Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:17 pm

Mindful (sati) & 'Alert' (sampajanna). Stay mindful, monks, and alert. This is our
instruction to you all. And how is a monk mindful? There is the case
where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent,
alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to
the world. He remains focused on feelings... mind... mental qualities
in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed &
distress with reference to the world [§213]. This is how a monk is
mindful.

And how is a monk 'alert' (sanmpajanna) ? There is the case where feelings are known
to the monk as they arise, known as they persist, known as they
subside
. Thoughts are known to him as they arise, known as they
persist, known as they subside. Discernment (vl: perception) is known
to him as it arises, known as it persists, known as it subsides. This
is how a monk is alert. So stay mindful, monks, and alert. This is
our instruction to you all.
— SN 47.35
With Metta

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Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Alex123 » Sat Jun 26, 2010 12:15 am

A person must be careful with bare attention. According to the suttas it is a given that a worldling will mispercieve the perception.

See the Vipallasa sutta. It not only says that worldling's perception (and partially of sekhas according to other suttas) is perverted, it also says how to combat it.

Perceiving constancy in the inconstant, pleasure in the stressful, self in what's not-self, attractiveness in the unattractive, beings, destroyed by wrong-view, go mad, out of their minds. Bound to Mara's yoke, from the yoke they find no rest. Beings go on to the wandering-on, leading to birth & death. But when Awakened Ones arise in the world, bringing light to the world, they proclaim the Dhamma leading to the stilling of stress. When those with discernment listen (sutvāna sappaññā), they regain their senses, seeing the inconstant as inconstant, the stressful as stressful, what's not-self as not-self, the unattractive as unattractive. Undertaking right view (Sammādiṭṭhisamādānā), they transcend all stress & suffering.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


2. In a person who possesses [right] view [by his being a stream enterer] are these four perversions abandoned or unabandoned?
Some are abandoned, and some are unabandoned. The perversion of perception, perversion of cognizance, and perversion of view, [that see]
what is impermanent as permanent are abandoned in him. The perception [that sees] what is painful as pleasant arises, and so does the cognizance,
but such perversion of view is abandoned in him. The perversion of perception, perversion of cognizance, and perversion of view, [that see] what is
not self as self are abandoned in him. The perception [that sees] the foul as beautiful arises, and so does the cognizance, but such perversion of
view is abandoned in him.
Ptsm TREATISE VIII. — ON PERVERSIONS
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jun 26, 2010 1:00 am

Alex123 wrote:A person must be careful with bare attention. According to the suttas it is a given that a worldling will mispercieve the perception.
You are coming across here as looking for some basis for dumping on "bare attention." Problem is that what you quote really does not address bare attention when seen in the context as describe by Ven Bodhi and Ven Nyanaponika.
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 Spiny Norman » Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:47 pm

Thanks for the replies, but I'm still not really clear. To use an analogy, is the difference like that between data and information? With bare attention we see the bare "facts", then with clear comprehension we apply wisdom to "make sense" of these facts?

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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby IanAnd » Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:11 pm

porpoise wrote:. . . but I'm still not really clear. To use an analogy, is the difference like that between data and information? With bare attention we see the bare "facts", then with clear comprehension we apply wisdom to "make sense" of these facts?

That's close, porpoise. But close only counts in horseshoes. You're leaving out some important elements which might help us to determine whether or not you are seeing this correctly.

Go back to this post and re-read it. Understanding bare attention and what it means is crucial to the culling-out process that takes place in this practice. By "culling-out process" I mean the separation of the wheat from the chaff. You separate subjective opinions and personal biases from what is being observed in its bare facts.

For example: Fifty or sixty years ago, people in the United States were in the process of undergoing a shift in their perception of other people. For a long time in this country, the public popular perception of black people was that they were looked down upon as an inferior class of people who were incapable of rising to the level of the white population. They were viewed as being ugly, dirty, vile, stupid, dumb, in any number of negative ways. All of these additional ways of viewing a black person were mostly attributed to the social and mental conditioning of the viewer. If you take away each of these negative aspects, you have the bare fact of a human being who just so happens to have a darker skin color than others. That is all. Bare attention means culling-out all conditioned prejudices and biases and seeing the thing in its bare essence, as just what it is without all these judgmental prejudices to get in the way and to eventually influence the way one views reality. See?

With regard to sampajanna or clear comprehension, this entails being able to clearly distinguish between phenomena, as in (for example) between the two moral extremes of "right" and "wrong". In his definition of this, Nyanaponika Thera explains it in this way: "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)."

Using the previous example of the black person, this would mean being able to make the internal distinction that said person is just another human being, just like oneself, and therefore deserves to be treated as we would want to be treated ourself. Clearly comprehending such distinctions is what sampajanna is all about. See?

It's all very simple if you stop and take notice of things — especially without pre-conditioned thinking distracting and fogging the view of what is there to be seen and appreciated for what it actually is. When bare attention is exercised, clear comprehension can take care of itself naturally.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Freawaru » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:58 pm

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

P


Hi porpoise,

I agree to everything tilt and IanAnd said on this thread.

To elaborate further so you can recognise "bare attention" when it happens (or maybe it already has): it is not something humans normally experience. When it happens first time it is possible that it happens naturally (due to the usual reason: extended practice during previous lives), it can happen during states of concentration - one of the reasons we practice concentration, and it can be developed by "noting" as in the Mahasi teachings.

When it happen naturally it is something one never forgets. Quite a shock actually. Not in a bad sense of course. But so out of one's usual range of experience that one wonders "what the heck is happening?". When it happens during meditation practice and one had heard about it one is rather delighted that now one knows what is meant. I am not sure how it is experience via the Mahasi method but I suspect that it kinda tiptoes into one's mind so slowly that one is not really surprised by it's appearance (maybe others know it for sure).

When it happens naturally it happens when the mind is absorbed. Not necessarily in a jhana or something like that, it can be anything. By absorption I mean when the mind is absorbed in an activity, excluding the rest of the world. Everybody knows this kind of absorption, it happens when we do something with concentration, such as watching a good movie in the cinema or doing a work or hobby in a concentrated way, or think of a musician playing a difficult piece of music. The mind focuses on the activity and excludes everything else. Like we don't notice physical pain or worries when we watch a good movie. But while the mind is absorbed in such a way people are usually not aware of it. Only afterwards they know that they were in such a state - after they have emerged from it they can reflect "I was absorbed in this great movie (or whatever)".

Imagine yourself in such an absorbed state of daily activity and suddenly realising that you are in such an absorption and it keeps going on. This "it keeps going on" is the crucial aspect because when the mind reflects on it's own present activity we can start to discern what is in it there and what not. This aspect of sati-sampajanna that is called "bare attention" does just register what is arising and what is not. No judgement whatsoever (this comes later). It is like a monitor that guards a door (or a gatekeeper who still needs to learn whom to grant access to the city and to whom not).

When it happens during a formal sitting it is more difficult to discern it for what it is. Because it happens during states of bliss people tend to believe it is a part of these states and try to reach these states again and again and even try to make them lasting instead of sati-sampajanna. But sati-sampajanna is independent of the states - the reason why it can be made perpetual during all states. It is like when we drive the car, we have to be mindful perpetually on the traffic of the street, sati-sampajanna is like that except that it is the "traffic" on the "streets" of the mind it monitors.

When it is there during noting as in the Mahasi teaching one just registers that it is very easy and effortless to practice. One can direct one's observation to the different dhammas that arise in the mind and analyse them and their use and interaction with other dhammas, while the mind (and body) keeps doing whatever it is doing, such as walking, thinking, discussing ...

So the appearance of sati-sampajanna separates the mind into two parts: the normal mind stream of whatever state one is in and the monitoring awareness.
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby IanAnd » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:10 pm

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

P


Hi porpoise,

I agree to everything tilt and IanAnd said on this thread.

To elaborate further so you can recognise "bare attention" when it happens (or maybe it already has): it is not something humans normally experience. When it happens first time it is possible that it happens naturally (due to the usual reason: extended practice during previous lives), it can happen during states of concentration - one of the reasons we practice concentration, and it can be developed by "noting" as in the Mahasi teachings. . . .

So the appearance of sati-sampajanna separates the mind into two parts: the normal mind stream of whatever state one is in and the monitoring awareness.

With all due respect, Freawaru, I think you have just succeeded in complicating this process even more than it needs to be complicated with your attempt to add clarification.

For anyone reading her post and attempting to make any sense out of it, please be aware that her description of this "experience" (which is how this explanation comes across, as being some kind of mysterious experience that so-called normal people don't have, implying that you need to be some kind of practitioner in order to "experience" it) is only indicative of her subjective perception of how this occurred for her. It has nothing to do with how most of the rest of us arrived at these insights. And that's all this is: it is an insight into how your mind works to influence the way you think about a subject or topic. And anyone at any time has the ability to gain insight into this process. You just have to be watching for it. That's all. There is nothing mysterious about it at all.

The ability to pay "bare" attention to an object or subject is an internal decision that one becomes aware of. It is not something that just "happens" mysteriously out of the blue. You choose to do it, and to be aware of the movements of the mind. Period.

I recall times being aware of making these choices when I was a child, way before I ever became involved in meditation practice at all. What happened between the time when I was younger and later on when my mind was coming to knee-jerk reactions not based on the reality in its actuality was the conditioning of the mind to give more credence to the knee-jerk reaction, rather than to consider the actual facts involved. In those later years, it was a matter of simply becoming unconscious of these moments when they were occurring. Meditation practice helps you to regain a "presence of mind" so that you do not let the subconscious mind transact its conditioned reaction pattern. Which means becoming aware of the pattern itself and subduing the mind from reacting. (Actually, just becoming aware of how the mind is processing the information in a moment like this will subdue it naturally. You really don't have to make an effort to subdue it.)

The other part of this "clarification" that is problematical in terms of the concepts it may imply to the inexperienced reader is the last part where "sati-sampajanna" supposedly "separates the mind into two parts." Now, to be fair, I realize that Freawaru is attempting to explain what she's referring to in a way that will communicate the ideas she want's to get across to the reader and how she may currently experience this process. However, her choice of metaphors here leaves something to be desired, and is not even close to being an accurate description.

The achievement of sati-sampajanna does not "separate the mind into two parts." The achievement of sati-sampajanna implies an intensity of clarity and mindfulness to what may have once been described as one's "normal" conscious awareness. The difference is that this "normal conscious awareness" was not mindful enough to discern the nuances that a clear and mindful mind is able to observe. The point she's attempting to make here is that the mind, having achieved sati-sampajanna, is more intently aware of phenomena (both internal — meaning conceptually in how the mind processes information both in the present moment and from memory — and external — implying the physical aspects of phenomena occurring) and the effect that that phenomena is having on the perceptive ability of the mind to discern reality in the correct way or manner. An untrained mind may not be clear and mindful enough to see these nuances with any real clarity.

As people's individual practice matures, they will be able to confirm for themselves the corrections presented here.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby Freawaru » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:30 pm

Hi IanAnd,

IanAnd wrote:With all due respect, Freawaru, I think you have just succeeded in complicating this process even more than it needs to be complicated with your attempt to add clarification.


Does not look like this to me. On the contrary. The difference is very subtle but important for it is sati-sampajanna that needs to be practiced and not something else. And to practice something it has to be recognised and identified correctly.

And that's all this is: it is an insight into how your mind works to influence the way you think about a subject or topic. And anyone at any time has the ability to gain insight into this process.


No. The reason is that this kind of insight stops or influences the process as you described below. The bare attention aspect of sati-sampajanna does not do that. That is why it is called "bare". All other developments that base on this bare attention are not the normal mind processes but something different. A different direction, a different way, a different path.

The ability to pay "bare" attention to an object or subject is an internal decision that one becomes aware of. It is not something that just "happens" mysteriously out of the blue. You choose to do it, and to be aware of the movements of the mind. Period.


Even the practice in the Mahasi style takes some time to develop it. I suspect what you refer to here is the initial attention that can lead to states like jhana for example. Bare attention is not to an object or subject but to one (or more) of the four frames of reference.

I recall times being aware of making these choices when I was a child, way before I ever became involved in meditation practice at all. What happened between the time when I was younger and later on when my mind was coming to knee-jerk reactions not based on the reality in its actuality was the conditioning of the mind to give more credence to the knee-jerk reaction, rather than to consider the actual facts involved. In those later years, it was a matter of simply becoming unconscious of these moments when they were occurring. Meditation practice helps you to regain a "presence of mind" so that you do not let the subconscious mind transact its conditioned reaction pattern. Which means becoming aware of the pattern itself and subduing the mind from reacting. (Actually, just becoming aware of how the mind is processing the information in a moment like this will subdue it naturally. You really don't have to make an effort to subdue it.)


No, the ones you describe here are the usual processes of a well developing and maturing mind: to not just act out of whims or learned patterns but to check them against such things as moral. You know: a devil on one shoulder, an angel on the other. Bare attention is different because it observes ALL of them interacting (including the "angel and devil on the shoulder"), observes the ones suppressing the undesired conditioned reaction pattern and the ones finally choosing the reaction. This provides the described detachment or separation from the whole mind stream itself as well as leads to a knowledge that is about this world but not of this world.
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Re: Bare attention v. Clear comprehension

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jun 30, 2010 10:50 pm

Freawaru wrote:. . . .
I read through your description of what you think "bare attention" is. You are describing a type of concentration experience, but you are not describing bare attention. Bare attention was an expression coined by Ven Nyanaponika. I do not think he would recognize it from your description.
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 Spiny Norman » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:45 am

In practical terms I just observe what is occuring, without judgement - basically it's paying attention. The process of observation might lead to some deeper understanding of what's going on.
Probably that's simplistic, but it feels useful. :smile:

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