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Lacking expectations in meditation

LincLinc Community InstigatorDetroit Moderator
edited July 2009 in Meditation
My sifu said something very interesting yesterday. A student once said that his former teacher had told him exactly what to expect as he progressed in meditation: "This will happen, then this, and later this" etc. and he wanted to know why Sifu never said anything like that to us.

His answer was that to tell us what would happen would create expectations in our minds. In that way we might convince ourselves something was happening when it wasn't, or create thoughts that would interrupt our meditation.

This was doubly interesting to me in that I had little idea there were any sort of predictable results to meditation over time, so I thought I'd share this bit of insight. :)

Comments

  • jinzangjinzang Veteran
    edited July 2009
    That's true. Ideally the teacher would only tell the student what they need to know now and the student would have enough confidence in the teacher and in the practice to continue this way. But it doesn't work in the modern world and students want to know more and at the same time are more confused by what they've learned.
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator
    edited July 2009
    jinzang wrote: »
    But it doesn't work in the modern world
    Well, I for one am rolling with it. :D
    jinzang wrote: »
    the student would have enough confidence in the teacher and in the practice to continue this way.
    ...and that may be why. :)
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited July 2009
    Thanks for sharing Lincoln, your post brought to mind two articles:

    Phra Ajaan Sao was inclined to be, not a preacher or a speaker, but a doer. When he taught his students, he said very little. And those who studied directly under him are now elders who speak very little, who rarely preach, having picked up the habit from their teacher. Thus, as Phra Ajaan Sao was not a preacher, I would like to tell you a little of the way in which he taught meditation.

    How did Phra Ajaan Sao teach? If it so happened that someone came to him, saying, "Ajaan, sir, I want to practice meditation. How should I go about it?" he would answer, "Meditate on the word 'Buddho.'"

    If the person asked, "What does 'Buddho' mean?" Ajaan Sao would answer, "Don't ask."

    "What will happen after I've meditated on 'Buddho'?"

    "Don't ask. Your only duty is simply to repeat the word 'Buddho' over and over in your mind."

    That's how he taught: no long, drawn-out explanations.

    Now, if the student was sincere in putting the Ajaan's instructions into practice and was persistent in practicing the repetition, if his mind then became calm and bright from entering into concentration, he would come and ask Ajaan Sao: "When meditating on 'Buddho' my state of mind becomes such-and-such. What should I do now?" If it was right, Ajaan Sao would say, "Keep on meditating." If not, he would say, "You have to do such-and-such. What you're doing isn't right."
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited July 2009
    I can't find the second but it was a teacher who said the difference between Westerners* and Asian students is that oft Asian students were willing to just try/do whereas Westerners*
    wanted to know all the details and theory and reason behind it first.

    *in culture, and not ethnicity
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited July 2009
    jinzang wrote: »
    That's true. Ideally the teacher would only tell the student what they need to know now and the student would have enough confidence in the teacher and in the practice to continue this way. But it doesn't work in the modern world and students want to know more and at the same time are more confused by what they've learned.

    I think it was Suzuki ? Roshi who said: "If I tell you, you might think you understand"

    It's hard to understand why teachers may be like this, but oft it is a kindness.
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited July 2009
    Lincoln wrote: »
    Well, I for one am rolling with it. :D
    ...and that may be why. :)

    Sounds nice - thanks.
  • edited July 2009
    I think it was Suzuki ? Roshi who said: "If I tell you, you might think you understand"

    It's hard to understand why teachers may be like this, but oft it is a kindness.

    That makes perfect sense to me, if being told was enough, then nobody would be practicing.
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited July 2009
    A dear friend once said to me, which is to say everyone, "The path of the heart is not always straight forward, but it is deep and it is meaningful". No-one else can do that for another.

    Best wishes.
  • edited July 2009
    When I first began meditating, I was consumed with understanding meditation as well. To an extent, I am still consumed. It is something I must observe, and not judge.
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