Not thinking vs Thinking

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby BuddhaBatman » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:00 pm

Happy day to everyone and thank you for looking into my newb thread (we all know how painful that can be).
So here's the thing: I really like thinking. I like everything about it, even the scary parts. But in order to successfully complete the first part of Vipassana meditation training one must stop thinking, unless it's about breathing, which one can do without thinking.
Right now, when I'm meditating correctly (not thinking), it feels like a blessing to waver off into thinking and a curse to have to return to non-thinking. Basically, it's no fun.
Questions: am I surely going to fail at meditation? Also, if by devine intervention I succeed in non-thinking, is there a danger I'll enjoy it too much and not want to return to thinking, and/or lose the capability entirely?
Thanks for thinking about this.
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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby cooran » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:06 pm

Hello BB,

From whom did you learn meditation and what exact method are you using?

with metta
Chris
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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby BuddhaBatman » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:27 pm

cooran wrote:Hello BB,

From whom did you learn meditation and what exact method are you using?

with metta
Chris


Thanks for your reply Chris.
Goenka's method, 10-day retreat.
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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby meindzai » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:11 pm

I think you might be over-thinking this thinking vs. not-thinking thing. :) But I also think we all do it.

If you've had the Goekna course, that's great. Just go along with the method, and keep practicing it, and don't make any distinctions about thinking vs. not-thinking. Just keep doing the practice.

-M
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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:35 pm

Hi BB
BuddhaBatman wrote:Happy day to everyone and thank you for looking into my newb thread (we all know how painful that can be).
So here's the thing: I really like thinking. I like everything about it, even the scary parts. But in order to successfully complete the first part of Vipassana meditation training one must stop thinking, unless it's about breathing, which one can do without thinking.
Right now, when I'm meditating correctly (not thinking), it feels like a blessing to waver off into thinking and a curse to have to return to non-thinking. Basically, it's no fun.
Questions: am I surely going to fail at meditation? Also, if by devine intervention I succeed in non-thinking, is there a danger I'll enjoy it too much and not want to return to thinking, and/or lose the capability entirely?
Thanks for thinking about this.


I can only suggest that perhaps you were too busy thinking that you misunderstood SN Goenka's instructions. He is not anti-thinking, nor does he want students to stop thinking. Part of the instruction is to pay no attention to thoughts or emotional 'storms' as they arise in the mind and to maintain continuity of awareness of the anicca characteristic of vedana (sensation). Thoughts will come and go, but one should never try and stop them or force them out. The other thing Goenkaji advises is to not to 'roll' in fantasies of the future or memories of the past. By 'roll' he means indulge. Thoughts come and go but the idea is not to engage with them. The reason is that if your mind is pre-occupied with some scenario in your mind you've lost the continuity of awareness of physical sensation.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby Nyana » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:20 pm

Ben wrote:Part of the instruction is to pay no attention to thoughts or emotional 'storms' as they arise in the mind and to maintain continuity of awareness of the anicca characteristic of vedana (sensation). Thoughts will come and go, but one should never try and stop them or force them out. The other thing Goenkaji advises is to not to 'roll' in fantasies of the future or memories of the past. By 'roll' he means indulge. Thoughts come and go but the idea is not to engage with them. The reason is that if your mind is pre-occupied with some scenario in your mind you've lost the continuity of awareness of physical sensation.

Good instructions.

All the best,

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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby Dharma_Bum » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:15 am

When you are told "not" to think is a way of saying to clear your mind. Thoughts will come and go, but you should refrain from letting your mind wander while you meditate. Don't over think this Not thinking vs. Thinking, no matter how much you enjoying meditating you will go back to thinking when you are done meditating. ;) :namaste:
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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby Jack » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:46 pm

A metaphor that might help during meditation is keep your mind like a rock in a stream. Phenomena float past, a pain in your neck here, a sound there and a thought over there. Just be mindful of them without getting involved with them. You let them all go by. You handle a thought the same as you handle other phenomena. Trying to steer thoughts away is getting involved with them.

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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:08 pm

Jack wrote:A metaphor that might help during meditation is keep your mind like a rock in a stream. Phenomena float past, a pain in your neck here, a sound there and a thought over there. Just be mindful of them without getting involved with them. You let them all go by. You handle a thought the same as you handle other phenomena. Trying to steer thoughts away is getting involved with them.

Jack


..and as Ben quite rightly suggested, watch the fact that they change and come to an end, and just keep watching this, bearing in mind that all things in the entire world is like this.

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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby VeganLiz » Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:01 am

Isn't a personal reflection of our thoughts sort of a form of meditation it's self?


Or not.
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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:14 pm

Hi VeganLiz,

Personal reflection maybe helpful for us to understand certain things about ourselves, especially to be a better person. However thinking based practices are limited in their scope, simple due to being unable to 'break out of the box' on which the thinking is based on.

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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby Alex123 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:31 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Personal reflection maybe helpful for us to understand certain things about ourselves, especially to be a better person. However thinking based practices are limited in their scope, simple due to being unable to 'break out of the box' on which the thinking is based on.



Are you saying that the goal of practice is to reach the state where you can't think at all? Then rocks would be awakened, they have no thoughts!

IMHO, it is all about developing wisdom that will uproot all the fetters. Whatever develops that wisdom is the way to practice.


Not all thinking is bad. There are good thoughts, and there are bad thoughts. MN19.


"And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with renunciation arose. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with renunciation has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, & leads to Unbinding.
...
"Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with renunciation, abandoning thinking imbued with sensuality, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with renunciation.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html





Anguttara Nikaya Sutta 5.3.26 is very interesting. It describes the 5 occasions when a person attains Ariyahood. These are:

Listening to the Dhamma: it brings joy, especially if one has an affinity for the Dhamma. This will naturally calm the mind and make it peaceful and tranquil. A tranquil mind easily becomes concentrated. With a concentrated mind, insight will arise.

Teaching the Dhamma: To teach the Dhamma, one needs to understand and reflect on the Dhamma. From here, joy also arises which will lead successively to tranquility, concentration and insight.

Repeating Dhamma: Although not common nowadays, it was quite common during the Buddha's time when books did not exist. At that time, the Dhamma was preserved and passed on to the next generation by people who memorised them through regular recitation. If monks are going to pass on the Dhamma, they have to be very familiar with the Dhamma. Thus, monks spent a lot of time reciting the Dhamma.

In fact, in those days, it was the monks' duty to repeat and recite the Dhamma. This constant repetition will make you very familiar with it. The first time you read, listen to or recite the Sutta, you will have a certain level of understanding. With greater repetition, your understanding becomes deeper and deeper. The similar sequence of joy, tranquility, concentration and insight follows.

Reflecting on the Dhamma: This involves contemplating, thinking and pondering on the Dhamma in its various aspects, validity and relevance to our daily lives. In this way, insight will arise through the same sequence of events.

During Meditation: According to the Suttas, this involves reflecting on the concentration sign (samadhi nimitta), which is rightly grasped and penetrated. The same sequence of joy, tranquility, concentration and insight follows.

It is crucial to note that out of these 5 occasions, only 1 is during meditation and the other 4 are out of meditation: listening, teaching, repeating and reflecting on the Saddhamma.
http://www.viet.net/anson/ebud/ebdha163.htm
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Re: Not thinking vs Thinking

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:37 pm

Hi Alex,

Thank you for your response. I was merely pointing out that thinking alone, is not going to be enough. I am fully aware of the need to listen, ponder, understand, make views out of, and contemplate appropriately before getting to mindfulness. It's hardly as non-thinking process. It is also not a thinking-only process. It was the latter point I was trying to get at in my previous post.

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