Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby manas » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:53 pm

As I was taking my morning cup of tea to the computer this morning, I noticed how every morning the same thing is happening. There is a kind of excitement in the mind, subtle but it's there. Because, I'm a good tea-maker, I make the tea with ginger, milk, and honey, it's delicious, and I always savour that taste.

It is interesting that I have noticed how I look forward to this little ritual every morning, and never thought much more of it. I would just then sit down and enjoy it. But this morning, I thought that maybe I ought to try to taste the pleasant flavour of the tea 'in and of itself', that is, without the usual accompanying greed that goes along with it. I recall this:

"There is the case where a monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world."


The first thing I noticed was little objection from the mind: "But this is one of the few pleasures you've got left, do you really want to give up even this little enjoyment?" Then i contemplated, well, I never said I would not fully experience the flavour of the tea, but only that I would experience it without any accompanying movement of the mind towards it if pleasant, or away from it if unpleasant. But I just noticed that my mind's initial objection proved this to be correct:

The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality,
not the beautiful sensual pleasures
found in the world.
The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality.

The beauties remain as they are in the world,
while the wise, in this regard,
subdue their desire.


The mind doesn't merely want to taste the tea, it wants to enjoy the tea as well. Just tasting it without the "ooh yeah, I'll have more of that!" factor in the mind seems not to be as much 'fun'. It seems that I've been actually attached to craving for things. I am beginning to see this now.

But, I decided to try this out, treating it as a meditation of sorts. With every sip of the tea, I tried to 'just taste' the pleasant flavours without the 'ooh yeah' factor, the accompanying craving for more. It is harder to do this than I thought. What ended up happening was, I would notice the pleasant taste, mixed with the movement of the mind towards it - the relishing. But it was very hard to just 'taste' the tea without being really 'into' it. I do not think I was able to separate tanha from vedana as I had aspired to.

So, I am interested to try this again, and with food as well. If anyone has some advice about this practice I would appreciate it. But, this is a part of the practice is it not?
To eat and drink calmly, thoroughly tasting every morsel yet not trying to 'get off' on the pleasant flavours, but rather, just experiencing 'pleasant flavours' - yes?

Thanks for reading

:anjali:
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby ohnofabrications » Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:09 am

"So, I am interested to try this again, and with food as well. If anyone has some advice about this practice I would appreciate it. But, this is a part of the practice is it not?
To eat and drink calmly, thoroughly tasting every morsel yet not trying to 'get off' on the pleasant flavours, but rather, just experiencing 'pleasant flavours' - yes? "

Nice! This is sense restraint.

"What ended up happening was, I would notice the pleasant taste, mixed with the movement of the mind towards it - the relishing. But it was very hard to just 'taste' the tea without being really 'into' it. I do not think I was able to separate tanha from vedana as I had aspired to."

Try noticing all the subtle details of the experience. Every pinprick of taste and texture and temperature.

This is 100% the right direction. Why not do it with everything you experience ever?

Seeing a form
— mindfulness lapsed —
attending
to the theme of 'endearing,'
impassioned in mind,
one feels
and remains fastened there.
One's feelings, born of the form,
grow numerous,
Greed & annoyance
injure one's mind.
Thus amassing stress,
one is said to be far from Unbinding.

Hearing a sound...
Smelling an aroma...
Tasting a flavor...
Touching a tactile sensation...

Knowing an idea
— mindfulness lapsed —
attending
to the theme of 'endearing,'
impassioned in mind,
one feels
and remains fastened there.
One's feelings, born of the idea,
grow numerous,
Greed & annoyance
injure one's mind.
Thus amassing stress,
one is said to be far from Unbinding.

Not impassioned with forms
— seeing a form with mindfulness firm —
dispassioned in mind,
one knows
and doesn't remain fastened there.
While one is seeing a form
— and even experiencing feeling —
it falls away and doesn't accumulate.
Thus one fares mindfully.
Thus not amassing stress,
one is said to be
in the presence of Unbinding.

Not impassioned with sounds...
Not impassioned with aromas...
Not impassioned with flavors...
Not impassioned with tactile sensations...

Not impassioned with ideas
— knowing an idea with mindfulness firm —
dispassioned in mind,
one knows
and doesn't remain fastened there.
While one is knowing an idea
— and even experiencing feeling —
it falls away and doesn't accumulate.
Thus one fares mindfully.
Thus not amassing stress,
one is said to be
in the presence of Unbinding.
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:36 am

manas wrote:Trying to separate tanha from vedana
It is not a matter of trying to separate one from the other. It is a matter of seeing (not thinking about or imagining) the arising of wanting from the sensation or from other preceding thoughts. What you are doing is an interesting practice, but where it really can be seen is with a very quiet, concentrated and mindful mind. Also, keep in mind that one can experience tanha without acting upon it.
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: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby manas » Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:42 pm

Thank you ohnofabs, and Tilt, for your replies. I had better read some detailed instructions from a living teacher about 'mindfulness in daily life' including eating, etc. Maybe Ven. Thanissaro's book on Mindfulness, and / or Ven. Analayo's

I will find out how it's done :)
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby alan » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:23 pm

Enjoy your tea, manas.
Your first quote was in reference to a highly developed meditative state. Don't worry about that now, it will just lead to illogical conclusions.

The second is an oft quoted passage which should be understood in a broader context.

I'd advise you to have as much tea as you like while you read and understand the Suttas.
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby IanAnd » Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:57 pm

manas wrote:As I was taking my morning cup of tea to the computer this morning, I noticed how every morning the same thing is happening. There is a kind of excitement in the mind, subtle but it's there. Because, I'm a good tea-maker, I make the tea with ginger, milk, and honey, it's delicious, and I always savour that taste.

. . . But this morning, I thought that maybe I ought to try to taste the pleasant flavour of the tea 'in and of itself', that is, without the usual accompanying greed that goes along with it. I recall this:

"There is the case where a monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world."

The mind doesn't merely want to taste the tea, it wants to enjoy the tea as well. Just tasting it without the "ooh yeah, I'll have more of that!" factor in the mind seems not to be as much 'fun'. It seems that I've been actually attached to craving for things. I am beginning to see this now.

Nothing wrong with enjoying a delicious distraction as a respite from the world. And your experiment provided you with a valuable learning moment, and an opportunity to graphically understand an important point from the Dhamma.

You should be able to enjoy the tea without becoming "attached" to it through craving. Enjoy it in the moment, then let go; the moment of its arising, endurance, and passing away without necessarily becoming desirous or attached to that moment on account of mindfulness of it. This is what Tilt was pointing out when he said "one can experience tanha without acting upon it." Just let it go, and notice that letting go. That's all. It's simple.

There are some pleasures that are not indicative of an attachment by craving for sensual pleasures resulting in unwholesome states. Recall that the Buddha once questioned his own experience of dhyana, saying: "Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?" Then it occurred to him, "I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states." And he proceeded to develop his practice of dhyana with a clear mind at ease.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby adosa » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:56 pm

IanAnd wrote:Nothing wrong with enjoying a delicious distraction as a respite from the world. And your experiment provided you with a valuable learning moment, and an opportunity to graphically understand an important point from the Dhamma.

You should be able to enjoy the tea without becoming "attached" to it through craving. Enjoy it in the moment, then let go; the moment of its arising, endurance, and passing away without necessarily becoming desirous or attached to that moment on account of mindfulness of it. This is what Tilt was pointing out when he said "one can experience tanha without acting upon it." Just let it go, and notice that letting go. That's all. It's simple.

There are some pleasures that are not indicative of an attachment by craving for sensual pleasures resulting in unwholesome states. Recall that the Buddha once questioned his own experience of dhyana, saying: "Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?" Then it occurred to him, "I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states." And he proceeded to develop his practice of dhyana with a clear mind at ease.


This is an interesting notion. Can anyone expound upon it a little more please? How, in a the real world, do you "let go" of craving? By simply going back to mindfulness of the body? http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.206.than.html

D.O. happens so fast that in my experience it's nearly impossible to enjoy something without it going straight to, at a minimum, a subtle craving. Are you saying that it is ok to enjoy sense pleasures and to just watch the letting go of attachment through returning to mindfulness of the body, etc.?

Are you saying in essence that the practice is to see craving, how it feels, and then to see release and how it feels? And then in time we eventually hope to be done with craving?

As far as the bolded, wasn't the Buddha talking about not being afraid of jhana rather than sensual pleasures? The two aren't the same are they? A cup of tea is a sensual pleasure, whereas jhana arises from the seclusion from sense pleasures, no? So if the Buddha was saying he had no reason to fear sensual pleasures, which I'm not sure that's what he meant here, what's with all the suttas cajoling his monks to seclude themselves from sensual pleasures?

Thanks, not trying to be argumentative but this is just something in the day to day lay practice I've never been able to get my head around....
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby culaavuso » Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:23 am

adosa wrote:As far as the bolded, wasn't the Buddha talking about not being afraid of jhana rather than sensual pleasures? The two aren't the same are they? A cup of tea is a sensual pleasure, whereas jhana arises from the seclusion from sense pleasures, no? So if the Buddha was saying he had no reason to fear sensual pleasures, which I'm not sure that's what he meant here, what's with all the suttas cajoling his monks to seclude themselves from sensual pleasures?


MN 66: Laṭukikopama Sutta wrote:And, Udayin, there are these five strings of sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Sounds cognizable via the ear... Aromas cognizable via the nose... Flavors cognizable via the tongue... Tactile sensations cognizable via the body — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. These are the five strings of sensuality. Now, any pleasure & happiness that arises dependent on these five strings of sensuality is called sensual pleasure, a filthy pleasure, a run-of-the-mill pleasure, an ignoble pleasure. And of this pleasure I say that it is not to be cultivated, not to be developed, not to be pursued, that it is to be feared.

Now, there is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is called renunciation-pleasure, seclusion-pleasure, calm-pleasure, self-awakening-pleasure. And of this pleasure I say that it is to be cultivated, to be developed, to be pursued, that it is not to be feared.
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:43 am

MN 22 wrote:"It's good, monks, that you understand the Dhamma taught by me in this way, for in many ways I have described obstructive acts to you, and when indulged in they are genuine obstructions. I have said that sensual pleasures are of little satisfaction, much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks. I have compared sensual pleasures to a chain of bones: of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks. I have compared sensual pleasures to a lump of flesh... a grass torch... a pit of glowing embers... a dream... borrowed goods... the fruits of a tree... a butcher's ax and chopping block... swords and spears... a snake's head: of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks. But this monk Arittha Formerly-of-the-Vulture-Killers, through his own wrong grasp [of the Dhamma], has both misrepresented us as well as injuring himself and accumulating much demerit for himself, and that will lead to this worthless man's long-term harm & suffering. For a person to indulge in sensual pleasures without sensual passion, without sensual perception, without sensual thinking: That isn't possible.
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby culaavuso » Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:48 am

adosa wrote:this is just something in the day to day lay practice I've never been able to get my head around....


Perhaps AN 8.54 would be helpful as an explanation of the Dhamma specifically for lay people still enjoying sensuality.

AN 8.54: Byagghapajja Sutta wrote:Dighajanu the Koliyan went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "We are lay people enjoying sensuality; living crowded with spouses & children; using Kasi fabrics & sandalwood; wearing garlands, scents, & creams; handling gold & silver. May the Blessed One teach the Dhamma for those like us, for our happiness & well-being in this life, for our happiness & well-being in lives to come."

[The Blessed One said:] "There are these four qualities, TigerPaw, that lead to a lay person's happiness and well-being in this life. Which four? Being consummate in initiative, being consummate in vigilance, admirable friendship, and maintaining one's livelihood in tune.
...
"These, TigerPaw, are the four qualities that lead to a lay person's happiness and well-being in this life.

"There are these four qualities that lead to a lay person's happiness and well-being in lives to come. Which four? Being consummate in conviction, being consummate in virtue, being consummate in generosity, being consummate in discernment.
...
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby SarathW » Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:54 am

Mental formations can't be separate from each other as they are dependently originated.
We separate them to categories for study purpose and to increase the awareness.
Vedana can be attribute to both attachment and aversion which are the result of ignorance.
How ever your way of investigation is quite helpful. :thumbsup:
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jun 10, 2014 4:48 am

Try making the tea without the honey, or without the honey and ginger. If you're thirsty, and just need to drink, why do you need sugar? It's easy to see the craving when you remove whatever it is that stimulates it. One could just drink hot water, or cold water. Why does it have to be tea with honey and ginger? No harm in it, of course, it's not like Cocaine but caffeine i's still habit-forming and mildly addictive.

My broadband connection was down all day yesterday. When I cannot follow my normal routine, it's easy to see what I am attached to.

Ajahn Chah was always doing things to break that habit-forming behaviour in his monks. Seeing how they were attached to the coffee that gets passed down the line of monks every time there's an all-night sit, one time he just kept the coffee pot by his seat. He didn't take any himself, and didn't pass it down the line. About 3:00 am he asked the monks, “Anybody want some coffee?” By then, the monks had forgotten about it, but it must have been an interesting few hours watching their minds: “When's he going to pass down the coffee?”
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby manas » Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:20 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Try making the tea without the honey, or without the honey and ginger. If you're thirsty, and just need to drink, why do you need sugar? It's easy to see the craving when you remove whatever it is that stimulates it. One could just drink hot water, or cold water. Why does it have to be tea with honey and ginger? No harm in it, of course, it's not like Cocaine but caffeine i's still habit-forming and mildly addictive.

My broadband connection was down all day yesterday. When I cannot follow my normal routine, it's easy to see what I am attached to.

Ajahn Chah was always doing things to break that habit-forming behaviour in his monks. Seeing how they were attached to the coffee that gets passed down the line of monks every time there's an all-night sit, one time he just kept the coffee pot by his seat. He didn't take any himself, and didn't pass it down the line. About 3:00 am he asked the monks, “Anybody want some coffee?” By then, the monks had forgotten about it, but it must have been an interesting few hours watching their minds: “When's he going to pass down the coffee?”


Thank you for your insightful words, Bhante. I had forgotten all about this old post of mine, and suddenly it just reappears. In retrospect, rereading it now, I think I was complicating things too much back then.

kind regards
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby pegembara » Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:24 am

You can't separate them. Feeling (vedana) moves the mind. The mind which was originally at peace becomes unsettled when the feelings are strong. Once a pleasurable or unpleasurable feeling arise, there is a movement towards or away from the object that arouse those feelings. Even neutral feeling can be pleasant and the mind does not want to pulled away from it. This tendency to be pulled or pushed or remain stucked is what constitutes tanha.

Just curious how clinging to views and beliefs can be related to feelings since they are not the 5 strands of sensuality described above.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:51 am

pegembara wrote:You can't separate them. Feeling (vedana) moves the mind. The mind which was originally at peace becomes unsettled when the feelings are strong. Once a pleasurable or unpleasurable feeling arise, there is a movement towards or away from the object that arouse those feelings. Even neutral feeling can be pleasant and the mind does not want to pulled away from it. This tendency to be pulled or pushed or remain stucked is what constitutes tanha.

Just curious how clinging to views and beliefs can be related to feelings since they are not the 5 strands of sensuality described above.


Maybe this will help? Especially the last sentence of the last paragraph.

MN 143 wrote:Good sir, Sàriputta, I do not feel well, will not survive. My unpleasant feelings are severe and increasing, not decreasing. The unpleasant feelings are increasing until the end. Good sir, Sàriputta, my top hurts a lot. I feel as though a strong man was giving me a headdress with a strong cloth. I do not feel well and will not survive. My unpleasant feelings are severe and increasing, not decreasing. The unpleasant feelings are increasing until the end. Good sir, Sàriputta, my belly hurts a lot as though a lot of air was turning about in my belly. I feel as though a clever butcher or his apprentice was carving my belly with a sharp butcher's knife I do not feel well and will not survive. My unpleasant feelings are severe and increasing, not decreasing. The unpleasant feelings are increasing until the end. Good sir, Sàriputta, there is a lot burning in my body. I feel as though two strong men taking me by my hands and feet are pulling me to a pit of burning embers and are scorching and burning me. I do not feel well and will not survive. My unpleasant feelings are severe and increasing, not decreasing. The unpleasant feelings are increasing until the end.

Householder, if that is so, you should train thus. I will not cling to the eye, will not be settled in eye consciousness. I will not cling to the ear, will not be settled in ear consciousness. I will not cling to the nose, will not be settled in nose consciousness. I will not cling to the tongue, will not be settled in tongue consciousness. I will not cling to the body, will not be settled in body consciousness. I will not cling to the mind, will not be settled in mind consciousness.

Therefore householder, you should train thus. I will not cling to forms, and be settled in forms. I will not cling to sounds, and be settled in sounds. I will not cling to scents, and be settled in scents. I will not cling to tastes, and be settled in tastes. I will not cling to touches, and be settled in touches. I will not cling to ideas, and be settled in ideas.

Therefore householder, you should train thus I will not cling to eye-consciousness, following thoughts clinging to eye-consciousness. I will not cling to ear-consciousness, following thoughts clinging to ear-consciousness. I will not cling to nose-consciousness, following thoughts clinging to nose-consciousness.

I will not cling to taste-consciousness, following thoughts clinging to taste-consciousness. I will not cling to body-consciousness, following thoughts clinging to body-consciousness. I will not cling to mind-consciousness, following thoughts clinging to mind-consciousness.

Therefore householder, you should train thus, I will not cling to eye contact and follow thoughts settled in eye contact. I will not cling to ear contact and follow thoughts settled in ear contact. I will not cling to nose contact and follow thoughts settled in nose contact I will not cling to taste contact and follow thoughts settled in taste contact. I will not cling to body contact and follow thoughts settled in body contact. I will not cling to mind contact and follow thoughts settled in mind contact.

Therefore householder, you should train thus, I will not cling to feelings born of eye contact, and follow thoughts settling in eye contact. I will not cling to feelings born of ear contact, and follow thoughts settling in ear contact. I will not cling to feelings born of nose contact, and follow thoughts settling in nose contact I will not cling to feelings born of taste contact, and follow thoughts settling in taste contact. I will not cling to feelings born of body contact, and follow thoughts settling in body contact. I will not cling to feelings born of mind contact, and follow thoughts settling in mind contact.
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby pegembara » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:42 am

Thanks.

Feelings born of mind contact, and follow thoughts settling in mind contact. Probably the last and hardest to let go of.

"But when a monk is attaining the cessation of perception & feeling, which things cease first: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, or mental fabrications?"

"When a monk is attaining the cessation of perception & feeling, friend Visakha, verbal fabrications cease first, then bodily fabrications, then mental fabrications."

....directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental; these are things tied up with the mind.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:59 am

pegembara wrote:Thanks.

Feelings born of mind contact, and follow thoughts settling in mind contact. Probably the last and hardest to let go of.

"But when a monk is attaining the cessation of perception & feeling, which things cease first: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, or mental fabrications?"

"When a monk is attaining the cessation of perception & feeling, friend Visakha, verbal fabrications cease first, then bodily fabrications, then mental fabrications."

....directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental; these are things tied up with the mind.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Yeah, I think so. It seems much more subtle than the comparatively gross 5 cords of sensual pleasure.
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby Lostegasa » Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:44 pm

Let the mind appreciate your tea and allow the mind to learn with you about this idea of separating pleasure and comment. The thing is not really to harm yourself from reducing pleasure but to learn what pleasure is, if you don't know you will come back desesperately to pleasure in a more unbalanced way. It should be a learnt lesson from your experience about this tea. It takes time to understand different kinds of pleasure and their nature but if you don't try it you never know. Best to be fed up rather than excited to be fed up.
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Re: Trying to separate tanha from vedana

Postby Sweet_Nothing » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:48 am

In seeing, only seeing.
In smelling, only smelling.
In tasting, only tasting.
In feeling, only feeling.

Watch yourself in this way from the moment you wake up to the moment you finish the tea, and perceive the relinquishment that you feel from this activity: all in a detached/equanimous manner.
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