What i think about mental noting

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rightviewftw
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What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:41 am

After talking to Budo about his take on noting which is basically that mental noting will be restrictive if one is training for jhana, i've come up with an outline of a hypothesis;

I think that noting develops the habit of mindfulness more so than not doing it and that the emphasis on mindfulness conditions the faculty of discernment by the virtue of constantly watching the satipatthana and the inconstancy in the arising phenomena. However doing it thus one does not fully utilize the power of concentration to create the controlled states wherein one can ferret out the factors of jhana one by one but rather attempts to ferret out the All at once.

Whereas not noting would uncap the utilization of the power of concentration to create the controlled conditions required for the ferreting out of the various factors one by one and exploring what can be known by purified intellect.

I would like to know what other meditators think and read relevant literature.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

Dinsdale
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:27 am

rightviewftw wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:41 am
I think that noting develops the habit of mindfulness more so than not doing it and that the emphasis on mindfulness conditions the faculty of discernment by the virtue of constantly watching the satipatthana and the inconstancy in the arising phenomena. However doing it thus one does not fully utilize the power of concentration to create the controlled states wherein one can ferret out the factors of jhana one by one but rather attempts to ferret out the All at once.
I find noting useful for maintaining sati, but I wouldn't use it for developing jhana. It feels like different types of samadhi are involved,vipassana v. samatha?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

rightviewftw
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:14 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:27 am
I find noting useful for maintaining sati, but I wouldn't use it for developing jhana. It feels like different types of samadhi are involved,vipassana v. samatha?
Afaik the general consensus is that there are these three types of samadhi;

Momentary samadhi (khanika samadhi) - associated with the momentary establishment of Sati
Access samadhi (upacara samadhi) - associated with supression of hindrances
Absorption samadhi (appana samadhi) - associated with mundane and supermundane absorbtion

I half-attentively listened to a recent talk by Ven. Nanamoli and if i heard it correctly he held that the meaning of samadhi was something like "the collectedness of" or "the composure of the mind" i think it is an interesting way to think about it. I will watch it again now that it is brought up;
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

Manopubbangama
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:20 am

rightviewftw wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:41 am
After talking to Budo about his take on noting which is basically that mental noting will be restrictive if one is training for jhana, i've come up with an outline of a hypothesis;

I think that noting develops the habit of mindfulness more so than not doing it and that the emphasis on mindfulness conditions the faculty of discernment by the virtue of constantly watching the satipatthana and the inconstancy in the arising phenomena. However doing it thus one does not fully utilize the power of concentration to create the controlled states wherein one can ferret out the factors of jhana one by one but rather attempts to ferret out the All at once.

Whereas not noting would uncap the utilization of the power of concentration to create the controlled conditions required for the ferreting out of the various factors one by one and exploring what can be known by purified intellect.

I would like to know what other meditators think and read relevant literature.
I use noting for times when I don't have the time to sit down for samadhi meditation.

Walking, bio-breaks, eating, washing dishes, etc.

It is a great method for strengthening Sati, one of many, and I think it is a great contribution from Mahasi to the world.
"They too, beholding the Buddha — Kinsman of the sun, mighty and fearless — salute him from afar: 'Homage to thee, who art unique among mankind; glory to thee, the highest among men.' - DN 32

rightviewftw
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:25 am

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:20 am
I use noting for times when I don't have the time to sit down for samadhi meditation.

Walking, bio-breaks, eating, washing dishes, etc.
Thanks for sharing, it is quite interesting what people do.

I personally was training Anapanasati more or less daily for about two years without mental noting before i started studying the Dhamma but i had issues like inability to sit for long periods due to pain, i usually sat 20 minutes once or twice a day, sometimes id change posture and sit multiple 20 minute sets.

As i learned the Dhamma i started training Satipatthana with noting and was able to overcome the pain and sit for several hours, that was about three years ago. Since then i have not tried training without noting. As a result my noting ability and the habitual noting progressively increased.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

Manopubbangama
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Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:17 pm

Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:31 am

rightviewftw wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:25 am
Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:20 am
I use noting for times when I don't have the time to sit down for samadhi meditation.

Walking, bio-breaks, eating, washing dishes, etc.
Thanks for sharing, it is quite interesting what people do.

I personally was training Anapanasati more or less daily for about two years without mental noting before i started studying the Dhamma but i had issues like inability to sit for long periods due to pain, i usually sat 20 minutes once or twice a day, sometimes id change posture and sit multiple 20 minute sets.

As i learned the Dhamma i started training Satipatthana with noting and was able to overcome the pain and sit for several hours, since i have not tried training without noting.
To be honest I often wonder to what extent anapanasati and satipatthana are just part of the same mental continuum of Sati.

Bear with me here, it is possible to go from focusing on the breath as an object to the body and back in a split second.

Then to move to repulsive qualities of the body and back again. If these two suttas had ever been split apart and then concatenated again it would make sense to me.

Regarding the physical pain, I also have experienced this and agree with you that noting helps - at least for itches, discomfort, flies, etc, Mahasi speaks of this quite a bit and it works very well in overcoming such issues.
When any kind of unpleasant sensation arises and becomes distinct, a meditator focuses his or her mind on it and notes it accurately and steadily using everyday language such as "pain, pain," "numb, numb," "ache, ache," "tired, tired," or 'dizzy, dizzy." When you note it in this way, it may fade away or increase. If noted with patience and perseverance, it often fades away. If it becomes unbearable, ignore it and take extra care to concurrently and continuously note the rise and fall of the abdomen.
-Manual of Insight, p.268
To be honest, the thing that the Mahasi method helps me the most with is understanding cause and effect - I no longer pay attention to questions like "if there is no "me" what is reborn?" because these questions seem silly now.

That being said, as you may have seen from another thread of mine, I still long for the old times of the old uneducated me who could reach Jhana with relative ease.
Last edited by Manopubbangama on Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
"They too, beholding the Buddha — Kinsman of the sun, mighty and fearless — salute him from afar: 'Homage to thee, who art unique among mankind; glory to thee, the highest among men.' - DN 32

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budo
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by budo » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:40 am

I think verbalized noting is the issue moreso than noting itself. The verbalization is like the training wheels of discrimination/discernment and it's the verbalization that will keep you at momentary concentration.

I don't think one should aim for momentary concentration and should aim higher than that as per eightfold path. The question is where does insight practice delineate from Samadhi at deeper levels, which I am still researching.

Nissarana Vanaya states that it is what the mind leans towards, the "trigger" or the characteristic itself of the object, in this book http://www.nissarana.lk/pdf/Books/Eng/V ... Itself.pdf

And I am reading this to compliment the theory by Bhante Gunaratana on why you don't need to leave jhanas to do insight, https://bhavanasociety.org/article/shou ... -vipassana

So basically I am still in the process of tying up loose ends on the theory side and need to read more. The purpose of "vipassana" (it's not really called that in the suttas) is to see impermanence frst hand, by seeing impermanence (anicca) you know right away that the state you're in is unsatisfactory (dukkha) and that there is more to go, basically as a sign post saying "keep going", so the only discernment you really need is the discernment that tells you to keep going.

There's also the immersion of discerning the 5 aggregates and the four noble truths as well. You need all 4 immersions to attain arahantship, afaik, but for non-return you only need strong concentration and the last 2 immersions listed in AN 4.41 ( seeing impermanence, 5 aggregates, and 4 noble truths contemplation).

Manopubbangama
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:44 am

budo wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:40 am
I think verbalized noting is the issue moreso than noting itself. The verbalization is like the training wheels of discrimination/discernment and it's the verbalization that will keep you at momentary concentration.
This is how my teacher, a Burmese monk, describes noting.

Noting is meant as a tool to help train the mind, not a final outcome in your Sati.
"They too, beholding the Buddha — Kinsman of the sun, mighty and fearless — salute him from afar: 'Homage to thee, who art unique among mankind; glory to thee, the highest among men.' - DN 32

rightviewftw
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:54 am

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:31 am
To be honest I often wonder to what extent anapanasati and satipatthana are not the same thing.
I think Anapanasati is a way to train Satipatthana.

I am curious about the exact function of mental noting and pinning down it's relative merits. In particular if it restricts certain types of appana samadhi.

It is not something that i have seen discussed here before.

Here are some posts from the other thread;
budo wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:46 am
rightviewftw wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:31 am
budo wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:57 am


In Nissarana Vinaya, where Ayya Khema learned Jhanas, they follow a modified Mahasi Sayadaw system, basically Nanarama took Mahasi's system and adjusted it to fit the suttas better, so it uses in and out breath rather than abdomen rising and falling. Also they say not to verbalize the noting and instead make the mind synchronize/align with the in and out breath. So yes, I would say that verbalizing is even worse than applied and sustained application when it comes to 2nd jhana which should not have thoughts. Also when comparing the Buddhist 2nd jhana with the Vedic Hindu Dhayana (which they copied from Buddhism) detailed in Pātañjalayogaśāstra, they also call it "No-thought state".

They copied Vicara and called it Savichara, and Vitakka as Savitarka, and the goal is to still both and have "Nirvichara and Nirvitarka Samadhi"

So I think verbalizing would prevent one from entering 2nd jhana, and possibly even first jhana.
This is an interesting venue to explore, i take it you don't use noting in your practice? The way i see it noting would not prevent the cessation of aggregates as attainment of the path because at that time the whole complex of phenomena ceases altogether but i think it is plausible for it to be countering various states of concentration.
I use noting when my mind is being extra-slothful and it needs a kick in the butt. When my mind is co-operating then I don't use noting.

Like everything else, it's important to see things as tools and as a means to an end, and not the end in itself. If you always use noting you'll never leave access concentration.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

rightviewftw
Posts: 2219
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm

Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:04 am

budo wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:40 am
I think verbalized noting is the issue moreso than noting itself. The verbalization is like the training wheels of discrimination/discernment and it's the verbalization that will keep you at momentary concentration.

I don't think one should aim for momentary concentration and should aim higher than that as per eightfold path.
I am not convinced that mere perception of phenomena is enough to condition discernment because otherwise it would always be developed. If one was to say that "mindfully observing" is not mere perceiving then i wonder what is the difference between attentively perceiving and being mindful, as i see it there must be more to it than mere experiencing, some sort of apprehension in accordance with reality must occur for wisdom to be conditioned.

I don't think people aim for momentary concentration but are using it to condition discernment and to suppress the hindrances for the attainment of access samadhi, having attained access samadhi one can enter the supramundane jhana for the attainment of the Deathless if discernment culminates.
That is how dry insight gives rise to the path afaik.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

Dinsdale
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Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:44 am

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:20 am
It is a great method for strengthening Sati, one of many, and I think it is a great contribution from Mahasi to the world.
Yes, it's a useful tool, and I have found it particularly useful for "refocusing" attention. I've also found that noting doesn't have to be continuous to be effective.

IMO noting as a method is supported by the Satipatthana Sutta, where the monk knows "I am walking" etc.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

Manopubbangama
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:22 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:44 am
Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:20 am
It is a great method for strengthening Sati, one of many, and I think it is a great contribution from Mahasi to the world.
Yes, it's a useful tool, and I have found it particularly useful for "refocusing" attention. I've also found that noting doesn't have to be continuous to be effective.

IMO noting as a method is supported by the Satipatthana Sutta, where the monk knows "I am walking" etc.
Agreed, which makes the anti-Mahasi people seem even weaker in their criticisms.

What I hear from most anti-Mahasists sounds something like "this book is too hard to read, I can't follow it: therefore, because I don't understand it, it can't be real Buddhism."
Last edited by Manopubbangama on Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"They too, beholding the Buddha — Kinsman of the sun, mighty and fearless — salute him from afar: 'Homage to thee, who art unique among mankind; glory to thee, the highest among men.' - DN 32

rightviewftw
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:40 pm

I wonder if mental noting is related to speech that follows directed thought and evaluation.
[thanissaro:] Having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech. That's why directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications.[SN41.6] When one has attained the first jhāna, speech has ceased [SN36.11].
also the relationship to

vitakka - trans; thinking
vicara - trans; more thinking, examining, sustained thinking, evaluation

Given that these are factors of the first jhana;
It seems like the vittaka and vicara remain but the verbalization ceases, because the SN 41.6 has it;
Pubbe kho, gahapati, vitakketvā vicāretvā pacchā vācaṃ bhindati, tasmā vitakkavicārā vacīsaṅkhāro.
sujato; First you place the mind and keep it connected, then you break into speech. That’s why placing the mind and keeping it connected are verbal processes.
So it does seem like one can have thinking without verbalization, i can't comprehend it tho. Also it fits with the narrative that the verbalization is antithetical to the first jhana.

i wonder how you understand this
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

rightviewftw
Posts: 2219
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm

Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:57 pm

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:22 pm
What I hear from most anti-Mahasists sounds something like "this book is too hard to read, I can't follow it: therefore, because I don't understand it, it can't be real Buddhism."
I think it would be tempting to explore alternative paths to dry insight if one does not realize the fruition in the first say 500 to 1000 hours unless one has made extraordinarily strong commitments or has placed faith in a certain teacher. It is also easy to be skeptical because dry insight is not something that one sees apparently practiced in the Sutta and it's validity has to be inferred more so than "the jhanas first, cessation later" path.

Therefore i think most people who will stick to it will be of the kind that has quick discernment and those who have a lot of faith in a particular teacher. Because the painful path with slow discernment takes longer to develop, obviously, so people are more likely to lose the faith and zeal to practice it imo.
Last edited by rightviewftw on Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

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budo
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by budo » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:07 pm

rightviewftw wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:40 pm
I wonder if mental noting is related to speech that follows directed thought and evaluation.
[thanissaro:] Having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech. That's why directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications.[SN41.6] When one has attained the first jhāna, speech has ceased [SN36.11].
also the relationship to

vitakka - trans; thinking
vicara - trans; more thinking, examining, sustained thinking, evaluation

Given that these are factors of the first jhana;
It seems like the vittaka and vicara remain but the verbalization ceases, because the SN 41.6 has it;
Pubbe kho, gahapati, vitakketvā vicāretvā pacchā vācaṃ bhindati, tasmā vitakkavicārā vacīsaṅkhāro.
sujato; First you place the mind and keep it connected, then you break into speech. That’s why placing the mind and keeping it connected are verbal processes.
So it does seem like one can have thinking without verbalization, i can't comprehend it tho. Also it fits with the narrative that the verbalization is antithetical to the first jhana.

i wonder how you understand this
Makes sense to me and aligns with my experience as well

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