Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.
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Mojo
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Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby Mojo » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:57 pm

Does bare awareness fulfill right concentration the way a noting practice does? Or does one need to supplement with another practice such as metta to fulfill right concentration? Can the vipassana jhanas arise during bare awareness?

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby Mojo » Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:46 pm

I think my understanding of bare awareness may have been flawed, so my question may have been flawed. I was under the impression that bare awareness was just vipassana without the Mahasi style noting. So instead of noting itching itching itching or thinking thinking thinking, one is silently aware that itching or thinking is occurring without the noting.

From what I read and listened to today, I take it that Mahasi style noting may actually fall under the category of bare awareness. So my question really should be, is a non-noting silent awareness sort of mindfulness on par with the noting styles?


Thanks.

Mojo

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby reflection » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:25 pm

There are many interpretations -or definitions if you will- of the term bare awareness. My interpretation of it is very literal; the stage in meditation where there seems to be only awareness. So there is only awareness of awareness, not itching or any breath or whatever. In anapanasati, the breath has disappeared from awareness. But not everybody uses the term like this, so whatever answer you get depends on who you're asking.

But reading the suttas (I may have missed it, and am not aware of all interpretations) I never got across such a term. So the importance of 'bare awareness' may be doubted. In any way, samma samadhi, right concentration, is defined by the jhanas, not by 'bare awareness'.

My understanding is that bare awareness as I use the term and as you seem to use it, is both not jhana.

With metta,
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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby daverupa » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:28 pm

The four satipatthana, developed and repeatedly practiced, fulfill the seven awakening factors, which we can consider to be sammasamadhi. So the question is whether the practice you're describing is done as satipatthana.

One can practice noting, for example, but if one is always noting "he robbed me, he cheated me" that's not going to work. So the approach needs to conform to satipatthana, which means that good methods can come in a wide variety of forms, and some methods can be used correctly or incorrectly. To that extent, finding the right method is finding the theme of your own mind, finding out whether a given approach is working or not.

Satipatthana is necessary; finding the ways of doing satipatthana for oneself is where the adventure begins.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby Samma » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:15 pm

FYI Nyanaponika came up with the term bare attention, see The Heart of Buddhist Meditation & The Power of Mindfulness. And he did practice Mahasi style from what I understand.

Bare attention is the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us, at the successive moments of perception. It is called ‘bare because it attends just to the bare facts of a perception as presented either through the five physical senses or through the mind ... When attending to that sixfold sense impression, attention or mindfulness is kept to a bare registering of the facts observed, without reacting to them by deed, speech, or by mental comment, which may be one of self-reference (like, dislike, etc.), judgement or reflection.


is a non-noting silent awareness sort of mindfulness on par with the noting styles?
So we have 3 terms here, bare awareness, bare attention, silent awareness. And not sure what you mean by on par.

You might take a look at Wings to Awakening, where Thanissaro relates the qualities of mindfulness, ardency, and alertness to the three techniques of breath, noting, and body scan:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... part2.html
Last edited by Samma on Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:39 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:25 pm

reflection wrote:There are many interpretations — or definitions if you will — of the term bare awareness.

Sister Thanassanti, before she ordained, was camping in the woods when she was attacked by a bear. The bear had her head in its mouth. Now that's what I call bare awareness! In such a situation, one would undoubtedly pay full attention to the present moment.
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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby reflection » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:36 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
reflection wrote:There are many interpretations — or definitions if you will — of the term bare awareness.

Sister Thanassanti, before she ordained, was camping in the woods when she was attacked by a bear. The bear had her head in its mouth. Now that's what I call bare awareness! In such a situation, one would undoubtedly pay full attention to the present moment.

:jumping:

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby Mojo » Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:47 pm

Does noting add something to mindfulness or is just an aid in concentration? If it is just an aid in concentration, is it possible that it can outlive its usefulness in that the limitations of language might actually hinder the EXACT identification of what has arisen thus limiting what we gain from the effort rather than just being with whatever has arisen exactly as it is?

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby daverupa » Fri Apr 12, 2013 1:03 am

Ossifying the method "labeling" is to make a problem where there doesn't need to be one; it's a method of accomplishing satipatthana, nothing more. If it doesn't suit your mind, do something else. Satipatthana must be skillfully applied in ones own case - it's inadvisable to simply collect a laundry-list of methods from others and apply them by rote, you know?

Come to an understanding of what a given method is doing with respect to satipatthana, and pay attention to results. Fiddle around.

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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby reflection » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:28 am

Labeling can be useful, and it can be a hindrance. As daverupa pointed out, try out and see. I mainly note the hindrances when they are so strong I find it hard to recognize them. That way labeling demands me to see better what is going on. But I also use other labeling at times. However, I agree it can never really describe what is going on, only very roughly. And it in itself is yet another object, moving the mind further away from one-pointedness. But there are people who swear by it. So see for yourself. I'm not claiming to know what's best for you.

Love! :buddha1:
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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:48 am

Noting must be done incessantly to avoid the arising of misconceptions regarding what is seen, heard, or cognised in accordance with the instructions given to the Elder Poṭhila, to Mālukyaputta, and to Bāhiya.

If a mental note is made as “Seeing, seeing,” while an object is being seen, the object of cognition will cease just with the fact of seeing, and the process of cognition of concepts through reflection on what was seen cannot occur. In accordance with the teaching “Just seeing at the time of seeing (diṭṭhe diṭṭhamattaṃ bhavissati), and consciousness of seeing ends its course right there.

Summary of the Process of Cognition
1. In the first process of cognition of sight, consciousness registers only the ultimate reality of the sight.
2. In the first round of reflection on what has been seen, there is still consciousness of what has actually been seen namely the sight. No misconception has appeared yet. If at this stage, noting is done heedfully, misconception cannot come in. Cognition will rest only on the ultimate object.
3. In the second round of reflection, concept of form and shape of a man or a woman begin to appear.
4. In the third round of reflection, the concept of name as man or woman has appeared. (A Discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, Mahāsi Sayādaw)


Once misconceptions appear in the mind-door, seeing what is not-self as a person or being, defilements can multiply.

Meditating on Forms Brings Nibbāna Near

“Na so rajjati rūpesu, rūpam disvā patissato;
Virattacitto vedeti, tañca nājjhossa titthati.”

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the form that he has seen. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it.”
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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby Mojo » Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:17 am

Thank you Bhikkhu.

I came across Gil Fronsdal's intro series last night and will be working through them over th next few weeks. http://www.audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1762/ I'm also about half way through Joseph Goldstein's satipatthana series. www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/6162/

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby binocular » Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:10 am

I am generally wary about the idea of "bare awareness" and the idea that mindfulness is somehow about "just watching, without judgment."
I have never seen any reference in the suttas for this.

Although reading some books in Western psychology that work with mindfulness (that is, _their_ idea of mindfulness), it occurred to me that those bare awareness folks do have a point, even though I've never seen them put it into words clearly.
Namely, in the absence of having a standard to judge (discern) by, it's probably better not to judge (discern).
Attempting to judge (discern) by a standard that one doesn't hold or isn't sure of will probably only lead to confusion.

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:28 am

binocular wrote:I am generally wary about the idea of "bare awareness" and the idea that mindfulness is somehow about "just watching, without judgment."
I have never seen any reference in the suttas for this.

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

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:41 am

And for more on that sutta follow the links from here: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=16840

:anjali:
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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby binocular » Sat Apr 13, 2013 3:08 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
binocular wrote:I am generally wary about the idea of "bare awareness" and the idea that mindfulness is somehow about "just watching, without judgment."
I have never seen any reference in the suttas for this.

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


Alright, thank you.

For one, this seems like a standard enough teaching on not-self.
For two, it doesn't say that mindfulness is about "just watching, without judgment."
For three, the Buddha gave this instruction to someone who apparently already had great faith in him, not to someone who would have significant doubts about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Bahiya wasn't an ordinary run-of-the-mill person. Thus the instruction given to Bahiya cannot apply to just anyone, especially not to a skeptic.

Moreover, actual Buddhist teachings on not-self are contextualized by the conviction in karma and rebirth. While some of the bare-awareness folks and Western psychologists who have appropriated "mindfulness" and "bare awareness" maintain quite decisively that this one life is all there is for a person and that when the body dies, it's all over. It is my personal opinion that trying to practice "bare awareness" while believing that when this body dies, one ceases as a person, forever, amounts to practicing nihilism, and it's no wonder those people then think they must supplement Buddhist practice with Western psychology, given that they believe that Buddhism is insufficient.

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Re: Bare Awareness and Right Concentration?

Postby Samma » Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:59 pm

As for Bahiya I'd say tathatā:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 23&start=0

If someone wants to suggest how this is bare awareness/attention go ahead:
"Thus, monks, the Tathagata, when seeing what is to be seen, doesn't construe an [object as] seen. He doesn't construe an unseen. He doesn't construe an [object] to-be-seen. He doesn't construe a seer.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

especially in western Buddhism, we often use meditation terms loosely without quite knowing what they mean. A case in point would be the terms “bare awareness” and “bare attention,” which even long-time meditators, depending on how or by whom they have been taught, sometimes interchange.

For the purposes of the present discussion, at least, “bare awareness,” may, in a purely epistemological sense, be said to mean “bare awareness” of sense experience, i.e. bare registering of mind-body sensations, prior to any resultant arising mental associations; whereas “bare attention” or mindfulness, may be said to mean, a detached act of observing a mental action, carefully and heedfully, as yet uninvolved in any sense contact leading to mental action, standing back with objective detachment , analyzing potential sources and causes in the processes of arising mental associations, avoiding mental attachments that may lead to effects in resultant mental actions and reactions that will upset equanimity—in other words, in other words—“the-mind watching-the-mind.”
http://www.noblepath.info/buddhist_arti ... reness.pdf


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