Choiceless Awareness

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

Choiceless Awareness

Postby bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:52 am

I am very interested in this meditation technique and am looking for modern day teachers who emphasise and teach this practice, books written on the subject, canonical and commentarial sources and any other helpful resources.

I have been reading some zen texts on shikantaza, which through experience I have found to be virtually no different from the Theravadan practice of choiceless awareness, but would like to find a Theravadan explanation and approach to the practice. Many thanks.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby Alex123 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:08 am

Try
http://sayadawutejaniya.org/teachings/

==============
To speak precisely, there is no such thing as "choiceless" awareness. There is always a choice, even if it was a past one. All 5 consciousness is a result (vipāka) of past or present wholesome or unwholesome kamma (intentional action). Some mental functions are result as well.
In order to see, there must be attention to seeing. To hear, there must be attention to hearing. So one does have to choose to see, or to hear, etc etc.

Rather than "choiceless" awareness, I suggest right awareness with understanding.
Last edited by Alex123 on Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:09 am

bodom wrote:I am very interested in this meditation technique and am looking for modern day teachers who emphasise and teach this practice, books written on the subject, canonical and commentarial sources and any other helpful resources.

I have been reading some zen texts on shikantaza, which through experience I have found to be virtually no different from the Theravadan practice of choiceless awareness, but would like to find a Theravadan explanation and approach to the practice. Many thanks.
Bare attention is another expression used for this practice. HEART OF BUDDHIST MEDITATION by Ven Nyanaponika is probably the first book in English to talk about this.

Any number of talks by Joseph Goldstein, an excellent teacher well grounded in the Theradavada tradition, will mention choiceless awareness http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:49 am

Definately Sayadaw U Tejaniya, though there is encouragement to pay particular attention to feelings and mental states and particularly awareness itself it's choiceless from the point of view of being open to be aware of everything and anything that arises.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:40 am

i think there is a thread on shikantaza from way back were we talk about this
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:29 am

Please see A Discoure on the Mālukyaputta Sutta

“Mālukyaputta! As phenomena are seen, heard, thought of, or known, just let them be as they are seen, heard, thought of, or known at that moment. When you see, you just see it; when you hear, you just hear it; when you think, you just think it; and when you know, you just know it.”
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby PeterB » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:49 am

:thumbsup:

:anjali:
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:43 pm

Thank you.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby clw_uk » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:15 pm

bodom wrote:I am very interested in this meditation technique and am looking for modern day teachers who emphasise and teach this practice, books written on the subject, canonical and commentarial sources and any other helpful resources.

I have been reading some zen texts on shikantaza, which through experience I have found to be virtually no different from the Theravadan practice of choiceless awareness, but would like to find a Theravadan explanation and approach to the practice. Many thanks.

:anjali:



Ajahn Sumedho deals with this kind of meditation as well


Here is one but he has some other books and discussions on it as well


http://www.amaravati.org/abm/english/do ... ins10.html

metta
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:28 pm

clw_uk wrote:Ajahn Sumedho deals with this kind of meditation as well


Thanks for the link. This is more on track of what I am referring too by the practice of "choiceless awareness" but Sumedho is still emphasising a point of focus with "the sound of silence".

What I mean by "choiceless awareness", is objectless meditation, sitting in meditation without a theme, i.e. the breath, but "just sitting" as emphasised in the zen tradition of shikantaza.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:39 pm

I found this in a little meditation booklet available from Abhayagiri and Amaravati Buddhist Monastery:

CHOICELESS AWARENESS

Meditation can also proceed without a meditation object, in a state of pure contemplation, or 'choiceless awareness'.

After calming the mind by one of the methods described above, consciously put aside the meditation object. Observe the flow of mental images and sensations just as they arise, without engaging in criticism or praise. Notice any aversion and fascination; contemplate any uncertainty, happiness, restlessness or tranquillity as it arises. You can return to a meditation object (such as the breath) whenever the sense of clarity diminishes, or if you begin to feel overwhelmed by impressions. When a sense of steadiness returns, you can relinquish the object again.

This practice of 'bare attention' is well-suited for contemplating the mental process. Along with observing the mind's particular 'ingredients', we can turn our attention to the nature of the container. As for the contents of the mind, Buddhist teaching points especially to three simple, fundamental characteristics. First, there is changeability (anicca) -- the ceaseless beginning and ending all things go through, the constant movement of the content of the mind. This mind-stuff may be pleasant or unpleasant, but it is never at rest.

There is also a persistent, often subtle, sense of dissatisfaction (dukkha). Unpleasant sensations easily evoke that sense, but even a lovely experience creates a tug in the heart when it ends. So at the best of moments there is still an inconclusive quality in what the mind experiences, a somewhat unsatisfied feeling. As the constant arising and passing of experiences and moods become familiar, it also becomes clear that -- since there is no permanence in them -- none of them really belong to you. And, when this mind-stuff is silent -- revealing a bright spaciousness of mind -- there are no purely personal characteristics to be found! This can be difficult to comprehend, but in reality there is no 'me' and no 'mine' -- the characteristic of 'no-self', or impersonality (anatta).

Investigate fully and notice how these qualities pertain to all things, physical and mental. No matter if your experiences are joyful or barely endurable, this contemplation will lead to a calm and balanced perspective on your life.


http://amaravati.org/abmtrial/documents ... 06ref.html

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby clw_uk » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:54 pm

bodom wrote:I found this in a little meditation booklet available from Abhayagiri and Amaravati Buddhist Monastery:

CHOICELESS AWARENESS

Meditation can also proceed without a meditation object, in a state of pure contemplation, or `choiceless awareness.' After calming the mind by one of the methods described above, consciously put aside the meditation object. Observe the flow of mental images and sensations just as they arise, without engaging in criticism or praise. Notice any aversion and fascination; contemplate any uncertainty, happiness, restlessness or tranquility as it arises. You can return to a meditation object (such as the breath) whenever the sense of clarity diminishes, or if you begin to feel overwhelmed by impressions. When a sense of steadiness returns, you can relinquish the object again. This practice of `bare attention' is well-suited for contemplating the mental process.


There just does not seem to be alot of info on this type of technique in Therevadan Buddhism.

:anjali:



Perhaps it doesnt need a lot of explanation, simply be aware of the present moment. Just witness and observe dhammas
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:07 pm

Perhaps. But nothing is so simple or cut and dry. Especially within interpreting the Buddhadhamma. How much literature has proliferated around the Buddha's teachings even though he has taught only suffering and the end of suffering?

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby clw_uk » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:29 pm

bodom wrote:Perhaps. But nothing is so simple or cut and dry. Especially within interpreting the Buddhadhamma. How much literature has proliferated around the Buddha's teachings even though he has taught only suffering and the end of suffering?

:anjali:




True but for a long time was not the tradition based upon study and academic pursuits (mostly). I believe I read this was true, if so then this would explain the amount of output in terms of literature


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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:42 pm

bodom wrote:What I mean by "choiceless awareness", is objectless meditation, sitting in meditation without a theme, i.e. the breath, but "just sitting" as emphasised in the zen tradition of shikantaza.


Even in shikantaza I understand that awareness of the body just sitting is used as a frame of reference or anchor or starting point, this is also common with Theravadin teachers who encourage this approach, so not entirely choiceless.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:28 pm

Hi Goofaholix

Yes, you are correct, but eventually even awareness of the body is dropped as well, as the mind is turned on to the mind. Of course there will always be a starting point, or point of focus even when beginning "just sitting". I imagine only meditation masters can sit on the cushion and plunge into pure awareness. I have just personally never come across any Therevadin teachers who have emphasised this sort of practice or took it to a level that practitioners of shikantaza have, that I know of.

The concept of "just sitting" has always been very intriguing to me and being a practicing Therevadin and not a zen practitioner, I did not think this sort of practice was open to me. Of course I can practice whatever I want, but I do not want to mix traditions or practices, though I do admire the old zen masters and their texts. So naturally, coming across the concept of sitting in "choiceless awareness" within Therevadin Buddhism have set the wheels rolling for me.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby Alex123 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:49 pm

bodom wrote:Yes, you are correct, but eventually even awareness of the body is dropped as well, as the mind is turned on to the mind. Of course there will always be a starting point, or point of focus even when beginning "just sitting". I imagine only meditation masters can sit on the cushion and plunge into pure awareness. I have just personally never come across any Therevadin teachers who have emphasised this sort of practice or took it to a level that practitioners of shikantaza have, that I know of.


Because there isn't such thing as completely "choiceless" awareness. There is always a choice between, lets, say kaya, vedana, citta or dhamma to observe.

There are many different objects happening now, how come one or the other becomes the object of the mind? Due to choice. Maybe when one is not aware of any object or choice, then there is choiceless meditation. In cessation of perception & feelings there isn't any choice in that state (as there is nothing to chose from, no choice there). But I suspect that cessation state is beyond many of us for now.
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:00 pm

Hi Alex,

It is choiceless in the sense that with awareness one remains impartial, without reacting with greed or hatred, like or dislike. It is not so much about what the object of awareness is, but how the object is received with awareness, i.e. without attachment or aversion.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:33 pm

bodom wrote:Yes, you are correct, but eventually even awareness of the body is dropped as well, as the mind is turned on to the mind.


Yes, turning the mind on the mind is very much what Sayadaw U Tejaniya is about.

Not choiceless from the point of view that you don't seek to extract wisdom from your experience but choiceless from the point of view that you don't reject some experience in favour of others.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Choiceless Awareness

Postby bodom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:42 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
bodom wrote:Yes, you are correct, but eventually even awareness of the body is dropped as well, as the mind is turned on to the mind.


Yes, turning the mind on the mind is very much what Sayadaw U Tejaniya is about.

Not choiceless from the point of view that you don't seek to extract wisdom from your experience but choiceless from the point of view that you don't reject some experience in favour of others.


Thank you Goofaholix, thats right. I very much look forward to reading the Tejaniya resources I was given.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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