Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby PeterB » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:23 pm

Which school of Vipassana have you attended retreats in T Mingyur ?
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby PeterB » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:26 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
PeterB wrote:I am afraid that we ( and I include myself here ) have got into the habit of being a bit imprecise in our use of terms Norman...
I would be interested in Ben's take as he has just got back from a Vipassana intensive.


Except that he practices a technique that doesn't use labelling or noting.

Hopefully Ben will talk about his own experience when he finds the time.
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby ground » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:31 pm

My remarks as to Satipatthana Sutta practice are in full agreement with Analayo's commentary.

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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:33 pm

TMingyur wrote:Noticing is conceptual. It is impossible to practice non-conceptually what is described in the Satipatthana Sutta. Why? Because the Satipatthana Sutta discerns different phenomena to be contemplated and you cannot practice according to the Satipatthana Sutta if you do no discern too.


As you say, we obviously have a different understanding of the term conceptual, by your definition the term is meaningless as presumably all experience is conceptual.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby PeterB » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:33 pm

PeterB wrote:Which school of Vipassana have you attended retreats in T Mingyur ?

bump.
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby ground » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:59 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Noticing is conceptual. It is impossible to practice non-conceptually what is described in the Satipatthana Sutta. Why? Because the Satipatthana Sutta discerns different phenomena to be contemplated and you cannot practice according to the Satipatthana Sutta if you do no discern too.


As you say, we obviously have a different understanding of the term conceptual, by your definition the term is meaningless as presumably all experience is conceptual.


No. Direct experience is not conceptual. But there is no discerning in direct experience. As soon as there is noticing "something" there is discerning "something" as different from that which is not it. And this is conceptual. Even if it is sort of subliminal ...

Concepts are already "the cognitive dawning of an image able to coalesce with verbalism".

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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:21 pm

TMingyur wrote:No. Direct experience is not conceptual. But there is no discerning in direct experience. As soon as there is noticing "something" there is discerning "something" as different from that which is not it. And this is conceptual. Even if it is sort of subliminal ...

Concepts are already "the cognitive dawning of an image able to coalesce with verbalism".


What you've described is termed "Conciousness" in Buddhism.

The Cambridge online dictionary defines Concept as "a principle or idea", the Merriam webster as "1: something conceived in the mind : thought, notion, 2: an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances". You'll notice the 1. entry says in the mind not by the mind.

In vipassana meditation we distiguish between direct experience and the discerning of it, but even so I wouldn't consider the terms concept and discerning as synonymous.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby ground » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:42 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
TMingyur wrote:No. Direct experience is not conceptual. But there is no discerning in direct experience. As soon as there is noticing "something" there is discerning "something" as different from that which is not it. And this is conceptual. Even if it is sort of subliminal ...

Concepts are already "the cognitive dawning of an image able to coalesce with verbalism".


What you've described is termed "Conciousness" in Buddhism.

Actually it is an aspect of "name" in "name and form" and "name and form" and consciousness condition each other, are not independent of each other.
But that is mere nomenclature/terminology.

Goofaholix wrote:The Cambridge online dictionary ...the Merriam webster

Are not relevant for this context.

Goofaholix wrote:In vipassana meditation we distiguish between direct experience and the discerning of it, but even so I wouldn't consider the terms concept and discerning as synonymous.

Not synonymous but coextensive: Discerning is necessarily conceptual since the discerned is necessarily a concept even if not yet verbalized. But the meaning of "concept" is not generally "discerning" in all contexts the term "concept" is applied.


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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:14 pm

TMingyur wrote:Are not relevant for this context.


Yes it is because if we can't agree on the meaning of a word then how can we use it in a discussion?

Goofaholix wrote:Not synonymous but coextensive: Discerning is necessarily conceptual since the discerned is necessarily a concept even if not yet verbalized. But the meaning of "concept" is not generally "discerning" in all contexts the term "concept" is applied.


Please explain why we can't discern a sensation directly instead of through a "a principle or idea", "something conceived in the mind : thought, notion", or "an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances".
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby ground » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:15 am

Goofaholix wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Are not relevant for this context.


Yes it is because if we can't agree on the meaning of a word then how can we use it in a discussion?

But that was the starting point: Our different understanding of conceptuality. If you base your understanding of conceptuality on the sources that you have quoted then fine. However I say that these definition represent only a narrow view in that they exclude the characteristic mark of conceptuality which is (active) "addition" or "contruction" of what "is not (there)" in the first place.

Goofaholix wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Not synonymous but coextensive: Discerning is necessarily conceptual since the discerned is necessarily a concept even if not yet verbalized. But the meaning of "concept" is not generally "discerning" in all contexts the term "concept" is applied.


Please explain why we can't discern a sensation directly instead of through a "a principle or idea", "something conceived in the mind : thought, notion", or "an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances".

Because even if there is no full-fledged "idea" or "thought" the characteristic mark of discerning is "'this' but not 'not-this'" which is active construction of "this" (and "not-this"). But without active construction there is no "this" in the first place.

Your basis of defining "non-conceptuality" seems to be a combination of "non-grasping" and "non-attachment" and "non-verbalization" and "equanimity". That is fine. However I say that with such a view you are ignoring all active "constructions" and "addition" and "synthesis" of what "is not there" in the first place which I consider to be the mark of conceptuality.
Your understanding of "conceptuality" may be called "gross conceptuality" my understanding includes both "gross conceptuality" and what may be called "subtle conceptuality".

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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:35 am

TMingyur wrote: the characteristic mark of conceptuality which is (active) "addition" or "contruction" of what "is not (there)" in the first place.


I don't have a problem with this definition, but I still don't see what has been added that is not there when a sensation is noticed and a reaction to that sensation is noticed.

TMingyur wrote:Because even if there is no full-fledged "idea" or "thought" the characteristic mark of discerning is "'this' but not 'not-this'" which is active construction of "this" (and "not-this"). But without active construction there is no "this" in the first place.Ok, so I notice a sensation and I notice a reaction to that sensation, please explain how this is conceptual.


Since we don't understand english the same lets try Pali terms, what you are effectively saying is there is no such thing as Vinnana that immediately something is concious the conciousness of it is automatically Sanna and Sankhara.

But in Buddhist psychology as I understand it Vinnana leads to Sanna leads to Sankhara, wheras you are happy to lump all three under the term Concept I understand the only Sankhara to have the same meaning as the english word Concept.

I would have thought that one of the results of Buddhist practice is supposed to be that Sanna does not have to lead to Sankhara, one way we achieve this is by putting our energy and attention to Vinnana and Sanna, this helps us to discern the process and discern when Sankhara is useful and necessary and when it is a delusion. Of course these three are in operation all the time and there's nothing wrong with that but one of the main roots of suffering is that we mistake Sankhara for Vinnana or Sanna, we mistake concepts for reality, your interpretation seems to me to reinforce that.

TMingyur wrote:Your basis of defining "non-conceptuality" seems to be a combination of "non-grasping" and "non-attachment" and "non-verbalization" and "equanimity".


How so? I haven't even mentioned any of those things.

Of course grasping conceptuality is a cause of suffering however if you can't differentiate between conceptuality and the processes of conciousness and perception first how can you let go of that grasping?
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby dhamma follower » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:00 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
dhamma follower wrote:Tathagata = concept why : because there's no way we can actually experience the Tathagata
Five aggregates (materiality, feeling, perception, mental fabrication, consciousness)= reality. Why ? Because these can be actually experienced.

Not everyone would agree that the five aggregates = "reality." See, for example, Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought, and The Magic of the Mind.

dhamma follower wrote:As to answer your question whether I relate concept with perception. Well, concept is the result of the perception process.

The individuation of particular dhammas is also dependent upon apperception (saññā). As are the recognition of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness (i.e. aniccasaññā, dukkhasaññā, anattasaññā).

All the best,



Geoff


Hi Geoff,

I would tend to agree that in the end, even the five aggregates seem to be unreal, as stated somewhere in my last previous post.
However, in this context, we are trying to define concepts and reality upon the criteria of what can be directly experienced, and thus the object of vipassana wisdom. It has implication on the practice.
That finally, as vipassana wisdom becomes stronger and stronger, even objects such feelings, perception, elements...loose their apparent reality-ness, is another matter and I feel it's not relevant yet at this point of the discussion. However, there might be another approach to it, I wonder...

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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby dhamma follower » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:19 am

TMingyur wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:
TMingyur wrote:

No. Direct experience is not conceptual. But there is no discerning in direct experience. As soon as there is noticing "something" there is discerning "something" as different from that which is not it. And this is conceptual. Even if it is sort of subliminal ...

Kind regards


I agree and disagree, direct experience has both non conceptual and conceptual elements. And there IS discerning in the direct experience. This discerning is not conceptual, it's panna - intuitive wisdom, but the experience- what ever is it, by nature, is a process by which concept is formed -in a split second. Both happen simultanously and makes up what we call insight. If the discerning part is absent in the experience, then it is not insight, my teacher would call it "moha at work".
In my understanding, only the experience of Nibbana is devoid of any nama-rupa process.

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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby PeterB » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:40 am

It is not possible to discuss the subtleties of Vipassana in the absence of hands-on instruction and a period of supervised practice....or rather it is, but when it is done...it shows.
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:22 am

TMingyur wrote:Your understanding of "conceptuality" may be called "gross conceptuality" my understanding includes both "gross conceptuality" and what may be called "subtle conceptuality".


Where would you place sati in this framework?

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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:56 am

PeterB wrote:I am afraid that we ( and I include myself here ) have got into the habit of being a bit imprecise in our use of terms Norman...


Could you be more specific? Do you for example mean using Pali terms more, or providing definitions of English words?

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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby PeterB » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:17 am

I meant more what happens experientially Norman...there are many advantages of attending instruction in more than one school of Vipassana...Goenka and Sayadaw for example. A possible disadvantage is that processes that are seen as important in one school are sometimes deemphasised in another, or even discouraged. Swings and roundbouts. One has a wider range of responses to any given need but one can lose clarity.
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby ground » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:17 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Of course grasping conceptuality is a cause of suffering however if you can't differentiate between conceptuality and the processes of conciousness and perception first how can you let go of that grasping?

I don't understand this question. Conceptuality is associated with "being conscious of" and perception in the context of "being conscious of".

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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby ground » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:17 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Your understanding of "conceptuality" may be called "gross conceptuality" my understanding includes both "gross conceptuality" and what may be called "subtle conceptuality".


Where would you place sati in this framework?

Spiny


Subtle.

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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:09 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:Of course grasping conceptuality is a cause of suffering however if you can't differentiate between conceptuality and the processes of conciousness and perception first how can you let go of that grasping?

I don't understand this question. Conceptuality is associated with "being conscious of" and perception in the context of "being conscious of".

Kind regards


Only in your understanding, as I explained before in Buddhism Conceptuality, conciousness, and perception are three separate khandhas, my question is how can one let go of grasping the former if one can't even see the distinction?
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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