mikenz66 wrote:As I understand it, I build up concentration and mindfulness and observe what is happening.
If you were to follow the sutta exposition, concentration (samādhi) is used to develop singleness of mind (cittekaggatā) pertaining to one object basis (ārammaṇa), such as the breath or the recognition of unattractiveness, etc. The relationship between the development of the four applications of mindfulness (catunna satipaṭṭhānā bhāvanā) and integral meditative composure is presented in SN 47.4 Sāla Sutta: ...
Sure, and that's how I understand the role of the "primary object", to build up that concentration, as in the sutta quotes.
mikenz66 wrote:And I observe sensations, feelings,thoughts, and sensations arising and disappearing with greater rapidity the more concentrated I get
Are they really arising and disappearing with greater rapidity? Do you actually generate a greater quantity of feelings or thoughts the more concentrated you get?
Stuff is seen to arise and disappear with greater rapidity. As Tilt says, one does, of course, tend to "think less" due to higher concentration and mindfulness. It's more that things are broken up. Motion of the foot, for example, breaks up into very small parts. As I've said, I understood this was completely normal, since everyone I know experiences this sort of thing.
And it's got nothing to do with adhering to some view about momentariness or whatever, since I had no idea about that stuff when I started practising, and the habit of teachers I know (and Mahasi-style teachers in general) is to get students to observe and report experiences in their own language, rather than proliferate concepts by trying to find a Pali word for it, and to not tell them what they are going to observe.
mikenz66 wrote:You see, the problem with this thread is that it's supposedly talking about vipassana, which has to do with what one is experiencing, but the discussion often seems to me to be always veering towards philosophical ideas that I can't see how to relate to experience and claims about how people practice that appear to have little to do with the instructions I know about.
The "philosophical ideas" such as the doctrine of momentariness and the realist epistemology of unique particulars and so on, are inextricably tied to the Visuddhimagga and post-Visuddhimagga thought-world. It makes no sense at all to accept the the stages of insight knowledge as they're presented in the Visuddhimagga and further elaborated in later commentaries without accepting these embedded views.
Sure, if you read them as philosophy. It does if you read them as reported experience. Which is how I read it (and Ven Mahasi's "Progress of Insight").
If it's not something to do with experience, why would anyone care?
I have limited experience with different approaches, but it seems to me that they lead to related, but slightly different, experiences, probably due to the way the objects are chosen and observe. So the scanning technique of Goenka, etc seems to often lead to an experience of the whole body dissolving, or even appearing to disappear. Whereas the Mahasi approach tends to give experiences of motion breaking up into smaller chunks.
Now how one relates these observed experiences in detail to the phenomenological descriptions of the suttas, abhidhamma, etc, is, I think, the interesting thing. I guess I see all of those descriptions are generalized attempts to describe what happens.