Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ask a Ninja: How to Meditate: Doubt

Seth Auberon, Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Wisdom QuarterlyVen. Nyanaponika, Five Hindrances and Their Conquest: Selected Texts from the Pali Canon and Commentaries; Faith
Think. There are hindrances to meditation. Overcome them and be a ninja.
Do we need more doubt or more confidence? Think. Decide. Then do. (tonycrabbe)

"This year, rise above it"! (AB)
This is Part VI of a seven-part series (see Part V) on overcoming the Five Hindrances, culminating with what to do as an enlightened Meditation Ninja. Reaching enlightenment may take anywhere from seven days to seven years, according to the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Sutra. But it depends on effort, sustained-ease, and consistency. Over-effort is something to be overcome by calm; under-effort is overcome by energy: balanced-effort is the goal. There is much more to be gained by practicing a little every day rather than a lot on Sunday and none at all the rest of the week: Consistency over time is the tortoise's secret, leaving the hare far behind. Everything can wait, but the search for enlightenment cannot wait.

5. Doubt
A. Nourishing of Doubt
There are things giving rise to skeptical doubt. Frequently giving unwise attention to them is nourishing the arising of doubt that has not yet arisen and the increase and strengthening of doubt that has already arisen. — SN 46:51

B. Denourishing of Doubt
Stop thinking and DO. (
There are things that are wholesome or unwholesome, blameless or blameworthy, noble or low, and (other) contrasts of dark and bright. Frequently giving wise attention to them is the denourishing of the arising of doubt that has not yet arisen and the increase and strengthening of doubt that has already arisen.
Of the six things conducive to the abandonment of doubt, the first three and the last two are identical with those given for restlessness and remorse. But the fourth runs as follows:
Firm conviction (confidence, saddha) concerning the Buddha, Dharma, and [Noble] Sangha -- that is, the Teacher, the Teaching, and the successfully Taught.
In addition, the following are helpful in conquering skeptical doubt:
The sky's going out! Soon all will be dark.
"The first [Fine Material Form Sphere] jhana or 'meditative absorption' is free of five things (i.e., the Five Mental Hindrances). And five opposite things are present (i.e., the Five Factors of Absorption or jhāna-anga).
Whenever a meditator enters the first absorption, there have vanished: sensuous desire, ill-will, tiredness-and-boredom [sloth and torpor], restlessness-and-worry, skeptical doubt.
What is present instead are: initial application [of attention] (vitakka), sustained attention (vicāra), rapture (pīti), happiness (sukha), and concentration (samādhi or ekagata, unification of mind, one-pointedness).
In the second absorption there are present: rapture, joy, and concentration; in the third: joy and concentration; in the fourth: equanimity (upekkhā) and concentration" (Path of Purification, Vis.M. IV).

NOTE: the next four absorptions of the Immaterial or Formless Sphere (jhanas 5 through 8) still belong, properly speaking, to the fourth absorption as they possess the same two constituents. The fourth Fine-Material Sphere absorption is also the base or starting point (pādaka-jhāna) for the attaining of the higher spiritual powers (abhiññā), which should be avoided as a dangerous distraction.
C. Simile
Then all was dark; I didn't know what to do.
If there is a pot of water that is turbid, stirred up and muddy, and this pot is in a dark place, then a person with a normal faculty of vision cannot properly recognize and see the image of one's own face. In the same way, when one's mind is possessed by doubt, overpowered by doubt, then one cannot properly see any escape from doubt that has arisen. Then one does not see one's own welfare, nor that of another, nor that of both. And teachings memorized long ago do not come to mind, let alone those not memorized. — SN 46:55

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