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what/who watches?
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3/6/20 4:24 AM
I'm working with the question who/what watches?
Kind of like finding the still-point/witness of Culadasa (but not quite -- I find something odd in his treatment, I don't know what exactly and I don't know how to explain exactly).

Now, what seems to happen is that a lot of energy seems to focus on the heart and the attention goes right to the heart (chest -- on the right hand side of the middle -- is this where the heart is? if not, then it does not go to the heart) which seems to be the point of the observer.

Now, when I observe the observer (or try to locate this observer), it just feels like the observer has "shifted" slightly again in the heart area.

So, the final answer to who/what watches comes out as some sort of energy focused at the heart (consciousness) which watches.

Does this make sense at all?   Is the still-point of Culadasa located at the heart? Or somewhere else? Or does it depend on the person? 

This whole thing is reminding me of heart base and teachings like that that I glossed through years ago but right now, I just want to go based on experience and maybe some input from others here and not go to any more teachings. All inputs welcome!



 

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
3/6/20 6:03 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
Lots of options to explore:

the still point is "within" each experience, in it's center, which is empty. so if you experience anger and go to the center of the anger, you'll find it isn't "angry" in there. you'll find that if you go to the center of the feeling of pressure on your butt when you sit, there is no pressure in the center. etc.

the who that watches is in the visual field, vaguely associated with the location of our eyes. if you poke your finger toward your eyes, the place you are aiming at is the watcher

the who of the watcher is in the sense of "attention " that moves around to objects within awareness. it is "in" what is watched. you might be aware of the whole room, but you have one place/thing in attention, maybe these words, and "I" am seeing these words is a felt-experience... and it can feel like the "I" is actually in the words.  the who can be in this moving around "I-ness". the moving around I-ness can be very fast and precise during some sits/investigations, so not a still center, but a dynamic center that doesn't change it's essential "i-ness".

when ever you mostly calm down, but feel a sense of natural vulnerability or core sense of lack, that can often locate at the heart. it can feel very personal, very essential. I am vulnerable, I am imperfect, I am inadequate, I don't understand awakening... or even the reverse: I know who I am, I am powerful, I am knowing and intelligence, I am in control... these sensations are very often located right at the heart center. Many times when you say "I love you" and you point somewhere, you point to the heart. there are many practices that serve to awaken and make tender the heart area. classically "metta" is like this. so is "taking and sending". actually you can explore how the heart responds to all of the different meditation practices, it's very interesting. It clearly shows that greed, aversion, and indifference truly are poisons.

It does seem that when the knot of self releases, the knot was located at the heart. But be gentle with this idea. Sometimes people want to force heart openings and wind up damaging themselves. The person has to be good and kind and aware...THEN the heart softens and opens up, on its own, like petals of a flower opening in spring. Never try to force open a flower by pulling back the petals.

Hope this gives you some ideas to explore!  In general, I would explore them in this order, but have fun with it, choose your own approach based on what feels right, and make the exploration your own!

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
3/6/20 8:45 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
This question came to me on its own during sits or off cushion each time there was attention (noticing) on the seeing-nose-behind eyes-watcher. My Noting would be freestyle, noting anything that is. Then there was this noting "who is seeing, who is feeling" then it would go back to other sense events just as they are without wondering who is experiencing. This comes and goes in waves. I find it's good to let it wave on its own but keep attention (noting/noticing) continuous rather than getting lost in a narrative of "is it in the center of this experience or is it in the heart, maybe in solar plexus) emoticon 

I would suggest keep the stream of attention/noting constant and unbroken and let questions on who is this and other sensate experience dance their dance in the light of awakeness. 

just my two cents. 

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
3/7/20 4:26 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks Shargol. This is very helpful. I'm exploring the directions you've listed. 


I'll describe some of my journey here. This is inspired by the post of Kalle Spolander called "Insight into Emptiness". 

I'll only describe the insight into emptiness aspect of my journey here first. Rest of my journey, I'll describe at the end.

The first important teaching that hit me in this regard was that of Webu Sayadaw: paraphrasing (incorrectly perhaps), there's the lip, breath touches, and there is the experience of the touch. Is there any "self" there? 

Later (March 2019 or so), I came across the works of Nanananda: Miracle of Contact, Concept and Reality, and then, the work of Culadasa and that of Guy Newland called Introduction to Emptiness.

I was then on a 20 day self-retreat. And I found myself making diagrams: a circle for the brain, a thought coming out of the brain, pointing at the brain and telling, this is I. Self-referencing, this is, or so I think of it. And when I sat with this kind of diagram, some thing non-conceptual opened in me. I think it's some insight into emptiness of thoughts and how the inner voices which make things I or call things I work.

I was also trying to work with the still-point of Culadasa and how he talks about emptiness (which is similar to the above) but the 20 days ended at some point. 

Fast forward to February-March 2020 (a lot happened between March 2019 and February 2020 -- most important thing here is that the book of Ingram has come by, I'm making sense of stages of insight -- desire for deliverance was messing me up and I spent 20 days working through the stages of insight -- or that is what I believe it is -- much of this is described in my post "end of in-breath" where I also describe a fruition like experience. my practice during this time has been a mix of Mahasi + Goenka/Webu Sayadaw breath touch at top of upper lip) -- KK fast forward to February-March 2020 -- my mind is acting as though it is in the territory of 3rd and 4th paths (not claiming I'm in these territories but my mind is acting this way) -- I'm back to the same references of Nanananda and Culadasa and I started locating the still point and the observer and this is discussed in the first post in this thread.

A realization seems to come that the word "observer" is a construct. There is no such observer. The right word is "observing" (to complete the "observing", "observing" is happening via some architecture of mind/body/consciousness) and observing or this full sentence too, ends up just being a word or something to describe something that happens. And when I sit with this thought, I think there is some  insight into no-self & emptiness.

That said, contradictorily, the "I", a word I have been afraid of, I'm not afraid of that longer. I'm noticing a voice of "I, I, I ..." emanating from the heart -- comes with the in-breath and goes out with the out-breath.  Sometimes it is just there. At other times, it can come out of fear. At other times, it can come out of other character defect. But at times, I feel whole and there is "I" ... "I" ... "I" which emanates from the heart and I just let it be. Some times it feels that if there is love, there will be no "I". Anyway, a voice I've been afraid of, I'm not that afraid of any longer, I just think of it as the word "I".

Nanananda describes the Madhupindaka sutta -- which basically goes as there is contact, then there is feeling, at which point there is proliferation (papanca is the Pali word). At some point between the feeling and Papanca the "I" kicks in, he says. I can see some vague beginnings of this Papanca. That said, at other times, the voice "I" does not seem to be related to Papanca and it just seems to be part of the body-mind thought process, coming with the breath and going with the breath.

My mind is tending towards a way of being which wants to live with everything just as it comes up. It wants to think of thoughts as just thoughts and further constructions and nothing else, and it wants the whole of existence to be like this.  

*Any thoughts on the above, accepted with much gratitude! Any thoughts on where I might be and what I should do, further gratefully accepted.*

 I think I'm acting as though I'm in the territory of the 3rd and 4th paths (rather, I should say, I'm acting as though I'm in the territory of the technical 3rd and 4th paths per Ingram's terminology of the technical 4th path and I'm extrapolating it to a technical 3rd path). Or rather, my heart is taking me in this direction. Not saying I'm in this territory, I don't know where I am, but I think I'm behaving as though I'm in this territory and from the book of Ingram on the revised 4 path model, whatever he is saying for the 3rd and 4th paths is making sense.

---
Previously, I started in the Goenka tradition in 2001 and I think I might have crossed A&P at some point there. Before that in childhood, the main memory comes to mind of me sitting to meditate on the breath and after 10 minutes, going jittery and unable to concentrate. I was very interested in yoga, astral travel, theosophy teachings for an year or two during undergrads at which point Goenka kicked in and became the main thing. I've dark nighted from 2001 to 2018 and still continue to hover around there (or so is my guess).

I should add that I've also dealt with some childhood trauma issues. It's been difficult to distinguish some times, the psychological stuff from the desire for deliverance.

Some other significant events: 


In 2017 or so, at which point, I had no idea what was happening in my meditation (in hindsight, desire for deliverance was kicking my ass), I came across the stages of insight. I think I touched insight. At which point I asked for Nibbana. I got it or not, I don't know. But I did get an answer back, get your Sila right. However, the stages of insight model did not settle in until much later in November 2019.


In 2018 summer, something horrible happened, which showed me, very clearly, that what Buddha said: this life does not endure, and that shit can happen without your control literally came true. That all conditioned things are impermanent came true. And whatever I had made my identity around, had to be left. By this time, I was already also in the middle of getting my ass kicked because of dark nighting.  I went and spent some time at Thai monastery in US (previously, I had spent some time at a Thai monastery in the US in 2012) after which I had left the US and gone on a spiritual quest consisting of psychological stuff + dark nighting) consisting of travels in India and Thailand and Singapore. Then, I was back to work in the US in 2016 until mid 2018 when hell broke lose as I mentioned above. (maybe it should be added in some sense, the shit that grew bigger in the summer of 2018 started in 2012 when I left the US). Enough said!


In 2019, March, I had gone to Muttodaya where I had found the book of Wettimuny and meditated with it for a month to 2 meditating 4-5 hours a day and towards the end of that, when I was meditating on Paticca Samuppada, I found myself reach a state of high happiness and thanking all my teachers. At this point, I was still not thinking in terms of desire for deliverance or any of those models. My companions were Wettimuny, Nanavira, and the first 18 suttas of the Majjhima Nikaya.

In November 2019, I was on a 20-day self-retreat when I saw the stages of insight clearly (or so I think) until equanimity (and maybe beyond, I don't know). Then, for a month I was out dark nighting and lost some major attachments. Then, I spent another 20 days to a month spending half the day + weekends meditating with the insight stages section of the Visuddhimagga. I have described some of my practice here of looking at anicca+dukka+anatta aspect of things and getting to some kind of state likely at the end of in-breath as described in my post, end of in breath.

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
3/9/20 8:04 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Hi Shargol,
So, I've been working with some of the things you say:

Much of this post is going to be rambling so please help me make some sense out of it!

Mainly, I've been working with the watcher at the eye. I look at some thing outside, and then, I try to find the awareness that is looking. Somewhere in the eye area. When I try to find be aware of that awareness, I get into a certain mind-state. The oneTheravadin way of thinking about this that I can come up with is the following: when one goes from the base of nothingness to neither perception nor yet non-perception, the advice of Sheila Catherine is to get aware of the consciousness that is aware of nothingness. I've tried this. Unsure if I got into any of these states but something happens when I try this exercise and mind rests in a very calm state and then when I look out at the world after a few seconds, there is a certain open awareness and mind is much more open to things just happening. The same seems to happen when I become aware of this awareness which is looking through the eyes and then look at the outside world again. Does this make any sense? 

Finally, though, everything seems to go to the heart. That's where the meat of the action seems to happen. Now I don't know if there is something fundamental about this or this is just some vulnerabilities/lack of things I have emotionally which constantly take me to the heart. That's where I some how find non-duality. Union with God. Or any kind of union. I am meditation or meditation is me. My work is me or I'm my work. I and other. All that seems to happen in the heart.

Again, I don't know what I'm saying. Please help me make sense of this!

My gratitude for your thoughts and input.

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
5/31/20 11:33 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
Mike Smirnoff:
I'm working with the question who/what watches?
Kind of like finding the still-point/witness of Culadasa (but not quite -- I find something odd in his treatment, I don't know what exactly and I don't know how to explain exactly).

Now, what seems to happen is that a lot of energy seems to focus on the heart and the attention goes right to the heart (chest -- on the right hand side of the middle -- is this where the heart is? if not, then it does not go to the heart) which seems to be the point of the observer.

Now, when I observe the observer (or try to locate this observer), it just feels like the observer has "shifted" slightly again in the heart area.

So, the final answer to who/what watches comes out as some sort of energy focused at the heart (consciousness) which watches.

Does this make sense at all?   Is the still-point of Culadasa located at the heart? Or somewhere else? Or does it depend on the person? 

This whole thing is reminding me of heart base and teachings like that that I glossed through years ago but right now, I just want to go based on experience and maybe some input from others here and not go to any more teachings. All inputs welcome!



 


   The heart is on the left side of the middle of the chest. Bra.

t

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
5/31/20 11:52 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
Mike Smirnoff:
I'm working with the question who/what watches?
Kind of like finding the still-point/witness of Culadasa (but not quite -- I find something odd in his treatment, I don't know what exactly and I don't know how to explain exactly).

Now, what seems to happen is that a lot of energy seems to focus on the heart and the attention goes right to the heart (chest -- on the right hand side of the middle -- is this where the heart is? if not, then it does not go to the heart) which seems to be the point of the observer.

Now, when I observe the observer (or try to locate this observer), it just feels like the observer has "shifted" slightly again in the heart area.

So, the final answer to who/what watches comes out as some sort of energy focused at the heart (consciousness) which watches.

Does this make sense at all?   Is the still-point of Culadasa located at the heart? Or somewhere else? Or does it depend on the person? 

This whole thing is reminding me of heart base and teachings like that that I glossed through years ago but right now, I just want to go based on experience and maybe some input from others here and not go to any more teachings. All inputs welcome!



 

Don't want to hijack your topic but I frequently come up aggainst these kind of questions in my practice too and get stuck:
  1. As you gaze into space, very gently and briefly, look for what's looking. Look for the center of consciousness. Is there something to find? Can you find your head? Or is this just this open field in which all visual perceptions are appearing?" I have trouble with these. I’ll ask “Do I feel something?” “Yes, it’s in my head”, “Where?” “Between the eyes”, “now where?” “can’t go any deeper, there is no thinker/observer/self.” But I don’t really feel the process of looking back. Could you please help with this?

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
5/31/20 3:34 PM as a reply to terry.
 
terry:
    The heart is on the left side of the middle of the chest. Bra. 

The energetic heart center is just where Mike Smirnoff described, just a little to the right of the middle of the chest. 

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
6/1/20 6:35 AM as a reply to Sam Gentile.
Don't want to hijack your topic but I frequently come up aggainst these kind of questions in my practice too and get stuck:
  1. As you gaze into space, very gently and briefly, look for what's looking. Look for the center of consciousness. Is there something to find? Can you find your head? Or is this just this open field in which all visual perceptions are appearing?" I have trouble with these. I’ll ask “Do I feel something?” “Yes, it’s in my head”, “Where?” “Between the eyes”, “now where?” “can’t go any deeper, there is no thinker/observer/self.” But I don’t really feel the process of looking back. Could you please help with this?

Maybe in reality there is no "looking back", just some sensations in our heads (a small fraction of your nose and eyes and part of body) and awareness (visualisation of bending, arching back) dressed up as a watcher seemingly watching other sensations? Everything on "one side" of one sensate field.

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
6/2/20 12:58 AM as a reply to Pepe.
Pepe:
 
terry:
    The heart is on the left side of the middle of the chest. Bra. 

The energetic heart center is just where Mike Smirnoff described, just a little to the right of the middle of the chest. 

lol

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
6/2/20 11:16 AM as a reply to hae1en.
hae1en:
Don't want to hijack your topic but I frequently come up aggainst these kind of questions in my practice too and get stuck:
  1. As you gaze into space, very gently and briefly, look for what's looking. Look for the center of consciousness. Is there something to find? Can you find your head? Or is this just this open field in which all visual perceptions are appearing?" I have trouble with these. I’ll ask “Do I feel something?” “Yes, it’s in my head”, “Where?” “Between the eyes”, “now where?” “can’t go any deeper, there is no thinker/observer/self.” But I don’t really feel the process of looking back. Could you please help with this?

Maybe in reality there is no "looking back", just some sensations in our heads (a small fraction of your nose and eyes and part of body) and awareness (visualisation of bending, arching back) dressed up as a watcher seemingly watching other sensations? Everything on "one side" of one sensate field.

I am not sure I understand. Can you explain this further?

RE: what/who watches?
Answer
6/2/20 12:12 PM as a reply to Sam Gentile.
Sam Gentile:
hae1en:
Maybe in reality there is no "looking back", just some sensations in our heads (a small fraction of your nose and eyes and part of body) and awareness (visualisation of bending, arching back) dressed up as a watcher seemingly watching other sensations? Everything on "one side" of one sensate field.

I am not sure I understand. Can you explain this further?

Just some quotes from - I think - Daniel's chapter on formations about awareness being yet another cluster of sensations:

  • 1) the sense of the observer on “this” side; 2) most of the sensations of the body; and 3) most of the sensations of the mind, with the latter two fluxing “over there”.
  • As mental and physical phenomena gradually integrate with the sense of luminous space, this experientially begs the question, “What is observing formations?” As formations become predominant, we are faced first with the questions of which side of the dualistic split we are on and then of what is watching that which earlier appeared to be both sides. Just keep investigating in a natural and matter-of-fact way. Let this profound dance unfold. If you have gotten to this point, you are extraordinarily close and need to do very little but relax and be gently curious about your experience. They reveal a way out of the paradox of duality, the maddening sense that “this” is observing, controlling, subject to, separated from, etc., “that”. By containing all or nearly all the sensations comprising one moment in a very integrated way, they contain the necessary clarity to see through the three fundamental illusions.
  • One of the primary ways that the illusion of duality is maintained is that the mind partially “blinks out” perception of (a part of each formation that it wants to section off to appear separate) (ja: this what seems to be self), in control, or observing everything else. In this way, there is not enough clarity to see the interconnectedness and true nature of that part partially blinked out of reality, and a sense of a separate or autonomous self is maintained. The problem is not the arising of those sensations and patterns that the mind is partially blinking out to, it is that these (self)sensations are not clearly perceived. It is almost as if the mind is placing some sensations in its map of space and what is in it, and then only partially doing that for other sensations that it wishes to turn into a sense of something stable and continuous. When the experience of formations occurs, it comes out of a level of clarity that is so complete that “blinking out” can no longer easily happen, as everything is mapped equally and completely to the same volume of our perceived sensate space and so, finally, the clear perception we have developed threatens the core illusion of a stable, perceiving, separate self. Yay!
  • In practice, we gently work to integrate those subtle remaining processes that seem to be a “this” side, a practitioner, a practice, a self, and so on, into the rest of the clearly perceived sense field, basically just by being gently aware of the patterns of sensations that make up those qualities of space until they realize they are naturally aware of themselves and the thing flips over.