question on mindfulness through the day

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Sati1
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question on mindfulness through the day

Post by Sati1 » Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:56 am

Hello,

When doing insight meditation throughout the day, i.e. observing everything that one does, with or without noting, is it recommended that one explicitly investigate the three characteristics, or does recognition of the chracteristics happen spontaneously? Just today I managed to achieve continuous mindfulness through long stretches of the day, while before I mostly noticed experiences in a punctate manner. I feel very confident about progress and am wondering if I should just keep refining my mindfulness to observe more and more phenomena in greater and greater detail and with more continuity, or if I should turn my attention, to "look for" the three characteristics explicitly.

Many thanks,
Sati1

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.30, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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Goofaholix
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Re: question on mindfulness through the day

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:39 pm

Why not do both? Or rather go with whatever seems appropriate at the time. Ideally you want mindfulness to be as continuous as possible, but the quality is going to fluctuate. So just monitor the quality of mindfulness, investigate when you're in a good position to do so, don't worry about it when not.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Sati1
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Re: question on mindfulness through the day

Post by Sati1 » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:41 pm

Hi Goofaholix,

That's also what I've been noticing - that sometimes mindfulness is continuous without much difficulty, especially after concentrating the mind, while at other times it is more scattered. My method of mindfulness and insight collection has been entirely spontaneous, driven by curiousity and exploration, and yielding excellent results in terms of insights about elements of Dhamma in everyday life, accompanied by the immediate destruction of cravings, acquisition of new wisdom, and increase in happiness. It was when I came across various essays on the oft mentioned "Stages of Insight" (see links below) that I came to wonder whether my approach is actually leading in the right direction, given that according to these essays one is supposed to be systematic in one's mindfulness to then go through very specific stages of progress such as experiencing dissolution everywhere, seeing everything as fearful, etc. I have never experienced such stages. Given that the Mahasi method seems to guide one into those stages, I've been trying to implement that method in my day to day. Do you have any thoughts on whether mindfulness should be directed spontaneously by interest, or whether one should be systematic in one's approach? I'm a bit confused about how general these stages of insight are and if they apply to everybody who progresses on the Path.

By Mahasi Sayadaw: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... gress.html
By Ven. Nanaranda: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/bm7insight.pdf
Buddhanet: http://www.buddhanet.net/knowledg.htm

Apologies for the long post, and many thanks for your advice,
Sati1

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.30, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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purple planet
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Re: question on mindfulness through the day

Post by purple planet » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:46 pm

As far as my understanding and my current teacher instructions (Mahasi Sayadaw technique) - i dont try to think of nothing - you just should notice things happening and you will see the characteristics automatically - its enough you know about the 3 characteristics you dont need to think about them ( for example you note "hugner- huger- hunger " and it goes away - just the fact that it went away is seeing "anicca" just cause its stressful you see "dukkha" and cause its not you - your not the hunger its "antta" - but its not that after you note it you need to think about it - no - just the fact you labeled it its enough - and continue with the noting of whatever happens next)

and the annoying question : do you have a teacher next to you ? what country are you from ?
Last edited by purple planet on Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance

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Goofaholix
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Re: question on mindfulness through the day

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:12 pm

Sati1 wrote:It was when I came across various essays on the oft mentioned "Stages of Insight" (see links below) that I came to wonder whether my approach is actually leading in the right direction, given that according to these essays one is supposed to be systematic in one's mindfulness to then go through very specific stages of progress such as experiencing dissolution everywhere, seeing everything as fearful, etc. I have never experienced such stages. Given that the Mahasi method seems to guide one into those stages, I've been trying to implement that method in my day to day. Do you have any thoughts on whether mindfulness should be directed spontaneously by interest, or whether one should be systematic in one's approach? I'm a bit confused about how general these stages of insight are and if they apply to everybody who progresses on the Path.
I think one can only implement such a structured approach when on long term intensive retreat guided daily by a teacher.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Mkoll
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Re: question on mindfulness through the day

Post by Mkoll » Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:23 pm

Goofaholix wrote:I think one can only implement such a structured approach when on long term intensive retreat guided daily by a teacher.
I agree. There just seems to be too much room for misinterpretation or error when using such detailed methods unless a master of that method is teaching you.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Sati1
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Re: question on mindfulness through the day

Post by Sati1 » Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:11 am

Hi purple planet, Goofaholix and Mkoll,

Thank you very much for your responses. I currently don't have a teacher, although I have been looking for one for some time now. In the spring, I attended a weekend retreat at Amaravati monastery near London (where I live), but was disappointed to discover that nothing was actually taught, but there was just meditation and Q&A. On a separate occasion, I asked Ajahn Amaro whether he thought a teacher was necessary, and he said that there was no need for a teacher. In May, I visited Meethirigala monastery in Sri Lanka for two weeks and, while it was great for my practice, I also did not learn much from a teacher. I have now registered for a weekend Mahasi-style retreat in October at Satipanya. So far I have learned almost exclusively from books and from essays, from videos and podcasts, and from my own practice. My main "teachers" have been the suttas and Ayya Khema, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Nyanaponika Thera and Ajahn Chah. If I were to judge my progress from the degree to which I have cut out cravings, increased my happiness, strengthened my meditative concentration, and improved my practical understanding of the Dhamma, I would say that things are going great. The Path is clearly working out for me. It is only when I read about the 7 Stages of Insight that doubt arose. My hope is that those 7 stages are but just one of several ways of progressing, not the only one. Either way, I expect to learn more "proper technique" at the retreat in October.

With metta,
Sati1

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.30, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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Goofaholix
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Re: question on mindfulness through the day

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Jul 23, 2014 7:00 am

Sati1 wrote:The Path is clearly working out for me. It is only when I read about the 7 Stages of Insight that doubt arose. My hope is that those 7 stages are but just one of several ways of progressing, not the only one. Either way, I expect to learn more "proper technique" at the retreat in October.
Relax, I've done several long term Mahasi retreats, I don't recall the 7 stages of insight ever mentioned. Even without that Mahasi technique needs retreat conditions to learn properly.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Sati1
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Re: question on mindfulness through the day

Post by Sati1 » Wed Jul 23, 2014 7:18 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Sati1 wrote:The Path is clearly working out for me. It is only when I read about the 7 Stages of Insight that doubt arose. My hope is that those 7 stages are but just one of several ways of progressing, not the only one. Either way, I expect to learn more "proper technique" at the retreat in October.
Relax, I've done several long term Mahasi retreats, I don't recall the 7 stages of insight ever mentioned. Even without that Mahasi technique needs retreat conditions to learn properly.
That's interesting. From conversations with other Buddhists and even monks I also got the impression that the 7 Stages are fairly unknown by practitioners. But then why are they mentioned so emphatically in the writings of these prominent teachers?
Sati1

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.30, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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Mkoll
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Re: question on mindfulness through the day

Post by Mkoll » Wed Jul 23, 2014 7:31 am

Sati1 wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:
Sati1 wrote:The Path is clearly working out for me. It is only when I read about the 7 Stages of Insight that doubt arose. My hope is that those 7 stages are but just one of several ways of progressing, not the only one. Either way, I expect to learn more "proper technique" at the retreat in October.
Relax, I've done several long term Mahasi retreats, I don't recall the 7 stages of insight ever mentioned. Even without that Mahasi technique needs retreat conditions to learn properly.
That's interesting. From conversations with other Buddhists and even monks I also got the impression that the 7 Stages are fairly unknown by practitioners. But then why are they mentioned so emphatically in the writings of these prominent teachers?
I can't say for sure but I'll hazard a guess. They are there because those teachers follow the Visudhimagga whose framework is the 7 Stages. And that framework is culled from the Relay Chariots Sutta, MN 24.

I suggest you stick with what you said: "The Path is clearly working out for me." As they say: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Sati1
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Re: question on mindfulness through the day

Post by Sati1 » Wed Jul 23, 2014 7:36 am

Thank you, Mkoll, that makes sense. I will do as you suggest. Regarding the 7 Stages, I have heard it said that even MN 24 can be interpreted differently than how Buddhagosa interpreted it. But that discussion shall wait for another thread...

With metta,
Sati1

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.30, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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