Whenever there is grasping, there is ignorance present. Grasping is something that leads to the perpetuation of ignorance. But as the phrase `anupubba sikkhà, anupubba kiriyà, anupubba patipadà' [gradual discipline (anupubba sikkhà), gradual action (anupubba kiriyà) and gradual practice (anupubba patipadà), MN 107 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .horn.html
]implies, there is a gradual training, a gradual mode of action, a gradual path in this meditative attention as well. So it is by stages that one arrives at this realization. At the preliminary stage, one avoids the usual mode of attention in the world such as `woman', `woman', `man', `man' in the case of a visual object, thus dispensing with those details which lead to various unskillful states of mind and attends to those visual objects in such a way as not to encourage those unskillful mental states. So one is content with attending to those visual or auditory objects as `form' or `sound'.
However as one proceeds in Insight Meditation, one comes to reflect that in this mode of attention, there is present a certain illusion - a wrong notion one has been cherishing throughout `samsàra'. That is, the concept of two ends and a middle. When one notes a visual object as `a form' and an auditory object as `a sound', there is a kind of bifurcation between the eye and form, the ear and the sound. So thereby one is perpetuating the illusion, the wrong notion, of two ends. Whenever there are the two ends, there is also the middle. In short, this way of mental noting leaves room for a subject-object relationship. There is the meditator on one side, whoever it may be, and there is the object that comes to his mind; and he attends to it as an object, even though he may not go into its details. Now the meditator has to break through this barrier as well. He has to break this bondage. Why?
In the case of `saññà' or perception, there are the six kinds of percepts - rupa saññà, sadda saññà, gandha saññà, rasa saññà, photthabba saññà, dhamma saññà (i.e., the percepts of form, sound, smell, taste, touch and idea). These are the six objects of the senses. The Buddha has compared the aggregate of perception to a mirage. Now if perception is mirage, what is `rupa saññà' or a visual percept? That also must be a mirage. What about `sadda saññà'? What about the auditory percept or what strikes the ear? That too must be a mirage. Though it is not something that one sees with the eye, it has the nature of a mirage.
To take as real what is of a mirage-nature, is a delusion. It is something that leads to a delusion. It is an illusion that leads to a delusion. In order to understand deeply this mirage-nature in sensory perception, there is a need for a more refined way of mental attending. So the meditator, instead of attending to these objects as `form', `form' or `sound', `sound', moves a step further and notes them as `seeing' or `hearing'. Now he attends to these sense-percepts even more briefly, not allowing the mind to go far - as `seeing- seeing ', `hearing- hearing', `feeling-feeling',`thinking-thinking'.
In short, the attempt here, is to escape the net of `saññà' or perception and to limit oneself to the bare awareness. To stop short just at the bare awareness. This is an attempt to escape the net of language, the net of logic and also to be free from the duality of two ends which involves a middle. Everywhere one is confronted with a subject-object relationship. There is one who grasps and something to be grasped. There is a seer and an object seen. But this way of attending leaves room for delusion.
Now, if perception is a mirage, in order to get at this mirage nature, one has to be content with attending simply as `seeing, seeing'. One way or the other it is just a seeing or just a hearing. Thereby he stops short at the bare awareness. He stops short at the bare seeing, bare hearing, bare feeling and bare thinking. He does not grant it an object status. He does not cognize it as an object existing in the world. He does not give it a name. The purpose of this method of mental noting or attending, is the eradication of the conceit `AM', which the meditator has to accomplish so a to attain release. The conceit `AM' is `asmi-màna'.