Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Nyana » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:06 pm

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,

Geoff
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:27 pm

TMingyur wrote:"Ok since we've pretty much established that" actually means that this is your conclusion which is ungrounded from my perspective.


Yes pretty much means a conclusion I've reached grounded from the information you've supplied.

When you say "Although I do no share your conclusion as to "all mental activity" because it is ungrounded I am not in a position to name a non-conceptual mental activity without delving into speculation which I do not want to." I can only assume that you haven't experienced any mental activity that you'd label non-conceptual because you feel you'd have to speculate to answer the question. In my book that's as good as saying from your perspective all mental activity is conceptual, leaving an air of mystery like there might be some non conceptual mental activity in a galaxy far far away doesn't aid the discussion after all we aren't here to play esoteric games.

TMingyur wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:Do you have an english word that specifically covers the type of mental activity listed below ...

No.


If that's the case then could you answer this question...

Vipassana: all types of mental habits, thoughts, ideas, opinions, prejudices, compulsions, and decisions triggered by an object a principle or idea, something conceived in the mind, notion, an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances, or non - all types of mental habits, thoughts, ideas, opinions, prejudices, compulsions, and decisions triggered by an object a principle or idea, something conceived in the mind, notion, 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 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:55 pm

Goofaholix

I do not understand your question. Never mind.
Please accept my apologies but I will stop the conversation about this subject now.
The reasons:
1. We have exhaustively described our views to each other
2. We have completed at least 2 cycles (of repetitions)
3. My motivation has never been to persuade you or anybody else but just to state the view (which now has been done repeatedly)
4. To be honest I am getting bored

Thank you for your understanding.

Kind regards
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:28 pm

TMingyur wrote:3. My motivation has never been to persuade you or anybody else but just to state the view (which now has been done repeatedly)


Yes it's obvious you just want to state your own view, rather than consider the views of others.

TMingyur wrote:4. To be honest I am getting bored


I'm sorry if correct use of the english and/or pali words are boring for you, I'd suggest this would be a pre-requisite for any meaningful discussion.

In my opinion differentiating between the conceptual (sankhara) aspects of mental activity and the non conceptual (vinnana, sanna) aspects is the foundation of any meditation technique that could be called vipassana as to practice correctly the meditator needs to start being able to observe the processes in operation. This is done by putting emphasis on the non conceptual (vinnana, sanna), which is why I'd say the practise is non-conceptual, and then observing objectively the conceptual processes arise.
"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 Sacha G » Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:16 pm

Hi guys!
Since I was the OP, that's just to natural that I interveen at some point!
Thank you for sharing your points of view.
If I may just make a remark on the last post: I'm not sure one can oppose sankhara-conceptual VS. sanna-vinnana-non-conceptual.
A mental vinnana can be a thought, therefore conceptual, and sankhara is non-conceptual I guess (desire, aversion...) :juggling:
Just my opinion
:anjali:
Pali and Theravada texts:
http://dhamma.webnode.com
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby dhamma follower » Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:47 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
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,

Geoff


Sadhu ! Thanks for sharing !

D.F>
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby dhamma follower » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:55 am

Sacha G wrote:Hi guys!
Since I was the OP, that's just to natural that I interveen at some point!
Thank you for sharing your points of view.
If I may just make a remark on the last post: I'm not sure one can oppose sankhara-conceptual VS. sanna-vinnana-non-conceptual.
A mental vinnana can be a thought, therefore conceptual, and sankhara is non-conceptual I guess (desire, aversion...) :juggling:
Just my opinion
:anjali:


Hi guys,

Each of the five khandas can be directly experienced and is not a concept per se.
Concept is the result of the perception process.
IMU, there is easily a confusion between the functioning of each khanda (which is can be directly experienced and therefore considered reality/paramatha) and the resulting concept because of the extreme rapidity of the mind process by which concept is formed. Only when sati is developed to the point where it can be aware of the arising of seeing, hearing...., it can experience the entire process and all the elements that make up the process and gives rise to the understanding the non-self, and co-dependent nature of it, and eventually anicca, dukkha, anatta... This is the work of vipassana.

Regards,
D.F
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:13 pm

The Blessed One said: "Develop concentration, monks. A concentrated monk discerns in line with what has come into being. And what does he discern in line with what has come into being? The origination & disappearance of form. The origination & disappearance of feeling... perception... fabrications. The origination & disappearance of consciousness.

TMingyur's problem lies in not having enough samadhi (concentration). This does not allow him to discern between conceptual and non-conceptual perceptions, (based on personal experience of these). He/she will also be unable to differentiate between the various skandas, due to it's absence (not enough clarity).

With metta

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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:35 pm

rowyourboat wrote:The Blessed One said: "Develop concentration, monks. A concentrated monk discerns in line with what has come into being. And what does he discern in line with what has come into being? The origination & disappearance of form. The origination & disappearance of feeling... perception... fabrications. The origination & disappearance of consciousness.

TMingyur's problem lies in not having enough samadhi (concentration). This does not allow him to discern between conceptual and non-conceptual perceptions, (based on personal experience of these). He/she will also be unable to differentiate between the various skandas, due to it's absence (not enough clarity).

With metta

Matheesha
It is really a problem to try to diagnosis an other's level of meditation. You want to beat up is statement; do it on the merits of what is said, but do not take it to the man.

If he had made claims about his attainment, then that is open to discussion. If he has not, then it is an ad hominem, pointing to lack of an argument coming from you.
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: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:37 am

tiltbillings wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:The Blessed One said: "Develop concentration, monks. A concentrated monk discerns in line with what has come into being. And what does he discern in line with what has come into being? The origination & disappearance of form. The origination & disappearance of feeling... perception... fabrications. The origination & disappearance of consciousness.

TMingyur's problem lies in not having enough samadhi (concentration). This does not allow him to discern between conceptual and non-conceptual perceptions, (based on personal experience of these). He/she will also be unable to differentiate between the various skandas, due to it's absence (not enough clarity).

With metta

Matheesha
It is really a problem to try to diagnosis an other's level of meditation. You want to beat up is statement; do it on the merits of what is said, but do not take it to the man.

If he had made claims about his attainment, then that is open to discussion. If he has not, then it is an ad hominem, pointing to lack of an argument coming from you.



Hi Tilt

You and others have persistently asked questions around his view and he has given you answers. What do you think a dhamma instructor does when he meets a person for meditation instruction? He persistently asks questions to determine the level of understanding of the meditator- and diagnoses the problem. It is true no one asked my opinion -but I am going to give it anyway. If you don't want it - dont listen to what I have to say. Inability to take advice, while great for your persona, is not so great for the dhamma.

with metta

Matheesha
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Re: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:40 am

rowyourboat wrote:
Hi Tilt

You and others have persistently asked questions around his view and he has given you answers. What do you think a dhamma instructor does when he meets a person for meditation instruction? He persistently asks questions to determine the level of understanding of the meditator- and diagnoses the problem. It is true no one asked my opinion -but I am going to give it anyway. If you don't want it - dont listen to what I have to say. Inability to take advice, while great for your persona, is not so great for the dhamma.

with metta

Matheesha
You did more than give advice. It is inappropriate.
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: Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:00 pm

rowyourboat wrote:You and others have persistently asked questions around his view and he has given you answers. What do you think a dhamma instructor does when he meets a person for meditation instruction? He persistently asks questions to determine the level of understanding of the meditator- and diagnoses the problem. It is true no one asked my opinion -but I am going to give it anyway. If you don't want it - dont listen to what I have to say. Inability to take advice, while great for your persona, is not so great for the dhamma.


I don't think he asked you to be his teacher, I don't think he asked for your advice on his meditation, and I don't think he said anything about how his meditation was going, this thread was not about his meditation or anyone elses specifically.
"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 rowyourboat » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:11 am

Tilt, Goofaholix

Thank you for your comments.

with metta

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