Thursday, 25 June 2009

“Theravada and Vipassana- 2 Different Categories?”



Now that it’s summer and I have finished classes and exams in pursuit of a Ph.D., I was able to read all of the Buddhist magazines that have been piling up on my nightstand. These magazines (I subscribe to Shambhala Sun, Buddhadharma, and Tricycle) are truly a treat for me. I enjoy reading the latest thoughts and insights about Buddhism in America. I always find something to spark thought about a topic I am researching as well as about Buddhist practice. During my consumption of a half year’s worth of these magazines, however, I noticed something troubling and that I think needs clarification.

In two different instances I noted an odd categorization of different Buddhist traditions. It seems that now ‘vipassana’ is its own sect of Buddhism in America, and has become divorced from its former home as a kind of meditation practice within the category of ‘Theravada.’ Here are the quotes from these two articles which use these new (for me!) categories:

“A Lotus in Mormon Land” Charles Prebish, Buddhadharma Magazine, Fall 2008
A quick survey of the Buddhist communities in Utah yields roughly the same array of sectarian sanghas that one might find anywhere in North America. Of the twenty-two Buddhist groups I located, six were Zen, four Theravada, three Pure Land, three Tibetan, two Soka Gakkai, one Vipassana, and three non- or multi-denominational (or what Don Morreale called “Buddhayana” in his Complete Guide to Buddhist America, published in 1998).

“Meditation Getaways” Alexandra Kaloyanides, Tricycle Magazine, Summer 2009
As for the style of retreat, just over half of survey respondents prefer their Buddhist getaways in the Zen tradition. Vipassana is a close second, with over 40 percent favoring this style. Not as many spend retreats doing tantric visualizations—only a quarter of respondents choose retreats in the Tibetan tradition. Slightly fewer respondents opt for days of sun salutations in Yoga retreats, but Theravada-style retreats are the clear path less traveled, with only 16 percent preferring them.

I assume that for both of these classifications, ‘Vipassana’ refers to meditation centers that are mainly composed of lay converts and lay meditation teachers, and that ‘Theravada’ refers to monasteries consisting of lay Asian immigrants and Asian monks. But I have at least three problems with this division. 1) I am able to assume the differences in these categories because I have been studying this for a while. However, a newcomer to Buddhism in America might not understand that vipassana is a form of meditation coming out of the Theravada tradition and instead might think this is an actual historical sect. 2) I think if an author makes this distinction they should clarify the types of communities they are referring to in order to reduce this possible confusion. 3) Most importantly, this distinction perpetuates the ethnic/convert bifurcation of Buddhism in America. More recently, younger scholars have tried to debunk this distinction by showing the connections between these communities and focusing less on this ‘two Buddhisms’ model. Meditation centers that focus primarily on practicing vipassana could also invite and host monastic members to teach and could also have Asian immigrants practicing there. As well, ‘Theravada’ communities could also have a number of converts who are members and could set aside time for lay meditation practice. Thus, this bifurcation of these categories is becoming more and more arbitrary.

In the case of the Tricycle article, the author is polling favored styles of Buddhist retreats in America, and because of the way the categories are broken down, this could skew the results. What this author's poll calls 'Theravada' and 'vipassana' may not be what the people polled think of their retreats as. Especially in this census situation, the categories should be clarified for accurate results and less confusion. The author of the Buddhadharma article, Charles Prebish, is a well-known scholar of Buddhism in America. He does not mention if these groups he located self-identify as 'vipassana' and 'Theravada' or if he is creating these categories. I think authors writing for the popular masses interested in Buddhism, as well as academic audiences, might do well to clarify these issues.

28 comments:

  1. I have to say, when I first started to practice Buddhism several years back, I was drawn to the Vipassana form of meditation. It wasn't until about a year later that I found out that it is a practice that comes directly from the Theravada tradition.

    After studying more about the Theravada practice I found I was turned off a bit by it, but I still found the Vipassana meditation helpful until I studied Zen.

    I think you are correct, the established traditions should be conveyed in a much more clear manner for new converts. That said, I see no problem with one wanting to practice Vipassana meditation and not embracing Theravada totally. I think the same is true for Zen and the practice of ZaZen.

    Great post!
    Kyle

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  2. Being a Buddhist of Theravadan flavor, I completely understand this.

    I imagine their distinction of Vipassana refers to the American Vipassana movement started by folks like Goldstein, Kornfield, and Salzburg, of which you could say I belong.

    Though I'm just an "Internet Buddhist", I consider Gil Fronsdal of the IMC of Redwood City, CA (www.insightmeditationcenter.org) the closest thing to a teacher to me. I know that he and his group have many monks of various traditions come to their center.

    However, I think your distinction between Vipassana and Theravadan is correct. I contacted a Theravadan community in my area made up mostly of Sri Lankan immigrants and found that I wasn't welcome. But I was turned off by the only Vipassana group that is local because of its "secular" approach, meaning they were more in to teaching technique and excluding anything looking religious, including other teachings of the Buddha.

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  3. Hi Jamie,

    I'm intrigued by this comment:

    But I was turned off by the only Vipassana group that is local because of its "secular" approach, meaning they were more in to teaching technique and excluding anything looking religious, including other teachings of the Buddha.

    Assuming that the secular approach taught essentially the same principles but using contemporary reference points and style, what do you feel was missing from 'secular' approach?

    The reason I ask is that I'm doing both a non-religious and a religious practice and I plan to teach to non-religious practice for its accessibility to the wider population. I've been thinking a lot about what the similarities and differences are and whether any of the differences are important.

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  4. In two different instances I noted an odd categorization of different Buddhist traditions. It seems that now ‘vipassana’ is its own sect of Buddhism in America, and has become divorced from its former home as a kind of meditation practice within the category of ‘Theravada.’

    Thanks for the post. I too have noticed that articles and forums have made that distinction which has puzzled me for a while.

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  5. Justin,

    In some vipassana meditation circles the purpose of the instruction is purely for psychological benefit alone. There is either no or hardly any mention of the Buddha or the Dhamma... no mention of the Four Noble Truths, Noble Eightfold Path, no Kamma, no rebirth, no dependent origination, no five aggregates, no mention of sila or panna, no mention of impermanence, no non-self, no dukka. Most of the participants tend to be intellectuals or highly educated individuals and/or are non-religious and materialists in the scientific sense.

    And I have no problem with this. If some people want to escape the religious trappings of Buddhism and go for learning meditation to cure their psychological ills, then more power to them.

    However, for me, I want Awakening, not just psychological betterment. Buddhism appealed to me philosophically first before meditation practice, though I consider the practice important (all three trainings are important).

    I guess the difference is that I have taken refuge in the Triple Gem. Others haven't, but find vipassana beneficial to them.

    In fact, I would almost separate Vipassana away from Buddhism proper and view it as something entirely its own... almost non-Buddhist.

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  6. Oh...

    Another quick way of putting it is that Buddhists of the Theravadan flavor (at least western converts) want answers to their existential questions and insight practice is a means to and end.

    Secular practitioners aren't looking to vipassana as the avenue toward true liberation of the mind, at least not in the existential sense.

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  7. The new practice I've started (mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy/Stress Reduction) does of course teach in psychological terms mostly. The instructor used to practice Zen for a long time and Buddhist Insight Meditation, so she does teach in accessible Buddhist terms too. It seems to me that for the most part these are just alternative theoretical frameworks that use slightly different words and concepts.

    The most obvious example is dukkha, which means roughly unsatisfactoriness. Why would the 'secular' practitioners be there is they weren't finding their lives unsatisfactory in some sense? They may have suffered from stress,anxiety, depression or just lacked a sense of well-being. The four noble truths are a memorable formulation of the link between desire/aversion and dissatisfaction.

    To me it seems that these are just different formulations of the same universal truths. And why get stuck to one set of concepts rather than another? It seems to me that someone who really understands the dharma can express it in contemporary terms.

    Where there may be a difference is in terms of rebirth. Yet my Zen Buddhist practice doesn't really teach this.

    Perhaps one difference is that a 'psychological' approach might compartmentalise the practise within various egotistical goals and concepts whereas a truly spiritual practice excludes nothing and seeks to abandon egotism. However, this could be the case whichever set of jargon you use.

    Just my thoughts.

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  8. In terms of 'existential liberation' yes the great matter of life and death (if thats what you mean) is central to Buddhism, wher eis doesn't seem to have so much of a role in MBCT/SR. So, that's a difference, but perhaps it just depends on how deeply you take your practice - whatever form that practice takes.

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  9. I see what you are saying. Again, the difference, I think is a matter of how one would view vipassana practice and how it relates to furthering their desire to have answers to their existential questions. From what I gather, there are many Christians in this country who have taken up meditation practice but have not taken refuge in the the Triple Gem (doing so would be blasphemous).

    Gil Fronsdal of IMC of Redwood City, CA mentioned in one of his audio podcasts that he had went to a meeting of preeminent insight meditation teachers and attempted to push the acceptance of calling themselves Theravadans. Only two of the thirty teachers present agreed. I'd say that is pretty significant. If the poster children of the Vipassana Movement are reluctant to identify themselves as Theravadans, me thinks there is something to what Brooke is pointing out.

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  10. And let me add...

    Let me get on the fundamentalist bandwagon for a minute, but I'd say that what is being taught among secular insight meditation groups probably isn't true insight practice, but mindfulness meditation... there is a difference. Of course, I say this as someone who highly regards Mahasi Sayadaw and the Progress of Insight. True insight practice has a goal in mind with an existential end. Mindfulness meditation is more psychologically oriented. Most secular mindfulness practitioners aren't interest in the levels of attainment in insight. They aren't looking for stream entry or arahantship.

    IMO, with my very elementary understanding of insight practice, I would think that to attain to Liberation/Nirvana, one would have to place some level of faith and trust in the Triple Gem (the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha) to really benefit from insight practice. Again, anything short of this isn't true insight practice.

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  11. Hi Jamie,

    how it relates to furthering their desire to have answers to their existential questions.

    The formal Buddhist training I've had is about letting go of goals and desires not furthering them. Nor I think does it pretend to have 'the answers'.

    From what I gather, there are many Christians in this country who have taken up meditation practice but have not taken refuge in the the Triple Gem

    This is a symbolic gesture, which may be important in terms of self-identity. But is it really important in terms of changes to the person?

    If the poster children of the Vipassana Movement are reluctant to identify themselves as Theravadans

    This isn't surprising because technically you are only Buddhist if you take refuge and there may be other restrictions on being Theravadan.

    My real question isn't 'are people who practice Insight or Mindfulness Meditation Buddhists?'

    It seems to me that it is of little importance how people self-identify. My question is whether there are any important differences in the actuality of the practice and in terms of the real impact it has on people.

    True insight practice has a goal in mind with an existential end.

    Soto Zen isn't taught with goals in mind either.

    Most secular mindfulness practitioners aren't interest in the levels of attainment in insight. They aren't looking for stream entry or arahantship.

    I wonder if this is a bad thing. A problem that crops up in Buddhism is 'spiritual materialism' which contaminates their practices with desire for attainment, respect or a sort of 'spiritual snobbery'. The motivations of the mindfulness practitioners I sat with were refreshingly free of such things.

    I would think that to attain to Liberation/Nirvana, one would have to place some level of faith and trust in the Triple Gem (the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha) to really benefit from insight practice.

    It seems to me that mindfulness practitioners generally do have faith in reality, the teachings and the community of practitioners, which is - as I see it - what refuge is about.

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  12. I think you all are right that there is this distinction happening in Western Buddhism between vipassana and Theravada, that vipassana is basically more secular and Theravada is more devotional. However, I think its important to acknowledge that this is something new and something that has only occurred as Westerners brought the dharma to their home countries after studying in Asia. I have read that when the first generation of vipassana teachers (Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, etc) they intentionally divorced Buddhist teachings from the meditation practice. However, I have also read that the second and later generations now are bringing back more of the ethical teachings, more of the foundational Buddhist concepts. Now this is in meditation centers, I think the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and others in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programs is still totally divorced from Buddhist concepts and is wholly for psychological goals. I agree with others (I think Stephen Prothero wrote about this on salon.com) that vipassana practice for stress reduction is Dhamma Lite and when it is divorced from the fundamental goal of liberation it is something completely different. Thanissaro Bhikkhu is also a holder of this view.

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  13. This is a very interesting area for me and I don't have any firm conclusions as yet.

    I can see why Theravadans see "the fundamental goal of liberation" as being important. My Soto Zen practice tends to emphasise abandonment of goals and an embracing of reality - which seems rather like the MBSR/MBCT I've learned.

    And in terms of "...still totally divorced from Buddhist concepts and is wholly for psychological goals" I'd be interested to hear what the clear differences are in your opinion. In what sense is the "psychological goal" of freedom from anxiety, stress and depression different from the "spiritual goal" of nirvana? Are we talking about the ending of the cycle of literal rebirths? Or something else?

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  14. The reason I ask is that I'm doing both a non-religious and a religious practice and I plan to teach to non-religious practice for its accessibility to the wider population.


    Justin,

    Are you a sensei or a roshi? My understanding is that Zen school requires a certification or transmission in order to teach. Why would teaching it under a different name be different?

    And that is my concern in general with secular, non-affiliated schools; the absence of lineages and the abandonment of transmissions/recognitions going back many generations (some would say all the way to the Buddha).

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  15. Justin,

    You: The formal Buddhist training I've had is about letting go of goals and desires not furthering them. Nor I think does it pretend to have 'the answers'.

    Me: That is the difference between Zen (Mahayana) and Theravada.

    You: But is it [taking refuge] really important in terms of changes to the person?

    Me: In Theravadan tradition, the difference is having a rebirth in the heavenly realms, and ultimate liberation.

    You: This isn't surprising because technically you are only Buddhist if you take refuge and there may be other restrictions on being Theravadan.

    Me: There are no other restrictions in being "Theravadan" so to speak. It is just a matter of which tradition you prefer and practice.

    You: It seems to me that it is of little importance how people self-identify. My question is whether there are any important differences in the actuality of the practice and in terms of the real impact it has on people.

    Me: I agree, but like it or not, terms of self-identification are there and are being used. But I understand how the question takes away from the true differences in practice and its impact. Still though, there are differences in practice obviously between those who call themselves Buddhist and those who don't but practice a form of meditation, be it Buddhist-inspired. As far as the impact, I still believe the results are very different at least to Theravadans.

    You: Soto Zen isn't taught with goals in mind either.

    Me: What I find strange is that Zen seems to be on the down slope of popularity since the late 60's, though it is more 'secular' so to speak, while Vipassana practice is the 'in' thing right now, though it is more devotional.

    You: I wonder if this is a bad thing. A problem that crops up in Buddhism is 'spiritual materialism' which contaminates their practices with desire for attainment, respect or a sort of 'spiritual snobbery'. The motivations of the mindfulness practitioners I sat with were refreshingly free of such things.

    Me: I would expect that kind of answer from a Zennie. ;D I guess me understanding is that if it was good for the Buddha, it's good enough for me.

    You: It seems to me that mindfulness practitioners generally do have faith in reality, the teachings and the community of practitioners, which is - as I see it - what refuge is about.

    Me: Close, but no potatoes, at least in the Theravadan tradition.

    Great discussion!

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  16. David,

    Are you a sensei or a roshi? My understanding is that Zen school requires a certification or transmission in order to teach. Why would teaching it under a different name be different?

    Because I won't be teaching Zen I'll be teaching MBSR/MBCT. I'll essentially be an apprentice to an experienced teacher for a number of months.

    And that is my concern in general with secular, non-affiliated schools; the absence of lineages and the abandonment of transmissions/recognitions going back many generations (some would say all the way to the Buddha).

    I don't think that formal transmission is necessarily what you imagine it to be. In Japan transmitted monks give their sons transmission as a way of passing on the family temple ie 'funeral business'. In the West, so far this aspect is thankfully absent and truer to the original intention.

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  17. Jamie: That is the difference between Zen (Mahayana) and Theravada.

    Justin: Right, but Theravada isn't the whole of Buddhism. Are you implying that because it is about letting go of goal-seeking not furthering it, Zen isn't 'real Buddhism' either?

    Jamie: In Theravadan tradition, the difference is having a rebirth in the heavenly realms, and ultimate liberation.

    Justin: Personally I don't have much interest in such metaphysical speculation (hence the Zen). Anyway the Buddha himself could not have taken refuge.

    Jamie: I agree, but like it or not, terms of self-identification are there and are being used. But I understand how the question takes away from the true differences in practice and its impact. Still though, there are differences in practice obviously between those who call themselves Buddhist and those who don't but practice a form of meditation, be it Buddhist-inspired. As far as the impact, I still believe the results are very different at least to Theravadans.

    Justin: WHat I'm interested in, is what differences there are (that make a difference) in practice or attitude and what difference they make. What experiences (or thoughts) do you have of this?

    Jamie: What I find strange is that Zen seems to be on the down slope of popularity since the late 60's, though it is more 'secular' so to speak, while Vipassana practice is the 'in' thing right now, though it is more devotional.

    Justin: I don't have stats on the popularity of various forms of practice. Why should it be strange? And is Vipassana really more devotional? Zen is really quite ceremonial. I thought the Vipassana movement was secular.

    Jamie: I would expect that kind of answer from a Zennie. ;D I guess me understanding is that if it was good for the Buddha, it's good enough for me.

    Justin: We can't live Buddha's life. We are different personalities and products of a different age. Yes Buddha was goal-oriented, but I like to think he was not a spiritual materialist. However, he was not devotional, he didn't bow to statues of himself or anyone else, he did not take refuge, and he did not believe through faith alone what he could not confirm to his own satisfaction. This is all good enough for me too.

    Jamie: Close, but no potatoes, at least in the Theravadan tradition.

    Justin: How do you see Taking Refuge in the Theravadan tradition? In Zen I think it is about having faith in the practice, faith in reality and vowing to throw yourself into that practice and that reality.

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  18. Justin: Are you implying that... Zen isn't 'real Buddhism' either?

    Jamie: Absolutely not, and I apologize if it seemed that I was trying to imply that. In fact, when I first became interested in Buddhist practice, I was specifically interested in Soto Zen, but soon realized that Zen practice involves the expectation of Dharma transmission, which is kind of hard because there are no Soto Zen centers in all of Oklahoma. Zen isn't practiced by reading books and sitting shikentaza alone. After a while the philosophical standpoint of Zen didn't ring well with me, but I won't elaborate here.

    Justin: What I'm interested in, is what differences there are (that make a difference) in practice or attitude and what difference they make. What experiences (or thoughts) do you have of this?

    Jamie: As far as experiences, I mentioned above how the Vipassana group I visited didn't make much of anything as far as the Buddha and his teachings. They were more interested in psychological 'healing' and how to be at peace with your life, but no mention of the goal of insight practice, at least in the sense of what the Buddha taught. It was basically guided meditation with body scanning.

    Justin: Buddha was goal-oriented, but I like to think he was not a spiritual materialist. However, he was not devotional, he didn't bow to statues of himself or anyone else, he did not take refuge, and he did not believe through faith alone what he could not confirm to his own satisfaction.

    Jamie: Agreed. He was the Buddha. But with his disciples it was a different story.

    Justin: How do you see Taking Refuge in the Theravadan tradition? In Zen I think it is about having faith in the practice, faith in reality and vowing to throw yourself into that practice and that reality.

    Jamie: In Theravadan tradition, refuge is made in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha... specifically. Anything else isn't taking refuge.

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  19. Justin,

    I'm sorry if I got us off on to a rabbit trail. Everything I have said has been strictly my opinion with my limited amount of practice and study, so please take what I have written very lightly.

    My point is that I agree with Brooke. Several noteworthy Insight teachers have mentioned the break of the Vipassana movement away from not only Theravadan Buddhism, but Buddhism in general. I think at that point not only is it no longer Buddhism (i.e. what the Buddha taught), but it is no longer insight practice.

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  20. I think this deserves a post of its own.

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  21. Thank you very much for your contributions - as I say, this is a fascinating topic for me.

    I can't comment on the Insight Meditation movement, since I've never practiced it, only Zen, mindfulness therapies, and Theravadan Vipassana. However I assume it's reasonably close to the Mindfulness therapies and in terms of meditation practice to the others too.

    The position that you and Brooke are taking is that Insight Meditation is different in important ways and that it isn't really Buddhism because there isn't refuge, a goal of liberation, precepts or Buddhist teachings.

    I'm not really interested in whether IM is considered 'Buddhist' or not. What I'm interested in, is what difference the supposed differences actually make to the reality of the practitioner's life - this life.

    It's also not clear from your responses how you differntiate between 'psychological' goals and 'spiritual' goals (without invoking other lives perhaps).

    You said: They were more interested in psychological 'healing' and how to be at peace with your life, but no mention of the goal of insight practice, at least in the sense of what the Buddha taught. The goal of Theravada Buddhism is "Nibbāna" meaning "blowing out" — that is, blowing out the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion. In what way is that different from ending "psychological" suffering through acceptance and insight gained through mindfulness based therapy? Only terminology it seems.

    And I must say I've found MBCT/SR has brought much insight to myself and others I practiced with and was more accessible to ordinary people - most Buddhist groups in my experience mostly attract people who are 'into Buddhism' and intimidate or repel a great many others who might otherwise greatly benefit from the practice .

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  22. Jamie and Justin, your comments/debate is very interesting. I do think that mindfulness based therapy meditation is very different from Theravada insight meditation practice and it is intended to be so. I am writing an article about this- the combining of modern Buddhism with the secular and how this relates to the field of mental health. I will post a link to it when I get a better draft going. Anyway, my conclusion for the mental health field section is that the goal here for meditation is to produce normal, adult development, or a life without serious mental problems. Whereas Buddhist vipassana teachers are saying that their goals are beyond this- they seek complete selflessness. Jack Kornfield says that Buddhism then delves deeper into our human potential and offers greater happiness. I don't discuss this in my paper but personally, I tend to side with this line of thinking.

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  23. Brooke,

    I am writing an article about this- the combining of modern Buddhism with the secular and how this relates to the field of mental health. I will post a link to it when I get a better draft going.

    I'm looking forward to it!

    Anyway, my conclusion for the mental health field section is that the goal here for meditation is to produce normal, adult development, or a life without serious mental problems... Jack Kornfield says that Buddhism then delves deeper into our human potential and offers greater happiness.

    Yes - this is an important point. There is a difference in purpose of the approaches. Superficially/traditionally the aim of therapy is to produce 'normal', functional individuals, while the Buddhist practice is to go beyond 'normal unhappiness'. On the other hand there are therapeutic theorists like Erich Fromm who emphasise self-actualisation that goes beyond 'normal', plus the way it is actually taught in my experience is not just as a therapy for depression but as a way of enhancing the whole life-experience of everyone. I do grant that there is some difference in emphasis but it's far from a fundamental distinction I think it's a different emphasis of 'target audience' and 'stated objectives' rather than neccessarily a difference in real effect.

    I do see some subtle differences, mostly in terms of scope (as above), and depth. Anyway I'll post something about this soon and I'd enjoy discussing this further with both of you if you're interested.

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  24. I'm up for further discussion.

    I was listening last night to Gil Fronsdal discuss this very thing. The mp3 file is on his audiodharma.org website. Under "Series Talks" click on "Buddhist Meditation". The file is labeled "Insight" #5 of 7.

    In it he says the difference is one of relief vs. release. It was a great talk, and a great series.

    Also, the Dharma Overground website as well as Daniel Ingram in his book "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" touches on the subject quite a bit.

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  25. Yes "relief vs. release" is a good way of summing this up. And this distinction between therapy and spiritual practice is something that was taught to me many years ago as an undergraduate studying the Psychology of Healing as part of my Psychology degree. For the most part this is accuate - therapy will stop at when the indivual reaches 'normality' and there is no further development. However, in the case of MBCT/SR this boundary has turned out not to be very useful at all. Yes, the majority of participants arrived with problems of stress and chronic depression that they wanted help with and yes much of the programme focussed on the resolution of those problems. However, the method used was mindfulness. Mindfulness is mindfulness whatever the context. It is arguably the most fundamental principle of Buddhist practice. And it's application to life is unlimited. Participants are encouraged to drop therapeutic goals and to practice no matter how they feel, whatever they are doing, just to appreciate existence as it is. The teacher has many years of experience of Zen and Vipassana as a spiritual practice. There were teachings from Buddha and Rumi read out. And aside from the psychological/physiological theory, the content of what was done and taught would be hard to distinguish from a 'liberal' Zen practice. So, it seemed to me that the practitioners were mostly there for relief but could take it as far as they wanted.

    I've been looking at that Daniel Ingram book. Do you recommend it?

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  26. I do highly recommend it along with the Dharma Overground website, as long as you can get past him declaring himself an arahant.

    Though I'm not so sure how much you will like it since your primary practice is of the Zen tradition. I haven't noticed too many Zennies on the DhO. If I'm not mistaken, Zen practitioners aren't too in to meditation maps, or even insight practice (assuming there is a definite difference between vipassana and shikentaza).

    I'd say go over to the DhO and read through some of the basic main pages OR Daniel Ingram has the entire book for free on his website in blog format by chapters for easy internet reading (http://www.interactivebuddha.com).

    May all beings awaken in this lifetime.

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  27. Hi Jamie,

    I don't regard myself as a 'zennie'. I try not to take a dogmatic attitude at all, not even a 'Zen' one. For me it seems that to be any anything-ist or -ie is to restrict the mind. I'm happy to constructively criticise Zen just like anything else. I study Zen, modern psychology, Theravada Buddhism and the Pali Canon.

    As far as maps go, although contemporary Soto seems to exclude them, I think they can be useful and such maps in Zen include the 10 Oxherding pictures and Tozan's Five Ranks.

    I don't think there is a fundamental difference between Shikantaza and Vipassana only differences in detail.

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  28. Duh! I can't believe I forgot the 10 Ox Herding photos. Thanks for refreshing my memory.

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