Firstly I am not very interested in the debate of which is more effective, I was focused on the assertion that one is simply not effective at all.
As for the narratives, he talks about this a lot in various places, how one attacks states of becoming from the physical and mental side, using the breath and using the narratives. Here is one example of how one might reformulate narratives:
thanissaro wrote:So as we meditate, we want to think about the pattern the Buddha found. We’ve got to get out of our narratives, our stories. Otherwise they drive us crazy. You go through the same old movies over and over again—movies that, if they were put up on the screen, you wouldn’t pay to watch. Yet because of the “I” and the “me”—my pain, my pleasure, my appearance, my food—you get hooked into watching them over and over again. If you want your meditation to go anywhere, you’ve got to get yourself off the hook.
The first step is to start generalizing. Think of all the beings in the world who had appearances they didn’t like, or food they didn’t like, or missed the food that they once had that they did like, or suffered both pleasure and pain. You’re not the only one. Think about that often. These are situations we all undergo. And the particulars of our appearance and food and pain and pleasure may enthrall us, but you’ve got to look at the general pattern. When you do, you find that the comings and goings of good and bad, likes and dislikes, start seeming inconsequential. As the general pattern takes the sting or the allure out of your own personal narrative, you can come to the present moment and see more clearly what you’re doing in the present moment that’s creating pain that doesn’t have to be there.
thanissaro wrote:There’s a great passage in the Canon where Ven. Sariputta says, “If someone says something really hurtful, tell yourself, ‘Ah, an unpleasant sound has made contact at the ear.’” We usually don’t think in those terms. We think, “Why is that person saying that to me? How outrageous can you get?” We create a narrative that lays more suffering on the mind. The next time someone says something really unpleasant, remind yourself: “An unpleasant sound has made contact at the ear.” That depersonalizes it. Pulls you out of it. Stops you from shooting yourself with arrows
thanissaro wrote:Remember that the Buddha said states of experience—and this includes emotions—have three components. The first is the physical, which is related to the breath. The second is the verbal component: the thoughts and narratives that go along with emotion. The third is the mental component: the feelings and the perceptions—the mental labels, the concepts that underlie the thinking, that underlie the verbal side. Once the physical side is relatively calmed down so that you can gain a toehold here, you can start looking at the other components: What are the thoughts, what are the ideas behind that particular emotion that got you going? What are the beliefs, the narratives? Do you have to believe them? Do you have to engage in them? Maybe you could tell yourself other narratives about
this situation. That way you recast the situation in a way that doesn’t generate anger or fear.
Now, if the object of your fear is genuine and not just a dream or a random idea that’s wandered through your mind, you have to dig a little bit deeper and say, “Okay, even though there is this genuine danger, what’s the most skillful way to respond?” Simply giving in to the fear is not going to help. Ignoring it is not going to help, either. You’ve got an actual danger you’ve got to deal with.So try to use your ingenuity to see how much you can prepare for the danger and what things you have to let go of so that you don’t magnify the danger. It’s like riding out a storm, as when we have these huge windstorms here and all you can do is just hide out in your hut, hide out in your tent, and hope that nothing falls on you. In the meantime, all kinds of damage is being done outside but you can’t do anything about it in the course of the storm. For the time being, you have to let go of any desire to protect those things. But you can protect your mental state, wait till the storm has passed, and then go out and survey the damage.
thanissaro wrote:If you see that a particular line of thinking is causing a lot of stress and suffering, remember: Abandoning is the task you do with the cause of stress. To drop that line of thinking, you actually have to change it, to think in the opposite way. Deep down you may feel, “This body is me.” Well, what if it’s not you? How does that change things? “My preferences are me.” Well, what if they’re not? How does that change things?
So the practice is not a matter of just watching or just being aware of things. If you see that something is unskillful, you’ve got to counteract it. And to counteract it, you’ve got to ask yourself: “What are your underlying assumptions?” The things you say “of course” to. Learn how to question that “of course.”
Think of all the great advances in science, the people who questioned the “of course.” “Why do apples fall out of trees?” “Well, of course: It’s their nature to fall.” That was what people believed for centuries. Yet Isaac Newton said, “Wait a minute, why?” And people made fun of him for asking why, but he ultimately came up with a totally different explanation. Not only does the apple fall, but the earth rises to the apple a little bit. Matter attracts matter. Of course now people are still trying to figure that one out. Why is there gravity? Maybe it’s not a force; maybe it’s a curve in space-time. But what’s that? It’s still a question, but it moves the discussion forward in a way that yields lots of benefits. If it weren’t for Newton’s formulae, we wouldn’t have been able to send out satellites and space probes to gather information about the universe.
It’s through learning how to question your basic assumptions that you gain and advance. You begin to see, “Oh, this is something I believed all along without even thinking about it, without examining it, and it’s causing me unnecessary suffering.”
note: these were found via searching thanissaro's "meditations 5 for "narrative."
A specific example from the buddha:
the buddha wrote:Punna: "Lord, I am going to live in the Sunaparanta country."
The Buddha: "Punna, the Sunaparanta people are fierce. They are rough. If they insult and ridicule you, what will you think?"
"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with their hands.' That is what I will think..."
"But if they hit you with their hands...?"
"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a clod'..."
"But if they hit you with a clod...?"
"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a stick'..."
"But if they hit you with a stick...?"
"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a knife'..."
"But if they hit you with a knife...?"
"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't take my life with a sharp knife'..."
"But if they take your life with a sharp knife...?"
"...I will think, 'There are disciples of the Blessed One who — horrified, humiliated, and disgusted by the body and by life — have sought for an assassin, but here I have met my assassin without searching for him.' That is what I will think..."
"Good, Punna, very good. Possessing such calm and self-control you are fit to dwell among the Sunaparantans. Now it is time to do as you see fit."
In these various cases people look at their narratives and see that there are ways of viewing the situation which would cause the hinderances to not arise. In my example - being angry at someone - it has been helpful to me to question this assumed idea "I have the right to ____" in reality I don't have any rights, there is just a world of cause and effect going on here, if someone does something to me which has the effect of my suffering, I might do something to stop my suffering, but thinking "this person had no right!" causes anger and is based on the assumption that I have rights.
As for nibbida - in my experience nibbida is basically arrived at when one notices that their self-created suffering is unnecessary
the bare attention model sees that self-created suffering is unnecessary because it (through persistence and faith) simply stops creating them even though it feels wrong to do so. Over time it becomes clear that it is an illusion that anything but the barest of bare attentions is suffering-free. With the other method, if you have ever practiced reflections on the unwholesomeness of the body, nibbida comes in when one sees that the state of focusing on the disgusting aspects of the body is actually more unpleasant than focusing on the beautiful aspects, there is a wonderful lightness and freedom experienced, even though it is counterintuitive that focusing on the disgusting would be more pleasant.
An interesting sutta on how bare attention might help with nibbida:http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of nothingness, not attending to the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception — attends to the singleness based on the theme-less concentration of awareness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, & indulges in its theme-less concentration of awareness.
"He discerns that 'This theme-less concentration of awareness is fabricated & mentally fashioned.' And he discerns that 'Whatever is fabricated & mentally fashioned is inconstant & subject to cessation.' For him — thus knowing, thus seeing — the mind is released from the effluent of sensuality, the effluent of becoming, the effluent of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'
"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the effluent of sensuality... the effluent of becoming... the effluent of ignorance, are not present. And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the effluent of sensuality... becoming... ignorance. And there is just this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, pure — superior & unsurpassed.
"Ananda, whatever contemplatives and brahmans who in the past entered & remained in an emptiness that was pure, superior, & unsurpassed, they all entered & remained in this very same emptiness that is pure, superior, & unsurpassed. Whatever contemplatives and brahmans who in the future will enter & remain in an emptiness that will be pure, superior, & unsurpassed, they all will enter & remain in this very same emptiness that is pure, superior, & unsurpassed. Whatever contemplatives and brahmans who at present enter & remain in an emptiness that is pure, superior, & unsurpassed, they all enter & remain in this very same emptiness that is pure, superior, & unsurpassed.
This sutta starts out with recognizing that the perceptions of village, wilderness, earth etc. are each less stressful than the last. Bare attention attempts to skip to the end, where skillful fabrication moves up the ladder. In either case though, one recognizes the lack of disturbance and naturally inclines towards that due to a nibbida with the more disturbing.