Question about insights

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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Patrice
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Question about insights

Post by Patrice » Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:14 pm

After almost 3 years of practice, I’m still having doubts about insight practice. I understand insights as understood experiences of the characteristics of everything (impermanent, nonself, and insatisfactory).
I think doubts come from a wrong expectation of how it actually manifests or happens. I have been expecting insight practice to be a moment of “now I’m doing insight practice” and the actual insights as some kind of “eureka moment”. I have the feeling this view (or expectation) of insights was all wrong and lead me to the doubts I have in my ability to practice it.

Instead of seeing it this way, wouldn’t it be correct to see insights as something that builds up slowly in our mind. I mean, you observe things arising and fading away and each times it happens, in the background and without you really noticing it, your mind registers another evidence that things are actually this way. Then, eventually, without that “eureka moment”, you just know it deep down inside of you that this is how things are. It just built up over time. There was no “now I am doing insight” and “eureka moments” but instead, just lots and lots of time where I have been mindful of what’s going on, either in formal practice or in my daily life.

I would appreciate your comments on this to help me see this a little more clearly.



Thanks!

JohnK
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Re: Question about insights

Post by JohnK » Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:08 pm

Patrice wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:14 pm
...I would appreciate your comments on this to help me see this a little more clearly.
Thanks!
FWIW, it seems to me that your practice is maturing. :anjali:
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

befriend
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Re: Question about insights

Post by befriend » Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:15 pm

My teacher said when you've been practicing for ten years your still a beginner. Insight knowledges how Mahasi sayadaw teaches took along time for me to show up. I think more than three years. It might be different for different people.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Question about insights

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:19 pm

A couple of brief points on this one. Personally, anything which I would be inclined to call "insights" have been more of the "Eureka" variety, but rather than one-off "peak experiences" they have been relatively mild, frequent, irregular, and spontaneous. They have often taken the form of suddenly seeing the point of a particular teaching, or a link with another person's reported experiences. They have been sufficiently noteworthy to make me sit thinking for a while; but none have had sufficient motivating force to make me write anything down. Indeed, they have all been very subtle and extremely difficult to do justice to in a verbal account. It has been rather like an irregular set of rather shallow steps leading upward. All have felt pleasant and "right" and I welcome them.

I have a slight uneasiness regarding the other model of gradually coming to see how things are as the result of frequent noting or observing. That may well be a very valuable process (for example, in the development of faith) but it seems to be a bit too intellectual and ratiocinative for me to call insight. The latter would seem to have more of a quality of just "seeing", or direct apprehension, rather than a sort of predisposition or a "summing up". Gradually coming to see things differently would also seem to be compatible with a type of confirmation bias, where we select particular experiences from our life as being positively indicative of a general truth that we cling to. (For example, I guess that if we spent some time looking for evidence of God's love for us, we would find some and end up more convinced that God does indeed love us...)

Another interesting point here is the account given by a friend who spent time being taught by Ajahn Chah. He said that often, the Ajahn's words appeared to be ordinary, trite, or even crazy. But years or decades later, their "truth" would suddenly become very strikingly apparent. Those words had been extremely important and uncannily personal, but he did not realise it at the time.

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budo
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Re: Question about insights

Post by budo » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:05 pm

The insights I've had were along the lines of new experiences I've never had before usually challenged by the hindrances, like fear of death as I would stop breathing in fourth jhana or feeling of drowning, which freaked me out, and paranoia which came from the divine eye when I meditated in the middle of the night, sometimes 8-10 hours at a time, sometimes only 1-2 hours per session. These were perception changes that imprinted on my mind permanently through primal emotions like fear of death and exceptional bliss. Here are some logs from those sessions from last year
Meditated for 1.5 hours today, got to one of the deepest levels ever, to the point where the bright white visual field started turning purple, this scared me because I thought I was dying and snapped out of it.

Seems like I'm reaching a new stage, and just like before with the same fears, I'll need to use some metta when fear arises again, as I'm entering new territory.
became aware of a few insights, as I managed to get into deep concentration despite the construction going down in the apartment below and I could hear sawing, hammering, grinding, etc.. When you're in deep concentration, everything else is much more amplified because your mind is more sensitive and fresh.

The first insight/awareness, that the senses are hell, with each and every sound of grinding, sawing, hitting, I felt like I was in hell, I felt like I was being sawed, hammered, grinded. The senses can lead to both heaven and hell, but they are not worth having. I would rather give up heaven if it means also giving up hell. It's simply not worth it having an animal body. Peace and freedom means having neither heaven nor hell, neither pleasant nor painful feelings. Therefore this is an insight on how existence is suffering and stress!
Meditated a little over one hour, entered first jhana, became mindful of intentions from intentions to enter jhana to intentions to stop meditating.

Eventually intentions to stop meditating ceased, then became aware of intentions to be/exist, this created dispassion and aversion towards the narrating mind, the narrating mind briefly ceased.

Intentions ceased and I entered another jhana, maybe third jhana. Narrating mind returned shortly and I was back in first or second jhana.

Insight and attention of how the narrating mind constantly fabricates and creates illusions (aka bullshit), makes a big deal out of things, etc..

Curiosity arose, does narrating precede intentions? Final intention to stop meditating arrived, just stayed mindful with that intention for a while, until consciously decided to end meditation
Meditated again, arrived at access concentration, had white, purple, and electric orb nimitta. I believe posture has to do with the type of piti and nimitta you get. Straight upright back leads to strong white flashes and very strong alertness, where as slouched leads to more feel good emotions and less alertness. Perhaps somewhere in the middle is best, not too alert/stiff and not slouched/dull/drowsy. When too straightened you get strong concentration and piti, but no sukha. I will try to be more mindful of posture.

paul
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Re: Question about insights

Post by paul » Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:11 pm

Sustained contemplation:
“Direct experience of the fact that everything changes, if applied to
all aspects of one’s personality, can powerfully alter the habit patterns
of one’s mind.”
[…]
“Continuity in developing awareness of impermanence is essential
if it is really to affect one’s mental condition. Sustained contemplation
of impermanence leads to a shift in one’s normal way of experiencing
reality, which hitherto tacitly assumed the temporal stability
of the perceiver and the perceived objects. Once both are experienced
as changing processes, all notions of stable existence and substantiality
vanish, thereby radically reshaping one’s paradigm of
experience.”—-“Satipatthana”, Analayo.

Importance of contemplation of materiality:
Developing direct experience of impermanence should begin with materiality (Vism. XVIII), where it is much more easily perceived than in mentality. Natural materiality in particular exhibits impermanence which is easily seen. (Vism. XX, 73-75).

Sustained contemplation leads to penetration of the illusion of continuity:
“The characteristic of impermanence does not become apparent because when rise and fall are not given attention, it is concealed by continuity.”—Vism. XXI, 3.

"Continuity' means when the practitioner looks at something they are deceived into regarding it as stable and unchanging and it is only by sustained contemplation of impermanence that that mind state can be changed to accord with the facts of reality.

SarathW
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Re: Question about insights

Post by SarathW » Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:50 pm

It is not easy to answer OP as I myself still asking the same question.
However, my understanding is insight is gradual and sudden.
I still remember I had the eureka moment when I first learn about anatta.
The thought that you can end the Samsara (birth and death cycle) was a eureka moment for me.
I am not making any claims here to say I am Sotapanna etc.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Dinsdale
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Re: Question about insights

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Aug 25, 2018 8:33 am

Patrice wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:14 pm
There was no “now I am doing insight” and “eureka moments” but instead, just lots and lots of time where I have been mindful of what’s going on, either in formal practice or in my daily life.
I have found it be a gradual and rather erratic process.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

auto
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Re: Question about insights

Post by auto » Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:13 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satipatthana
Traditionally, mindfulness is thought to be applied to four domains, "constantly watching sensory experience in order to prevent the arising of cravings which would power future experience into rebirths,"[1] namely mindfulness of the body, feelings/sensations, mind/consciousness, and dhammās.[2]
This practice it is to prevent craving to arise, but that also means you will start to suffer or feel suffering and will reach first noble truth; suffering.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .piya.html
"'This is the Noble Truth of Suffering': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This suffering, as a noble truth, should be fully realized': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This suffering, as a noble truth has been fully realized': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before.
eventually you will notice that the craving is the origin of your suffering; second noble truth.
"'This is the Noble Truth of the Origin (cause) of Suffering': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Origin of Suffering as a noble truth should be eradicated': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Origin of suffering as a noble truth has been eradicated': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before.
once you see the origin of your suffering your mind solves it, you can't do it yourself yet, suffering will end.
"'This is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, should be realized': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Cessation of suffering, as a noble truth has been realized': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before.
next, you learn to activate the craving and fully comprehend it, it is pretty much a state of mind, you know what to do and cause cessation by your own will or resolve.
"'This is the Noble Truth of the Path leading to the cessation of suffering': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Path leading to the cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, should be developed': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Path leading to the cessation of suffering, as a noble truth has been developed': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before.

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Zom
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Re: Question about insights

Post by Zom » Sat Aug 25, 2018 2:50 pm

Instead of seeing it this way, wouldn’t it be correct to see insights as something that builds up slowly
Just stop thinking about "insights" and everything will be alright 8-)

dharmacorps
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Re: Question about insights

Post by dharmacorps » Sat Aug 25, 2018 6:58 pm

There are definitely "insights" of the sudden and gradual variety and they probably vary from person to person. I don't know how much insight I have, but I do know my practice has suffered when I got too hung up on experiencing insights. When you drop the rumination about that, things can happen in their own time. Sometimes also, if you do do have a big meditation experience, the desire to re-create that experience can increase and actually get in the way of your practice. I had that happen about 15 years ago on my first meditation retreat and while it did keep me practicing, it took me years to let go of looking for that experience again and just let things unfold naturally.

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