Goofaholix wrote:TMingyur wrote:There can be the noticing of the sensation followed by the "labeling" of the noticing.
Yes and that labelling is something that definately would come under the definition of conceptuality, however the labelling is optional and in my understanding a temporary aid in vipassana techniques.
It's important to be precise as to what exactly is meant by mental-noting. The following excerpt from Ven. Ñāṇananda's, Seeing Through: A Guide to Insight Meditation, clearly explains the refining process of vipassanābhāvanā:
- Directing these two factors is what is called meditative attention, mental-noting or noticing (manasikāra). Though the same term 'mental-noting' or'manasikāra' is used throughout the instructions on insight meditation, there is a need to redefine the term as one progresses in one's meditation. At the outset this mental noting is rather gross. One has to start from where one stands. So, the usual instructions in Insight Meditation would imply a mode of attending that goes slightly deeper than the way of attending in the world. As implied by the basic instruction on sense-restraint, 'na nimittaggāhī nānubyañjanaggāhī', one does not grasp at a sign or its details in what is seen, heard and so forth. Instead, one summarily dismisses the visual object after mentally noting it as 'form', 'form'. Also, in the case of sound, one just notes it as 'sound', 'sound', without going into details. This is the mode of mental-noting recommended at the very outset.
But in this mode of mental noting there are certain gross elements. One becomes aware of these as one progresses in insight meditation. One becomes aware that in this type of mental-noting as 'form', 'form' or 'sound', 'sound', one presupposes an object. That is to say, these things get object-status by the very fact of mental-attention. Of course, in order to attend, there has to be an object. But as one goes deeper in insight meditation, one realizes that an object by definition is what one grasps (ārammaṇa) - what one hangs on to (ālambana).
Whenever there is grasping, there is ignorance present. Grasping is something that leads to the perpetuation of ignorance. But as the phrase 'anupubba sikkhā, anupubba kiriyā, anupubba paṭipadā' implies, there is a gradual training, a gradual mode of action, a gradual path in this meditative attention as well. So it is by stages that one arrives at this realization. At the preliminary stage, one avoids the usual mode of attention in the world such as 'woman', 'woman', 'man', 'man' in the case of a visual object, thus dispensing with those details which lead to various unskillful states of mind and attends to those visual objects in such a way as not to encourage those unskillful mental states. So one is content with attending to those visual or auditory objects as 'form' or 'sound'.
However as one proceeds in Insight Meditation, one comes to reflect that in this mode of attention, there is present a certain illusion - a wrong notion one has been cherishing throughout 'saṁsāra'. That is, the concept of two ends and a middle. When one notes a visual object as 'a form' and an auditory object as 'a sound', there is a kind of bifurcation between the eye and form, the ear and the sound. So thereby one is perpetuating the illusion, the wrong notion, of two ends. Whenever there are the two ends, there is also the middle. In short, this way of mental noting leaves room for a subject-object relationship. There is the meditator on one side, whoever it may be, and there is the object that comes to his mind; and he attends to it as an object, even though he may not go into its details. Now the meditator has to break through this barrier as well. He has to break this bondage. Why?
In the case of 'saññā' or perception, there are the six kinds of percepts - rūpa saññā, sadda saññā, gandha saññā, rasa saññā, phoṭṭhabba saññā, dhamma saññā (i.e., the percepts of form, sound, smell, taste, touch and idea). These are the six objects of the senses. The Buddha has compared the aggregate of perception to a mirage. Now if perception is mirage, what is 'rūpa saññā' or a visual percept? That also must be a mirage. What about 'sadda saññā'? What about the auditory percept or what strikes the ear? That too must be a mirage. Though it is not something that one sees with the eye, it has the nature of a mirage.
To take as real what is of a mirage-nature, is a delusion. It is something that leads to a delusion. It is an illusion that leads to a delusion. In order to understand deeply this mirage-nature in sensory perception, there is a need for a more refined way of mental attending. So the meditator, instead of attending to these objects as 'form', 'form' or 'sound', 'sound', moves a step further and notes them as 'seeing' or 'hearing'. Now he attends to these sense-percepts even more briefly, not allowing the mind to go far - as 'seeing- seeing ', 'hearing- hearing', 'feeling-feeling','thinking-thinking'.
In short, the attempt here, is to escape the net of 'saññā' or perception and to limit oneself to the bare awareness. To stop short just at the bare awareness. This is an attempt to escape the net of language, the net of logic and also to be free from the duality of two ends which involves a middle. Everywhere one is confronted with a subject-object relationship. There is one who grasps and something to be grasped. There is a seer and an object seen. But this way of attending leaves room for delusion.
Now, if perception is a mirage, in order to get at this mirage nature, one has to be content with attending simply as 'seeing, seeing'. One way or the other it is just a seeing or just a hearing. Thereby he stops short at the bare awareness. He stops short at the bare seeing, bare hearing, bare feeling and bare thinking. He does not grant it an object status. He does not cognize it as an object existing in the world. He does not give it a name.
All the best,