Insight arising naturally in meditation?

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

Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby curious_buddhist » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:19 am

Hi everyone

Whilst meditating this morning I noticed something. I recite the mantra 'Buddho' to calm the mind, the recitation slows down to follow my breath and eventually the mind seems to naturally drop 'Buddho' when it has developed a degree of samadhi. I feel like I'm simply watching the process of breathing. However when I feel calm to engage in insight meditation, I seem to get involved again and consciously direct the mind towards the new meditation object.

My question is, do I need to consciously direct the mind towards the new meditation object, or should I remain simply aware of the breath and see if the mind naturally moves towards insight meditation (in the same way it just naturally drops 'Buddho', if this is even possible)?

Having consciously directed my mind towards insight meditation, I notice a lot of thinking and analysing going on, as though I'm conceptualising my experience in terms of anicca-dukkha-anitta. Reflecting on this, it is as though I am trying to force insight to arise through mental proliferation. "This is impermanent, this is suffering. This is not self" etc... Which is reflected in the difficulty I experience in later shifting my attention back towards mindfulness of breath as my mind has been thinking a lot. Should I just forget about conceptualising, and remain in awareness of feeling in feeling, body in body etc... allowing the process of insight to arise naturally?

Thanks for your advice :anjali:
Lord Buddha: Sariputta, do you believe this teaching
Sariputta: No, I don't yet believe it
Lord Buddha: Good, good, Sariputta. A wise person doesn't readily believe, he should consider first before believing
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby Yana » Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:05 am

Hi,

This depends on whether you are practicing samatha or vipassana. I am practicing Samatha. And Not vippasana.So my main goal is to calm the mind.I focus on the breath and don't encourage or have discursive thoughts even on the breathing itself.I approach my knowledge of the breath from a "knowing/experiencing' experience.More than a "thinking" experience.And it did cross my mind?is this all i am going to do? go into more and more deeper states of calmness.How will insight arise?and then i experienced it.While i was sitting down focusing on the breath,but wasn't too deep into concentration,suddenly a kind of knowing "arised" about the breathing.On it's own.i didn't intend for it to arise.This knowledge was: every time i took a breath i was stressing myself because every breath carried an intention.I intend to breath in,intend to breath out.and is is stressing me.even if it's subtle."I had an aha moment.But it was such a strange experience because i wasn't thinking about it.I didn't even comment about it in my mind.It just dawned on me.

So this is just my experience.Hope it helps. :anjali:
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Re: Insight arising naturally in mediation?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:56 am

curious_buddhist wrote:Hi everyone

Whilst meditating this morning I noticed something. I recite the mantra 'Buddho' to calm the mind, the recitation slows down to follow my breath and eventually the mind seems to naturally drop 'Buddho' when it has developed a degree of samadhi. I feel like I'm simply watching the process of breathing. However when I feel calm to engage in insight meditation, I seem to get involved again and consciously direct the mind towards the new meditation object.
"engage in insight meditation" What do you mean by that?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Insight arising naturally in mediation?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:25 am

Please stay on topic. Off-topic msgs will be (and have been) removed.
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: Insight arising naturally in mediation?

Postby Raitanator » Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:40 pm

I tell you what my masters have told me many times: notice what is happening, don't get attached to it, and then continue doing your practice. That's it.
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Re: Insight arising naturally in mediation?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:34 pm

curious_buddhist wrote:Hi everyone

Whilst meditating this morning I noticed something. I recite the mantra 'Buddho' to calm the mind, the recitation slows down to follow my breath and eventually the mind seems to naturally drop 'Buddho' when it has developed a degree of samadhi. I feel like I'm simply watching the process of breathing. However when I feel calm to engage in insight meditation, I seem to get involved again and consciously direct the mind towards the new meditation object.

My question is, do I need to consciously direct the mind towards the new meditation object, or should I remain simply aware of the breath and see if the mind naturally moves towards insight meditation (in the same way it just naturally drops 'Buddho', if this is even possible)?

Having consciously directed my mind towards insight meditation, I notice a lot of thinking and analysing going on, as though I'm conceptualising my experience in terms of anicca-dukkha-anitta. Reflecting on this, it is as though I am trying to force insight to arise through mental proliferation. "This is impermanent, this is suffering. This is not self" etc... Which is reflected in the difficulty I experience in later shifting my attention back towards mindfulness of breath as my mind has been thinking a lot. Should I just forget about conceptualising, and remain in awareness of feeling in feeling, body in body etc... allowing the process of insight to arise naturally?

Thanks for your advice :anjali:

I would recommend tying your practice to a general anapanasati framework, i.e. going from calming the breath to examining piti, etc. all the way until the final triad, which corresponds to the "insight meditation" you are referring to.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby Bakmoon » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:08 pm

curious_buddhist wrote:Should I just forget about conceptualising, and remain in awareness of feeling in feeling, body in body etc... allowing the process of insight to arise naturally?


Yes. We can't develop insight by thinking in a conceptual manner. When a feeling arises, move the attention to it. The same goes for the mind and mental objects. There is no need to mentally say "This is impermanent" in fact I think it is a bad idea because it reinforces a conceptual understanding of the mind instead of simply experiencing it.

My question is, do I need to consciously direct the mind towards the new meditation object, or should I remain simply aware of the breath and see if the mind naturally moves towards insight meditation (in the same way it just naturally drops 'Buddho', if this is even possible)?


There is another option all together. You can start to expand your awareness of the breath to encompass the entire body. From there, whenever touch sensations arise, be aware of them and examine the feeling that arises with them. You don't need to totally drop away the old object of meditation to develop the other satipatthana. You can just stay with the old object, move the attention to feelings, citta, and dhamma when they arise while still being aware of the body, and then go back to the body and breath. That's one way to do it, but of course, there are other ways too.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby Sambojjhanga » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:30 pm

Raitanator wrote:I tell you what my masters have told me many times: notice what is happening, don't get attached to it, and then continue doing your practice. That's it.


Mine, too.

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Sabba rasam dhammaraso jinati
The flavor of the dhamma exceeds all other flavors
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby Kamran » Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:55 am

In my experience, insight arises naturally.

It is likely that a thought about something that caused suffering will bubble up on its own, and if the mind is well concentrated you may gain a new insight into it. If you don't gain insight its a sign that you need to work more on concentration.

Thanissaro Bikhu mentions that you can also bring up a thought about something that caused you to suffer, a recent bout of anger for instance, to see if you gain insight into its cause. If not, focus back on concentration.

I think its like a balancing act, hopping from concentration to insight back to concentration.
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby Digity » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:14 am

Yes, sometimes if something is bothering me I meditate on it and I get clarity. I purposely sit down to meditate and focus on a particular issue...it's usually related to someone doing something I dislike, etc. In the end, I often walk away with a much clearer sense of things and gain some necessary insight through my meditation. I guess insights can some in all ways...maybe it's more of an organic process rather than a fixed, rigid thinking of do x, y & z and you'll realize so and so.
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby alan... » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:48 am

Bakmoon wrote:
There is no need to mentally say "This is impermanent" in fact I think it is a bad idea because it reinforces a conceptual understanding of the mind instead of simply experiencing it.



this is something i don't understand. if there is no need to think "this is impermanent" then why are the suttas so specific about it and the other things to contemplate during meditation? i spent many years meditating on the breath with no knowledge of these contemplations and no results. now i use them to varying degrees and have progress.

the only thing i can think of is that while you are not supposed to literally think "this is impermanent" you are supposed to have it locked in in the back of your mind that you are supposed to recognize it as such. so memorizing the instructions but not actually going through them during meditation would fulfill this.

so you sit with the breath, do not think "this is impermanent" but because you memorized the sequence, it will happen naturally.

i think that if you cut that part out of the sutta(s) and just let people learn anapanasati without them it wouldn't work properly, they are supposed to be a guide for the mind. i was a person taught anapanasati without any other instructions, literally i was just taught to watch the breath and that's it, and it was just years of mindful sitting that made me very calm and collected but zero insight into the dhamma. it seems to me the mind is made pure and clean by concentration which allows it too look into itself with the right questioning attitude taught by the suttas and then it sees what there is to see and therefore answers the questions. like a dirty window. once clean we look outside and see all the trees and birds and enjoy the pleasant view. however if someone had us memorize a certain characteristic feather coloring for a certain bird before we clean the window we would spot it without even thinking about it once we look outside. our mind would give itself that task without any conscious input, as opposed to just enjoying the view. without the questioning attitude it is just a pure mind that does not know what to do with itself, like the buddha's early teachers, they just blissed out on jhana and didn't gain the proper insight. but i'm really struggling with this.

thoughts?
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby Bakmoon » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:32 pm

All I mean is that you shouldn't literally think the words aloud and that seeing impermanence isn't a conceptual process, but an experiential one. I agree that seeing impermanence is not a purely passive practice, but I don't think that means that you actually think about impermanence. It is the result of investigation of phenomena (dhamma vicaya). When one is mindful of the body and mind, one will begin to see that the bodily and mental processes are all series of brief events that arise and pass away in quick succession. One then pays attention to these streams of events and how they are made up of these pieces. Once can then move to examining each of these events as they begin to fade away, and then focus just on their ceasing. This is how one contemplates impermanence.

Maybe a difficulty here is the word "contemplate". Most translators use it to translate anupassana, but that term doesn't really imply cognitive thought, but more of a close examination.

alan... wrote:
i think that if you cut that part out of the sutta(s) and just let people learn anapanasati without them it wouldn't work properly, they are supposed to be a guide for the mind. i was a person taught anapanasati without any other instructions, literally i was just taught to watch the breath and that's it, and it was just years of mindful sitting that made me very calm and collected but zero insight into the dhamma.


Practicing Anapanasati properly consists of more than mindfulness of just the breath. The suttas explain 16 aspects of Anapanasati, which expand to all of the four Satipatthana and the fourth tetrad involves careful examination of the arising and passing away of the dhammas during meditation. When all 16 steps are followed, insight results. I agree, however, that if one practices by just being mindful of the breath without any of the other aspects of Anapanasati, one won't gain insight.
Last edited by Bakmoon on Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:30 pm

Here's a definition of anupassana/contemplation from Bhikkhu Bodhi:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=9941&start=40
Bhikku Bodhi wrote:We should remember that sati, in the context of satipaṭṭhāna practice, is always practiced as part of an’anupassanā,’ and this word helps to bring out the role of sati. We usually translate ‘anupassanā’ as “contemplation,” thus ‘kāyānupassanā’ as “contemplation of the body,” but this might be somewhat misleading. It might be more accurate, and more literal, to translate it as “observation.” The word is made up of a prefix ‘anu’ which suggests repetition, and ’passanā’, which means “seeing, viewing.” So sati is part of a process that involves a close, repetitive observation of the object.
...
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:49 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Here's a definition of anupassana/contemplation from Bhikkhu Bodhi:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=9941&start=40
Bhikku Bodhi wrote:We should remember that sati, in the context of satipaṭṭhāna practice, is always practiced as part of an’anupassanā,’ and this word helps to bring out the role of sati. We usually translate ‘anupassanā’ as “contemplation,” thus ‘kāyānupassanā’ as “contemplation of the body,” but this might be somewhat misleading. It might be more accurate, and more literal, to translate it as “observation.” The word is made up of a prefix ‘anu’ which suggests repetition, and ’passanā’, which means “seeing, viewing.” So sati is part of a process that involves a close, repetitive observation of the object.
...


thanks mike, that clears up a ton. contemplation is a bad choice then!!!!! observation and contemplation are totally different words!!!

also goes along great with satipatthana. "he abides observing [contemplating] in the body it's nature of arising..." that way we watch things arise and cease, we don't contemplate them. but the seed is planted in the back of the mind that while we observe, without contemplating, we are watching for arising and ceasing. sound about right? that actually clears up some things from my threads on wisdom too man! thanks again. love bhikkhu bodhi. where is that quote from? i need to learn more pali.
Last edited by alan... on Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:51 pm

Bakmoon wrote:All I mean is that you shouldn't literally think the words aloud and that seeing impermanence isn't a conceptual process, but an experiential one. I agree that seeing impermanence is not a purely passive practice, but I don't think that means that you actually think about impermanence. It is the result of investigation of phenomena (dhamma vicaya). When one is mindful of the body and mind, one will begin to see that the bodily and mental processes are all series of brief events that arise and pass away in quick succession. One then pays attention to these streams of events and how they are made up of these pieces. Once can then move to examining each of these events as they begin to fade away, and then focus just on their ceasing. This is how one contemplates impermanence.

Maybe a difficulty here is the word "contemplate". Most translators use it to translate anupassana, but that term doesn't really imply cognitive thought, but more of a close examination.

alan... wrote:
i think that if you cut that part out of the sutta(s) and just let people learn anapanasati without them it wouldn't work properly, they are supposed to be a guide for the mind. i was a person taught anapanasati without any other instructions, literally i was just taught to watch the breath and that's it, and it was just years of mindful sitting that made me very calm and collected but zero insight into the dhamma.


Practicing Anapanasati properly consists of more than mindfulness of just the breath. The suttas explain 16 aspects of Anapanasati, which expand to all of the four Satipatthana and the fourth tetrad involves careful examination of the arising and passing away of the dhammas during meditation. When all 16 steps are followed, insight results. I agree, however, that if one practices by just being mindful of the breath without any of the other aspects of Anapanasati, one won't gain insight.


i know it involves more than just that, that's what i was saying, "if you cut that part out of the sutta(s)..."

"that part" meaning all the other instruction and just left it as breath mindfulness. i was taught literally only breath mindfulness and nothing else at a zen temple. it was anapanasati stripped down to nearly nothing. that was the whole point of my post: anapanasati is a lot more than just watching the breath, if you stripped everything but watching the breath away you wouldn't get anywhere.

do you feel that what i was saying makes sense though: that while we're not supposed to actually think "it is impermanent" etc. we are supposed to have memorized what we are supposed to be doing? so we have to have memorized the 16 steps, just watching won't do the same thing. if you take just the "watching" aspect of it you're not really getting the full benefit of anapanasati as you haven't learned what you are "watching" for in the first place.
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby Digity » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:58 am

I'm noticing meditation and mindfulness are making me a much more calm person. As this calmness develops won't it eventually lead to deep concentration, which then leads to insight? Aren't those the steps?
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby Jerrod Lopes » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:04 am

Hello all,

I'm new here, but been meditating for some years now. I can only relate my experience, and hopefully it may be of some help. I'll start by saying i haven't had a regular meditation practice for some time. Consequently I know now just how vital it is to practice, subjectively speaking. Now for the BUT....but I know as well that the deepest insights I've ever had never came during a sitting session. As has been said, calm which promotes concentration comes from sitting in meditation. I found that the deepest insights came in a flash, like that of the famed zen satori. Before I even investigated Buddhism I had one of these experiences while thing a shower. I just decided to be grateful. Grateful for my home which I liked very much, the warm water, good soap, the money to afford such things and so on. BAM! I smiled and couldn't stop. I literally tried to stop and couldn't for the entire day so long as I was awake. Along with this came what I found to be pretty much inline with the Four Noble Truths. I should mention that I had been experimenting with self-hypnosis and square breathing techniques that I got out of a work colleague's book for a week or so before this. So now it's all together. Breathing and insight. Yet I think the gratitude and the calm abiding joy were a part of the whole, or a noticeable transition point between the three most noticeable stages. Breathing, stillness and joy, insight. Honestly I don't really read much on meditation techniques because I was fortunate enough to find what worked for me by chance (or vippaka ripening from somewhere).

So I see breath and meditation in the same sentence and get a little excited. It's only my experiences above. I'm sure the other stuff works too. I think it's mostly a matter of finding what works right for each person as we're all in a different frame of reference. My advice? Don't force anything and try everything until something works. Sorry. I'm a bit long winded sometimes. Best of luck and be well. :)
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Re: Insight arising naturally in meditation?

Postby curious_buddhist » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:11 pm

Hi everyone

Wow, thanks for sharing your advice and experiences on this topic. I really appreciate it. It has definitely cleared up much confusion concerning my own meditation practice.

:anjali:
Lord Buddha: Sariputta, do you believe this teaching
Sariputta: No, I don't yet believe it
Lord Buddha: Good, good, Sariputta. A wise person doesn't readily believe, he should consider first before believing
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