Choiceless Awareness

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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bodom
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Post by bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:28 pm

Hi Goofaholix

Yes, you are correct, but eventually even awareness of the body is dropped as well, as the mind is turned on to the mind. Of course there will always be a starting point, or point of focus even when beginning "just sitting". I imagine only meditation masters can sit on the cushion and plunge into pure awareness. I have just personally never come across any Therevadin teachers who have emphasised this sort of practice or took it to a level that practitioners of shikantaza have, that I know of.

The concept of "just sitting" has always been very intriguing to me and being a practicing Therevadin and not a zen practitioner, I did not think this sort of practice was open to me. Of course I can practice whatever I want, but I do not want to mix traditions or practices, though I do admire the old zen masters and their texts. So naturally, coming across the concept of sitting in "choiceless awareness" within Therevadin Buddhism have set the wheels rolling for me.

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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Alex123
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Post by Alex123 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:49 pm

bodom wrote: Yes, you are correct, but eventually even awareness of the body is dropped as well, as the mind is turned on to the mind. Of course there will always be a starting point, or point of focus even when beginning "just sitting". I imagine only meditation masters can sit on the cushion and plunge into pure awareness. I have just personally never come across any Therevadin teachers who have emphasised this sort of practice or took it to a level that practitioners of shikantaza have, that I know of.
Because there isn't such thing as completely "choiceless" awareness. There is always a choice between, lets, say kaya, vedana, citta or dhamma to observe.

There are many different objects happening now, how come one or the other becomes the object of the mind? Due to choice. Maybe when one is not aware of any object or choice, then there is choiceless meditation. In cessation of perception & feelings there isn't any choice in that state (as there is nothing to chose from, no choice there). But I suspect that cessation state is beyond many of us for now.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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bodom
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Post by bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:00 pm

Hi Alex,

It is choiceless in the sense that with awareness one remains impartial, without reacting with greed or hatred, like or dislike. It is not so much about what the object of awareness is, but how the object is received with awareness, i.e. without attachment or aversion.

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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Goofaholix
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Location: New Zealand

Re: Choiceless Awareness

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:33 pm

bodom wrote:Yes, you are correct, but eventually even awareness of the body is dropped as well, as the mind is turned on to the mind.
Yes, turning the mind on the mind is very much what Sayadaw U Tejaniya is about.

Not choiceless from the point of view that you don't seek to extract wisdom from your experience but choiceless from the point of view that you don't reject some experience in favour of others.
“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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bodom
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Post by bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:42 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
bodom wrote:Yes, you are correct, but eventually even awareness of the body is dropped as well, as the mind is turned on to the mind.
Yes, turning the mind on the mind is very much what Sayadaw U Tejaniya is about.

Not choiceless from the point of view that you don't seek to extract wisdom from your experience but choiceless from the point of view that you don't reject some experience in favour of others.
Thank you Goofaholix, thats right. I very much look forward to reading the Tejaniya resources I was given.

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6241
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Choiceless Awareness

Post by bodom » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:47 pm

A short article I just came across:
Cultivating Choiceless Awareness
by Matthew Flickstein

When meditation teachers address the pursuit of enlightenment with their students, they either discuss the gradual or sudden approach. The gradual approach focuses on the value of virtue and on the accumulation of wholesome karma. Meditation techniques which concentrate and calm the mind are taught. The cultivation of mindfulness and clear comprehension is encouraged. The mind thus becomes a precise instrument for perceiving things as they really are. In the gradual approach, wisdom is seen as an unfolding process and even enlightenment is seen to progess in stages.

In the sudden approach, however, the teacher's perspective is that we all have Buddha nature and that we cannot "practice" to become what we already are. Concerning oneself with virtue will not lead to the goal since cultivating karma, even wholesome karma, is still involving oneself with the phenomenal world. Even the quest for enlightenment is seen as keeping oneself trapped within a dualistic conceptual framework. When the student makes statements that belie the fact that he or she is already enlightened, the teacher points out the errors in his or her thinking.

Both approaches are valid and students at different stages of development gravitate to one or the other of these schools of thought. Although it is not immediately clear to the casual observer, what both schools have in common is the quality of mind that enables one to directly perceive or experience the reality to which they both point. This quality of mind is referred to as a "non-judgmental" or "choiceless" awareness. Although meditators hear about this state of mind quite frequently, it is not until they recognize that it is one of the primary causes and conditions for the arising of insight that its true significance is appreciated.

The consequence of making judgments is to perpetuate obsessive patterns of mind. If we judge the contents of mind to be good, positive, or fortunate, we grasp at them. By doing so the presence of these patterns are reinforced. If we judge the contents of mind to be important, we focus on them, watching to see where they will lead. If we judge the contents of mind to be bad, negative, or unfortunate, we tend to resist them. Although the patterns will be suppressed, they will continue to persist on an unconscious basis. Every form of reactivity to our mental patterns actually invests them with additional power to influence us.

It is not easy to cultivate a non-judgmental or choiceless awareness. However, the consequences of remaining present in this way are quite significant. Issues that have been deeply repressed begin to rise to the surface providing us with the opportunity to consciously address them. By recognizing our self-destructive patterns, their power to control our behaviors diminishes. Our attachments typically decrease as we discover more subtle levels of impermanency and realize our inability to stop or control the incessant rise and fall of phenomena. We may perceive the unfulfilling nature of sense experience and abandon the pursuit of meaningless goals. Ultimately, as the mind experiences the selfless nature of all phenomenal existence, it may turn for its security to the freedom of the unconditioned.

Choiceless awareness is a quality of mind that is free from making judgments, decisions or generating commentary as it meets with sense experiences. It is a mind that responds to each new moment without the burden of its past history or of making future projections. When the mind no longer clings anywhere, not even to the idea of not clinging anywhere, we realize, either suddenly or gradually, that we truly already are that for which we have been searching.
http://www.midamericadharma.org/gangessangha/aware.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6241
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Choiceless Awareness

Post by bodom » Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:44 pm

Also from Matthew Flickstein's excellent introductory book to the Visuddhimagga, The Meditators Atlas:
REMAINING PRESENT WITH CHOICELESS AWARENESS

From the beginning of our practice of insight meditation, we have been using the breath (or another object from one of the four foundations of mindfulness) as the primary focus of our awareness. Whenever the mind strayed from this primary object , we noticed the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and selfless nature of the new object, and then gently but firmly returned to the breath. We used the primary object as an anchor that kept our awareness centered on what was occurring during each present moment. At this stage in our spiritual development, however, this practice technique has a significant drawback.

The purpose of insight meditation is to see things as they really are. In order for this to happen, we need to be choicelessly aware of whatever arises, without grasping or resisting any of our experiences. Whenever we have an intention to move our attention in a particular direction (back to the breath, for example), we are subtly manipulating the mind by creating an intention, and we are no longer choicelessly aware of what is occurring.

Many meditators have learned to mentally note or label what they are experiencing as an aid to recognizing whatever is arising to consciousness. Although the noting may be heard as a very gentle voice in the mind, at this stage of the practice the intention to note also becomes an impediment. It prevents us from being choicelessly aware of whatever is unfolding in each present moment. However, if the mind notes what it sees without any conscious intention on our part, noting is just treated as another object to watch rise and fall.

At this point in our practice, we no longer attend to any primary object. We just remain choicelessly aware of whatever arises to consciousness. Our prior work with the four foundations of mindfulness will now bear its greatest fruit. By intentionally having investigated the various aspects of the five aggregates, our mind will be less inclined to find interest in any of the phenomena it experiences. Since we are not grasping or resisting our sensory experiences, they will appear to arise and disolve with remarkable speed. This recognition will enable us to gain deeper insights into the impermanent, unsatisfactory and selfless nature of all conditioned phenomena.

In order for us to meditate in this manner, our momentary concentration needs to be well developed. It requires that we stay present with the waves of sensory experience as they incessantly break on the shore of our consciousness. If during this practice our mind loses its balance and gets swept away with what is being experienced, we return to using the breath as an anchor until our momentary concentration has regained its stability. Once that occurs, we let go of the breath, once again remaining choiclessly present with whatever is occurring.
http://books.google.com/books/about/The ... _FjCkBdXgC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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