Insight practice/mindfulness

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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tiltbillings
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Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:37 am

NB: This is not a debate sub-forum, nor is this a debate thread.

This is a discussion of the issue of insight practice raised in this thread. What will be looked at here are the issues mindfulness in terms of the Burmese Vipassana traditions and the suttas. If one wants to debate these issues, then either use above linked thread or start a new thread on the Open Dhamma debate sub-forum.

What I am offering directly below are a number of interesting texts that will serve as a basis for the discussion. If you do not read them, then please do not participate. The texts posted and linked are the context for this discussion.

The initial attached files go with the Ven Analayo quote below. The attached files, "A-D", have a couple more pages than the quoted excerpt below, plus the footnotes, and there is also an attached file of Ven Analayo’s discussion of the Bahiya Sutta.

One of the vexed issues that has been raised a number of times on this forum is that of the “bare attention” aspect of mindfulness and what it might mean. “Bare attention” is not a traditional technical term. It is, rather, a term coined by Ven Nyanaponika it illustrate an interesting and important aspect of mindfulness in meditation practice, which is what the texts quoted below and linked are pointing to. Also, a PDF image of the “bare attention” chapter from Ven Nyanaponika’s HEART OF BUDDHIST MEDITATION can be found here. This link is to a section of a larger chapter where Ven Bodhi talks about the nature of sati. It is probably one the more important discussions of the question of mindfulness posted on this forum.

Ven Thanissaro here: “Once you've clearly seen that a particular quality like aversion or lust is harmful for the mind, you can't stay patient or equanimous about it. You have to make whatever effort is needed to get rid of it and to nourish skillful qualities in its place by bringing in other factors of the path: right resolve and right effort.

What needs to be pointed out here is that discussion I am putting forth is not a this-way-versus-that-way approach, or that one approach is correct, the other is not. There are differing approaches outlined in the suttas, and basically what I am doing here looking at the one approach that is not always clearly understood.

This text seems appropriate here:
    • “How, dear sir, did you cross the flood?”

      “By not halting, friend, and by not straining I crossed the flood.”

      “But how is it, dear sir, that by not halting and by not straining you crossed the flood?”

      “When I came to a standstill, friend, then I sank; but when I struggled, then I got swept away. It is in this way, friend, that by not halting and by not straining I crossed the flood.”
    • Bhikkhu Bodhi Page15
      BB 4: No problem to try to tie up this “loose end.” First, I used the phrase “the mind’s
      activity of attending to the object, the awareness of the object” as an attempt to make
      sense of the word ‘upaṭṭhāna,’ which is used in works like the Paṭisambhidāmagga and
      the commentaries to draw out the significance of sati. It wasn’t a direct “gloss” on sati
      itself.

      As a wholesome mental factor, sati is consistently explained in the same way as in the
      quotation from Vism XIV 141 (with the forms saranti, sarati, saraṇa, simply cognates of
      sati). So I don’t have any new definition of sati to offer. But I hope that I can explain how
      sati, as “bare attention,” can function as a wholesome mental factor. When I use the
      word ”awareness” or “attention” to render upaṭṭhāna, as representing sati in this role
      (which is just my hypothesis), this awareness is quite different from ordinary
      consciousness (viññāṇa), and this attention is different from manasikāra, the mental
      factor that performs the function of adverting to an object or selecting features of the
      objective field for closer focus. Sati, as bare attention, is never completely bare. When
      practiced in the full context of the noble eightfold path (even the path-practice of a
      worldling) it is, or should be, embraced by other factors of the path, most notably by right
      view, right motivation, and right effort (factors 1, 2, and 6); it is already supported by the
      three morality factors (3, 4, 5). As Ven. Nyanaponika first used the expression, sati is
      “bare” in that it is shorn of our usual emotional reactions, evaluations, judgments,
      conceptual overlays, etc., and is intended to lay bare the experienced object as clearly as
      possible.

      We should remember that sati, in the context of satipaṭṭhāna practice, is always practiced
      as part of an ’anupassanā,’ and this word helps to bring out the role of sati. We usually
      translate ‘anupassanā’ as “contemplation,” thus ‘kāyānupassanā’ as “contemplation of
      the body,” but this might be somewhat misleading. It might be more accurate, and more
      literal, to translate it as “observation.” The word is made up of a prefix ‘anu’ which
      suggests repetition, and ’passanā’, which means “seeing, viewing.” So sati is part of a
      process that involves a close, repetitive observation of the object.

      page 16
      Several factors enter into anupassanā. According to the “satipaṭṭhāna refrain,” these are
      energy (ātāpī, “ardent”), clear comprehension (sampajāno), and mindfulness (satimā).
      Energy contributes the strength to fulfill the practice, but it is mindfulness that brings the
      object into the field of observation, and in many exercises (though not all) it does so
      simply through the act of attending to the object over and over, as simply as possible, and
      of attending to each object that presents itself on the successive occasions of experience.
      Mindfulness, as bare attention, is thus a key element in the process of adopting an
      “observational stance” towards one’s own experience.

      Mindfulness, as bare attention, however, isn’t just floating loosely in a void. In a
      meditative situation it will be anchored in a primary object, such as in-breathing and outbreathing,
      or the rise and fall of the abdomen. But whenever some other phenomenon
      arises and floats into the field of awareness, the meditator is advised to simply note it,
      without reacting to it, and then to bring the mind back to the primary object. If any
      reactions take place, such as enjoying the distracting object or feeling irritated by it, one
      should note the enjoyment or irritation, and again return to the primary object.
      Thus, if you have trouble seeing mindfulness–as bare attention–as a wholesome mental
      factor because it isn’t remembering one’s wholesome qualities or attending to
      bodhipakkhiya dhammas, the same problem could be posed in terms of mindfulness of
      breathing. A skeptic might say: “Yeah, I can see loving-kindness meditation, or
      compassion meditation, as a wholesome state, but mindfulness of breathing, why, you’re
      doing nothing but following your breath in and out. What could be especially
      ‘wholesome’ about that?”

      In the practice of bare attention, as used in the ”dry insight” system of vipassanā,
      mindfulness is used to note whatever is occurring on successive occasions of
      experience. As this is practiced continuously, over extended periods of time, the
      mindfulness builds up momentum. By means of this momentum, it is able to bring the
      “field of experience” into increasingly finer focus, until one can tune into the precise
      factors constituting any occasion of experience and distinguish them according to their
      place among the five aggregates. In this way, mindfulness paves the way for the
      discriminative understanding of the “constituted nature” of experience, allowing paññā to
      move in and discern the threads that make up the complex experiential occasion.
      Then because one is attending to the unfolding of experience sequentially across
      occasions of experience, the characteristic comes into sharp focus. One can see how each
      event occurs and vanishes, followed by the next event, which occurs and vanishes,
      followed by the next event, which occurs and vanishes. As concentration grows stronger,
      this ability to focus upon the arising and passing of events becomes more refined, so that
      it seems one is perceiving the arising and passing of cognitive events in terms of
      nanoseconds. Again, this uncovers, even more starkly, the characteristic of
      impermanence, and from there one can move on to the characteristics of dukkha and
      anatta.

      page 17
      Of course, one who gains the jhānas, and then uses the concentration of the jhāna to focus
      on the procession of experience, has even more powerful resources for gaining direct
      perception of the radical truth of impermanence. But even this must begin with some
      degree of “bare attention” to immediate experience.

      You were worried that I had missed out on right thought, and further on in your letter you
      expressed concern about the need for proper motivation; but the factor often translated as
      right thought, sammā saṅkappa, is what I have here translated “right motivation” (it is
      elsewhere translated “right intention”). I’m not sure how the Tibetan translations render
      the second path factor, but the Pāli term suggests the purposive, motivational element in
      thought, rather than the cognitive, which is covered by right view. In my understanding,
      without right view or right intention, one could be practicing “bare mindfulness,” and yet
      that “bare mindfulness” is unlikely to develop into sammā sati, right
      mindfulness. Similarly, one could be practicing mindfulness of breathing, or
      contemplation of bodily sensations, or loving-kindness meditation, or perhaps even
      reflective meditation on the Four Noble Truths and dependent origination as applicable to
      this present life alone (no trespassing into unverifiable past and future lives), and these
      practices, while being “wholesome,” would still be deficient as Dharma practices.

      source
    • CHARACTERISTICS AND FUNCTIONS OF SATI

      A close examination of the instructions in the Satipatthäna Sutta reveals that the meditator is never instructed to interfere actively with what happens in the mind. If a mental hindrance arises, for example, the task of satipatthana contemplation is to know that the hindrance is present, to know what has led to its arising, and to know what will lead to its disappearance. A more active intervention is no longer the domain of satipatthana, but belongs rather to the province of right effort (samma vayama).

      The need to distinguish clearly between a first stage of observation and a second stage of taking action is, according to the Buddha, an essential feature of his way of teaching. The simple reason for this approach is that only the preliminary step of calmly assessing a situation without immediately reacting enables one to undertake the appropriate action.

      Thus, although sati furnishes the necessary information for a wise deployment of right effort, and will monitor the countermeasures by noting if these are excessive or deficient, sati nevertheless

      Uninvolved and detached receptivity as one of the crucial characteristics of sati forms an important aspect in the teachings of several modern meditation teachers and scholars. They emphasize that the purpose of sati is solely to make things conscious, not to eliminate them. Sati silently observes, like a spectator at a play, without in any way interfering. Some refer to this non-reactive feature of sati as "choiceless" awareness.'" "Choiceless" in the sense that with such awareness one remains impartially aware, without reacting with likes or dislikes. Such silent and non-reactive observation can at times suffice to curb unwholesomeness, so that an application of sati can have quite active consequences. Yet sati's activity is confined to detached observation. That is, sati does not change experience, it deepens it.

      This non-interfering quality of sati is required to enable one clearly to observe the building up of reactions and their underlying motives. As soon as one becomes in any way involved in a reaction, the detached observational vantage point is immediately lost. The detached receptivity of sati enables one to step back from the situation at hand and thereby to become an unbiased observer of one's subjective involvement and of the entire situation.' This detached distance allows for a more objective perspective, a characteristic illustrated in the above-mentioned simile of climbing a tower.

      This detached but receptive stance of satipatthana constitutes a "middle path", since it avoids the two extremes of suppression and reaction. The receptivity of sati, in the absence of both suppression and reaction, allows personal shortcomings and unjustified reactions to unfold before the watchful stance of the meditator, without being suppressed by the affective investment inherent in one's self-image. Maintaining the presence of sati in this way is closely related to the ability to tolerate a high degree of "cognitive dissonance", since the witnessing of one's own shortcomings ordinarily leads to unconscious attempts at reducing the resulting feeling of discomfort by avoiding or even altering the perceived information.

      This shift towards a more objective and uninvolved perspective introduces an important element of sobriety into self-observation. The element of "sobriety" inherent in the presence of sati comes up in an entertaining canonical description of a particular celestial realm, whose divine inhabitants get so "intoxicated" with sensual indulgence that they lose all sati. As a consequence of being without sati, they fall from their elevated celestial position and are reborn in a lower realm.6~ The reverse case is also documented in another discourse, in which negligent monks, reborn in an inferior celestial realm, on regaining their sati are at once able to ascend to a higher realm. Both these instances point to the edifying power of sati and its wholesome repercussions.

      Sati as a mental quality is closely related to attention (manasikara), a basic function which, according to the Abhidhaminic analysis, is present in any kind of mental state. This basic faculty of ordinary attention characterizes the initial split seconds of bare cognizing of an object, before one begins to recognize, identify, and conceptualize. Sati can be understood as a further development and temporal extension of this type of attention, thereby adding clarity and depth to the usually much too short fraction of time occupied by bare attention in the perceptual process. The resemblance in function between sati and attention is also reflected in the fact that wise attention (yoniso manasikara) parallels several aspects of satipatthäna contemplation, such as directing attention to antidotes for the hindrances, becoming aware of the impermanent nature of the aggregates or of the sense-pleasures, establishing the awakening factors, and contemplating the four noble truths.

      This "bare attention" aspect of sati has an intriguing potential, since it is capable of leading to a "de-automatization" of mental mechanisms. Through bare sati one is able to see things just as they are, unadulterated by habitual reactions and projections. By bringing the perceptual process into the full light of awareness, one becomes conscious of automatic and habitual responses to perceptual data. Full awareness of these automatic responses is the necessary preliminary step to changing detrimental mental habits.

      Sati as bare attention is particularly relevant to restraint at the sense doors (indriya sarnvara). In this aspect of the gradual path, the practitioner is encouraged to retain bare sati in regard to all sense-input. Through the simple presence of undisrupted and bare mindfulness, the mind is "restrained" from amplifying and proliferating the received information in various ways. This guardianship role of sati in relation to sense-input is alluded to in those similes that declare satipatthana to be the proper "pasture" for a meditator and which compare sati to the gatekeeper of a town.

      According to the discourses, the purpose of restraining the senses is to avoid the arising of desires (abhijjha) and discontent (domanassa). Such freedom from desires and discontent is also an aspect of satipatthana contemplation, mentioned in the "definition" part of the discourse. Thus the absence of reactions under the influence of desires and discontent is a common feature of both satipaffhana and sense-restraint. This goes to show that there is a considerable degree of overlap between these two activities.

      To sum up, sati entails an alert but receptive equanimous observation. Viewed from the context of actual practice, a predominantly receptive sati is then enlivened by the quality of being diligent (ätapi), and supported by a foundation in concentration (samadhi).

      Analayo SATIPAṬṬHĀNA, pages 57-61.
      source
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>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:57 am

Before responding to this msg, please read this message.

Below are posted two descriptions of experiences from two different 3-month vipassana retreats in the 70's. The purpose in postings these is to, hopefully, give an actual sense (at least from my perspective) of what is called vipassana meditaion can look like, which may help facilitate understanding what is being said here. There is no claim here that this is how anyone else’s practice must be, nor is there any claim here of any special insight or attainment. Also, the issue here is not about me; rather, it is about Burmese Vipassana practice.

    • There is a great deal of difference between thinking about anicca and directly, without comment, seeing the rise and fall of the nama/rupa process.

      During a meditation retreat, in the meditation hall, the woman four places over and one row down coughs. You recognize that cough as being hers, and an image of her pops into your head, and right along with that image comes a raging, burning lust, a carnal wanting. What do you do? You can think about it, get lost in it, or you can try the various anti-lust options in the Buddhist contemplative tool box to free oneself from this fire. Or you can simply pay attention without comment to it, seeing the aversion to the lust, the wanting, feelings the pleasure and feelings discomfort rising and falling in a flaming swirl. This storm rages and you sit unmoved, simply paying attention, and then there is this moment where the fuel of the lust is expended, and you move effortlessly in an instant from burning lust to nibbuti, coolness, release, ease, more deeply concentrated and attentive. No thinking, no comment, just direct experience of the play of one's nama/rupa process. Afterwards you can talk about this, put into a context, but it was a direct experience, giving a direct insight into the nature of the nama/rupa, and it is such an experience as this that changes one.

      It is not something special, and it is nothing at all to hang onto, and it is not something that comes by thinking alone. It is such an experience that gives one's contemplative/meditative Dhamma life, meaning, and direction.
    • During a three month vipassana retreat I was suffering from muscle spasms in my back. Very, very painful, and having struggled with it greatly, I went to one of the teachers there, Joseph Goldstein, who said that I should use the pain as the object of awareness. Damn, the obvious is stated, but sometimes being told the obvious is all that is needed.

      My next chance to sit was during the evening Dharma talk. As usual the pain started as I assumed my sitting posture. I had all I could do to keep from bolting out of the room to get away from the pain of the posture. With no small effort I was able to bring attention to the pain. As the pain became the object of my attention, everything else was blocked out.

      Intense, deep concentration. I heard nothing, was aware of nothing going on around me. There was just pain. Once I was able to establish awareness on – then in – the pain, I was able to relax into it. The mindfulness became clear and very precise.

      The pain which had been a solid rock like thing became a play of sensation changing at an incredible rate, and the closer I attended to the change the clearer it became. There was no thinking about this, just attending to what was happening. As the muscles spasmed, sending out a paroxysm of pain, there was contracting from the pain – it was not as I wanted it to be - I was suffering.

      As the attention and concentration became more precise, the pain and suffering were seen as separate but inter-related things, the "I" was an add-on to the pain giving it the sense of suffering and the contracting from that – I do not want this pain.

      In this simple act of attending to the pain, this whole dynamic concatenation became clear and obvious, and with that insight the next spasm was not painful. It was, rather, a play of very, very rapidly changing sensations that were empty of a sense of a solid "I". It was even empty of the sense of the concept of pain. The sense of "I" that arose was changing in response the changing conditions, and it, in its arising and changing, was seen as empty of any solidity.

      With that there was no resistance, no more contraction. There came a remarkable relaxation of my body, and my attention became very broad and open, attentive to the rise and fall of whatever came into its purview.

      The limitations of my body became transparent, there being no inside, no outside. It was all very ordinary: there was the Dharma talk that was happening, the coughing, shuffling of the other students, and the stuff happening "inside" of me. All just stuff happening with incredible rapidity and incredible clarity. It just was, empty, clear rising and falling. Suchness. Openness.
These experiences arose in the context of long intensive meditation retreats where there is momentum to the concentration and mindfulness that is being cultivated.

In the first experience, one might call the response to the arising of lust “radical acceptance.” While I do not particularly like the expression “radical acceptance,” it does point to the possibility of how an experience of lust that arises during meditation can be understood and dealt with. In this instance, it was not a matter of a choosing to do this rather than that. It was simply a matter of just continuing with the concentrated, attentiveness to whatever came into awareness –sounds, thoughts/feelings, body sensations and such, just rising and falling. The lust was particularly strong and particularly persistent, and it was what occupied my awareness.

It is not easy to try parse all of this out into words. The choice to stay with lust as an object of concentrated attention/mindfulness was not really at the moment of the arising of the lust, but rather at the moment of starting of the practice for that particular period of meditation – this is, what I am going to do for this period of practice?: “choiceless awareness”. This initial intent is what gave the meditation its direction. In other words, it was not a matter at the time of the arising of the lust a matter of consciously, conceptually choosing to do this or that. The concentration and mindfulness were strong enough that the chosen direction of the meditation session was not lost in face of very strong, persistent, experience – the lust.

Ven Thanissaro: "Once you've clearly seen that a particular quality like aversion or lust is harmful for the mind, you can't stay patient or equanimous about it. You have to make whatever effort is needed to get rid of it and to nourish skillful qualities in its place by bringing in other factors of the path: right resolve and right effort."

The above by Ven Thanissaro is an approach, but it is not the only one outlined in the suttas:
    • And how, monks, does he in regard to the mind abide contemplating the mind? "Here he knows a lustful mind to be 'lustful', and a mind without lust to be 'without lust' . . . He abides contemplating the nature of arising ... of passing away ... of both arising and passing away in regard to the mind. Mindfulness that 'there is a mind' is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and continuous mindful-ness. And he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world. "That is how in regard to the mind he abides contemplating the mind. – MN 10 [Analayo SATIPAṬṬHĀNA, p: 8]
    • While he dwells contemplating the body in the body, his mind becomes concentrated, his corruptions are abandoned, he picks up that sign. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, his mind becomes concentrated, his corruptions are abandoned, he picks up that sign. SN 47.8 PTS: S v 149 CDB ii 1634
The interesting thing is that in being mindful of the lust is that its nature was exposed, the conditioned and conditioning features and the responses to it. While it may be possible to have a singular experience that dismantles completely the structures of greed, hatred, and delusion, the value in such an experiences as described above is, of course, the insight from seeing, not just thinking about, the Dhamma nature of one’s experiences. As these sorts of meditative experiences are repeated, one’s insight and saddha matures.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Mar 12, 2015 10:40 am

Greetings Tilt,

Thank you very much for sharing this collection of resources - some new to me, some not.

I wanted to ask a question about the definition of "the object" in the scheme of Bare Awareness.

In the case of sight, does "the object" relate to the full field of vision, or to a component of it?

To take the following example, when looking at a tree, would the "object" be the tree itself or the full field of vision (including the sky, grass etc.)?

Image

And if it is the tree, is there an explanation for how the tree becomes the "object"? Or in other words, how the "object" comes to be "objectified" to the exclusion of the remainder of the field of vision?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by SarathW » Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:30 am

I think you have to look at things as a newly born child or a person who landed to earth from another planet.
I think you perceive some light and dark shades. (you will not no the colours)
You will have pleasant or unpleasant feeling.
That is bare attention
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:26 pm

retrofuturist wrote: To take the following example, when looking at a tree, would the "object" be the tree itself or the full field of vision (including the sky, grass etc.)?

Image

And if it is the tree, is there an explanation for how the tree becomes the "object"? Or in other words, how the "object" comes to be "objectified" to the exclusion of the remainder of the field of vision?
Tilt may have a different take on this but in this example to me the object is clearly "the process of seeing".

I think the use of the word object in the vipassana tradition can lead to confusion in implying that we are interested in "things", whereas really we are interested in processes, qualities, and events.
“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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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by equilibrium » Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:06 pm

"sight" would relate to the full field of vison and not a component of it. ie: If one were to look at the tree itself, one would naturally also notice/aware the background sky (white/blue) and the ground (green grass) without looking directly at them.

Bare awareness here would be like a childs observation, having no names/labels as the child does not know what a tree, sky and ground is, hence a non-reactive feature (choiceless awareness).....yet simply aware/conscious/unbiased observer.

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Mar 13, 2015 4:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

Thank you very much for sharing this collection of resources - some new to me, some not.

I wanted to ask a question about the definition of "the object" in the scheme of Bare Awareness.

In the case of sight, does "the object" relate to the full field of vision, or to a component of it?
Here I would agree with Goofaholix here. It is more about process than actual content. Any content of awareness, being conditioned and because of its process nature, is potentially a basis for insight.
To take the following example, when looking at a tree, would the "object" be the tree itself or the full field of vision (including the sky, grass etc.)?

[img]tree[/img]

And if it is the tree, is there an explanation for how the tree becomes the "object"? Or in other words, how the "object" comes to be "objectified" to the exclusion of the remainder of the field of vision?
Interesting stuff. Much of these specific questions have to to do with perceptual physiology, which is nicely illustrated here.

This story might illustrate how I understand this issue:
    • From LIVING BUDDHIST MASTERS, 1977 J. Kornfield, p 4

      One night a Western monk sitting under the stars was talking with several village-born forest monks from Laos. He looked up and noticed a very bright star in the middle of the bowl of the Big Dipper. Astonished he never had seen it before, he looked more closely and saw that it was moving. He recognized it as an Echo satellite moving across the heavens and pointed it out to his fellow monks.

      “What’s that?” they asked.

      "A satellite,” he answered.

      “What’s a satellite?” they queried.

      Where to begin? “Well,” he said, “did you know that the earth is round?"

      No. they didn't. So he dug a small flashlight out of his bag and using a round rock for the earth began an elementary-school-level demonstration of how the earth moves around the sun and rotates oil its axis. The usual questions came up, such as "Why don't we feel the earth moving?” and "Why don't the people at the bottom fall off?” In the end, though they listened patiently about planets, satellites, and rockets, he suspected they really didn't believe him.

      One of these monks was a very calm, wise old man, an advisor and mentor to many people. He was honest, simple, and. because he was not attached to things being a certain way nor deluded into thinking he had a self to protect, was always happy and at peace. He accepted the changing nature of life and flowed with it. "So you know the earth is round." he shrugged. "Ultimately, what good will all your knowledge do you?" Then the Western monk understood—it is only wisdom, the development of a clear, detached mind that is important for liberation and peace.
It is not a matter of objective science; rather, it is our particular conditioned perceptions that make up our world, and it is understanding, seeing the conditioned process nature of our world that the Buddha points to so we can become free of our misapprehension of our world.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Mar 13, 2015 11:13 pm

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:It is not a matter of objective science; rather, it is our particular conditioned perceptions that make up our world, and it is understanding, seeing the conditioned process nature of our world that the Buddha points to so we can become free of our misapprehension of our world.
Precisely so, which is why the questions were asked. Yet, I feel as if the matters they pertain to were deemed by you to be leaves that can be safely left on the floor of the simsapa forest? Is that so, or have I misunderstood your meaning?

Either way, please allow me to try again...

The materials you provide focus a lot on judgement free awareness and the fact that by adopting this mode of awareness it is possible to see the anicca/anatta nature of all dhammas and not take them as self or mine. Seeing them thus, in the present moment, it is possible to engage in a non-reactive way with them. (Please correct me if that is wrong)

With reference to paticcasamuppada, I would understand what is being described as knowing. seeing and learning to dismantle the part I have underlined below...
From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.
Can you please explain how the variety of insight practice/mindfulness that you have detailed in this topic, can enable the knowing, seeing and dismantling of the nidanas that come before the underlined component?

(For the purpose of consistent definitions, let's use these from SN 12.2.)
SN 12.2 wrote:"And what is ignorance? Not knowing stress, not knowing the origination of stress, not knowing the cessation of stress, not knowing the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called ignorance.

"And what are fabrications? These three are fabrications: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, mental fabrications. These are called fabrications.

"And what is consciousness? These six are classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, intellect-consciousness. This is called consciousness.

"And what is name-&-form? Feeling, perception, intention, contact, & attention: This is called name. The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four great elements: This is called form. This name & this form are called name-&-form.

"And what are the six sense media? These six are sense media: the eye-medium, the ear-medium, the nose-medium, the tongue-medium, the body-medium, the intellect-medium. These are called the six sense media.
If you wish to address the mutual dependence of name-and-form and consciousness outlined in the sutta as well, that would be greatly appreciated too.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Mar 14, 2015 12:48 am

retrofuturist wrote:
From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.
Can you please explain how the variety of insight practice/mindfulness that you have detailed in this topic, can enable the knowing, seeing and dismantling of the nidanas that come before the underlined component?
I am a bit time straved at the moment, and I am not ignoring the questions before this and after this. I'll get to them, but let me suggest that the answer to the above question might be here:
    • ". . . the perception of impermanence should be cultivated for the removal of the conceit 'I am.' For when one perceives impermanence, Meghiya, the perception of not-self is established. When one perceives not-self one reaches the removal of the conceit 'I am,' which is called Nibbana here and now." U iv 1.
    • "Bhikkhus, there are these seven kinds of persons who are worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of reverential salutation, an unsurpassed field of merit for the world. What seven?
      (1) "Here, bhikkhus, some person dwells contemplating non-self in all phenomena, perceiving non-self, experiencing, constantly, and uninterruptedly focusing on it with the mind, fathoming it with wisdom. With the destruction of taints, he has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, he dwells in it.
      NDB 1008 AN 4.14
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by alan » Sun Mar 15, 2015 1:28 pm

Any content of awareness is potentially a basis for insight, sure, but that doesn't mean, or imply, that there is or can be a content-free awareness as a meditation technique.
As Retro pointed out, nothing in the original teachings posit a state of bare awareness, or mention it as a meditation technique. In fact, the very idea seems to be discounted. That's why I always wonder why "Bare Awareness" has become so accepted.

Impermanence and non-self, the examples you've highlighted, are well known and useful, but don't address the issue.

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:10 pm

alan wrote:Any content of awareness is potentially a basis for insight, sure, but that doesn't mean, or imply, that there is or can be a content-free awareness as a meditation technique.
As Retro pointed out, nothing in the original teachings posit a state of bare awareness, or mention it as a meditation technique. In fact, the very idea seems to be discounted. That's why I always wonder why "Bare Awareness" has become so accepted.

Impermanence and non-self, the examples you've highlighted, are well known and useful, but don't address the issue.
Have you actually read the articles posted and linked. It would seem very clearly not. As I said, this is neither a debate sub-section nor thread.

Please show me where there is a discussion of "content free awareness as a meditation technique."
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by alan » Sun Mar 15, 2015 3:04 pm

I've read the material and am familiar with the positions. Would like to point out that if this is not a debate thread, you should not be debating me, but answering questions and sharing insights on the subject.

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by Bakmoon » Sun Mar 15, 2015 5:42 pm

alan wrote:Any content of awareness is potentially a basis for insight, sure, but that doesn't mean, or imply, that there is or can be a content-free awareness as a meditation technique.
As Retro pointed out, nothing in the original teachings posit a state of bare awareness, or mention it as a meditation technique. In fact, the very idea seems to be discounted. That's why I always wonder why "Bare Awareness" has become so accepted.

Impermanence and non-self, the examples you've highlighted, are well known and useful, but don't address the issue.
I've never heard the term bare attention used to mean content free awareness from any Buddhist teacher. The term was coined by the Ven. Nyanaponika Thera who defines the term as follows:
Bare Attention is the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us, at the successive moments of perception. It is called 'bare', because it attents just to the bare facts of a perception as presented either through the five physical senses or through the mind which, for Buddhist thought, constitutes the sixth sense. When attending to that sixfold sense impression, attention or mindfulness is kept to a bare registering of the facts observed, without reacting to them by deed, speech or by mental comment which may be one of self-reference (like, dislike, etc), judgement or reflection. If during the time, short or long, given to the practice of Bare Attention, any such comments arise in one's mind, they themselves are made objects of Bare Attention, and are neither repudiated nor pursued, but are dismissed, after a brief mental note has been made of them
The Heart of Buddhist Meditation page 32
Last edited by Bakmoon on Mon Mar 16, 2015 1:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Mar 15, 2015 7:11 pm

Thanks Bakmoon.

I think that is very much to the point and relates well to Retro's question here:
In the case of sight, does "the object" relate to the full field of vision, or to a component of it?
In the case of "bare attention", the object is whatever processes are going on. The more practice one has, the better one discerns these various processes, which include feelings arising due to the beauty (or otherwise) of the tree, recognition that it is a tree, thoughts and memories triggered by that perception...

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Insight practice/mindfulness

Post by SarathW » Sun Mar 15, 2015 10:40 pm

When we exercise bare attention we should experience objects in terms of four great elements and six senses.
Bare attention (knowing) is the first two for the sixteen steps. The rest is termed as training or refrain.
When we see a tree we do not know whether it is real tree, plastic tree or a mirage etc.
Only thing we certain is the seen of dark and light shades. (colours)
We should not mix the seen with other five senses such as touch and taste etc.
Bare attention is important as this is the first stage you determine whether your meditation going to be Samatha or Vipassana.
:shrug:
PS: Satipatthana becomes Samma Sati only when and if it is undertaken interdependently with other seven path factors.

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