Question to Ben

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Question to Ben

Postby Modus.Ponens » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:01 am

Hi

I did a Goenka retreat a few years ago and a doubt arises now. We were told to observe anicca as we observed the sensations. But how exactly is this done? I inicialy tried to observe anicca in every sensation I had, but that was becoming an obstacle. So I spoke to the teacher and he said we should only remember at times to observe anicca, not at every moment. Is this correct Ben?

Metta
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Question to Ben

Postby Ben » Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:14 am

Hi Modus.Ponens

We were told to observe anicca as we observed the sensations. But how exactly is this done?

Initially, one merely observes the occurance of this or that sensation. As one develops and with greater samadhi, one can discern a rise and fall of different sensations. An common example would be something like a pain in the knees. When one's attention moves to the area where the pain is manifesting, instead of just 'painful sensation', we begin to see that the pain in that area is composed of a variety of sensations, many of which have the characteristic of vibration, very quickly arising and passing away, yet collectively having the appearance of an unchanging unpleasant experience. If we pay attention and have some equanimity to what's going on, we can see that the immovable unchanging unpleasant sensation of the painful knee is composed of a variety of sensations that may be pulsing, changing in heat, pressure, etc. And these sensations may be pulsing and changing at different rates. Some very slowly and some very rapidly. A bit like shifting sands. I'm using pain as an example but the same is true for other types of sensation - pleasant and neutral.
When we can discern its changing nature, we are aware of the anicca characteristic of a sensation.

I inicialy tried to observe anicca in every sensation I had, but that was becoming an obstacle.

I would have advised you not to worry about discerning anicca in every sensation. At the beginning, if you are just discerning sensation - I think that's probably good enough. You may recall Mr Goenka saying in his meditation instructions that every sensation is an indication of change!
As one progresses and one's awareness becomes more refined, we become aware of subtler phenomena and their salient characteristics.
One of the biggest obstacles I had was not being present with what I was experiencing at that moment.
I hope that is of help.
metta

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Re: Question to Ben

Postby BlackBird » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:22 am

Ben wrote:An common example would be something like a pain in the knees. When one's attention moves to the area where the pain is manifesting, instead of just 'painful sensation', we begin to see that the pain in that area is composed of a variety of sensations, many of which have the characteristic of vibration, very quickly arising and passing away, yet collectively having the appearance of an unchanging unpleasant experience. If we pay attention and have some equanimity to what's going on, we can see that the immovable unchanging unpleasant sensation of the painful knee is composed of a variety of sensations that may be pulsing, changing in heat, pressure, etc. And these sensations may be pulsing and changing at different rates. Some very slowly and some very rapidly. A bit like shifting sands. I'm using pain as an example but the same is true for other types of sensation - pleasant and neutral.
When we can discern its changing nature, we are aware of the anicca characteristic of a sensation.


I'm not sure if this is relevant here, or even wanted. But once the changeable nature of pain is observed, one could then observe the craving (and associated feelings that arise from craving) and see how the dukkha is caused. Once observed long enough, pain ceases to really be 'painful' at all, because it is discerned that the real 'pain' comes from the craving, then the clinging to the notion of being rid of the pain (by shifting one's posture etc). In that regard observing the whole process becomes really interesting. In my experience this has the flow on effect that sitting for longer periods of time is no longer a problem. Instead, you welcome the pain.

metta
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Re: Question to Ben

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:25 pm

Yes, pain is very interesting, as it is not one sensation at all, but a bewildering variety of sensations. And many of these sensations, on examinations, are linked to memories, fears, past experiences, so when you begin examining what you first thought was a simple pain, you find yourself lost in a jungle. But very educational.

I had ample time to explore this after my vasectomy a few years ago. I had a "complication," in the form of an undefended item which involved yanking and pulling to execute the procedure. Imagine a pulled ligament applied to the item under discussion. Add to my misfortune an allergic reaction to percosette, so I couldn't take my painkillers. So I had to grin and bear it. For four days. All males now say ouch. To paraphrase Pinhead, the pain I experienced was legendary even in Hell. I took full advantage of the opportunity to learn from it. One thing I learned: The phrase the doctors use: "Mild discomfort," HAH!

J
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Re: Question to Ben

Postby Modus.Ponens » Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:39 pm

Thank you Ben :)

Jack: Yes. I had that insight during the retreat. That pain was not suffering, it's the aversion to pain that is suffering. Suffering was optional. But then there's the other side of the coin: pleasant sensations were not happiness, they were also suffering when assossiated with craving. I got this insight on the 6th or 7th day and got very dismotivated. The rest of the retreat I was a bit lazy because of the disapointment I had, knowing I couldn't obtain happiness the way I usualy did.
PS: your comments and those of others are very welcome.

Metta
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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