Pulsating Reality

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

Pulsating Reality

Postby Jack » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:27 pm

David Ingram has an interesting meditation technique that I am trying without much success. I'm interested in whether anyone else has mastered it and whether any other teacher teaches this method. Ingram says we can be mindful of impermanence not only when an in breath, for example, arises and passses away but also many times during one in breath. Here is a quote from his book.

"I mean that sensations arise out of nothing, do their thing, and
vanish utterly. Gone. Utterly gone. Then the next sensation arises, does
its thing, and disappears completely. “That's the stuff of modern
physics,” one might say. “What does that have to do with practice?”
It has everything to do with practice! We can experience this,
because the first set of vibrations we have access to isn't actually that fast.
Vibrations. That's right, vibrations. That's what this first characteristic
means: that reality vibrates, pulses, appears as discrete particles, is like
TV snow, the frames of a movie, a shower of vanishing flower petals, or
however you want to say it. Some people can get all into complex wave
or particle models here, but don't. Just look into your actual experience,
especially something nice and physical like the motion and sensations of
the breath in the abdomen, the sensations of the tips of the fingers, the
lips, the bridge of the nose, or whatever. Instant by instant try to know
when the actual physical sensations are there and when they aren't. It
turns out they aren't there a good bit of the time, and even when they
are there, they are changing constantly.
We are typically quite sloppy about what are physical sensations and
what are mental sensations (memories, mental images, and mental
impressions of other sensations). These two kinds of sensations actually
oscillate back and forth, a back and forth interplay, one arising and
passing and then the other arising and passing, in a somewhat quick but
quite penetrable fashion. Being clear about exactly when the physical
sensations are there will begin to clarify their slippery counterpart that
helps create the illusion of continuity or solidity: flickering mental
impressions.
[snip]How fast are things vibrating? How many sensations arise and
vanish each second? This is exactly what you are trying to experience,
but some very general guidelines can provide faith that it can be done
and perhaps point the way as well. Begin by assuming that we are talking
about one to ten times per second in the beginning. This is not actually
that fast. Try tapping five to ten times per second on a table or
something. It might take two hands, but it's manageable, isn't it?"

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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby Ben » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:10 pm

Hi Jack

Yes, I practice something similar to this and vedananupassana (observation of sensation) has been my main meditation technique for many years. My teacher is SN Goenka and you can learn more about ten-day courses of vipassana meditation (as taught by him and in the tradition of Sayagi U Ba Khin) here: www.dhamma.org
It doesn't surprise me that working on your own you haven't had much success which is why a residential silent retreat is recommended so as to develop the sensitivity of mind to discern subtle sensation and develop some degree of mastery.
kind regards

Ben
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- Heraclitus


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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby Jack » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:45 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Jack

Yes, I practice something similar to this and vedananupassana (observation of sensation) has been my main meditation technique for many years. My teacher is SN Goenka and you can learn more about ten-day courses of vipassana meditation (as taught by him and in the tradition of Sayagi U Ba Khin) here: http://www.dhamma.org
It doesn't surprise me that working on your own you haven't had much success which is why a residential silent retreat is recommended so as to develop the sensitivity of mind to discern subtle sensation and develop some degree of mastery.
kind regards

====
Ben, did you get to the point where you "can be mindful of impermanence not only when an in-breath, for example, arises and passses away but also many times during one in-breath"? Say an in-breath takes 3 seconds. Can you note the in-breath sensations arising and passing away 20-30 times during this one in-breath? That is what Ingram seems to point toward.

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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:48 pm

Hi Jack,

I agree with Ben. It's not easy to "see" this sort of detail without doing retreats, but it's certainly the sort of experience that many people report, that when you get concentrated and mindful enough sensations (and mental objects) seem to "break up". I've sometimes described it as like being under a strobe light. Experiences turn into fragments.

Personally, I can only get this sort of level of detailed observation going continuously after a day or two of retreat, and that's after spending several years working on it. I discern it most easily in walking, rather than sitting. It depends on the approach you are using. Others seem to "see" it more easily. But don't be disappointed if it takes time...

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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby Ben » Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:23 pm

Hi Jack
Yes, but not just sensations of respiration, but sensations thoughout the body. And not just sensations but after awhile, all dhammas (phenomena). Mike's analogy of being under a strobe is excellent. Sometimes I describe the experience as if one is objectively observing an aurora of rising and falling phenomena coursing through the mind and body.
But be very careful with regards to what the point of the practice is about. There is a very real danger of getting obsessed with this or that rarified experience and if you begin to crave certain experiences it can not only block your progress but send you backwards.
The point of the practice, that I am doing, is to remain mindful of the anicca characteristic of whatever sensation arises,regardless of what it is. And the type of sensation experienced is not indicative of progress. For many people, they begin their meditative 'career' observing aches,pains,blind and blank areas. Other people rapidly move on to subtle sensation but then sometimes suddenly loose their 'sensitivity' and begin to experience the 'gross' sensations that others begin with.
I hope that helps!
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:36 pm

Ben, Jack,
Ben wrote:But be very careful with regards to what the point of the practice is about. There is a very real danger of getting obsessed with this or that rarified experience and if you begin to crave certain experiences it can not only block your progress but send you backwards.

Yes, it's really easy, having experienced something interesting, to want more of it. That's why the Commentaries and good modern teachers, are very insistent in explaining that interesting and pleasant experiences are not the point. This has sometimes been misinterpreted by critics do be negativity. Not at all. It's just as the Buddha describes Sariputta's progress:

MN 111 Anupada Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"There was the case where Sariputta — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities — entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Whatever qualities there are in the first jhana — directed thought, evaluation, rapture, pleasure, singleness of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness,[2] desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention — he ferreted them out one after another. Known to him they arose, known to him they remained, known to him they subsided. He discerned, 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. He discerned that 'There is a further escape,' and pursuing it there really was for him.

That particular passage talks about Jhana, but I think that the part I have bolded applies, to any experience.

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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:44 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Ben, Jack,
Ben wrote:But be very careful with regards to what the point of the practice is about. There is a very real danger of getting obsessed with this or that rarified experience and if you begin to crave certain experiences it can not only block your progress but send you backwards.

Yes, it's really easy, having experienced something interesting, to want more of it. That's why the Commentaries and good modern teachers, are very insistent in explaining that interesting and pleasant experiences are not the point. This has sometimes been misinterpreted by critics do be negativity. Not at all. It's just as the Buddha describes Sariputta's progress:

MN 111 Anupada Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"There was the case where Sariputta — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities — entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Whatever qualities there are in the first jhana — directed thought, evaluation, rapture, pleasure, singleness of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness,[2] desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention — he ferreted them out one after another. Known to him they arose, known to him they remained, known to him they subsided. He discerned, 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. He discerned that 'There is a further escape,' and pursuing it there really was for him.

That particular passage talks about Jhana, but I think that the part I have bolded applies, to any experience. My teachers have often told me that if I don't correctly observe a blissful experience that arises, but become lazy and contented with with it, I will not only not be able to progress, but may well not be able to get to that point again. As Ben says it can "send you backwards".

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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:48 pm

Jack wrote:David Ingram has an interesting. . . .
Daniel Ingram?
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: Pulsating Reality

Postby Kenshou » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:43 pm

Jack, do you know that Ingram has his own forum? You'll definitely get some answers there if you are really interested in the particulars of his approach. That forum is a bit slow but you'll probably get some feedback. http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion
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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby Jack » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:32 pm

Thanks to everyone for their responses.

I had looked at Ingram's web site. I wanted to get an answer from people like yourselves who probably aren't Ingram devotees. I am skeptical about Ingram even though sos far I have found him to be in line with the suttas.

I had the impression the Goenka technique skips around the body and doesn't stay in one place very long. That is why I used the breath in my original post. When I do vipassana and open myself to whatever comes up, my mind skips around. The pain in my neck has my attention this moment. A thought about what I should do the rest of the day comes up the next moment. This is somewhat similar to my understanding of Goenka. This is different than keeping my attention on the breath and seeing, for example, one in-breath break up.

Several mentioned not getting caught up in pleasurable or interesting mind states. I have been on longer retreats and am well aware of the potential problem. However. I see this case differently differently. Trying to see the 3 Marks, anicca especially, is the end goal of vipassana and should be encouraged.

Those that experienced a strobe like feeling (Good analogy. Ingram uses vibration. Same thing.), did it come up unbidden as a result of your meditation or were you looking for it? Ingram suggests several techniques to invite this experience. Here is one: >In one of these exercises, I sit quietly in a quiet place, close my eyes,put one hand on each knee, and concentrate just on my two index fingers. Basic dharma theory tells me that it is definitely not possible to perceive both fingers simultaneously, so with this knowledge I try to see in each instant which one of the two finger’s physical sensations are
being perceived. Once the mind has speeded up a bit and yet become more stable, I try to perceive the arising and passing of each of these sensations. I may do this for half an hour or an hour, just staying with the sensations in my two fingers and perceiving when each sensation is and isn’t there.

Here is another quote. This one about trying to see anicca in everyday life not just during a retreat.: >For five years of my practice I was basically a One Technique Freak,and that technique was noticing how sensations flicker. I would do it as often as I could, i.e. basically whenever I didn’t have to be doing something that required concentration on the specifics of my life. I would be riding an elevator, just trying to see when I could feel each foot, or lying down to sleep and noticing how many times I could experience the sensations of my breath in each second.<

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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby PeterB » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:17 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Jack
Yes, but not just sensations of respiration, but sensations thoughout the body. And not just sensations but after awhile, all dhammas (phenomena). Mike's analogy of being under a strobe is excellent. Sometimes I describe the experience as if one is objectively observing an aurora of rising and falling phenomena coursing through the mind and body.
But be very careful with regards to what the point of the practice is about. There is a very real danger of getting obsessed with this or that rarified experience and if you begin to crave certain experiences it can not only block your progress but send you backwards.
The point of the practice, that I am doing, is to remain mindful of the anicca characteristic of whatever sensation arises,regardless of what it is. And the type of sensation experienced is not indicative of progress. For many people, they begin their meditative 'career' observing aches,pains,blind and blank areas. Other people rapidly move on to subtle sensation but then sometimes suddenly loose their 'sensitivity' and begin to experience the 'gross' sensations that others begin with.
I hope that helps!
kind regards

Ben

First of all Jack Vipassana is very much a matter of "suck it and see" so I dont want to dismiss anyones experience, but i do think Ben's words above are well worth refecting on. I am not suggesting that it is the case with you, but it is quite easy to forget that we are doing this things for a particular purpose rather than to just refine our practice.

:anjali:
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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby EricJ » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:20 pm

I practice anapanasati, and I experience various vibrational, tingling sensations. Part of my practice involves extending my sphere of awareness to include the entire body (including the breath), and eventually, a variety of vibrations arise, especially in the face and hands. I've read that these types of sensations are associated with the fact that anapanasati is a variant of the air kasina, which calls attention to the quality of motion.

Regards,
Eric
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With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby Goedert » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:28 pm

Jack wrote:Thanks to everyone for their responses.

I had looked at Ingram's web site. I wanted to get an answer from people like yourselves who probably aren't Ingram devotees. I am skeptical about Ingram even though sos far I have found him to be in line with the suttas.

I had the impression the Goenka technique skips around the body and doesn't stay in one place very long. That is why I used the breath in my original post. When I do vipassana and open myself to whatever comes up, my mind skips around. The pain in my neck has my attention this moment. A thought about what I should do the rest of the day comes up the next moment. This is somewhat similar to my understanding of Goenka. This is different than keeping my attention on the breath and seeing, for example, one in-breath break up.

Several mentioned not getting caught up in pleasurable or interesting mind states. I have been on longer retreats and am well aware of the potential problem. However. I see this case differently differently. Trying to see the 3 Marks, anicca especially, is the end goal of vipassana and should be encouraged.

Those that experienced a strobe like feeling (Good analogy. Ingram uses vibration. Same thing.), did it come up unbidden as a result of your meditation or were you looking for it? Ingram suggests several techniques to invite this experience. Here is one: >In one of these exercises, I sit quietly in a quiet place, close my eyes,put one hand on each knee, and concentrate just on my two index fingers. Basic dharma theory tells me that it is definitely not possible to perceive both fingers simultaneously, so with this knowledge I try to see in each instant which one of the two finger’s physical sensations are
being perceived. Once the mind has speeded up a bit and yet become more stable, I try to perceive the arising and passing of each of these sensations. I may do this for half an hour or an hour, just staying with the sensations in my two fingers and perceiving when each sensation is and isn’t there.

Here is another quote. This one about trying to see anicca in everyday life not just during a retreat.: >For five years of my practice I was basically a One Technique Freak,and that technique was noticing how sensations flicker. I would do it as often as I could, i.e. basically whenever I didn’t have to be doing something that required concentration on the specifics of my life. I would be riding an elevator, just trying to see when I could feel each foot, or lying down to sleep and noticing how many times I could experience the sensations of my breath in each second.<

jack


In a busy modern life of today is difficult to cultivate dry insight techniques. The mind habit of skipping things can also occur when one makes vipassana alone, espacialy in the beginning.

Imagine the center of New York city or any great city. Many people moving to one place to another. This is the mind, I just could see the 3 marks of existence when I saw the occultation of them.

The skipping movement occult the dukkha. The velocity of this skipping occult the impermanence. And then we start to see things as solid, so the anatta is occult.

To break this movement we have to practice samatha to the minium level of access concentration (uppacarasamadhi) so the vipassana can start. Remember S.S.P (Sila, Samadhi, Panna).

See the quote from Gopaka Moggallana, it can help your practice:
"It wasn't the case, brahman, that the Blessed One praised mental absorption of every sort, nor did he criticize mental absorption of every sort. And what sort of mental absorption did he not praise? There is the case where a certain person dwells with his awareness overcome by sensual passion, seized with sensual passion. He does not discern the escape, as it actually is present, from sensual passion once it has arisen. Making that sensual passion the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, besorbs, resorbs, & supersorbs himself with it.

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by ill will...

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by sloth & drowsiness...

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by restlessness & anxiety...

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by uncertainty, seized with uncertainty. He does not discern the escape, as it actually is present, from uncertainty once it has arisen. Making that uncertainty the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, besorbs, resorbs, & supersorbs himself with it. This is the sort of mental absorption that the Blessed One did not praise.

"And what sort of mental absorption did he praise? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is the sort of mental absorption that the Blessed One praised.


EDIT: The vibrational expriences is nothing but an expirience. We have to try to don't cling in to it. When that expiriences start getting common or when we are equanimous to them, so in the meditation we start see it origin and see it cesation.
There is a case of a friend of my that during the practice he start feeling this vibrations and he cling to it, the whole body of him stated twisting like a hurricane or like he is being possed by something, but he was in full control of it. So we can see the power of the mind, it works very subtle and when we start feeling this 'subtles' weird expiriences can happen but nothing that can't be explained.
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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:13 pm

Hi Jack,
Jack wrote:Several mentioned not getting caught up in pleasurable or interesting mind states. I have been on longer retreats and am well aware of the potential problem. However. I see this case differently differently. Trying to see the 3 Marks, anicca especially, is the end goal of vipassana and should be encouraged.

Who said that seeing the 3 marks was not encouraged? Who said you should not experience interesting states? The point is to experience them but not to get caught up in them. The last thing you want to do is ignore them. As far as I can tell, it's by not seeing them clearly that one gets caught up in them and by seeing them clearly that one does not get caught up.
Jack wrote:Those that experienced a strobe like feeling (Good analogy. Ingram uses vibration. Same thing.), did it come up unbidden as a result of your meditation or were you looking for it?

It just appeared. I later realised that it was what various ancient and modern teachers talk about (e.g. in the Visuddhimagga).

However, I think that the sort of exercises that Daniel talks about can be very useful. Many teachers make use of those sort of exercises.

You mention doing retreats, but you don't give us much clue what sort of instructions you have been following. Most of my experience has been with teachers who teach the approach of Sayadaw Mahasi, though I've done one Goenka retreat and some short retreats with other teachers. My preference is to mostly follow a particular approach, since it's easier for the teachers to give you good instructions if you are following a path that they are familiar with. Several times I've had experiences where the reporting went like:
"I see X, am I imagining it?"
"Do you also see Y?"
"Yes"
"OK that's good. Try focussing more on Z..."

I do find that having a "holiday" with other teachers can be interesting, and illuminate things in a different way, but my main concern is to focus on getting some mastery of a particular approach (of which there seem to be several good ones).

Mike
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Re: Pulsating Reality

Postby chandrafabian » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:59 am

Dear friends,

I am new here, but allow me to share opinion,
I think the pulsating reality is everywhere,
I see it as a continuous arising and passing away of phenomena (seeing anicca).
The breath is pulsating,
The abdomen pulsating,
The movement pulsating
The mind also pulsating
Everything pulsating.

:namaste:
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