Meaning of contemplation in Vipassana-Thinking

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
Post Reply
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:17 pm

Meaning of contemplation in Vipassana-Thinking

Post by T_Hill_616 »

I just finished Bhante Gunaratana's book The Four Foundations of Mindfulness In Plain English. I have also read all his other works as well as many books on the teachings of Ajahn Chah. My question is two-fold. 1.) Both speak of contemplating something that arises while doing Insight Meditation. In this context Contemplate can be more defined as Examine or Watch Mindfully rather than Think About and Dwell On am I right? 2.) In his latest book on the Satipathana Sutta, Bhante G mentions several times to "Remind yourself of such and such.." Example, while being mindful of a pleasant feeling, remind yourself, "This is a pleasant feeling, it has arisen depending on these factors. When these factors disappear, this pleasant feeling will also disappear." Then return your attention to the breath. Would this not be considered thinking during meditation? I thought you wanted to move away from thinking or adding anything and move toward more of a bare awareness.
Hope I made sense here. Thank you to anyone who has any input. :anjali:
User avatar
Posts: 3015
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Meaning of contemplation in Vipassana-Thinking

Post by Goofaholix »

For 1), yes I think you've got it right.

For 2), the aim is to stop getting lost in thought, letting it get out of control or using it as a an escape, not to stop thinking.

Sometimes it's useful as a tool to direct your meditation, sometimes bare awareness is enough, use it as and when you feel it's helpful.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
Posts: 2015
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:39 am

Re: Meaning of contemplation in Vipassana-Thinking

Post by pegembara »

1. Rather than contemplating, it is observing or noticing things arising and passing away without any thinking.
2. "This is a pleasant feeling, it has arisen depending on these factors. When these factors disappear, this pleasant feeling will also disappear" is a thought designed to encourage a letting go of the feeling.

If 1. is proceeding well, even thoughts are observed to have the same characteristic.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
Posts: 75
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:21 pm

Re: Meaning of contemplation in Vipassana-Thinking

Post by Mal »

I'm not sure what being lost in thought means. For instance if you are following a line of Socratic reasoning is that being lost in thought? For instance you think, "Socrates is a man", and you are aware of this thought. Then you think "All men are mortal", and you're aware of this thought. Then you deduce Socrates is mortal,and are aware of this dedcution. So you are thinking hard, and are aware of thinking hard, but are you lost in thought? Should you not be thinking like Socrates during Insight meditation?

For instance I'm often caught up in philosophical reasoning about the process of meditation. Then, I think "Socrates is a man" is a judgment, and we're not suppose to judge, so I'll just attend to this judgement, let it go, not proceed to the next stage. But I'm also not supposed to do anything, and, so I let myself proceed to the next stage and think "Socrates is mortal".

So I'm caught in a contradiction when I attempt insight meditation - by trying not to do anything, I slip into a series of judgements, a long line of reasoning - lost in thought through applying the rules of meditation! So I have to act to stop this reasoning going on - but that's also breaking a rule of meditation. Do I have to wait until I'm all thought out? But Plato reasoned for a lifetime? How do I know if the thoughts will ever stop?

Just now, I'm not meditating much and playing a lot of internet chess - that gets away from all these Socrates vs. the Buddha problems for a short while! Is it better (for me) not to think about these things at all? Just do what I feel like, anything (non damaging!) that blots out thoughts and consciousness? Isn't that the Zen approach? "Eat when hungry", "sleep when tired", "play a game of chess, when you fancy a game of chess"...
Post Reply