How did you understand non-self?

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

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby zavk » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:59 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings RYB,

rowyourboat wrote:How did you understand the non-self/not-self through your meditation? I think it is something worth talking about as it might point others in a useful direction (no guarantees though!) and is our duty as kalyanamittas. Undestanding non-self does not mean that person is enlightened and not even a stream entrant if I understand the insight knowledges correctly so please feel free to say how you feel. :smile:


I observe it indirectly, via anicca.

I could elaborate further, but I'd merely be duplicating what I wrote earlier in this topic...

Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3529

Metta,
Retro. :)



Yeah... I've been thinking about how I could answer this question. But I find that I can't really articulate my understanding of anatta. I mean, there is the theoretical understanding. But there's also a felt, experiential (pre-theoretical?) understanding of anatta which has slowly developed over time. There's definitely greater appreciation of how fragile and arbitrary any notion of self is. But it is hard to actually put a finger on how I've come to this understanding-experience.

What I can say though, without describing the details here, is that I have experienced anicca intensely during retreats and also more generally in everyday life.
With metta,
zavk
User avatar
zavk
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:04 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby Ben » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:14 am

Hi Zavk and all
zavk wrote:But I find that I can't really articulate my understanding of anatta. I mean, there is the theoretical understanding. But there's also a felt, experiential (pre-theoretical?) understanding of anatta which has slowly developed over time. There's definitely greater appreciation of how fragile and arbitrary any notion of self is. But it is hard to actually put a finger on how I've come to this understanding-experience.

What I can say though, without describing the details here, is that I have experienced anicca intensely during retreats and also more generally in everyday life.


Same here. The experience defies articulation or to articulate it in any shape or form that would benefit another. Perhaps that's why the ancient ariyans resorted to poetics. Not that I put my understanding or experience on the same level as them. My roadmap seems to have been similar to yours and Retro's: experience of anatta via experience of anicca and dukkha.
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16145
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:48 am

Hi Zavk, Retro, Ben

Seeing anicca seems to be the most commonest way of understanding anatta in your experience and mine.

Ben, did seeing dukkha help in your understanding of anatta? I'm curious as this is how most suttas would phrase it. Anicca-->dukkha-->anatta. However I have yet to come across anyone who understood it quite that way. I suspected that this was because of the understanding of the atta/self was fused with it being pleasant (the radiant samadhi 'self') of ancient India. However we now approach it through other means.

with muditha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:50 am

Hello 'reductor.

I loved your explanation of how you understood anatta. Permission to post it anonymously to another site please? :smile:

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby Ben » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:40 pm

Hi RYB
rowyourboat wrote:Ben, did seeing dukkha help in your understanding of anatta?

Yes, definitely. I was on retreat some years ago and experienced a visceral and profound "knowingness" of anatta. Preceding that was the growing awareness of the dukkha characteristic of all and everything that I was encountering in observing vedana. It just seemed that the 'contemplation' of dukkha seemed to just happen naturally and automatically when my meditation was deep and stable (for want of better expression).
I hope that helps.
metta

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16145
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby Reductor » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:17 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hello 'reductor.

I loved your explanation of how you understood anatta. Permission to post it anonymously to another site please? :smile:

with metta

RYB


Sure, go ahead.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

User avatar
Reductor
 
Posts: 1286
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:37 pm

Hi Ben

Thanks for the reply. I should be clear in my questions: did your understanding of dukkha lead to (proximate cause!) your understanding of anatta, or was it something else?

with metta
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:21 am

I believe so, yes.
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16145
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:27 am

Greetings,

A sutta framework I find useful for understanding anatta...

SN 22.95: Phena Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Form is like a glob of foam;
feeling, a bubble;
perception, a mirage;
fabrications, a banana tree;
consciousness, a magic trick


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14674
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:56 am

Beautiful!
Thanks mate.

B
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16145
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby zavk » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:35 am

rowyourboat wrote:Hi Ben

Thanks for the reply. I should be clear in my questions: did your understanding of dukkha lead to (proximate cause!) your understanding of anatta, or was it something else?

with metta



Interesting question. In a manner of speaking, I would say yes too. It is by confronting dukkha directly at the level of nama and rupa that I learn to understand what dukkha really is. And the more I understand what dukkha really is the more I begin to understand anicca and anatta.

Yet, to say that my understanding of dukkha was the 'proximate cause' for my understanding of anatta doesn't quite describe my experience, if by 'proximate cause' we mean 'that which is immediately responsible for causing an observed result'. This is one of those things that's hard to articulate because it is a kind of felt understanding. Maybe I can explain my experience with the notion of dependent origination.

Proximate cause implies linear causality. To this extent, it doesn't sit well with dependent origination. Dependent origination does refer to a law of cause and effect but it is not a linear one.

So if I reflect on my experience from the perspective of dependent origination, I cannot strictly say that my understanding of dukkha 'led to' my understanding of anatta. Well, in a conventional sense, it does. To begin on the path, I have to accept that there is suffering and be willing to investigate it before I can really appreciate anicca and anatta. But in investigating the nature of dukkha I am also at the same time observing anicca and anatta.

This is especially so during intense meditation. When observing nama and rupa, I may experience all sorts of pleasant and unpleasant thoughts and sensations. But observing these thoughts and sensations--even if they are extremely unpleasant--doesn't mean that I've understood what dukhha 'really is'. I will not understand what dukkha 'really is' until I see clearly that thoughts and sensations are impermanent and accept with equanimity that they do not belong to 'me'.

So to this extent, I wouldn't say that the understanding of dukkha 'led to' the understanding of anatta (or anicca). I would prefer to say that the understanding of dukkha, anicca, and anatta mutually condition one another or are mutually constitutive. If there is causality here it is not a linear one.

:anjali:
Last edited by zavk on Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
With metta,
zavk
User avatar
zavk
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:04 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:49 am

Hi Zavk
I'm so glad that you posted the above. I have had much the same thoughts.
metta

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16145
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby effort » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:45 am

i'm not experienced like some known practitioners here but as much as i feel relax with annata still i cant connect with annica.
User avatar
effort
 
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:32 am

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby Freawaru » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:58 am

rowyourboat wrote: did your understanding of dukkha lead to (proximate cause!) your understanding of anatta, or was it something else?

with metta


Hi RYB,

for me it is kinda other way round. When I watched the character as a whole and on high speed with that knowing "this is not me, I am not it" there was no pain. Pain is that what I observed, namely the personality could be in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual pain. But there is another kind of pain, yet, and I experience it again and again when I merge with the character, when I loose the observing perspective. It is also there when the character is in jhana, I suspect it must be related to the merging (absorption) process itself, whatever the object. But I loose the awareness of this kind of pain real fast, it only takes a second or less and I have fully grown used to it by the time I can access the memories of the character as "my memories".
Freawaru
 
Posts: 489
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:26 pm

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:01 pm

Hi Zavk, Ben, Retro

Today I was listening to a sermon in Sinhalese by a skilled monk- he spoke of how the eye brings us nothing but dukkha and yet we consider some of it to be dukkha and the other bits sukkha (pleasant/satisfactory). He went on to portray the whole body and all mental states as nothing but a mass of suffering. I had a glimpse of anatta- because something so vile and fit to be discarded as this could ever be considered as me. There was this incompatibility- like oil and water. At our depths we wouldn't identify with something so foul, as myself -'egodystonic'. This leads me to the understanding that the depth of unsatisfactoriness/uselessness of it all, which the Buddha was talking about was quite deep, in order to get a glimpse of anatta in the manner mentioned in the suttas (which is often anicca-->dukkha-->anatta). In that sense the world 'revulsion' (nibbida) fits in very well.

I have heard a few people say that they did not know at what point they understood anatta. Similarly others are quite clear of the point that they understood it- because it was a bit of a surprise/shock- or a serendipitous finding. I guess this is why the Buddha never said 'folks this is the method and technique you must do to understand anatta' but laid out the whole satipatthana to explore.

Retro- love the Phena sutta. Talk about emptiness!

with metta

Matheesha
Last edited by rowyourboat on Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:02 pm

Hi effort

Interesting! Did you just hear the teaching and think 'yeah, this makes sense!' or was there any difficulty accepting it at all?

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:02 pm

Hi RYB
In that sense the world 'revulsion' (nibbida) fits in very well.


SADHU!
It was one of the characteristics of my own experience.
metta

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16145
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby effort » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:41 am

hello rowyourboat, freawaru

Freawaru wrote:Hi RYB,

for me it is kinda other way round. When I watched the character as a whole and on high speed with that knowing "this is not me, I am not it" there was no pain. Pain is that what I observed, namely the personality could be in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual pain. But there is another kind of pain, yet, and I experience it again and again when I merge with the character, when I loose the observing perspective....


what freawaru said for me is just like looking for suffering and think like there must be suffering, i dont accept it , in the other hand i dont refuse the 'suffering idea' just because i cant connect with it, if it is there i follow the path it has to come, the problem is , like others i dont have a solid anchor to stick with during hard times of dilemmas and doubts.

same thing for annata , i read it first and i know it, but even this knowing has degree , for example 'my money!' is still mine!! you know there is no me but when something greedy or hateful comes up in the same time me, self idea shows it self. also i have to remember this annata feeling or knowing also is impermanence , if i drink or wont cultivate mindfulness it will vanish , impermanence feeling.
User avatar
effort
 
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:32 am

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby Freawaru » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:06 pm

Hello effort,

effort wrote:hello rowyourboat, freawaru

Freawaru wrote:Hi RYB,

for me it is kinda other way round. When I watched the character as a whole and on high speed with that knowing "this is not me, I am not it" there was no pain. Pain is that what I observed, namely the personality could be in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual pain. But there is another kind of pain, yet, and I experience it again and again when I merge with the character, when I loose the observing perspective....


what freawaru said for me is just like looking for suffering and think like there must be suffering, i dont accept it , in the other hand i dont refuse the 'suffering idea' just because i cant connect with it, if it is there i follow the path it has to come, the problem is , like others i dont have a solid anchor to stick with during hard times of dilemmas and doubts.

same thing for annata , i read it first and i know it, but even this knowing has degree , for example 'my money!' is still mine!! you know there is no me but when something greedy or hateful comes up in the same time me, self idea shows it self. also i have to remember this annata feeling or knowing also is impermanence , if i drink or wont cultivate mindfulness it will vanish , impermanence feeling.


There are many different kinds of pain, some won't go away even when one is an aryan. Even an aryan knows the physical body to be his, he does not confuse his body with the body of other people. Same with money and all that. The kind of dhukkha I tried to describe here is different.

Consider reading a book or watching a movie and being completely absorbed in it for a while. The main character's thoughts are your thoughts, his/her feelings your feelings, his/her pain your pain. Do you feel your body tensing when watching a horror movie or reading Stephen King? Do you feel the fear of the fictional character even though you are sitting comfortably and safely on the sofa? I do.

But it gets old. When watching "Pitch Black" for the hundred time it is not as shocking as the first time. What has changed? I remember, I recall, I know what will happen, I expect. I can detach and observe the music or the art. Or I can observe my own reactions to image, sound and story. There is detachment even when in absorption. But the movie has not changed.

When being in absorption with a fictional character we are helpless, without defence we are at the mercy of the script. We have no control because all control is with the character that is construed by the script. It is okay when we like the script but noone can guarantee that it won't end up as horror. But when we are aware of the absorption, aware that there is a difference between the personality and the "me", a distance that can be used to observe the mechanisms there is already a liberation of sorts. One pain less. Namely the pain of being the victim of the script. And the good thing is the experience is even more complete, being with the character and observing it, too. One does not loose anything but one gains something. Both for the good stories as well as for the horror stories. Don't look for suffering - look for liberation. Don't look for self-idea, look for the character that is written in the script :popcorn:
Freawaru
 
Posts: 489
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:26 pm

Re: How did you understand non-self?

Postby effort » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:51 pm

Freawaru:

look for the character that is written in the script :popcorn:


nice,it is good to remember. thank you
User avatar
effort
 
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:32 am

Previous

Return to Theravada Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest