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:
Primum non nocere: "first, do no harm."
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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 :)
Primum non nocere: "first, do no harm."
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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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