Internal Dialogue

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

Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby 5heaps » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:35 am

Collective wrote:Is this what some speak of when they mention internal dialogue?

using actual sentences is a coarse version of it - its painful and unsophisticated so its great that you understand it to be a burden. a subtler version which is the one they mean in meditation doesnt necessarily require words, just thoughts considering and discriminating whats good whats bad etc, without using language. an even subtler version would be identifying yourself with a mere concept because ignorance takes the concept (and you) to be substantial and not anatta.

for example the thought of icecream might appear to you and you might draw the conclusion "i'll feel good if i get tasty icecream". as we all know eating the icecream is ultimately dissatisfying, but it never seems that way initially based on the initial appearance of icecream to our thought, nor to the conclusion. thats because our thought of ourselves+icecream was disfigured by atta. such thoughts make things seem static and monolithic, as though things actually existed that way.
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby Freawaru » Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:43 am

octathlon wrote:What if you can't find the stop button? :tongue:
In meditation it usually goes away once a certain level of concentration is reached but the rest of the time seems like it's always playing.


It is not a bug - it is a feature.

Seriously, isn't this what we call "access concentration"? When the object of our focus stays there on it's own even when we do other things, think, feel, talk, walk. If it was a coloured disk appearing in our mind in this way instead of a song we would be happy and talk about kasinas.

I actually use the stability of music playing itself in my mind as a focus point. In the end it doesn't really matter what kind of concentration object one uses for mindfulness meditation. It can be tactile (like breath) or visual (like a kasina) or an auditive (like a mantra or indeed music). I even used smell once - I was so irritated by some smoke I couldn't stabilise something else I finally decided to use the unpleasant sensation as the object - worked as well.
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby Freawaru » Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:48 am

mikenz66 wrote:
bodom wrote:
octathlon wrote:What about music running through the mind? Thoughts are short--they rise and pass away quickly. But tunes in the mind can just go on and on continuously. I often have a real problem with this. :cry:


I have this problem as well. I just let it play out all the while watching it. Of course if the next song on the playlist comes up its time to hit the stop button. :tongue:

My experience with all kinds of proliferation so on is that if the object is seen clearly then it tends to prevent proliferation. That's the basic instruction of Mahasi-style teachers (and most others as far as I can tell, but for "note" substitute "see it clearly", or whatever term your teacher uses).
    Student: X happened.
    Teacher: Did you note it?
    Student: ummm...
So suppose something comes up. For example a memory. The instruction would be to see/feel the memory clearly. If you do that successfully you see it arise, stay, and pass away. On the other hand, if you don't see it clearly for what it is, you start proliferating related memories and dialogue.

For example, you have memory of your childhood pet. If you recognise clearly that it is a memory, it can be seen to rise, stay a while, and pass away. If you don't see it clearly enough you'll get sucked into the content and start thinking about running on the beach with your pet, swimming, where you spent that summer of 74, and on and on...

Or you feel some sadness. The instruction is to focus on the sadness. If you do that, you'll see it rise, stay a while, and pass away. Again, if you don't focus clearly on the sadness you'll get sucked into following the content: "I'm sad about what happened. Why did he/she do that? I'm going to tell him/her ..."

Mike


But if one can note the first memory for what it is, beginning, middle and end, why not note the following related memories in the same way? "Running with the pet" or whatever can be noted as memory or imagination, too, right?
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:59 am

Freawaru wrote:But if one can note the first memory for what it is, beginning, middle and end, why not note the following related memories in the same way? "Running with the pet" or whatever can be noted as memory or imagination, too, right?

Of course.

But my experience is that if I discern these things clearly they tend to stop. Obviously that's not an option in normal life in situations where I need to think to get things done...

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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby Sobeh » Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:02 pm

Is internal dialogue wholly sankhara, or can the phrase "internal dialogue" sometimes be used to refer to consciousness of perceptions or feelings (in a khanda sense, not in an emotional sense)? I suggest categorization according to the five khandas might be under-utilized here...
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby Freawaru » Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:04 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Freawaru wrote:But if one can note the first memory for what it is, beginning, middle and end, why not note the following related memories in the same way? "Running with the pet" or whatever can be noted as memory or imagination, too, right?

Of course.

But my experience is that if I discern these things clearly they tend to stop. Obviously that's not an option in normal life in situations where I need to think to get things done...

Mike


I know what you mean. During the falling asleep process I struggle with the same problem. So I went back to first establishing access concentration to anchor awareness on it. Quite tricky. :juggling:
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby 5heaps » Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:30 pm

Sobeh wrote:Is internal dialogue wholly sankhara, or can the phrase "internal dialogue" sometimes be used to refer to consciousness of perceptions or feelings (in a khanda sense, not in an emotional sense)? I suggest categorization according to the five khandas might be under-utilized here...

isnt it semantics? personally if i'm using the tactile sensation of the breath and yet i'm still subtly relying on a visual object of the breath in conjuction with the tactile sensation, i count this is as a type of interfering internal dialogue.

the aggregates of feeling and discrimination are sankhara, its just that Lord Buddha made them indvidual aggregates instead of putting them in the 4th aggregate of general khandas because these 2 get us in all our trouble (ie. because we discriminate ignorantly and then have ignorant positive neutral negative feeling we start the shitstorm).
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby Vepacitta » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:21 pm

I think its fair to include internal dialogue as a sankhara - a mental fabrication - not the only kind of course - but yes - it's logical. The quackety-quack is a mental formation - fabrication -

Aack - wait - there's something in some sutta I just read about - which mental aggregate leads to speech - aack! I'm not at home - so can't look it up.

So, it would seem logical that internal dialogue would be one form a mental formation (sankara) - but I'm unsure what the back-up for that is in the suttas or abhiddama. Bollocks. I'll go with the vulcan logic - but that's just me.

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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:24 pm

5heaps wrote:isnt it semantics? personally if i'm using the tactile sensation of the breath and yet i'm still subtly relying on a visual object of the breath in conjuction with the tactile sensation, i count this is as a type of interfering internal dialogue.

An important point. I'm sure I spent months visualising the motion of my feet and abdomen, rather than actually feeling in... Or maybe I'm still doing that. It's a very subtle problem...

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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby octathlon » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:41 pm

Hmm, yes, I definitely have some kind of mental representation, more of a spatial than visual thing, of whatever I put my attention on, whether it's the nose/breath, the body or the sense of how the body is positioned.

But that's true of anything we perceive, isn't it? If you look at a table, you make a mental representation of it and regard that. We know that from optical illusion tricks. On a more complicated level, when you are interacting with a person, you are usually reacting to your mental representation of the person. For example when you fall in love with someone, you really fall in love with an image/idea you have about them.
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:53 pm

octathlon wrote:But that's true of anything we perceive, isn't it? If you look at a table, you make a mental representation of it and regard that.

Normally, but as I understand the instructions (from the Buddha and my teachers), by development of mindfulness and concentration one starts to perceive just the basic experience. So when the foot is lifting off the ground, for example, one perceives just sensations and feelings, not the mental concept of the foot.

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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby octathlon » Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:04 am

mikenz66 wrote:
octathlon wrote:But that's true of anything we perceive, isn't it? If you look at a table, you make a mental representation of it and regard that.

Normally, but as I understand the instructions (from the Buddha and my teachers), by development of mindfulness and concentration one starts to perceive just the basic experience. So when the foot is lifting off the ground, for example, one perceives just sensations and feelings, not the mental concept of the foot.

Mike

That's my understanding of the goal, to catch that brief moment between the perception and the creation of the mental concept and the whole chain of events, and possibly delaying or interrupting that process..
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby Freawaru » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:08 am

mikenz66 wrote:
octathlon wrote:But that's true of anything we perceive, isn't it? If you look at a table, you make a mental representation of it and regard that.

Normally, but as I understand the instructions (from the Buddha and my teachers), by development of mindfulness and concentration one starts to perceive just the basic experience. So when the foot is lifting off the ground, for example, one perceives just sensations and feelings, not the mental concept of the foot.

Mike


I think the mental concept of the foot, the image in our mind, IS the sensation. If one wants to go deeper than that, to the original sensations, one has to enter the awareness where temporal resolution is higher. I seriously doubt that one can only START when already being aware on this level.
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby Freawaru » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:09 am

octathlon wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:
octathlon wrote:But that's true of anything we perceive, isn't it? If you look at a table, you make a mental representation of it and regard that.

Normally, but as I understand the instructions (from the Buddha and my teachers), by development of mindfulness and concentration one starts to perceive just the basic experience. So when the foot is lifting off the ground, for example, one perceives just sensations and feelings, not the mental concept of the foot.

Mike

That's my understanding of the goal, to catch that brief moment between the perception and the creation of the mental concept and the whole chain of events, and possibly delaying or interrupting that process..


Why should one want to delay or interrupt that process?
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:16 am

Freawaru wrote:I think the mental concept of the foot, the image in our mind, IS the sensation. If one wants to go deeper than that, to the original sensations, one has to enter the awareness where temporal resolution is higher. I seriously doubt that one can only START when already being aware on this level.

Well, OK, the concept of foot is technically a sensation in the mind, and of course that conceptual stuff is necessary to build enough concentration to discern the bare sensations.

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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:18 am

Freawaru wrote:
octathlon wrote:That's my understanding of the goal, to catch that brief moment between the perception and the creation of the mental concept and the whole chain of events, and possibly delaying or interrupting that process..


Why should one want to delay or interrupt that process?

To prevent proliferation (papanca)?
Or to slow down or put a stop to the DO sequence (contact, feeling, craving, clinging...) by not doing the craving part... (To put a permanent stop to it requires getting rid of ignorance, but seeing the sequence helps with that.)

Furthremore, it's obviously very useful in "real life" to be able to delay reactions that one might later regret...

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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:24 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Freawaru wrote:
octathlon wrote:That's my understanding of the goal, to catch that brief moment between the perception and the creation of the mental concept and the whole chain of events, and possibly delaying or interrupting that process..


Why should one want to delay or interrupt that process?

To prevent proliferation (papanca)?
Or to slow down or put a stop to the DO sequence (contact, feeling, craving, clinging...) by not doing the craving part... (To put a permanent stop to it requires getting rid of ignorance, but seeing the sequence helps with that.)

Furthremore, it's obviously very useful in "real life" to be able to delay reactions that one might later regret...

Mike

great reasons
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby Freawaru » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:33 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Freawaru wrote:
octathlon wrote:That's my understanding of the goal, to catch that brief moment between the perception and the creation of the mental concept and the whole chain of events, and possibly delaying or interrupting that process..


Why should one want to delay or interrupt that process?

To prevent proliferation (papanca)?


I don't think so. The image of our body, that what is constructed using the body senses, is a sense object. The contact is with that mental sense object just as it is with a colour or a thought or a memory. Proliferation (papanca) is something else and has to do with identifying with the object.

Consider this:
"There is the case, monks, where an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — perceives earth as earth. Perceiving earth as earth, he conceives [things] about earth, he conceives [things] in earth, he conceives [things] coming out of earth, he conceives earth as 'mine,' he delights in earth. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you.
http://www.dhammavinaya.com/sutta/mn/1.html


And compare to:

"A monk who is a trainee — yearning for the unexcelled relief from bondage, his aspirations as yet unfulfilled — directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, let him not conceive things about earth, let him not conceive things in earth, let him not conceive things coming out of earth, let him not conceive earth as 'mine,' let him not delight in earth. Why is that? So that he may comprehend it, I tell you.


So the point is not to prevent earth to arise (earth is a part of the body image, namely the hardness) but not to identify with it. To directly know hardness as hardness and not identify with it as my hardness, my hardness of the bones or the ground I have my feet on. When we walk we have perception of hardness at the soles of our feet but when one notes that this is hardness, sees it arising and staying and going away again one is going into the direction of "directly knowing earth as earth and not conceiving things about earth" and so on. But the process of earth arising in our mind has not changed.


Or to slow down or put a stop to the DO sequence (contact, feeling, craving, clinging...) by not doing the craving part...


I think staying perpetually aware, noting it all, is enough for that. It is the noting itself that will stop DO.

Furthremore, it's obviously very useful in "real life" to be able to delay reactions that one might later regret...


Why delay reactions? Isn't is more useful to be aware on the time scale we discuss and thus have a LOT of time to ponder the most useful reaction to any given situation? I mean for most situations discernment on a slow motion rate is already enough for that and when one is aware of how the body image is constructed one's discernment is much faster than that.
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby 5heaps » Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:31 pm

Freawaru wrote:The image of our body, that what is constructed using the body senses, is a sense object. The contact is with that mental sense object just as it is with a colour or a thought or a memory.

conceptuality is by definition indirect; meditation is about generating sophisticated direct cognizers
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Re: Internal Dialogue

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:19 pm

Freawaru wrote:So the point is not to prevent earth to arise (earth is a part of the body image, namely the hardness) but not to identify with it. .

To my understanding hardness is something to be experienced directly, not as part of a "body image".

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