Manasikara in sweeping

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
Freawaru
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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by Freawaru » Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:58 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

May I ask a question to our resident meditators who use "sweeping" in their practice?

When you sweep, do you ever pay attention to the quality of the volitional action of sweeping, or put another way, the deliberate act of changing the focus of attention?
In my experience intention activates patterns rather than one single impression. For example, there is not just intention to lift the foot but intention to move the whole body through pattern of movements. The intention to walk is not sliced into "intend to lift foot, intend to move it through air, intend to put it down" but the whole movement is intended at the beginning and the pattern is followed as if it was a program in a computer.

This is not so when I move very slowly, deliberately slowing down the movements. In this case a large part of intention is diverted to keeping the movements slow. Another situation is when I try to learn a new movement (also done slowly), it seems to me that these are phases of generating patterns rather than initiating a set pattern by intention.

An interesting situation to observe intention are surprises or sudden problematic situations. Intention can shift very quickly. For example when a driving the car the intention to keep a specific pattern (go straight) can change within a second to (turn left) to avoid another car.

Other interesting situations are those where I have to alter my movements and thus the intention to initiate specific movement patterns continuously to adapt. For example during trekking in the mountains. Every step one has to choose anew, using the information of the eyes. All these intentions to make long step, short step, a bit to the right or left etc, come automatically, too.

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mikenz66
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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:14 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:At the risk of addressing a non problem, or a problem which lies in my perception of some of the posts rather than in actuality..I think its worth pointing out that manasikara refers to directed attention...only. It does not suggest a focus on any given phenomenon to the exclusion of any other phenomenon. Manasikara is a means of loosening rather than accumulation.
Personally I didn't register the particular Pali term Retro was using. I just replied to the English term "pay attention". Certainly, as I'm sure you are well aware, the (Mahasi) approach I use doesn't exclude objects, but does "pay attention" to particular objects.

However, re-reading Retro's original post:
retrofuturist wrote: May I ask a question to our resident meditators who use "sweeping" in their practice?

When you sweep, do you ever pay attention to the quality of the volitional action of sweeping, or put another way, the deliberate act of changing the focus of attention?
I'm not entirely sure what he meant by "quality of the volitional action" and "deliberate act of changing the focus of attention".

Just seeing any volition at all can be quite tricky (for me), so what he seems to be asking about here sounds quite subtle...

:anjali:
Mike

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mikenz66
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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:18 pm

Hi Freawaru,
Freawaru wrote: In my experience intention activates patterns rather than one single impression. For example, there is not just intention to lift the foot but intention to move the whole body through pattern of movements. The intention to walk is not sliced into "intend to lift foot, intend to move it through air, intend to put it down" but the whole movement is intended at the beginning and the pattern is followed as if it was a program in a computer.
Yes, that's what I tried to explain in some of my posts. It's like a button is pushed then the whole motion is inevitable.
Freawaru wrote: This is not so when I move very slowly, deliberately slowing down the movements. In this case a large part of intention is diverted to keeping the movements slow. Another situation is when I try to learn a new movement (also done slowly), it seems to me that these are phases of generating patterns rather than initiating a set pattern by intention.
That's an interesting point. But hard for me to comment more without trying it out... Later...

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by Individual » Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:56 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

May I ask a question to our resident meditators who use "sweeping" in their practice?

When you sweep, do you ever pay attention to the quality of the volitional action of sweeping, or put another way, the deliberate act of changing the focus of attention?

I hope the question was clear, but feel free to ask for clarification if not.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Sweeping": I am not sure if I would say this is a technique I consciously use and haven't formally studied under anybody (like Goenka?) who uses the term. But it is something I noticed recently I sometimes do habitually, as part of my understanding of mindfulness. Paying attention to everything that passes through contact (phassa), whether it's a physical sense or a thought or feeling. Seeing that it is, as Gil Fronsdal once said, like a flashlight: where the "brightness" is what I'm directly aware of, while the darkness is what I'm less aware or unaware of. So, I am always aware of what I am aware of, but also intuitively scan the dark spots for things I might be missing. This scanning is in no particular order, because it is intuitive. It's not possible to be aware of everything all the time, but you can at least be aware of your own awareness, and try to "feel" if there are things you're missing that need to be seen, and over time, make the light brighter (samadhi) and wider (mindfulness).

I'm not sure if I'm describing a different practice here, because what I do isn't a "volition" as it's not bound to causality. It is revealed by certain parallel states of mind, so particular volitions are important, but it is itself not a particular state of mind directly created by any volition.

Also, I take it what you're getting at here: I think Retrofuturist wants to know if you all are practicing real mindfulness, or if you are stuck in a mental activity with a particular methodology. If it's real mindfulness, you should be paying attention to the quality of the volitional action of sweeping (if it's a relevant object that comes into consciousness, if it's unimportant no need to give yourself a headache), but you should not be paying attention to the quality of the volitional act, if the "quality" ascribed is a notion of self, if "quality" means the "nature of the one doing the sweeping."
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:56 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Freawaru,
Freawaru wrote: In my experience intention activates patterns rather than one single impression. For example, there is not just intention to lift the foot but intention to move the whole body through pattern of movements. The intention to walk is not sliced into "intend to lift foot, intend to move it through air, intend to put it down" but the whole movement is intended at the beginning and the pattern is followed as if it was a program in a computer.
Yes, that's what I tried to explain in some of my posts. It's like a button is pushed then the whole motion is inevitable.
Freawaru wrote: This is not so when I move very slowly, deliberately slowing down the movements. In this case a large part of intention is diverted to keeping the movements slow. Another situation is when I try to learn a new movement (also done slowly), it seems to me that these are phases of generating patterns rather than initiating a set pattern by intention.
That's an interesting point. But hard for me to comment more without trying it out... Later...

:anjali:
Mike
My experience was that there was a long period...in retrospect maybe it wasn't actually that long, when I intellectualised the process and watched myself watching myself. I think its analogous to learning to change gear..the analogy breaks down because we dont actually want to go through the process of sweeping on autopilot as we do when changing gear.It does though begin to happen while the analytic processes lie fallow...
I remember having a discussion about precisely the same issue with Ajahn Anando and hm saying "you should sweep lightly like dancing "......which made sense to me.I think the process of talking these through with an experienced practitioner cant be over emphasised..some much subtlety gets lost when things are reduced to the written form.
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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:13 am

Greetings,

To hopefully clarify my question a little....
Individual wrote:Seeing that it is, as Gil Fronsdal once said, like a flashlight
To extend Gil Fronsdal's flash-light analogy... I'm asking if people pay attention to the flash-light and/or the decisions on where to move the flash-light itself... or whether they merely pay attention to what is being lit by the flash-light.

(Where the flashlight represents manasikara, of course)

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: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:36 am

To what is lit by the flashlight Retro. Manasikara is not the flashlight..consciousness is the flashlight. Manasikara is either the dance or the computer programme, depending on the analogy of your choice , which results from the volitional activity of applying the flashlight.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:49 am

Greetings Sanghamitta,

OK, sure... but when you scan down your arm for instance, consciousness doesn't just go on a merry amble all by itself - it is being intentionally directed that way.

Directed by what? Manasikara.

(Well that's how I understand it - happy to be corrected)

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: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:14 am

Manasikara is the volitional activity of scanning your arm. The scanning is done by awareness..focused attention.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by Individual » Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:43 pm

Not necessarily. Even a computer can scan things, without having any awareness. Why couldn't humans do the same thing? :)
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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:15 pm

Hi Retro,

Perhaps it would be helpful if you explained what exactly you are trying to achieve. If the aim is to develop the ability to see intentions then, having thought about it and done some experimentation over the past few days, I wouldn't find looking for intention in the focussing of attention a particularly effective way of doing that.

I'm also skeptical whether getting deliberately tangled up with the process is a useful way to proceed. I think that whatever method you are using to develop attention (Goenka, Mahansi, etc) the volition involved with the method will eventually become somewhat apparent naturally. But if you go into it with the idea of seeing the intentions then I think that there is a risk of simply getting entangled in thinking about the process, rather than developing the ability to see the subtleties that emerge naturally given time.

Sorry that this is a bit vague. I don't find this stuff easy to either do or explain...

:anjali:
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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:44 pm

I would agree Mike. I think also that it is very hard to convey one part or dimension of what is a process that follows on in quite a natural way when one follows the formal teaching.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

Freawaru
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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by Freawaru » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:15 pm

There is an easy way to "locate" intention so one can observe it. Hold your breath - literally. After the breath out. Sooner or later the impulse to breath in again arises and when you keep holding the breath this impulse to breath in will become stronger and stronger until one cannot NOT note it. At one moment then there arises the very strong impulse "now!" and the breath in happens.

Freawaru
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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by Freawaru » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:18 pm

The Pali Term: Yoniso Manasikāro:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6006" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Freawaru
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Re: Manasikara in sweeping

Post by Freawaru » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:22 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:To what is lit by the flashlight Retro. Manasikara is not the flashlight..consciousness is the flashlight. Manasikara is either the dance or the computer programme, depending on the analogy of your choice , which results from the volitional activity of applying the flashlight.
I think the "flashlight" is called mindfulness (sati) or maybe sati-sampajanna (not sure about the difference). Consciousness is part of the dance/program.

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