Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

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Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:47 am

I'm not getting the difference between these two aspects of mindfulness. Can anyone explain it simply?
Thanks. :smile:

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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:55 pm

porpoise wrote:I'm not getting the difference between these two aspects of mindfulness. Can anyone explain it simply?
Thanks. :smile:

P



Bare attention is something that even animals have. However clear comprehension is not.

As to clear comprehension, please read:
There are these four kinds of comprehension: clear comprehension of purpose [satthaka sampajañña], of suitability [sappaya sampajañña], of resort [gocara sampajañña], and of non-delusion [asammoha sampajañña].
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#clear
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby chownah » Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:42 pm

Alex123,
interesting post.....can you elaborate on even animals having bare attention?
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:44 pm

Alex123 wrote:
porpoise wrote:I'm not getting the difference between these two aspects of mindfulness. Can anyone explain it simply?
Thanks. :smile:

P



Bare attention is something that even animals have.
Says who?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:49 pm

porpoise wrote:I'm not getting the difference between these two aspects of mindfulness. Can anyone explain it simply?
Thanks. :smile:

P

To start with, read Ven Bodhi's comments in this: http://shamatha.org/sites/default/files ... ndence.pdf This will give you a good idea of what is meant by "bare attention."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:03 pm

Hello Chownah, & Tiltibillings

chownah wrote:Alex123,
interesting post.....can you elaborate on even animals having bare attention?
chownah


Do animals see, hear, smell, taste and touch? They can do that and don't even have a lot (or any) wrong theories with that. Do they know when they are going, that they are going and when they are standing that they are standing?

Also when a sniper is waiting patiently and attentively, isn't he being mindful, really mindful?



Gacchanto va gacchamiti pajanati = "When he is going (a bhikkhu) understands: 'I am going.'" In this matter of going, readily do dogs, jackals and the like, know when they move on that they are moving. But this instruction on the modes of deportment was not given concerning similar awareness, because awareness of that sort belonging to animals does not shed the belief in a living being, does not knock out the percept of a soul, and neither becomes a subject of meditation nor the development of the Arousing of Mindfulness.

Going. The term is applicable both to the awareness of the fact of moving on and to the knowledge of the (true) characteristic qualities of moving on. The terms sitting, standing and lying down, too, are applicable in the general sense of awareness and in the particular sense of knowledge of the (true) characteristic qualities. Here (in this discourse) the particular and not the general sense of awareness is to be taken.

From the sort of mere awareness denoted by reference to canines and the like, proceeds the idea of a soul, the perverted perception, with the belief that there is a doer and an experiencer. One who does not uproot or remove that wrong perception owing to non-opposition to that perception and to absence of contemplative practice cannot be called one who develops anything like a subject of meditation.

But the knowledge of this meditator sheds the belief in a living being, knocks out the idea of a soul, and is both a subject of meditation and the development of the Arousing of Mindfulness.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tml#deport
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:36 pm

Alex123 wrote:Hello Chownah, & Tiltibillings

chownah wrote:Alex123,
interesting post.....can you elaborate on even animals having bare attention?
chownah


Do animals see, hear, smell, taste and touch? They can do that and don't even have a lot (or any) wrong theories with that. Do they know when they are going, that they are going and when they are standing that they are standing?
And what exactly is bare attention, according to you?

Also when a sniper is waiting patiently and attentively, isn't he being mindful, really mindful?
A sniper is constantly evaluating and calculating and in communication with his spotter. He is not doing what one would, hopefully, do in a vipassana meditation retreat.



Gacchanto va gacchamiti pajanati = "When he is going (a bhikkhu) understands: 'I am going.'" In this matter of going, readily do dogs, jackals and the like, know when they move on that they are moving. But this instruction on the modes of deportment was not given concerning similar awareness, because awareness of that sort belonging to animals does not shed the belief in a living being, does not knock out the percept of a soul, and neither becomes a subject of meditation nor the development of the Arousing of Mindfulness.
Well, what is described here is not bare attention. The attention described here is, in comparison, quite superficial. As I stated above, take a look at Ven Bodhi's description of bare attention.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:08 pm

tiltbillings wrote:And what exactly is bare attention, according to you?


First of all it depends on what exactly do you mean by "bare". There is no such thing as totally bare attention. Attention is always towards something, it is attention to this vs that. It always arises with other required factors for cognition.

I prefer to use yoniso/ayoniso manasikaro terms. In yoniso manasikaro one knows that which is percieved now (or at any time or circumstance) is asubha, anicca, dukkha, anatta, 4NT, DO. The should be sati with panna arisen to see present namarupa.
Last edited by Alex123 on Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:10 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And what exactly is bare attention, according to you?


First of all it depends on what exactly do you mean by "bare". There is no such thing as totally bare attention. Attention is always towards something, it is attention to this vs that. It always arises with other required factors for cognition.
Did you read Ven Bodhi's discussion of bare attention here?: http://shamatha.org/sites/default/files ... ndence.pdf
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:14 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Did you read Ven Bodhi's discussion of bare attention here?: http://shamatha.org/sites/default/files ... ndence.pdf


not yet
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:15 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Did you read Ven Bodhi's discussion of bare attention here?: http://shamatha.org/sites/default/files ... ndence.pdf


not yet

Take a look. You may find it of interest.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Sekha » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:32 pm

to get back to the Pali words I guess the discussion gets to the difference between sati ("bare attention") and sampajañña ("clear comprehension")

The VRI has done an interesting research about this:

to begin with, about the definition of sati:
There are certain passages in the Buddha’s discourses where sati has the meaning of "memory." (Dīgha-nikāya: VRI I. 411; II. 374; PTS I. 180; II. 292). This is especially true when he refers to the special ability of remembering past lives which is developed by means of the practice of the jhānas. But in the context of Satipaṭṭhāna, the practice of Vipassana, leading not to the jhānas but to purification of mind, sati can only be understood to mean awareness of the present moment rather than a memory of the past (or a dream of the future).


now the definition of sampajañña and its differences with sati:
The Buddha always included the term sampajañña or sampajāno (the adjective form of sampajañña) whenever he was asked to explain sati. As a result of the frequent association of these words, sampajañña has often been defined as nearly synonymous with sati - as "full awareness," or "clear comprehension" - or as an exhortation to remain mindful. Another traditional translation of sampajañña, which is closer to the full meaning is "thorough understanding."

In the Sutta Piṭaka the Buddha gave two explanations of the term. In the Saṃyutta-nikāya (VRI III. 401; PTS V, 180-1) he defines it as follows:

Kathañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sampajāno hoti? Idha bhikkhave, bhikkhuno viditā vedanā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti; viditā saññā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti; viditā vitakkā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti. Evaṃ kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sampajāno hoti.

And how, monks, does a monk understand thoroughly? Here, monks, a monk experiences sensations arising in him, experiences their persisting, and experiences their vanishing; he experiences perceptions arising in him, experiences their persisting, and experiences their vanishing; he experiences each initial application of the mind [on an object] arising in him, experiences its persisting, and experiences its vanishing. This, monks, is how a monk understands thoroughly.

In the above statement it is clear that one is sampajāno only when one understands the characteristic of impermanence (arising, persisting and vanishing). This understanding must be based on sensation (viditā vedanā). If the characteristic of impermanence is not experienced at the level of vedanā, then one’s understanding is merely an intellectualization, since it is only through sensation that direct experience occurs. The statement further indicates that sampajañña lies in the experience of the impermanence of saññā and vitakkā. Here we should note that impermanence understood at the level of vedanā actually covers all three cases since according to the Buddha’s teaching in the Aṅguttara-nikāya (VRI III. Dasakanipāta, 58; PTS V. 107):

Vedanā-samosaraṇā sabbe dhammā.

Everything that arises in the mind flows together with sensations.

The second explanation of sampajañña given by the Buddha emphasizes that it must be continuous. In several places he repeats the words of the Sampajānapabbaṃ of Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta, as in this passage from the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta (Dīgha-nikāya II: VRI. 160; PTS 95):

Kathañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sampajāno hoti? Idha bhikkhave, bhikkhu abhikkante paṭikkante sampajānakārī hoti, ālokite vilokite sampajānakārī hoti, samiñjite pasārite sampajānakārī hoti, saṅghāṭipattacīvaradhāraṇe sampajānakārī hoti, asite pīte khāyite sāyite sampajānakārī hoti, uccārapassāvakamme sampajānakārī hoti, gate ṭhite nisinne sutte jāgarite bhāsite tuṇhībhāve sampajānakārī hoti.

And how, monks, does a monk understand thoroughly? Here, monks, a monk, while going forward or backward, he does so with constant thorough understanding of impermanence; whether he is looking straight ahead or looking sideways, he does so with constant thorough understanding of impermanence; while he is bending or stretching, he does so with constant thorough understanding of impermanence; whether wearing his robes or carrying his bowl, he does so with constant thorough understanding of impermanence; whether he is eating, drinking, chewing or savouring, he does so with constant thorough understanding of impermanence; while attending to the calls of nature, he does so with constant thorough understanding of impermanence; whether he is walking, standing, sitting, sleeping or waking, speaking or in silence, he does so with constant thorough understanding of impermanence.

With proper understanding of the teaching of the Buddha, it becomes clear that if this continuous sampajañña consists only of the thorough understanding of the external processes of walking, eating, and other activities of the body, then what is being practised is merely sati. If, however, the constant thorough understanding includes the characteristic of the arising and passing away of vedanā while the meditator is performing these activities, then sampajāno satimā is being practised, paññā (wisdom) is being developed.

The Buddha describes this more specifically in this passage from the Aṅguttara-nikāya (VRI I. Catukkanipāta, 12; PTS II 15) in words reminiscent of Sampajānapabbaṃ:

Yataṃ care yataṃ tiṭṭhe, yataṃ acche yataṃ saye
yataṃ samiñjaye bhikkhu, yatamenaṃ pasāraye
uddhaṃ tiriyaṃ apācīnaṃ, yāvatā jagato gati,
samavekkhitā ca dhammānaṃ, khandhānaṃ udayabbayaṃ.

Whether the monk walks or stands or sits or lies,
whether he bends or stretches, above, across, backwards,
whatever his course in the world,
he observes the arising and passing away of the aggregates.

The Buddha clearly emphasized the thorough understanding of anicca (impermanence) in all bodily and mental activities. Therefore, since the proper understanding of this technical term, sampajañña, is so critical for an understanding of this sutta, we have translated it as "the constant thorough understanding of impermanence," even though this definition is less concise than the traditional "thorough understanding."
http://www.tipitaka.org/stp-pali-eng-series#note3
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:16 pm

In short,

attention in "bare attention" seems to be more of "manasikāra" rather than sati. manasikāra (attention) is an indispensible factor of any cognition present in every state of consciousness. Suttas do sometimes define sati as "memory" and IMHO it is a memory, non-forgetfulness of Dhamma (kāya, vedanā, citta, Triple characteristic, DO).

This is why perhaps while attention in and of itself is ethically neutral, sati is always wholesome (functional for arahants). Sati arises when there are causes and conditions for its arising, performs its function and ceases as all conscious states do.
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:18 pm

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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:56 pm

Alex123 wrote:In short,

attention in "bare attention" seems to be more of "manasikāra" rather than sati. manasikāra (attention) is an indispensible factor of any cognition present in every state of consciousness. Suttas do sometimes define sati as "memory" and IMHO it is a memory, non-forgetfulness of Dhamma (kāya, vedanā, citta, Triple characteristic, DO).

This is why perhaps while attention in and of itself is ethically neutral, sati is always wholesome (functional for arahants). Sati arises when there are causes and conditions for its arising, performs its function and ceases as all conscious states do.

Again, read Ven Bodhi's discussion of this in the link mentioned.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:25 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Did you read Ven Bodhi's discussion of bare attention here?: http://shamatha.org/sites/default/files ... ndence.pdf


Yes. Is there a specific point you would like to bring up? Even BB admits that "bare attention" is only one aspect of sati. And even then, the "bare" part of it is not bare from right views and ethics.
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:43 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Did you read Ven Bodhi's discussion of bare attention here?: http://shamatha.org/sites/default/files ... ndence.pdf


Yes. Is there a specific point you would like to bring up? Even BB admits that "bare attention" is only one aspect of sati. And even then, the "bare" part of it is not bare from right views and ethics.

Bare attention is nested within a context. The point is that bare attention should not be characterized negatively.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:13 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Did you read Ven Bodhi's discussion of bare attention here?: http://shamatha.org/sites/default/files ... ndence.pdf


Yes. Is there a specific point you would like to bring up? Even BB admits that "bare attention" is only one aspect of sati. And even then, the "bare" part of it is not bare from right views and ethics.

Bare attention is nested within a context. The point is that bare attention should not be characterized negatively.


Right, and I was saying that it has to be within a context.
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:29 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Right, and I was saying that it has to be within a context.

Well, your above comment - "Bare attention is something that even animals have" - is not correct, which is my point.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby IanAnd » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:52 am

porpoise wrote:I'm not getting the difference between these two aspects of mindfulness. Can anyone explain it simply?
Thanks. :smile:

The clearest explanation of these two factors of mindfulness that I have come across resides in Ven. Nyanaponika's book The Heart of Buddhist Meditation. You might want to pick up that book and read through it. It may help clear up many misconceptions about the practice.

In it he explains on page 30:

Nyanaponika Thera wrote:Bare Attention is the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us, at the successive moments of perception. It is called "bare" because it attends to just the bare facts of a perception as presented either through the five physical senses or through the mind which, in Buddhist thought, constitutes the sixth sense. When attending to that sixfold sense impression, attention or mindfulness is kept to a bare registering of facts observed, without reacting to them by deed, speech, or by mental comment which may be one of self-reference (like, dislike, etc.), judgment or reflection. If during the time, short or long, given to the practice of Bare Attention, any such comments arise in one's mind, they themselves are made objects of Bare Attention, and are neither repudiated nor pursued, but are dismissed, after a brief mental note has been made of them.

There is more. . . which should encourage you to pick up the book and read.

As for clear comprehension or sampajanna, this is exactly what it sounds like: clearly comprehending (or knowing) whatever is being observed in the present moment and awareness of the appropriate action (if any is called for). Nyanaponika explains:

Nyanaponika Thera wrote:It is Clear Comprehension (sampajanna), the second aspect of Right Mindfulness, which is concerned with that greater part of our life, the active one. It is one of the aims of the practice of Satipatthana that Clear Comprehension should gradually become the regulative force of all our activities, bodily, verbal and mental. Its task is to make them purposeful and efficient, accordant with actuality, with our ideals and with the highest level of our understanding. The term "Clear Comprehension" should be understood to mean that to the clarity of bare mindfulness is added the full comprehension of purpose and of actuality, internal and external, or, in other words: Clear Comprehension is right knowledge (nana) or wisdom (panna), based on right attentiveness (sati).

The Four Kinds Of Clear Comprehension
Buddhist tradition as embodied in the commentaries to the Buddha's Discourses, distinguishes four kinds of Clear Comprehension: (1) Clear Comprehension of Purpose (satthaka-sampajanna), (2) the Clear Comprehension of Suitability (sappaya-sampajanna), (3) the Clear Comprehension of the Domain (of Meditation; gocara-sampajanna), (4) the Clear Comprehension of Reality (lit. of Non-delusion; asammoha-sampajanna).

Nyanaponika then goes into detailed explanation of each of these four kinds of clear comprehension. If you want to learn more, you'll have to read the book.
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