of experience.
Moments of insight can be more than a little terrifying. Some Buddhist traditions will even refer to these as “the experiences of terror” because, as we begin examining experience closely, we discover that the world is not at all as it appears to be. Insight practices in both traditions effectively deconstruct our ordinary way of seeing ourselves and the world. Learning to bear this moment-to-moment reality can be fragmenting and can cause considerable anxiety. As a result, we need a regular return to concentration and calm. In order for our practice to proceed successfully, we must develop a systematic interplay between the experiences of delight and the experiences of terror.
Reaching a Clearer View of Reality
At the conclusion of these meditation paths, meditators in both traditions see thousands of discrete events arising and passing away in each millisecond. Patanjali describes the most momentary vision of phenomena that he believes humanly possible–dharma megha samadhi, in which they are seen as a rainstorm in which each separate raindrop is perceived.
Meditators in both traditions see how all phenomena (including the Self) simply arise and pass away due to causes and conditions. Buddhists discover the so-called three marks of existence, which consist of suffering (duhkha), no self (anatman), and impermanence (anicca). Yogis discover the similar “four erroneous beliefs”: the belief in the permanence of objects, the belief in the ultimate reality of the body, the belief that our state of suffering is really happiness, and the belief that our bodies, minds, and feelings comprise who and what we really are.
Some aspects of the views at the end of the paths are not identical. Yogis discover that behind this “shower” of phenomena lies an abiding pure awareness (purusha)–unborn and unchanging–while Buddhist meditators see pure discontinuity and momentariness, an emptiness that gives rise to form.
Nonetheless, it does seem apparent to me that what is truly freeing in both traditions is much more similar than either tradition seems to realize. In the final stages, meditators in both traditions see that the world of ordinary experience and the Self are actually constructions, compounds in nature rather than “real things” in and of themselves.
The great classic meditation traditions are interested in two outcomes: helping the practitioner end suffering and helping her see reality more clearly. Both traditions discovered that these dual goals are intimately connected, and that only the strategy of methodically training both concentration and insight can accomplish these astonishing end states. It is for this reason that both traditions are valued as authentic and complete paths toward liberation.
ABOUT OUR EXPERT
Stephen Cope is a psychotherapist, yoga teacher, and senior scholar in residence at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health located n Lenox, Massachusetts. He is the author of Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (Bantam, 1999) and The Complete Path of Yoga: A Seeker’s Companion to the Yogasutra (Bantam, available in 2004).
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Satyam Penn speaking about the link between Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Buddhism
Satyam Penn is a seminarian in the Integral Yoga Ministry, and
has studied Integral Yoga for 34 years. He teaches and
conducts research on Sanskrit, and the history of yoga and
vedanta philosophy.

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