Something popped up...

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Something popped up...

Postby catmoon » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:48 am

Lately, I've been having some success in quieting the mind. I seem to have discovered another layer of mental activity underlying the internal voice. Somehow or other I became aware that the mind usually exists in a "mood state" of one kind or another. This is something like a fish becoming aware that there is water.

These mood states are volitionally constructable, and can be destroyed by directing the attention to a new frame of mind. When this is done the old mood state vanishes, which suggests is is dependent on attention in some way. I have been experimenting with them, mostly outside of meditation. One of my favorites is one that arose spontaneously the other day - the mood state of a child, free of fear and responsibility, anticipating Christmas. It is a happy state.

I have also become aware of various afflictive states. These states are strongly biased towards disaster scenarios, anxiety, sadness, tiredness, cynicism and such. It is such a strange phenomenon - it's as if the mind was water and the mood states were variously shaped containers, and the mind took on the shape of whatever container it was poured into.

Does anyone else know what I'm talking about here? It seems to be a very useful bit of knowledge.
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Re: Something popped up...

Postby Ben » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:21 am

Yes.
Well done Catmoon. You may wish to review the satipatthana sutta and in particular, the section on reflection on mental states: cittanupassana with an aim of incorporating those instructions into your practice.
metta

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Re: Something popped up...

Postby catmoon » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:29 am

Ben wrote:Yes.
Well done Catmoon. You may wish to review the satipatthana sutta and in particular, the section on reflection on mental states: cittanupassana with an aim of incorporating those instructions into your practice.
metta

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Oho. I will certainly do so, thank you very much... assuming I can remember how to spell satipatthana long enough to google it! :jumping:
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Re: Something popped up...

Postby Guy » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:50 am

Hi Catmoon,

I have also been (re)discovering and playing with these sort of states lately both in and out of formal meditation. Just before I came online I was sitting outdoors doing nothing in particular just gazing at nature letting Metta flow to the animals that I saw which somehow reminded me of how a child's mind is; no agendas, just being content and happy in the present moment. I wasn't "doing" Metta meditation, it just happened on it's own. I take such experiences to be signs that I am heading in the right direction.

With Metta,

Guy
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Re: Something popped up...

Postby catmoon » Fri Nov 06, 2009 4:22 am

Ok gave the sutra the once over.

Good heavens what a can of worms I have opened. I am no longer sure what exactly it is that I am perceiving: the sutra speaks in terms of more elemental things, I think. But I am sure of how these things are operating, so the remaining question is: what are they?

It all looks closely linked to the five aggregates. The "mood states" of which I spoke appear to be composed of every imaginable mix of emotion: or more accurately, they LEAD to every imaginable mix of emotion. It is as if they were fields of earth, and one could say, from this field will arise 10% wheat, 30% barley and 60% corn, while this other field will give rise almost entirely to peach trees....

What a fascinating business. My "mood states", from which moods and emotions arise, have an obvious element of self-conception in them, and they also have a strong appearance of inherent existence.

Well I think the best thing to do is to give this all a couple of days to sink in. The sutra implies about a bazillion ways of looking at these peculiar critters, so right now I am somewhat overwhelmed by all the possibilities. And I can't figure which comes first, self concept, afflictive emotion, or frame of mind. Maybe it's not important anyways.
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Re: Something popped up...

Postby Ben » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:42 am

Absolutely, my observation is that moods are complex phenomenological events.
Certainly go with being aware and equanimous with quality of the state of mind without any attempt to change it.
metta

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Re: Something popped up...

Postby IanAnd » Fri Nov 06, 2009 4:44 pm

Ben wrote:Certainly go with being aware and equanimous with quality of the state of mind without any attempt to change it.

Ben is on the right track here with regard to proper attention to these "mood states"/mind states. Satipatthana is the treatment and the cure.

And, yes, I'm sure there are several of us here who are familiar with what you are talking about in re: mood states. They can arise due to an association — either through verbal stimulation or from having viewed some similar occurrence that stimulates "feeling" (meaning vedana, or a remembered mind state sensation) and associated memories with that "feeling." It's like when you hear a song that you used to listen to five, ten, or fifteen years ago and it invokes a sense of the past, bringing with it recollections and the general mental mood or mind-state that you experienced back then. We call it "nostalgia." Although what you are speaking about is more associated with the recollection of the mind state experienced in the past and how that mind state is recreated in the present.

If you understand what I'm saying here, then you will understand that these mind states are to be viewed in the same way that all phenomena are to be viewed: with equanimity in light of their three characteristics: anicca, dukkha, and anatta. When that realization breaks through to conscious attention and comprehension, whatever fascination the mind may have with such mind states will break up and pass away.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Something popped up...

Postby catmoon » Sat Nov 07, 2009 4:57 am

IanAnd wrote:
Ben wrote:Certainly go with being aware and equanimous with quality of the state of mind without any attempt to change it.

Ben is on the right track here with regard to proper attention to these "mood states"/mind states. Satipatthana is the treatment and the cure.

And, yes, I'm sure there are several of us here who are familiar with what you are talking about in re: mood states. They can arise due to an association — either through verbal stimulation or from having viewed some similar occurrence that stimulates "feeling" (meaning vedana, or a remembered mind state sensation) and associated memories with that "feeling." It's like when you hear a song that you used to listen to five, ten, or fifteen years ago and it invokes a sense of the past, bringing with it recollections and the general mental mood or mind-state that you experienced back then. We call it "nostalgia." Although what you are speaking about is more associated with the recollection of the mind state experienced in the past and how that mind state is recreated in the present.

Yes, that is exactly what I am talking about, although I would consider nostalgia to be a longing for the past rather than a re-experiencing of it.

If you understand what I'm saying here, then you will understand that these mind states are to be viewed in the same way that all phenomena are to be viewed: with equanimity in light of their three characteristics: anicca, dukkha, and anatta. When that realization breaks through to conscious attention and comprehension, whatever fascination the mind may have with such mind states will break up and pass away.


My Pali is weak. Um... anicca= not sure, dukkha=suffering? anatta=not self? Even if I realize the nature of these states, they still exert a fascination. Its like finding an unusual stone on the beach, and I tend to examine such things longer than most people would. Maybe I just have a lot of curiosity.
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Re: Something popped up...

Postby IanAnd » Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:22 am

catmoon wrote:My Pali is weak. Um... anicca= not sure, dukkha=suffering? anatta=not self?

Sorry. I presumed you knew. Anicca is impermanence. Dukkha, yes, is suffering, but more completely it means unsatisfactoriness in all its forms. And of course, anatta means (literally) "without self" or "without selfness," although it has also been translated as you have stated as "not self." These are the three characteristics of existence which the Buddha acknowledged are part and parcel of every phenomena that we experience. Something to be contemplated and realized of phenomena. The three characteristics, that is.

catmoon wrote:Even if I realize the nature of these states, they still exert a fascination. Its like finding an unusual stone on the beach, and I tend to examine such things longer than most people would. Maybe I just have a lot of curiosity.

A momentary "fascination" will not become a hindrance to unbinding. But an enduring fascination may present a problem with regard to releasing these mind states in the practice of satipatthana. It then becomes a matter of "getting over" one's fascination with them such that dispassion toward them is developed through non-clinging and the cessation of ignorance about them: seeing them as ultimately impermanent, unsatisfactory, and without selfness (or as selfless).
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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