Is progress possible in insight meditation without temporarily altered vision?

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
Post Reply
zan
Posts: 460
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Is progress possible in insight meditation without temporarily altered vision?

Post by zan » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:44 pm

Is it possible to progress in insight practice without experiencing temporarily altered vision?

Might one progress through the insight stages while experiencing, for example, feelings rise and fall as a mental process, rather than experiencing the temporary state in which one would literally see matter rise and fall as a visual process?
Last edited by zan on Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

User avatar
Nicolas
Posts: 694
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:59 pm
Location: Somerville, MA, USA

Re: Is progress possible without temporarily altered vision?

Post by Nicolas » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:55 pm

Why do you assume a visual process to be necessary? Sight is just one of the sense doors, the others are just as valid.

zan
Posts: 460
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: Is progress possible without temporarily altered vision?

Post by zan » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:03 pm

Nicolas wrote:Why do you assume a visual process to be necessary? Sight is just one of the sense doors, the others are just as valid.
I never did before but recently I have been doing some reading and it sounds like it is visual at least in certain traditions.

In my own understanding of the Visuddhimagga there are many ways to progress and visually seeing matter is just one, but I wanted to get confirmation from the intelligent people on here rather than just assuming.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

Caodemarte
Posts: 757
Joined: Fri May 01, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Is progress possible without temporarily altered vision?

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:09 pm

zan wrote:Is it possible to progress in insight practice without experiencing temporarily altered vision?

Might one progress through the insight stages while experiencing, for example, feelings rise and fall as a mental process, rather than experiencing the temporary state in which one would literally see matter rise and fall as a visual process?
As noted, there are many dhamma doors. I have never personally heard that such a phenomenon was a good sign. From my limited perspective, I would think that any temporary state of seeing impermance as a visual process Is neither necessary nor desirable. In practice, you run the risk of inducing a delusion, convincing yourself that "you" are seeing something interesting outside "yourself," just as the mind makes patterns in the rug if you look at it long enough. The best thing is to just soldier on and not get drawn in to that great duck picture forming in the floor or under your eyelids. However, the best thing to do would be to actually practice under an actual qualified teacher (just reading theory without reference to practice on any subject will lead you into a morass) and find out how "to make progress" by making progress! Good advice for everyone, especially me.

R1111
Posts: 1019
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: Is progress possible in insight meditation without temporarily altered vision?

Post by R1111 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:43 pm

Imho when going thru stages of insight, its more like something is sinking in, like looking at details that you didnt pay much attention to before and its fascinating kind of rather than like "Eureka! moment" or Absorbtion, more like a comfirmation or finding a piece of a puzzle falling into place, or drawing a conclusion, a learning experience, not very profound. I think it would be very hard to know that you had one of the Insights if you didnt know exactly what to look for.
Last edited by R1111 on Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

perkele
Posts: 739
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: Is progress possible without temporarily altered vision?

Post by perkele » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:05 pm

Caodemarte wrote:I would think that any temporary state of seeing impermance as a visual process Is neither necessary nor desirable. In practice, you run the risk of inducing a delusion, convincing yourself that "you" are seeing something interesting outside "yourself," just as the mind makes patterns in the rug if you look at it long enough. The best thing is to just soldier on and not get drawn in to that great duck picture forming in the floor or under your eyelids.
I think that a temporary state of seeing impermanence clearly in the visual cognitive process would be highly desirable, just as much as it would be for any other sense door and associated consciousness, I guess.
But I agree that approaching it too much from a theoretical side and looking for predefined patterns or structures or theoretical objects like "kalapas" that one has read about to observe could perhaps easily lead one off-track in the way you described.

But the example you give of the mind drawing patterns in the rug can serve as a very good object of observation to see the impermanence of the visual process, IMO. In fact, I did something like this as a little child, looking very patiently at my visual consciousness, and somehow "trying to see through it" (after cycling through all the other sense doors as well, looking very carefully in turn at each of these six "walls" of reality "around me", trying to separate them all very analytically, looking if there was not something I had missed, and watching them each in isolation, the whole spectrum of what makes up "this reality" in which I am trapped, and looking for a "hole" somewhere to maybe get out of it somehow :P). If one is then focussed very intently only on this visual process, and how it comes about and dissolves again and changes, with the mind "drawing pictures in the rug", while making an effort at stilling and calming all the small little "micro-intentions" behind it (which are drawing the pictures in the rug), just seeing all the tiny dots come and disappear without trying to "draw" and behold and sustain any picture or perception out of it, then one could arrive at some point where the whole visual field finally just disappears, where one has completely "cleared the canvas". And because one was so absorbed in observing only the visual consciousness to the exclusion of everything else, all the other senses are already "muted out". One arrives at a state with complete alertness but no sense perception whatsoever, no sense of belonging to any "body" that is trapped in some world of sensual perception anymore, which is extraordinarily peaceful. Maybe the dimension of nothingness or something. :shrug:

Maybe traditions like Pa Auk focus so much on the visual process of observing "kalapas" etc. because it is easiest to describe in a way that can be imagined even without having seen it clearly. But maybe this imagination and theoretical understanding about it can make for additionally fabricated perceptions that get in the way and hinder the analytical process of actually "dissolving" the visual field and seeing it disappear.

But I am just thinking out loud, and don't even know if what I described is in any way connected to any sort of valid "buddhist insight" into impermanence. It was just the most peaceful and blissful experience I had in my life, but left afterwards with a sense of not having arrived at a secure and lasting libration from this mess of a world of sense perception connected to a body that I am trapped in again, because I could not arrive at this peaceful state another time at will, :toilet: yet with at least a tentative sense of "pasada" that it would be possible to arrive at some peace beyond this world and to let go of this entrapped "being" here (where really the whole sense of "this world" and being in it, is gone).

I just wanted to point out, without reference to any theoretical concepts like "kalapas" etc. that: Just this process of inadvertent "painting pictures in the rug" in the visual field is something that could be really good and practical to analyze, if one has enough calm and intent focus to get absorbed into it, while trying to really get behind it.
And in that context, of course, that
The best thing is to just soldier on and not get drawn in to that great duck picture forming in the floor or under your eyelids.
would seem to be exactly the thing to do, I guess.

Maybe the whole theoretical framework of "kalapas" and so on does have some practical purpose, though, for understanding the fabric of reality, and to really get behind it, in the context of some specific teaching tradition like Pa Auk or others leaning heavily on the Visuddhi Magga and clearly describing and identifying this and that step in the analysis of the "progress of insight", where they are also quite specific about phenomena like nimittas that one has to get absorbed in etc., all described in a whole lot of detail that I probably have missed. :reading:
However, the best thing to do would be to actually practice under an actual qualified teacher (just reading theory without reference to practice on any subject will lead you into a morass) and find out how "to make progress" by making progress! Good advice for everyone, especially me.
Me, too, I guess.
:broke:

R1111
Posts: 1019
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: Is progress possible in insight meditation without temporarily altered vision?

Post by R1111 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:20 pm

For insight teacher will sometimes ask one to pay attention to things like is walking with right foot diffrent than walking with left, how is it diffrent, is this step like the last step, relationship between intention and action etc? Things like this, i recomend taking a course online or find a teacher who will guide you and teach you the technique.
Definitely dont try to see kalapas or supernatural stuff, just investigate whats happening moment by moment to ur best ability.

zan
Posts: 460
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: Is progress possible in insight meditation without temporarily altered vision?

Post by zan » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:02 pm

R1111 wrote:For insight teacher will sometimes ask one to pay attention to things like is walking with right foot diffrent than walking with left, how is it diffrent, is this step like the last step, relationship between intention and action etc? Things like this, i recomend taking a course online or find a teacher who will guide you and teach you the technique.
Definitely dont try to see kalapas or supernatural stuff, just investigate whats happening moment by moment to ur best ability.
Thank you. I absolutely have no intention of looking for kalapas. That's actually why I'm posting at all. I have been practicing insight meditation for three years, I have never seen such a thing nor heard of it, and recently read that the practice is supposed to lead to this. I do not want to practice something that is supposed to lead to altered vision and so I am looking for an alternative or an answer of some kind that will explain that this is not necessary. I have been practicing to lessen and end suffering, not to have some experience of the instability of matter. Surely it is due to my own ignorance that I feel this way and so the problem is me, not the practice. Perhaps seeing the instability of matter is a wonderful way to lessen suffering and it is just my own misconceptions that are causing me to feel that this is not something I would want. It is also possible that I have received bad information, however it came from three different teachers and two literary sources.
Last edited by zan on Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

zan
Posts: 460
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: Is progress possible without temporarily altered vision?

Post by zan » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:04 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
zan wrote:Is it possible to progress in insight practice without experiencing temporarily altered vision?

Might one progress through the insight stages while experiencing, for example, feelings rise and fall as a mental process, rather than experiencing the temporary state in which one would literally see matter rise and fall as a visual process?
As noted, there are many dhamma doors. I have never personally heard that such a phenomenon was a good sign. From my limited perspective, I would think that any temporary state of seeing impermance as a visual process Is neither necessary nor desirable. In practice, you run the risk of inducing a delusion, convincing yourself that "you" are seeing something interesting outside "yourself," just as the mind makes patterns in the rug if you look at it long enough. The best thing is to just soldier on and not get drawn in to that great duck picture forming in the floor or under your eyelids. However, the best thing to do would be to actually practice under an actual qualified teacher (just reading theory without reference to practice on any subject will lead you into a morass) and find out how "to make progress" by making progress! Good advice for everyone, especially me.
Thanks. Agreed. This is why I am looking for clarification and/or an alternative interpretation or approach.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

perkele
Posts: 739
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: Is progress possible in insight meditation without temporarily altered vision?

Post by perkele » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:21 pm

zan wrote:I have been practicing to lessen and end suffering, not to have some experience of the instability of matter. Surely it is due to my own ignorance that I feel this way and so the problem is me, not the practice. Perhaps seeing the instability of matter is a wonderful way to lessen suffering and it is just my own misconceptions that are causing me to feel that this is not something I would want. It is also possible that I have received bad information, however it came from three different teachers and two literary sources.
In my very isolated one-time experience (as described above) it was very liberating in some way to see the impermanence, and temporary cessation, not of "matter" (however one conceptualizes that, physically, scientifically or somehow "dhamma-theoretically"), but of visual consciousness (and actually all other sense consciousness as well at the same time, because that was muted out already due to the single-minded focus on analyzing visual perception), while still remaining conscious and aware. I don't know if my experience that I had long time ago amounts to any kind of "dhammically valid" insight. But the "feeling" of this experience was one of "getting out of and beyond this world" (of sense-perception and identification with a body or persona therein). One central element of this whole process was the observation of tiny specks and points and dots in the visual field which are usually constantly "refreshing" and making up the whole canvas of visual perception, and starving the interest in "refreshing" the canvas, making them fading away and ceasing much more than arising, until everything just ceased. It had nothing to do really with "altered perception" but just looking at the normal visual perception with very strong single-minded attention, at the exclusion of everything else. I had just to starve all my (un- or subconscious) intentions of perceiving any kind of forms, forming and maintaining perceptions in it, and thus continually "drawing on the canvas", until all visual perception and "refreshing of forms on the canvas" little by little just ceased completely.

When I later read about kalapas, I thought, maybe kalapas are just this, these tiny specks and dots in the visual field, that I observed when I once made a successful effort at "ceasing visual percetion" consciously. And otherwise I found the whole concept just confusing.
Just my two cents. I really don't know. :broke:

But what spurred me to develop this strong concentration at first was a really strong sense of samvega and that I really wanted to get out of this world by consciously disengaging from this whole perceptual prison locked into this identification with a body in this world.

Blergh... just to clarify what all my blabbering was about.

(Not to brag, but just for the case that it might be of interest and possible to relate to. And just on a tangent, I would also be interested if anyone more knowleadgable could tell if these tiny specks and dots that visual perception dissolves in when "starved of interest" have anything to do with kalapas.)

:anjali:

zan
Posts: 460
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: Is progress possible in insight meditation without temporarily altered vision?

Post by zan » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:02 pm

.
Last edited by zan on Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

User avatar
pink_trike
Posts: 1130
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am
Contact:

Re: Is progress possible in insight meditation without temporarily altered vision?

Post by pink_trike » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:41 pm

zan wrote:
I have been practicing to lessen and end suffering, not to have some experience of the instability of matter. ... Perhaps seeing the instability of matter is a wonderful way to lessen suffering and it is just my own misconceptions that are causing me to feel that this is not something I would want.
Meditation on the instability of matter was once considered a fundamental starting point of dhamma training in some schools of Theravada Buddhism. For example nava sīvathikā-manasikāra (corpse decomposition meditation) ... acutely observing the decomposition process of a human body from the point of death through to the "reduced to bones gone rotten and become dust" and all the states of messiness in between these two points.

This was a foundational practice, not just to lessen attachment to the body we appear as, but also as a visual acknowledgement of the endlessly changing nature and instability of all matter and experience (which we are normally blind to, caught up in demands of daily life) ... with the extended understanding that everything in our visual field, in every moment, is reflecting the truth that there is no solid ground anywhere in existence.

This visual acknowledgment practice changes our meta-vision (what we see and our perception of it) over time. For example, when living people are in our visual field, instead of confusingly seeing them as solid static entities as we're conditioned / habituated to, we visually acknowledge them as a confluence of dynamic processes in various stages of becoming and unbecoming ... generation, expansion, degeneration, dissolution, dormancy ... brief flashing physical and mental dharmas that come together and form skandhas.

We can then look at this body we appear as (and the mind, each thought, each feeling, all relationships, the environment and all its elements) and understand the same thing is happening in every nanomoment in all these illusory 'separate' constructions. This has the effect of changing our 'vision' of '"I" from something solid that we posses to something dynamic that isn't self-existing and that we can claim no ownership of. We acknowledge, experience, and see emptiness. This clarity (and the organic relaxing of our grasping that rises out of this clarity) is a giant step toward dissolving and minimizing the generation of dissatisfactoriness' (suffering).
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests