Labeling confusion

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Labeling confusion

Postby Gwyddion » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:09 pm

Hi I wonder if anyone could clear this up for me - When noting during insight meditation do you literally say the word of noting in your head? Such as "ris-ing" "fall-ing?"

The reason I ask this is because it seems the words used during one's insight meditation mask the phenomenon being observed slightly - instinctively I feel that it should be noted without words because words are thoughts. But maybe the words are only there to help the beginner and later on they are abandoned for only awareness of phenomenon (noting on its own).

I hope I have made this understandable,

thanks
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Re: Labeling confusion

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:16 pm

The purpose of the mental noting or labelling is to push the mind towards the object being noted. Without it, a beginner will not pay careful attention to the object.

It is the jhāna factor of initial application (vitakka) of the mind to the object. Later, the mental labelling will not be required when the mind is fixed on the object(s) being noted.

From The Vipassanā Jhānas (Sayādaw U Paṇḍita)

The Relationship of Vitakka and Vicāra

In the development of jhānic states, these two factors of vitakka and vicāra, accurate aim and impingement, are absolutely important. The two of them have a close relationship which is much discussed in the scriptures. Below are two examples.

Imagine that you have a brass cup that is covered with dirt and stains. You take brass polish and put it on a rag. Holding the cup in one hand, you use the other hand to rub the rag against its surface. Working diligently and carefully, soon you will have a shiny cup.

In the same way, a yogi must hold his or her mind in the particular place where the primary object is occurring, the abdomen. He or she keeps applying mindfulness at that place, rubbing it until the stains and pollution of the kilesas disappear. Then he or she will be able to penetrate into the true nature of what is happening at that spot. He or she will comprehend the process of rising and falling. Of course, if other objects become more prominent than the primary object, a yogi must note them applying vitakka and vicāra toward the new phenomena.

Holding the mug with one hand is analogous to vitakka, while the polishing action is analogous to vicāra. Imagine what would happen if this yogi only held on to the mug and did not polish it. It would remain as dirty as before.

If he or she tried to polish it without holding it steady, it would again be impossible to do a good job. This illustrates the interdependency of the two factors.
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Re: Labeling confusion

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:39 pm

Thanks Bhante,

As Ven Pesala says, the labelling is a technique to aid noticing the object. This can be remarkably difficult when you are starting out. I think it took me months before I was really noticing motion of feet, abdomen, etc. For quite some time I believe I was imagining the motion.

Certainly if:
... it seems the words used during one's insight meditation mask the phenomenon being observed slightly ...

there is something not quite right. The idea is quite the opposite of "thinking about the object", the idea is to discern the object more clearly without thinking or internal chatter, etc...

This takes a bit of practice, and for some people it's confusing. If you work with a good teacher, or read and listen carefully to books and on-line talks from good teachers, it should become much clearer.

See also my reply in this thread:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 88#p214588

:anjali:
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Re: Labeling confusion

Postby Billymac29 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:18 pm

Just a quick question. Should one note 3 or more experiences in their meditation.. for instance i've heard noting "rising" falling" of the abdomen.. i've also heard of noting more like "rising" "falling" "sitting".. or 4 like "rising" "falling" sitting" "touching"...
does one want to ultimately note all these things in succession like that?? or is it good just to stay with the rising and falling only?

much metta
thanks

:anjali:
"whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon will be the inclination of one's mind"
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Re: Labeling confusion

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:55 pm

There's a gap between the end of the rising and the beginning of the falling, and between the end of the falling and the beginning of the rising. Its easy for the mind to wander during this gap, so note sitting and/or touching — rising, sitting, falling, touching, etc. — whatever works for you.

When restless, calm and relax the mind by noting fewer objects. When sleepy, note more objects.

When secondary objects occur, e.g. hearing, seeing, thinking, pain, etc., note them instead of the rising/falling movements. Return to the primary objects when the secondary objects fade away.
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Re: Labeling confusion

Postby Billymac29 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:39 pm

thank you Bhante :smile:
:bow:


with metta
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