noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby salty-J » Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:18 pm

wow what a lot of fun smilie choices... :juggling:
:tongue:
so my question is @ during meditation... I can do the noting I think ok, as far as, "there's thinking" or whatnot, but always after I've begun thinking, never at the same time, like I am having a thought and then I sort of interupt my thought when I notice I am thinking, with the note, "thinking", but I haven't been able to "watch" my thoughts, much less catch them before they happen, (which I could see taking quite some time to accomplish)
Is this common? Is anyone able to experiance their thoughts while at the same time, have a mindful awareness of the process happening as it happens? If so, how did it just start one day, or were you always able to do it like that? I know I'm supposed to be aware of the present moment as it is occuring, and whatever is happening to accept it and just watch, but it is toward a goal in the end after all, (although I don't usually think about the goal much during meditation) I am wondering if I sound on track or off track to you all and what your experiances have been with being aware of thinking at the same time as thoughts are happening.
:thanks:
oh I guess this is my first post here, so hello! :smile:
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:28 pm

Hello Salty-J
& welcome to Dhamma-Wheel

salty-J wrote:wow what a lot of fun smilie choices... :juggling:
:tongue:
so my question is @ during meditation... I can do the noting I think ok, as far as, "there's thinking" or whatnot, but always after I've begun thinking, never at the same time, like I am having a thought and then I sort of interupt my thought when I notice I am thinking, with the note, "thinking", but I haven't been able to "watch" my thoughts, much less catch them before they happen, (which I could see taking quite some time to accomplish)
Is this common? Is anyone able to experiance their thoughts while at the same time, have a mindful awareness of the process happening as it happens? If so, how did it just start one day, or were you always able to do it like that? I know I'm supposed to be aware of the present moment as it is occuring, and whatever is happening to accept it and just watch, but it is toward a goal in the end after all, (although I don't usually think about the goal much during meditation) I am wondering if I sound on track or off track to you all and what your experiances have been with being aware of thinking at the same time as thoughts are happening.
:thanks:
oh I guess this is my first post here, so hello! :smile:


You will catch-up, so long as you do the practice you will become more and more adept at it, and eventually the thoughts will happen and the noting will be at the same time, or before, 'arising thought' 'arisen thought' 'subsiding thought' etc. same would go for any of the four frames of reference.

hope this helps!
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby Freawaru » Wed Dec 30, 2009 5:56 pm

Hello salty-J

salty-J wrote:wow what a lot of fun smilie choices... :juggling:
:tongue:
so my question is @ during meditation... I can do the noting I think ok, as far as, "there's thinking" or whatnot, but always after I've begun thinking, never at the same time, like I am having a thought and then I sort of interupt my thought when I notice I am thinking, with the note, "thinking", but I haven't been able to "watch" my thoughts, much less catch them before they happen, (which I could see taking quite some time to accomplish)
Is this common?


Yes. It takes some time and practice to get to the simultaneous observation. Here is a nice description of someone who developed it. As you can read it can take years - so don't give up : http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/bucknell.htm

Is anyone able to experiance their thoughts while at the same time, have a mindful awareness of the process happening as it happens?


Yes, so yes, it is possible !

If so, how did it just start one day, or were you always able to do it like that?


Frankly, I fear I can't give such a detailed description as the guy from the link. I didn't write a diary or something. Also, I never tried to develop it in the first place as noone told me it can be done. I recall that as a child I was irritated by my emotions, didn't like it that only afterwards I would become aware that I did something or say something. I didn't like the loss of control. It was always afterwards, not in the present, that I became aware. At one day I realised that this had changed, that I would know what I would say or do or think while I did it and sometimes (with enough concentration) before I did it - even during emotions. Then I read something about this, claiming that it was impossible, that emotions would always hinder awareness and that one needs to suppress them, to keep calm. Odd, isn't it? What people think. Always better to trust one's own experience.
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby Kenshou » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:51 pm

Sounds like you're just having a case of getting lost in thought. Keep working at it and eventually as soon as your thoughts start to waver, you'll notice. You might not be able to stop it, but your awareness of it will become more on-target as you go, and I suppose that's what matters. As has been said, practice practice!
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby salty-J » Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:34 am

Freawaru wrote:Hello salty-J

salty-J wrote:wow what a lot of fun smilie choices... :juggling:
:tongue:
so my question is @ during meditation... I can do the noting I think ok, as far as, "there's thinking" or whatnot, but always after I've begun thinking, never at the same time, like I am having a thought and then I sort of interupt my thought when I notice I am thinking, with the note, "thinking", but I haven't been able to "watch" my thoughts, much less catch them before they happen, (which I could see taking quite some time to accomplish)
Is this common?


Yes. It takes some time and practice to get to the simultaneous observation. Here is a nice description of someone who developed it. As you can read it can take years - so don't give up : http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/bucknell.htm

Is anyone able to experiance their thoughts while at the same time, have a mindful awareness of the process happening as it happens?


Yes, so yes, it is possible !

If so, how did it just start one day, or were you always able to do it like that?


Frankly, I fear I can't give such a detailed description as the guy from the link. I didn't write a diary or something. Also, I never tried to develop it in the first place as noone told me it can be done. I recall that as a child I was irritated by my emotions, didn't like it that only afterwards I would become aware that I did something or say something. I didn't like the loss of control. It was always afterwards, not in the present, that I became aware. At one day I realised that this had changed, that I would know what I would say or do or think while I did it and sometimes (with enough concentration) before I did it - even during emotions. Then I read something about this, claiming that it was impossible, that emotions would always hinder awareness and that one needs to suppress them, to keep calm. Odd, isn't it? What people think. Always better to trust one's own experience.

thanks for posting that link, interesting article. I dream of having the focus that guy must have had just to do one of his retracing exercises, much less remember them long enough to write it down! :thinking:
the things I've been reading have been advising not to suppress anything, just to mindfully observe them, whatever they are, emotional feeling, thoughts, or whatever, and I've been trying to do that when I can remember to.....hey I recall that earlier today I was irritated by my emotions, so I sure hope I can make some progress! I tried sitting earlier for @ 25 minutes and the concentration levels were very weak, I was trying to count to focus on the breath, and didn't make it to 5 very many times..... :cookoo:
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:30 am

salty-J wrote:wow what a lot of fun smilie choices...
so my question is @ during meditation... I can do the noting I think ok, as far as, "there's thinking" or whatnot, but always after I've begun thinking, never at the same time, like I am having a thought and then I sort of interupt my thought when I notice I am thinking, with the note, "thinking", but I haven't been able to "watch" my thoughts, much less catch them before they happen, (which I could see taking quite some time to accomplish)

As your mindfulness becomes more subtle, refined, and concentration stronger you can get to a point where is can "feel" a thought start to arise. In a real sense it is not really quite being mindful at the same time. The mind is very fluid. It is the thing arising and then being mindful of it, It moves very quickly back and forth. When the mindfulness is not very refined the process is slower and in comparison it seems a bit clumsy and the feeling that one being mindful after the fact is far more evident, and the mindfulness can "interrupt" the process rather than letting it rise and fall. When the mindfulness is more refined that is not quite the case.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby catmoon » Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:53 am

I had my post all composed in my head, and then reading down the thread, saw that Tilt essentially got there first. So just let me add my voice to those asserting that, in quietude, one can develop the skill of seeing a thought starting to form, some seconds prior to it's arrival. Then one can return to object with hardly a ripple appearing in the calm waters.
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jan 01, 2010 5:53 am

Welcome salty-J :hello:

How long have you been practising?
tiltbillings wrote:As your mindfulness becomes more subtle, refined, and concentration stronger you can get to a point where is can "feel" a thought start to arise....

Yes, I can only do this reliably in a retreat situation, and only after 3 years of practise, including several retreats... If you have not tried it it may be hard to believe how much clearer the mind can become after several days of not talking, not having any responsibilities, just sleeping and noting...

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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby IanAnd » Fri Jan 01, 2010 5:10 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:As your mindfulness becomes more subtle, refined, and concentration stronger you can get to a point where is can "feel" a thought start to arise....

Yes, I can only do this reliably in a retreat situation, and only after 3 years of practise, including several retreats... If you have not tried it it may be hard to believe how much clearer the mind can become after several days of not talking, not having any responsibilities, just sleeping and noting...

Yes. This is one of the main reasons that the Buddha recommended seclusion (viveka) in his discourses as part of the ingredients to proper practice. This instruction can be found at the Dhammadayada Sutta MN 3.5ff (ff = and following) as well as mentioned in several other passages from the suttas.

At MN 3.5 Sariputta is shown addressing the bhikkhus in training with the following question: "And in what way do disciples of the Teacher who lives secluded train in seclusion?" The bhikkhus agree that they would like to learn this teaching of the Buddha from Sariputta, who then proceeds to tell them: "Friends, in what way do disciples of the Teacher who lives secluded not train in seclusion? Here disciples of the Teacher do not train in seclusion; they do not abandon what the Teacher tells them to abandon; they are luxurious and careless, leaders in backsliding, neglectful of seclusion.

"In this the elder bhikkhus are to be blamed for three reasons. As disciples of the Teacher who lives secluded they do not train in seclusion: they are to be blamed for this first reason. They do not abandon what the Teacher tells them to abandon: they are to be blamed for this second reason. They are luxurious and careless, leaders in backsliding, neglectful of seclusion: they are to be blamed for this third reason. The elder bhikkhus are to be blamed for these three reasons.

"In what way, friends, do disciples of the Teacher who lives secluded train in seclusion? Here disciples of the Teacher train in seclusion: they abandon what the Teacher tells them to abandon; they are not luxurious and careless, they are keen to avoid backsliding, and are leaders in seclusion."

"Friends, the evil herein is greed and hatred ... anger and revenge... contempt and a domineering attitude ... envy and avarice ... deceit and fraud ... obstinacy and presumption ... conceit and arrogance ... vanity and negligence. There is a Middle Way for the abandoning of vanity and negligence, giving vision, giving knowledge, which leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. And what is that Middle Way? It is just this Noble Eightfold Path..."

Now, the obvious question here for the modern world is: How does all this relate to a householder's life who is endeavoring to live in the world while at the same time to practice seclusion? Obviously, if you think about it, this can be very difficult indeed! A householder's life is one of many unending duties in order to keep up with the many obligations of living a worldly life. The best one can do is to engulf oneself in as peaceful an atmosphere as is possible when one is not working (earning a living) and continue the practice in that atmosphere as best he can.

This may mean turning off the television, the stereo, and the radio and living in silence so that you create the kind of secluded lifestyle that is conducive to serious practice. It may mean eschewing social relationships during portions of your day while you are practicing. It may mean paying attention to (being mindful of) where your mind is leading you throughout your day so that you can see the beginning, middle, and end effect that all your thoughts have on your psyche and how these effect your sense of peace of mind. It may mean giving up (for a period of time) some of your cherished hobbies or past times (those which distract you from being able to follow the subtle turnings of the mind) in favor of your practice. If you are not doing these things, then you are "backsliding." You are not creating a secluded lifestyle conducive to serious practice.

I only began to make serious headway in my own practice when I made a conscious decision to practice seclusion from the world and worldly distractions. It is this seclusion from distractions that pays dividends in practice as it allows one to pay closer attention to subtle mental activity when it is occurring; otherwise one is likely to let it slip by unnoticed and unattended to. I was lucky at the time because I had enough financial stability to afford myself the luxury of a private retreat period of two and a half years where all I attended to was the practice and contemplation of the Dhamma. While this was good for me, it may not be something that everyone out there is able to do.

So, the best one can do in such a situation is to set up an amenable practice regimen that he intends to keep without backsliding from that commitment. Once you begin to receive the benefits of seclusion, your mind will begin to incline toward seclusion, and it will not be such a big deal to give up those things that you formerly perceived as being enjoyable past times.
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby seanpdx » Fri Jan 01, 2010 5:45 pm

IanAnd wrote:Now, the obvious question here for the modern world is: How does all this relate to a householder's life who is endeavoring to live in the world while at the same time to practice seclusion? Obviously, if you think about it, this can be very difficult indeed! A householder's life is one of many unending duties in order to keep up with the many obligations of living a worldly life. The best one can do is to engulf oneself in as peaceful an atmosphere as is possible when one is not working (earning a living) and continue the practice in that atmosphere as best he can.

This may mean turning off the television, the stereo, and the radio and living in silence so that you create the kind of secluded lifestyle that is conducive to serious practice. It may mean eschewing social relationships during portions of your day while you are practicing. It may mean paying attention to (being mindful of) where your mind is leading you throughout your day so that you can see the beginning, middle, and end effect that all your thoughts have on your psyche and how these effect your sense of peace of mind. It may mean giving up (for a period of time) some of your cherished hobbies or past times (those which distract you from being able to follow the subtle turnings of the mind) in favor of your practice. If you are not doing these things, then you are "backsliding." You are not creating a secluded lifestyle conducive to serious practice.


This is a question I think about quite often, and is one of the main reasons for choosing to live in my car at the moment. I no longer engage in hobbies, for the most part. I seclude myself from most people and social interactions. I work and sleep. I have a laptop which I use for work and occasional distraction. The only books I have are related to buddhism. No couches, chairs, or beds. No ovens, stoves, or microwaves.
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby salty-J » Fri Jan 01, 2010 7:14 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Welcome salty-J :hello:

How long have you been practising?
tiltbillings wrote:As your mindfulness becomes more subtle, refined, and concentration stronger you can get to a point where is can "feel" a thought start to arise....

Yes, I can only do this reliably in a retreat situation, and only after 3 years of practise, including several retreats... If you have not tried it it may be hard to believe how much clearer the mind can become after several days of not talking, not having any responsibilities, just sleeping and noting...

Metta
Mike

thanks for the welcome! I haven't been practising very long, I was introduced to "mindfulness" through a psychologist just under a year ago, and then found Mindfulness In Plain English online, and began trying to meditate more often, and learning about Buddhism. I have a hell of a time getting myself to do it, often it's like my mind is rebelling against the concept. It's pretty funny actually, it's like my mind is like, "DON'T YOU F#@KING LOOK AT ME!!!!!" like Dennis Hopper's character in Blue Velvet...
I finally got the guts to start attending a relatively local meditation group once a week, and the 2 30 minute sits we do there are the longest I generally have gone. I also find it pretty easy to get into it over there, which speaks to the truth of the helpfulness of a environment oriented towards the practice. It's tough at home, with kids and wife, etc.....bad enough just dealing with my own self generated distractions, but I am trying to do it as often as I can, and try and practice mindfulness at work whenever I can remember too. The idea of ending suffering is very appealing. I really want to start mediating daily. Right now I usually get in between 3 or 4 sits a week, usually @ 25 minutes or 15 minutes...... :(
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jan 01, 2010 8:17 pm

Hi Salty,

Thanks for the explanation. It's much easier to talk if we know where you are...

I'm sorry if my last post sounded a bit condescending. I just came off five days of retreat, and I'm well aware, as Ian and Sean indicate, how the "real world" messes up the mind. Luckily I've now done enough retreats to be used to becoming clear going in, becoming fuzzier coming out, so I don't have such an attachment that "I have to have quiet, I wish I was back on retreat", like I did when I started doing retreats.

As I said, it's taken three years or so of practise for me to get much of a handle on looking at thoughts, so don't feel like you have to rush. For now, focus on the easier things like sensations, feeling tone, mind moods, intentions, etc, and you'll get better at it...

My observations on this last retreat was that I've started to be able to look at the thoughts a little without shutting them down. Thoughts are kind of ephemeral, and they are easily "scared off". I mean, if you have pain in the back, you can focus strongly on it (in the Mahasi style I practise, by noting: "Pain, pain, paina ... PAIN! PAIN!! PAIN!!!, PAIN!!!!") and it will still stick around for quite a while. Though, if you really do focus properly on it it's interesting how it fluctuates, moves around, and so on. I had an interesting afternoon where I watched it move up and down and around my back...

But, back to thoughts. As I said, they are easily scared off. When you first start noticing them consistently ("THINKING! THINKING! THINKING!") they just run off. This is actually handy, to a certain extent, because it does quieten down the mind. With quite a lot more practise (months or years) you can notice them a bit more quietly ("thinking... thinking...") and watch them "run their course". But this can be "dangerous" because they can easily take over, and you find you're just sitting there thinking, rather than watching. So, to me, it' a bit of a balance. I try to note "loudly" enough to keep the thoughts from taking over, but not so much that I just shut them down immediately.

You'll have to find your own balance.

I listened to Patrick Kearney's "From the retreat at Bodhi Tree Meditation Centre, outside Lismore, November 2009 "talks here: http://dharmasalon.net/Audio/Audio.php before the retreat. You might find his morning instructions useful. He gets the meditators to go through various exercises and then discuss them. Here's the description of the exercise about thoughts.

10 (AM) Contemplating the thought-stream

Our addiction to thinking creates a major barrier to settling into samādhi, “unification” or “concentration.” Often we try to push thought away, or simply endure it as an unpleasant fact of life. But the essence of this practice, according to Mahāsī Sayādaw, is to note, or be deliberately aware of, whatever is predominant in any of the six sense fields, now. If thinking is currently predominant, then thinking should be our meditation object.

How can we become objective spectators of our subjective mental processes? This morning we conduct some experiments in using the thought-stream as a meditation object, and discuss the results.


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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby salty-J » Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:20 pm

thanks for posting that link, Mike, I will give them a listen for sure!
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby Freawaru » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:26 am

Hello salty-J

salty-J wrote: thanks for posting that link, interesting article. I dream of having the focus that guy must have had just to do one of his retracing exercises, much less remember them long enough to write it down! :thinking:


Yes, looks like he reached samadhi (absorption with exclusion of one or more senses) quite easily. Concentration practice (samatha) is taught by some schools before mindfulness practice for this reason. Other schools start more early with noting.

the things I've been reading have been advising not to suppress anything, just to mindfully observe them, whatever they are, emotional feeling, thoughts, or whatever,


Sounds like one of those "pure mindfulness" schools.

and I've been trying to do that when I can remember to.....hey I recall that earlier today I was irritated by my emotions, so I sure hope I can make some progress!


:woohoo:

I tried sitting earlier for @ 25 minutes and the concentration levels were very weak, I was trying to count to focus on the breath, and didn't make it to 5 very many times..... :cookoo:


Yes, isn't it weird how difficult it is to simply count to ten without interrupting thoughts. Children can do this better when learning the numbers than us adults. :P

I think counting the breaths is very useful as it increases both concentration and observation. If you want you can vary the technique. In my experience one can stay focused on the breath better when counting the seconds during the inbreath and again during the outbreath. I decide for a certain number (for example: six seconds) for the inbreath and again six seconds for the outbreath, counting them during breathing. One can vary the seconds of course, experiment. When sufficient concentration is reached one can also stop controling the breath again, let go of control after the outbreath and wait for the in-breath to start again on it's own (don't worry, it will happen on it's own, the need to breathe is very strong). There is a specific conscious "letting go" required here that is similar to the "letting go" of controling the thoughts (etc) to observe them. Turn the focus to waiting for the impulse of the breath coming on it's own (as it does most of the time after all). When you can observe the in-breath coming on it's own it is only a small step to observing the thoughts (etc) coming on their own.
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:41 am

i have come to feel that the Buddha didnt want us to be observing superficial thoughts ('papanca') rather the mental 'ground' underneath those thoughts (ie where it grows out from) when the thoughts have gone quiet. I think this is the meaning of the term 'citta' as in cittanupassana- mindfulness of the mind. The reason for this is several fold:

1) there is some evidence that the five hiderances must be suppressed to some degree before practising satipattana- hence leaving less distracting thoughts floating about in the mind (not it's complete absence), making it easier to be mindful, thereby facilitating the process.

2) I have come to see subtle 'thoughts' or should I see emotions/ thought impressions floating in the inky blackness of the mind which are defilements which I cannot ever see being picked up in any other way. So for any true progress mindfulness of the mental strata seems important. I have learnt a great deal about my self and my thought processes and what gives rise to the more gross emotions and thoughts in this way. I do not see how defilement patterns which arose in childhood (which is what I am tapping into now) can ever be worked with through mindfulness without doing this.

3) these subtle defilements cannot be worked at in any other way- ie doing metta meditation for example seems not to resolve (perhaps I didnt do it enough) deep seated aversions. However constant mindfulness of the mental 'pizza base' seems to have the effect of the blower on a misted windscreen, or the sun on the wet lawn working on subtle defilements with a very subtle tool.

However my difficulty has been seeing impermanence in this method. I can watch Change better rather than actual arising and passing away (which seems to work as well) - perhaps my faculty of mindfulness has not developed to that degree yet.

best wishes

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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:18 pm

rowyourboat wrote:However my difficulty has been seeing impermanence in this method. I can watch Change better rather than actual arising and passing away (which seems to work as well) -
When you are "watching change," what are you watching?
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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:21 pm

Hi tiltblings

I am watching the changing of emotions/traces of thought/'impressions', much like (in terms of speed) watching clouds change shape. Usually emotions have thoughts linked to them. I have found categorising/naming them especially under craving, aversion and delusions particularly helpful- because it forces the practitioner to recognise them for what they truly are. They may have been around for such a long time that they feel like second nature but they are nevertheless defilements. Naming them also seems to help to process them somehow- i think this has something to do with adult mature (hopefully) wise mind coming into contact with a mental creation of a childs mind.

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Re: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:02 am

rowyourboat wrote:Hi tiltblings

I am watching the changing of emotions/traces of thought/'impressions', much like (in terms of speed) watching clouds change shape. Usually emotions have thoughts linked to them.
Okay.

i have come to feel that the Buddha didnt want us to be observing superficial thoughts ('papanca') rather the mental 'ground' underneath those thoughts (ie where it grows out from) when the thoughts have gone quiet.
The interesting thing, if one is simply mindfully attending to whatever it is that comes into awareness, it really does not matter what it is: 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized' [Ud 1 10].

there is some evidence that the five hiderances must be suppressed to some degree before practising satipattana- hence leaving less distracting thoughts floating about in the mind (not it's complete absence), making it easier to be mindful, thereby facilitating the process.
There needs to be a degree of concentration and mindfulness, but do not forget that the Satipatthana Sutta talks about being mindful of sense-desires, etc. when they are present.

I do not see how defilement patterns which arose in childhood (which is what I am tapping into now) can ever be worked with through mindfulness without doing this.
What about "defilement patterns which arose in" past lives?

Usually emotions have thoughts linked to them. I have found categorising/naming them especially under craving, aversion and delusions particularly helpful- because it forces the practitioner to recognise them for what they truly are. They may have been around for such a long time that they feel like second nature but they are nevertheless defilements.
How much do you have think about them in order to categorize them?
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: noticing thoughts after or during the thinking....

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:23 am

sorry about my quotation skills here! Tilts comments are after the quotes and my comments follow immediately.

tiltbillings wrote:
i have come to feel that the Buddha didnt want us to be observing superficial thoughts ('papanca') rather the mental 'ground' underneath those thoughts (ie where it grows out from) when the thoughts have gone quiet.
The interesting thing, if one is simply mindfully attending to whatever it is that comes into awareness, it really does not matter what it is: 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized' [Ud 1 10].


I understand the above quote differently- I believe that it talks of 'bare' awareness- ie- nothing added. No need for a self or an observer, just being in the present moment, -cutting through the vipallasa to an enlightened mind state. If we consider the dhamma as a whole, we can see that in the satipatthana sutta the objects of awareness are grouped. I believe (in my experience) that there is an advantage in focusing on just one type of phenomena at a time. IMO the grouping has been done because there are concentrations of ignorance/avijja around each of those categories which is served by specific focus on them. Body-->some of the strongest attachment, Vedana-->gives rise to craving and aversion, drivers of the unenlightened state, thoughts--> our subjugation to their deluded commands and unawareness of subtle defilements. I do not have much experience with dhammanupassana to comment. In the Buddhas dispensation to know something fully is to give up all attachment-binding to it, according to the suttas. This is only possible when avijja pertaining to a given object is done away with. Also mindfulness when focused on a particular object (or should I say group of objects) grows in sensitivity particular to that object (with some degree of carry over across the board, but not as much). So this is another advantage in choosing a single foundation to work with.

t wrote:
r wrote:there is some evidence that the five hiderances must be suppressed to some degree before practising satipattana- hence leaving less distracting thoughts floating about in the mind (not it's complete absence), making it easier to be mindful, thereby facilitating the process.
There needs to be a degree of concentration and mindfulness, but do not forget that the Satipatthana Sutta talks about being mindful of sense-desires, etc. when they are present.


Yes, hindrances should not be present at the level that they are hindrances to mindfulness. In that situation the practice is not possible. In the gradual path (anupubbiya sikkha) 'cleaning the mind of obstructing things' while in cankama/walking meditation come before mindfulness of the four foundations. After that practice lesser degrees are permissible and actually quite useful to observe.

t wrote:
r wrote: I do not see how defilement patterns which arose in childhood (which is what I am tapping into now) can ever be worked with through mindfulness without doing this.
What about "defilement patterns which arose in" past lives?


Indeed. It is a matter of peeling the onion. The deeper layers maybe from past lives. I have known of one practicing nun who said she had to work past, past life issues as well.

t wrote:
r wrote:Usually emotions have thoughts linked to them. I have found categorising/naming them especially under craving, aversion and delusions particularly helpful- because it forces the practitioner to recognise them for what they truly are. They may have been around for such a long time that they feel like second nature but they are nevertheless defilements.
How much do you have think about them in order to categorize them?


Just a quick mental note 'ah, this is subtle craving' and move on to mindfulness. I think the issue is the mind is so complex that we need all the tool we can use. Yonisomanasikara- appropriate contemplation is for example a place where we use thinking to further path. There is no one single right tool, at the exclusion of all other tools. Other tools in the arsenal: faith, using other thoughts like in the vitakkasantana sutta, samadhi states, specific meditations to develop specific qualities (like metta), changing world views, keeping precepts, intention/aspirations, changing environments, good company all help.

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