Message Boards Message Boards

Vipassana: Noting/Mahasi Style

Sensations as the first basis of reality?

Toggle
Greetings.

Daniel has said all things are formed of sensations and "sensate reality as it actually manifests is the first basis of reality".

But saying sensations are the first basis of reality still seems conceptual, does it not?

Aren't those sensations made of "something"? Are they arising from and ceasing to "something"? Is there something more fundamental than those sensations?

RE: Sensations as the first basis of reality?
Answer
11/30/19 3:36 PM as a reply to David Matte.
Sensations are the substrate by which we come to realize that there is something (void or whatever) that is conceptually unknowable. So, yes, sensations are the foyer to reality or a sort of waiting area to the grand arena but one needs to occupy that waiting area using a discerning attention. 

RE: Sensations as the first basis of reality?
Answer
11/30/19 6:29 PM as a reply to Bardo.
Bardo Cruiser:
Sensations are the substrate by which we come to realize that there is something (void or whatever) that is conceptually unknowable. So, yes, sensations are the foyer to reality or a sort of waiting area to the grand arena but one needs to occupy that waiting area using a discerning attention. 
Hi there. Thanks for your reply. So you're saying sensations are just "the foyer to the grand arena" -- I'm curious to hear more about the "grand area" even though it is something conceptually unknowable. Is it the same as Nibbana?

RE: Sensations as the first basis of reality?
Answer
11/30/19 7:16 PM as a reply to David Matte.
David Matte:

Daniel has said all things are formed of sensations and "sensate reality as it actually manifests is the first basis of reality". But saying sensations are the first basis of reality still seems conceptual, does it not?


Doesn't sound like anything more than an interpretation or a way of describing something that can't really be explained. I'm not sure if you're implying this is a problem. How else would we communicate other than through concepts?

RE: Sensations as the first basis of reality?
Answer
12/1/19 1:40 AM as a reply to David Matte.
David Matte:
Hi there. Thanks for your reply. So you're saying sensations are just "the foyer to the grand arena" -- I'm curious to hear more about the "grand area" even though it is something conceptually unknowable. Is it the same as Nibbana?

Yes, nibbana. You can use your curiosity to find out for yourself what that actually is. A problem can come from trying to define a meaning of nibbana through other peoples descriptions. Mind likes to create concepts and attain more concepts. To stop this happening, nibbana is usually described in open terms like consciousness, awareness, suchness and so on. However, there are some beefier colourful descriptions out there and some of those, if delivered well, entice one's curiosity in that direction. 

RE: Sensations as the first basis of reality?
Answer
12/1/19 3:35 AM as a reply to David Matte.
David Matte:
Greetings.

Daniel has said all things are formed of sensations and "sensate reality as it actually manifests is the first basis of reality".

But saying sensations are the first basis of reality still seems conceptual, does it not?

Aren't those sensations made of "something"? Are they arising from and ceasing to "something"? Is there something more fundamental than those sensations?

Well, from a doctrinal point of view, sensations arise from the eighteen dhatus, which in turn depend on voilitional formations, which in turn depend on ignorance, which is to be overcome through the eightfold path. Actually, this is not just doctrine, but the lived experience of many advanced meditators, albeit expressed here in the arcane terms of doctrine.

From a pragmatic dharma point of view, I would offer two answers. The first is Michael Taft's lovely phrase of being "deep in the chain of dependent arising"; in other words, you don't necessarily have to reach some atomistic primal endpoint, you just have to get really deep, probably much deeper than any beginning meditator initially experiences. The second would be what I understand Daniel to mean (and he will maybe correct me if I mispresrent him); it is not sensations are "the first basis of reality", it is that sensations are "the first basis of our reality". There is a subtle but incredibly important difference. 

From a practice point of view, to follow on from Ivory's point, conceptual decriptions of non-conceptual experience will of course be limited.  As Mr Spock said to Bones about death in Star Trek "It would be impossible to discuss the subject without a common frame of rerefence."  In the dharma, it is not quite impossible - we can point to it - but ultimately it is better to experience it, and then you have a common frame of reference.

I hope this is not a completely useless response.  Practice well and you can see for yourself!

:-)

Malcolm

RE: Sensations as the first basis of reality?
Answer
12/1/19 7:56 AM as a reply to ivory.
ivory:
David Matte:

Daniel has said all things are formed of sensations and "sensate reality as it actually manifests is the first basis of reality". But saying sensations are the first basis of reality still seems conceptual, does it not?


Doesn't sound like anything more than an interpretation or a way of describing something that can't really be explained. I'm not sure if you're implying this is a problem. How else would we communicate other than through concepts?

Thanks for your reply. It's that for me, the term "sensation" doesn't seem abstract enough to make it seem like the a first basis of reality. Sensations still seem like a thing, as compared to a no-thing like for example Nibbana. It seems like there could be something prior to sensations that is less conceptual and is perhaps the fundamental basis that can't be described conceptually. 

RE: Sensations as the first basis of reality?
Answer
12/1/19 8:06 AM as a reply to Bardo.
Bardo Cruiser:
David Matte:
Hi there. Thanks for your reply. So you're saying sensations are just "the foyer to the grand arena" -- I'm curious to hear more about the "grand area" even though it is something conceptually unknowable. Is it the same as Nibbana?

Yes, nibbana. You can use your curiosity to find out for yourself what that actually is. A problem can come from trying to define a meaning of nibbana through other peoples descriptions. Mind likes to create concepts and attain more concepts. To stop this happening, nibbana is usually described in open terms like consciousness, awareness, suchness and so on. However, there are some beefier colourful descriptions out there and some of those, if delivered well, entice one's curiosity in that direction. 

I do intend to find out for myself but for the time being I have been reading other people's descriptions. Looking at MCTB (Part IV, 15. Fruition), Daniel describes nibbana as a non-state with no experience, no consciousness, no awareness, no nothingness, no somethingness...etc. This already seems like a contradiction to your description right there. 

RE: Sensations as the first basis of reality?
Answer
12/1/19 8:19 AM as a reply to David Matte.
David Matte:

I do intend to find out for myself but for the time being I have been reading other people's descriptions. Looking at MCTB (Part IV, 15. Fruition), Daniel describes nibbana as a non-state with no experience, no consciousness, no awareness, no nothingness, no somethingness...etc. This already seems like a contradiction to your description right there. 

Precisely, and these are the types of language/concept problems you will come across again and again in this field. Language immediately creates duality so the mind will favour one description over another through comparison. Language or conceptual thought is helpful only if we use it in such a way to leverage itself. In the Zen traditions, there is heavy focus on this especially through the study of koans.

RE: Sensations as the first basis of reality?
Answer
12/1/19 8:48 AM as a reply to curious.
curious

Well, from a doctrinal point of view, sensations arise from the eighteen dhatus, which in turn depend on voilitional formations, which in turn depend on ignorance, which is to be overcome through the eightfold path. Actually, this is not just doctrine, but the lived experience of many advanced meditators, albeit expressed here in the arcane terms of doctrine.

From a pragmatic dharma point of view, I would offer two answers. The first is Michael Taft's lovely phrase of being "deep in the chain of dependent arising"; in other words, you don't necessarily have to reach some atomistic primal endpoint, you just have to get really deep, probably much deeper than any beginning meditator initially experiences. The second would be what I understand Daniel to mean (and he will maybe correct me if I mispresrent him); it is not sensations are "the first basis of reality", it is that sensations are "the first basis of our reality". There is a subtle but incredibly important difference. 

From a practice point of view, to follow on from Ivory's point, conceptual decriptions of non-conceptual experience will of course be limited.  As Mr Spock said to Bones about death in Star Trek "It would be impossible to discuss the subject without a common frame of rerefence."  In the dharma, it is not quite impossible - we can point to it - but ultimately it is better to experience it, and then you have a common frame of reference.

I hope this is not a completely useless response.  Practice well and you can see for yourself!

:-)

Malcolm

Hi Malcolm. It was nice to read your view. That sounds possible that what Daniel means is "sensations are the first basis of our reality". Now, what I'm wondering about is what is the reality of the sensations. That, I don't think, is explained in MCTB. Probably since the book is written to be pragmatic guide for liberation and not something philosophical/metaphysical. I'll take your advice and keep practicing to maybe obtain my own answer directly. 

RE: Sensations as the first basis of reality?
Answer
12/2/19 5:15 AM as a reply to David Matte.
1. form
2. sensation
3. perception
4. volition
5. consciousness