How do you contemplate anicca?

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:25 pm

retrofuturist wrote: If we focus on "dhammas" rather than "sankharas", there is a greater propensity to mistake "experience" for "raw stimuli", and the distinction is crucial in terms of learning how not to fabricate, because the presence of "raw stimuli" itself is a fait accompli... and you can't really learn how not to do have "raw stimuli", whereas by removing avijja you can avoid giving rise to sankhata-dhammas.
Could we take a simple example, like a dog barking? You seem to be drawing a distinction between the sound of the bark as the raw stimuli, and then our reaction to that sound? Clearly both the sound and the reaction are characterised by anicca, but what you're saying is that it's more productive to focus on how the reaction is characterised by anicca?

In practice I find that focussing on the transience of the sound seems to "disable" the reaction, ie because the sound is transient it's really not worth getting worked up about. So maybe there are different ways of looking at it.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:36 pm

Greetings,
Spiny Norman wrote:Could we take a simple example, like a dog barking? You seem to be drawing a distinction between the sound of the bark as the raw stimuli, and then our reaction to that sound? Clearly both the sound and the reaction are characterised by anicca, but what you're saying is that it's more productive to focus on how the reaction is characterised by anicca?
Close. There's raw sound vibrations (out there - ontologically speaking), this gives rise to raw sound (sensed - phenomenologically speaking), which is processed/shaped/formed (inclusive of the "reaction", inclusive of apperception, inclusive of frame, inclusive of vitakka, vicara etc.), to form the holistic formed experience of "hearing a dog barking". If you were to stop that sequence of events earlier, your experience wouldn't be that of "hearing a dog barking", it would just be "unalloyed sound". You could try to focus on the "transience of the (unalloyed) sound" but by doing are you ignoring or neglecting other aspects of your present moment formed experience?

Is your present moment experience really just unalloyed sound? The fact there's vitakka, vicara and such going on during the observation is sufficient to demonstrate that it's not... at best the present experience being had is "mindfully observing the aniccata of unalloyed sound". The method of labelling such as "hearing, hearing" acknowledges this to some degree, though it should also be saying, "labelling, labelling" because that is another layer of fabrication it is imposing over present moment experience. Once mindfulness is strong, I find it more useful to thin out the layers, merely observing whatever presents, rather than adding to them.
Spiny Norman wrote:In practice I find that focussing on the transience of the sound seems to "disable" the reaction, ie because the sound is transient it's really not worth getting worked up about. So maybe there are different ways of looking at it.
Yes, it can suppress some of the potential subsequent reaction, but the question to ask is "is it giving rise to insight"? (It might be, I'm not being facetious)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by alan » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:02 pm

:goodpost:
Excellent posts retro--intelligent and concise. Well done!

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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:16 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:In practice I find that focussing on the transience of the sound seems to "disable" the reaction, ie because the sound is transient it's really not worth getting worked up about. So maybe there are different ways of looking at it.
Yes, it can suppress some of the potential subsequent reaction, but the question to ask is "is it giving rise to insight"? (It might be, I'm not being facetious)
I think if the transience is really experienced, then yes, it's a route to developing insight.

I agree that the process of perception has different layers, but I don't think this detracts from the basic principle, which is illustrated by passages like this one in SN22.59:.
"Bhikkhus, how do you conceive it: is form permanent or impermanent?" — "Impermanent, venerable Sir." — "Now is what is impermanent painful or pleasant?" — "Painful, venerable Sir." — "Now is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this is I, this is my self'"? — "No, venerable sir."
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:45 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:And what are these "raw stimuli" exactly? Surely whatever they are they are also fabricated
No, there is just consciousness (presence) that corresponds to them.
So there is a "real world" out there that is not conditioned that you are contacting?

Anyway, going back to the contemplation. If I understand it correctly, what you are talking about appears to me to be fairly standard instructions: noticing what develops from contact. How a sound, for example, triggers feeling, perception, thinking, ...

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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by lyndon taylor » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:35 pm

How does impermanence deal with things that last a long, long time, like a mountain that may sit relatively unchanged for tens of thousands of years as opposed to a piece of fruit which may start rotting in a few days, or a Buddha statue thats 1000 years old, vs a body that can barely last 100 years and is continually aging?? Or is the Buddha stating that every thing we see is impermanent because we can't take any of it with us when we die?
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:10 am

lyndon taylor wrote:How does impermanence deal with things that last a long, long time, like a mountain that may sit relatively unchanged for tens of thousands of years..
I sometimes do little visualisations where I accelerate time and imagine change on a geological time-scale. But obviously it's more effective to work directly with objects where transience is short-term and where you can observe it actually happening - including mind-objects!
Last edited by Dinsdale on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:33 am

mikenz66 wrote: If I understand it correctly, what you are talking about appears to me to be fairly standard instructions: noticing what develops from contact. How a sound, for example, triggers feeling, perception, thinking, ...
Yes, though I'd associate that kind of forensic analysis more with the contemplation of anatta. I sometimes find that getting bogged down in this level of detail detracts from the direct experience of transience.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:07 pm

Greetings Lyndon,
lyndon taylor wrote:How does impermanence deal with things that last a long, long time, like a mountain that may sit relatively unchanged for tens of thousands of years as opposed to a piece of fruit which may start rotting in a few days, or a Buddha statue thats 1000 years old, vs a body that can barely last 100 years and is continually aging?? Or is the Buddha stating that every thing we see is impermanent because we can't take any of it with us when we die?
The Buddha says, "sabbe sankhara anicca"... all formations/fabrications/constructions are impermanent.

In the context of his teaching, sankharas apply to formations/fabrications/constructions created by the individual.

The Dhamma is about lived experience and liberation - not about geology, physics and other such sciences.

Such contemplations pertaining to fruit and mountains may provide some sense of the transient nature of all things, but it's live experience which the Buddha is addressing with his teachings and it's there within lived experience where insight can be liberating.

So it's not impermanence in and of itself that's the issue, but the impermanence of all sankhata-dhammas. (i.e. of all fabricated experience).

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:33 pm

retrofuturist wrote: So it's not impermanence in and of itself that's the issue, but the impermanence of all sankhata-dhammas. (i.e. of all fabricated experience).
Yes, the focus with Theravada vipassana is on experience, but that experience doesn't occur in a vacuum. As we discussed earlier with the dog barking example, both the sound and our reaction to it are characterised by anicca.

Here is the entry for "sankhara" in the Access to Insight glossary - I'd suggest that it's the wider definition which is being referred to in "sabbe sankhara anicca", rather than the narrower meaning as one of the five khandas:

sankhāra:
Formation, compound, fashioning, fabrication — the forces and factors that fashion things (physical or mental), the process of fashioning, and the fashioned things that result. Sankhāra can refer to anything formed or fashioned by conditions, or, more specifically, (as one of the five khandhas) thought-formations within the mind.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by santa100 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:03 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:How does impermanence deal with things that last a long, long time, like a mountain that may sit relatively unchanged for tens of thousands of years as opposed to a piece of fruit which may start rotting in a few days, or a Buddha statue thats 1000 years old, vs a body that can barely last 100 years and is continually aging?? Or is the Buddha stating that every thing we see is impermanent because we can't take any of it with us when we die?
On a cosmic time scale, mountains form and disappear even quicker than a blink of an eye. This universe was born and it will die some day. And again, if we put it into the time frame of our unfathomably long samsara, it too is also just a blink of an eye. That's the nature of all conditioned phenomena, anicca, anatta, and dukkha..

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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:05 pm

Greetings Spiny,
Spiny Norman wrote:Yes, the focus with Theravada vipassana is on experience, but that experience doesn't occur in a vacuum.
It occurs here...
SN 35.23 wrote:"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."
Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by daverupa » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:20 pm

If sankhara-as-aggregate was the problem, then there would be no reason to distinguish sankhara-subject-to-clinging & sankhara. However, they are distinguished in that way. Therefore sankhara is not the problem in and of itself as a certain process of human becoming. The problem lies elsewhere, otherwise there would be no escape.

In terms of "sabbe sankhara anicca", I take sankhara as a composite-making sort of verb, and a built-up-ness sort of noun. The thing is that, as a matter of principle, anything which is formed up is subject to de-forming, anything built up will fall down.

Armed with this principle, one analyzes ones experience in terms of the arising and ceasing of dukkha, the arising and ceasing of asavas - not in terms of mountains.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by Micheal Kush » Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:59 pm

On a cosmic time scale, mountains form and disappear even quicker than a blink of an eye. This universe was born and it will die some day. And again, if we put it into the time frame of our unfathomably long samsara, it too is also just a blink of an eye. That's the nature of all conditioned phenomena, anicca, anatta, and dukkha..

I would not deem this as necessarily correct. The Buddha was more confident in his position to talk about our expierence with physical and mental objects. For instance, lets take that mountain for example, say you were an avid climber and occassionally felt the pleasurable thrill that accompanies it. After quite sometime, you might grow restless and tired of it to the point that your feelings and mental formations change; its a constant state of change where pleasure, pain, disgust, nostalgia and a whole plethora of feelings ultimately sculpt you expierence of said object(mountain). With these aggregates constantly altering and lacking a substantial entity, this gives rise to anatta. Dukkha comes from the impermanence of all this and our ability to attach a permanent identity underlying it. I believe The Buddha was talk about the nature of expierience rather reality itself. Please feel free to correct if anything seems wrong.

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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Post by Ben » Wed Jun 26, 2013 3:08 am

Please return to topic.
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