aggregates and intent

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby SamKR » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:46 am

no mike wrote:What moves the view around our conscious field, and where in the mind are the "go" buttons pushed, gates opened, thoughts followed or diverted, and the strings of our sinews pulled?

no mike wrote:If there is a looking glass in consciousness, what is the element that aims and focusses what to examine?

In line with Moḷiyaphagguna sutta, I think the question "what/who does this?" may be an invalid question. It is not the case that "something does" but it is the case that because of some requisite conditions something comes into existence (arises).
no mike wrote:When I am practicing walking meditation, where in consciousness is the part in the mind that sends the message "go" and lifts foot? Where is the hand that reaches for mindfulness and pulls it into view?

Where is the mind's hand that lets go of earthly grasping? What sends the signal to let it all go?

The idea of "Where" does not apply for consciousness at a fundamental level.

But if you are asking what are the requisite conditions for arising of intentions and apparent control, then the answer could be:
Avijja as a requisite conditions comes sankhara ...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Last edited by SamKR on Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby no mike » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:41 pm

Again, I appreciate the thoughtful and helpful responses, thank you :)

Maybe there is a goer, separate but attached to the mind aggregates, like an embryo attached to the womb.

Seems to me, liberation through the path, shedding the fetters and all that sensory fantasia, liberates the goer of go.

Unless freed,

“We're all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life.”
― Tennessee Williams
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby kirk5a » Tue Dec 24, 2013 3:05 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Kirk,

In this case, by "thing" you can read "self".

Also, I'm not sure that something that is "volitional" as the same as "being able to make a choice".

I'm not trying to discuss this philosophically. Quite the opposite. I'm trying to talk about it experientially (which is that the sutta is about, I think).

The mind isn't a thing or self. Experientially, one has to discern the actuality of the mind itself, not just the mind's activities (e.g. intention) for oneself.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:37 pm

kirk5a wrote:The mind isn't a thing or self. Experientially, one has to discern the actuality of the mind itself, not just the mind's activities (e.g. intention) for oneself.

What is this "actuality of the mind?". Do you mean the "pure mind" that some of the Thai Forest Ajahns speak of?
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15010
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1000

Personally, I haven't found an "actuality of the mind", all I have seen is activities. My reading of the suttas and most ancient and modern commentary is that activity is all that there is, and attaching to an "actuality of mind" would be an obstacle.

See, for example, Ven Thanissaro's introduction to MN 1:
Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Samkhya philosophers, there has long been — and still is — a common tendency to create a "Buddhist" metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the "All" — the entirety of our sensory & mental experience — is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, "perceive") a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that "we are the knowing"), and then view that level of experience as the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.

Any teaching that follows these lines would be subject to the same criticism that the Buddha directed against the monks who first heard this discourse.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby kirk5a » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:42 pm

mikenz66 wrote:What is this "actuality of the mind?"

Right what is the actuality of your own mind? That's a good question for you. I hope you find it so annoying that you sit down and apply all your concentration and wakefulness to discerning the truth of the matter.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby manas » Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:27 pm

Hi no mike,
this might be of assistance:

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote: The common and explicit image is of the khandhas as burdensome (§22). We can think of them as piles of bricks we carry on our shoulders. However, these piles are best understood, not as objects, but as activities, for an important passage (§7) defines them in terms of their functions.

...

Of the five khandhas, fabrication is the most complex. Passages in the canon define it as intention, but it includes a wide variety of activities, such as attention, evaluation (§14), and all the active processes of the mind. It is also the most fundamental khandha, for its intentional activity underlies the experience of form, feeling, etc., in the present moment.

Thus intention is an integral part of our experience of all the khandhas — an important point, for this means that there is an element of intention in all suffering. This opens the possibility that suffering can be ended by changing our intentions — or abandoning them entirely — which is precisely the point of the Buddha's teachings.

The Five Khandhas: a Study Guide


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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:23 am

kirk5a wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:What is this "actuality of the mind?"

Right what is the actuality of your own mind? That's a good question for you. I hope you find it so annoying that you sit down and apply all your concentration and wakefulness to discerning the truth of the matter.

Obviously, in doing this (applying calm and mindfulness), we have interpreted it differently. As I said, I see activities. Of course, the type of practice we do, and the teachers we pay attention to, may well have an effect on these interpretations.

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby dhamma follower » Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:31 am

no mike wrote:Looking inside the mind, and contemplating the aggregates, I am fixated on intent.

Where does consciousness respond to mind and sense objects by throwing switches, pushing buttons, lifting levers, striking the keys, and executing the manifestation of intent? What of the mind’s hands that open the gates of speech, walking, decision-making, inking words to pages, cooking breakfast, and living the life of will?

What is intent? Where is it?

What directs and moves attention from one focus to another?

What operates the gates, controlling the flow of thoughts and reflection? Where is the refinery in the mind that transforms coarse objects of perception into right view?

Is enlightenment the liberation of intent from the aggregates?


Hi No mike,

You might find this useful:

The Atthasalini (I, Part , Chapter I, 111) states about cetana that its characteristic is coordinating the associated dhammas (citta and the other cetasikas) on the object and that its function is willing. We read:

... There is no such thing as volition in the four planes of existence without the characteristic of coordinating: all volition has it. But the function of 'willing' is only in moral (kusala) and immoral (akusala) states... It has directing as manifestation. It arises directing associated states, like the chief disciple, the chief carpenter. etc. who fulfil their own and others' duties.
The Visuddhimagga (XIV, 135) gives a similar definition(1 see also the Dhammasangani 5) The characteristic of cetana is coordinating. It coordinates the citta and the other cetasikas it accompanies on the object. Citta cognizes the object, it is the leader in knowing the object. The cetasikas which accompany citta share the same object, but they each have to fulfil their own task. For example, phassa contacts the object vedana feels, experiences the "taste" of the object, and sanna "marks" and remembers the object. Cetana sees to it that other dhammas it arises together with fulfiI their tasks with regard to the object they all share. Every cetana which arises, no matter whether it accompanies kusala citta, akusasa citta, vipakacitta or kiriyacitta, has to coordinate the tasks of the other dhammas it accompanies.
The cetana which accompanies kusala citta and akusala citta has, in addition to coordinating, another task to perform: 'willing' or 'activity of kamma' (1 Ayuhana which meana 'striving' or pursuing, is translated in the English text of the Atthasalini as conation, and in the english text of the Visuddhimagga as accumulation.). According to the Atthasalini, as to activity in moral and immoral acts, cetana is exceedingly energetic whereas the accompanying cetasikas play only a restricted part. Cetana which accompanies kusala citta and akusala citta coordinates the work of the other cetasikas it arises together with and it 'wills' kusala or akusala, thus, it makes a "double effort". The Atthasalini compares the double task of cetana to the task of a landowner who directs the work of his labourers, looks after them and also takes himself an equal share of the work. He doubles his strength and doubles his effort. Even so volition doubles its strength and its effort in moral and immoral acts.

As regards the manifestation of cetana which is directing, the Atthasalini compares cetana with the chief disciple who recites his own lessons and makes the other pupils recite their lessons as well, with the chief carpenter who does his own work and makes the other carpenters do their work, or with the general who fights himself and makes the other soldiers take part in the battle, "...for when he begins, the others follow his example. Even so, when volition starts work on its object, it sets associated states to do each its own."


More in http://www.vipassana.info/cetasikas6.html

As you can see, according to the texts, intent or volition is one of the aggregates, sankhara khanda - mental formations aggregate. Like all other aggregates, it arises by conditions and is anatta. Understanding thoroughly the anattaness of volition, as well as of all other aggregate is indispensable for the cultivation of the Path. As you mentioned: there's volition as we open the door, leave a key, or right now, as we are typing and reading what is on the screen. But whether or not there's realization of the volition involved in all that as just an element, not me, is another story. It all depends on conditions that right understanding arises and understands these aggregates as they are, or not.

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby dhamma follower » Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:44 am

kirk5a wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:Either the concept of ownership is different here (just as there are multiple meanings in English) or we have canonical evidence that the Buddha thought that actions were self. He said elsewhere that he did not, so I favour the former view.

The way you are interpreting things sounds fatalistic. The Buddha did not deny the existence of (changing) beings which continue on the round of rebirths. Given the importance of kamma, I don't think it's right to view intentions as something which "just arise" in an uncontrollable manner. Volitional action just means that it IS controllable.


Hi Kirk5a,

May be you will care to explain how different your view above different from that of bikkhu Sati in this sutta?

Then the Blessed One addressed a certain bhikkhu and said, "Come bhikkhu, in my name, call the bhikkhu Sati, tell him the Teacher wants him." That bhikkhu consented and approached the bhikkhu Sati and told him, "Friend, the Teacher wants you." The bhikkhu Sati said "Yes, friend" and approached the Blessed One, paid homage and sat to one side.

Then the Blessed One said: "Sati, is it true, that such an pernicious view has arisen to you. ‘As I know the Teaching of the Blessed One, this consciousness transmigrates through existences, not anything else’?"

"Yes, venerable sir, as I know the Teaching of the Blessed One, this consciousness transmigrates through existences, not anything else."

"Sati, what is that consciousness?"

"Venerable sir, it is that which feels and experiences, that which reaps the results of good and evil actions done here and there."

"Foolish man, to whom do you know me having taught the Dhamma like this. Haven’t I taught, in various ways that consciousness is dependently arisen. Without a cause, there is no arising of consciousness. Yet you, foolish man, on account of your wrong view, you misrepresent me, as well as destroy yourself and accumulate much demerit, for which you will suffer for a long time."


http://www.leighb.com/mn38.htm

And you stated that volition is controllable, can you explain what controls it?

What do you think of this:

Saṅkhāras, bhikkhus, are anatta. And if these saṅkhāras were atta, bhikkhus, these saṅkhāras would not lend themselves to dis·ease, and it could [be said] of saṅkhāras: 'Let my saṅkhāras be thus, let my saṅkhāras not be thus.' But it is because saṅkhāras are anatta that saṅkhāras lend themselves to dis·ease, and that it cannot [be said] of saṅkhāras: 'Let my saṅkhāras be thus, let my saṅkhāras not be thus.'


http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/samy ... 2-059.html

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby kirk5a » Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:15 am

mikenz66 wrote:Obviously, in doing this (applying calm and mindfulness), we have interpreted it differently. As I said, I see activities. Of course, the type of practice we do, and the teachers we pay attention to, may well have an effect on these interpretations.

What is your interpretation of this?
"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind." {I,vi,1}

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Dec 25, 2013 8:09 am

I would tend to agree with Tilt's statement here:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 78#p124554
tiltbillings wrote:The "luminous mind" is not the awakened mind. The awakened mind is the mind free of defilements. "Luminous" simply refers to the initial act of awareness as the mind becomes aware of an object of consciousness. There is no need to complicate the idea of "luminous mind" with all sorts of speculations.

And Bhikkhu Bodhi, quoted here: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 78#p124557
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:<I would tentatively interpret it something like this: In
its own nature, on all occasions of experience (even in unwholesome acts
of consciousness), citta possesses a certain luminosity which enables it
to illuminate the objective field. Just as a lamp can illuminate a room,
or as the sun illuminates the world, so the citta illuminates its
objective field. This luminous capacity is always present in any citta,
but in the rcase of akusala cittas, the adventitious defilements
(aagantuka upakkilesa) dim that luminosity and prevent it from
illuminating objects as they really rare? (yathaabhuuta).>

<A cautious principle that I follow is to avoid constructing novel
interpretations of the Dhamma on the basis of a few isolated canonical
passages, particularly those in verse (not the case here). It is always
best to build one's interpretations upon those ideas that are found
repeatedly in the Nikayas, and then to assume that any apparently deviant
statement can somehow be interpreted in a way consistent with these main
building blocks of interpretation. Thus I would be reluctant to see in
the statement about a luminous mind the recognition of some kind of
absolute subjective reality hidden within the ordinary citta, a forerunner
of the tathagata-garbha of later Mahayana thought. On the other hand, I
would also be hesitant to utilize concepts from the later, technical
Theravada system (particularly a relatively late Abhidharmic concept like
the bhavanga) to make sense of such an apparently non-technical and
generalized statement found in the suttas.>

Here are some more discussions:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 75&start=0
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=7584

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby kirk5a » Wed Dec 25, 2013 9:55 am

mikenz66 wrote:I would tend to agree with Tilt's statement here:

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:

You lean on the interpretations of others but I asked for your understanding. The actuality of the mind is something to be discerned for oneself, as the Buddha said, and is what I have been saying.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby no mike » Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:52 am

What aims the luminous mind?

What holds the torch and walks? Understood: Attached to fear, we shine light in dark places or escape, attached to hatred, we hunt our enemies or burn their things, attached to lust, we seek gold in mines, attached to ignorance, we chase rabbits.

What part of the individual's mind attempts to aim the torch in the direction of the path, determined to be unfettered and undistracted, and steps forward with eight rightnesses?

Mind in mind, ascending from itself? A dormant seed that grows? A farmer who turns within to cultivate a new life?

Understood: The only light a prisoner sees, comes from the torches fixed to the same walls as the shackles.

Responses I have read seem to clarify the idea that consciousness is merely an aggregate, and is not me, my, or mine, and will follow the same fate as the broken-up bones of the physical body.

But what of it, that clings to the consciousness, like a caveman to his torch? What is it that steers and directs this light away from desire, hate, and ignorance? Itself, or something apart, or the development of something new?

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby manas » Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:35 pm

no mike wrote:But what of it, that clings to the consciousness, like a caveman to his torch? What is it that steers and directs this light away from desire, hate, and ignorance? Itself, or something apart, or the development of something new?


Is this a valid question, mike?

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha wasn't the sort of teacher who simply answered questions. He also taught which questions to ask. He understood the power of questions: that they give shape to the holes in your knowledge and force that shape — valid or not — onto the answers you hope will fill up those holes. Even if you use right information to answer a wrong question, it can take on the wrong shape. If you then use that answer as a tool, you're sure to apply it to the wrong situations and end up with the wrong results.

That's why the Buddha was careful to map out a science of questions, showing which questions — in what order — lead to freedom, and which ones don't. At the same time, he gave his talks in a question-and-answer format, to make perfectly clear the shape of the questions he was answering.

So if you're looking to his teaching for answers and want to get the most out of them, you should first be clear about what questions you're bringing to it, and check to see if they're in line with the questions the teachings were meant to address. That way your answers won't lead you astray.

Source: Questions of Skill



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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby Zom » Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:51 pm

But what of it, that clings to the consciousness, like a caveman to his torch? What is it that steers and directs this light away from desire, hate, and ignorance? Itself, or something apart, or the development of something new?


There is nothing that clings to consciousness. There is just consciousness with its numerous processes. Clinging is a process in the consciousness. Volition too. Feeling too. So on..

It is as if you would ask: what is it, that creates whirlpools in the ocean? There is nothing. This is just ocean with its numerous processes (which appear with certain conditions, not without conditions).
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby suttametta » Wed Dec 25, 2013 3:23 pm

no mike wrote:Looking inside the mind, and contemplating the aggregates, I am fixated on intent.

Where does consciousness respond to mind and sense objects by throwing switches, pushing buttons, lifting levers, striking the keys, and executing the manifestation of intent? What of the mind’s hands that open the gates of speech, walking, decision-making, inking words to pages, cooking breakfast, and living the life of will?

What is intent? Where is it?

What directs and moves attention from one focus to another?

What operates the gates, controlling the flow of thoughts and reflection? Where is the refinery in the mind that transforms coarse objects of perception into right view?

Is enlightenment the liberation of intent from the aggregates?


This is a topic of particular interest to me in my practice. Sankhara represent intent, but also, fabrications, formations, preparations and projections, among others. This is a very deep idea that goes to the heart of the buddhist path, I would argue, in every buddhist path. I believe this is the part of the paticchasamupada, the 2nd link, next to avidya, which accounts for the "pulling of the sinews" _as you say_ from within. By understanding sankhara, I would argue, you understand paticchasamupada and thereby avidya vanishes as well. This is the final fetter, and so the stage of an Arahant comes from this wisdom. Sankhara come in three types: body, speech and mind. That pull between the shoulder blades, the push to inhale, etc., are body sankara, the urge... the getting ready to... the fixing... to move. The urge to move could be urge to speak. In the Prajnaparamita of the Single Letter, the "Ah" represents syntactical position of "urge to speak." The mind takes the five skandhas to be unitary and projects ideas of the past and future to fabricate desires and aversions. The mind that follows the Bahiya Sutta approach, and lets sights be sights alone and left in their own place, ditto with the remaining five skandhas, then that alone is nibbana. But you must first see that all phenomena, including one's body elements, are impermanent, empty and suffering, and gain confidence in that vision. In the Prajnaparamita of the Single Sound, the sound "Ah," but truly, the "unsound Ah", i.e., the visarga, the little grunt, 'uh,' before uttering the syllable mentally is where the mind does not arise. Where phenomena are experienced but not cogitated, not dwelled upon, no "self" can manifest itself at all, not then, later or now. The wide open nature of nibbana becomes clear then. Without any self to interfere, the little grunt goes away, and no urging to push or tug between the hemispheres of the body construct ever happens either. Thus, total and complete relaxation takes command and control. Peace, samadhi and bliss are practically synonymous, I would add. This way of peace through wisdom is the precious samadhi of a noble Arahant. It is a peace born of knowledge, personal experience, insight and wisdom. In short, this is accomplished by directly seeing the rootlessness of all phenomena of self or others.
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Dec 25, 2013 6:28 pm

no mike:

But what of it, that clings to the consciousness, like a caveman to his torch? What is it that steers and directs this light away from desire, hate, and ignorance? Itself, or something apart, or the development of something new?


Here is a little chunk of the canon seemingly designed to answer your question;

"Lord, who clings?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'clings.' If I were to say 'clings,' then 'Who clings?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes clinging?'


This is from the Phagguna Sutta, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.012.than.html which has already been recommended by SamKR above. There is nobody, or no thing, that clings. Clinging is just a process that arises as a result of conditions. It arises in the mind, just like the processes of seeing or hearing. But just as we can (with a bit of insight) see these processes as impersonal and not being done by some being or thing, we can learn to see clinging - or intending - in the same way.
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Dec 25, 2013 6:57 pm

Hi Kirk,
kirk5a wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I would tend to agree with Tilt's statement here:

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:

You lean on the interpretations of others but I asked for your understanding. The actuality of the mind is something to be discerned for oneself, as the Buddha said, and is what I have been saying.

I already explained my personal experience several times. My experience apparently disagrees with yours. I don't see any reason to keep repeating myself, except to expand that a practice that is oriented towards absorption may be more likely to lead to the conclusion that there is some sort of "actual mind" in the background. Careful attention to the third satipatthana may be an antidote to that. Of course, any opinion we have about such things is likely to be inaccurate until a certain level of realisation, so I can't be certain of any of this based on my limited experience.

The "luminous mind" sutta is a rather cryptic one-off statement (as opposed to the many suttas about anatta, rise and fall of phenomena, noble truths, dependent origination, and so on, so I do not care to read too much into it.

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby Mkoll » Wed Dec 25, 2013 9:22 pm

"Concentration of intention accompanied by effort of will" is said to be the first of the "four spiritual powers" (iddhipāda).

Four stages to efficiency (iddhi). Herein, friends, a brother develops the stage which is characterized by (1) the mental co-efficient of an effort of purposive concentration; (2) by the mental co-efficient of an effort of intellectual concentration; (3) by the mental co-efficient of an effort of energized concentration; (4) by the mental co-efficient of an effort of investigating concentration.
-DN 33, TW and CAF Rhys Davids, PTS

Four roads to power (iddhipādā): Here a monk develops a concentration of intention accompanied by effort of will, concentration of energy,... concentration of consciousness, and concentration of investigation accompanied by effort of will.
-DN 33, MOC Walshe, Wisdom Publications
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby kirk5a » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:00 am

mikenz66 wrote:I already explained my personal experience several times. My experience apparently disagrees with yours.

Apparently. It doesn't sound like you have developed much stillness. For to say that "activity is all that there is" is the same as saying there is only foot movement, leg movement, hand movement, arm movement, eye movement, turning of the head, etc.... but there is no body itself. There are only bodily motions.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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