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Merging the senses

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Merging the senses
Answer
7/18/20 10:26 AM
There’s a commonality in describing a merging or syncing of all the sense doors, though I'm currently grappling with a bit of confusion over the extent of this merging. Some examples:

“...the perfect fusion and interchangeable functioning of the sense faculties” - Shurangama Sutra
“If you do not open and unite your six sense faculties so that they function interchangeably, this false thinking will never cease.” - Shurangama Sutra
“Settling into and syncing with this moment, or better yet realizing it is already synced” - Daniel Ingram
“Now the final step is to delete the walls between sense door categories such that awareness is one big thing. This constraint put upon awareness, once deleted, allows each categorical emptiness to be seen as empty and with this the final selfing processes that creates a self shuts down.” - Dream Walker
“You can track [all the sense doors] simultaneously and it’s all just one sense door since “awareness” is but one taste” - Frank Yang

Would say my current experience is that all these sense doors share a similar flavor/non-flavor, which is to say they’re all seen to have arisen dependently, naturally, without reference to any absolute awareness or background, just the flow of phenomenology merged with and as the awareness, no intermediary or delay. 

In other words, yes to "syncing", but certainly cannot say there’s simultaneous experience of all six doors at once.  Attempting to do so feels like an unnatural “forcing” and quite out-of-phase with the rest of practice which is more like a gentle and natural unfolding.

So, the intuition says it’s safe to abandon this particular investigation but a faint voice says, “what if there’s delusion being missed here?” Thoughts?

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/18/20 10:53 AM as a reply to punto.
No real answer here, but I feel that this merging of sense doors happens on occasion for me, at least from how I understand this strange expression. Like, I sometimes touch sounds, and sometimes feel, touch and see thoughts, or so it appears, particularly in meditation.  A particular experience i get commonly at the middle/end of sitting sessions these days is a thought (or mental phenomenon) which isn't seen as a thought immediately, which creates a virtual "scene" which is "out there" ; but then this is seen through, and what happenes is not just going back to the now, but a transformation of this thought into what it "actually is", a bringing back of the "there" sensations into the "here", and a "physicalisation" of the thought, like, it turns or reveals itself to be not so different from a physical sensation, a sound, a piece of space...

But perhaps that would be more akin to a kind of synesthesia. It feels very right when that happens. That's what I understand by sense doors merging.

I'm not sure that what those guys mean is that one sense modality is experienced as another or transforms into another though (i like the frank yang reference btw emoticon). Perhaps it's more along the lines of everything being seen to exist simultaneously without separation in between things and yet somehow there being individual things which are differentiated still manifesting, but in a paradoxically intertwined/fused yet distinct way.

That's my intuition at least. Could well be below the mark - I'll let Chris Marti take it over from here :p (you might only get a haiku though emoticon)

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/18/20 11:31 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:
But perhaps that would be more akin to a kind of synesthesia. It feels very right when that happens. That's what I understand by sense doors merging.
Definitely synesthesia, all sense synesthesia to be exact.
It surely feels right and I would even say it is an absolute prequisite for enlightenment.

Though it is not so much even about just merging few senses together but merging all sense doors.
Topic of developing synesthesia is quite complex although the idea is very simple - allow free communication between everyone - and this mind shift will transform sensual experience to something completely new.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/18/20 11:34 AM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
When you read this text, are the letters also experienced as touch and sound and smell ?

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/18/20 12:53 PM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
Ni Nurta:

Though it is not so much even about just merging few senses together but merging all sense doors.
Topic of developing synesthesia is quite complex although the idea is very simple - allow free communication between everyone - and this mind shift will transform sensual experience to something completely new.


Ni, can you try to point to how this would be done in practice please?

Currently I'm getting a lot out of experiencing the senses simultaneously while sitting and walking but only experience true merging from time to time, almost always with seeing sounds.

~BTG

PS...
Great topic Punto, thanks!

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/18/20 1:37 PM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
I don't buy this!

The senses are far more fickle than the mind. Or vice versa look

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/18/20 2:02 PM as a reply to punto.
This is the kind of stuff that gets DhO such a bad reputation. There is no way that "merging the senses" is testible by a third party. Unless there is some party in the afterlife!

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/18/20 3:10 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
As sensitive as I am on this issue, I think it is important to have a solid auditory foundation for the other senses to fall in to place. I recommend listening to music with a strong sense of place and tradition.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/18/20 3:23 PM as a reply to A. DIetrich Ringle.
You are right, without proper ground reference this whole thing is unstable as shekels.
Necessity is the mother of invention as they say. There are numerous ways to accomplish ground reference including falling on supermundane ground truth to all, Vajra Samadhi.
It might not be real. You will know when it isn't.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/18/20 6:47 PM as a reply to punto.
If there is only one taste, what does it taste like?

I remember Kenneth Folk talking about the jhanas having flavors. Hmm

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 4:07 AM as a reply to punto.
The first topic in this conversation with Daniel and Rosa talks specifically about the merging of senses. The first part is well worth a listen also. Enjoy. 

~BTG

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 8:46 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:
When you read this text, are the letters also experienced as touch and sound and smell ?
There are few streams of experiences of this type and they depends on which parts of brain process text.
I have no synesthesia where letters change colors but letters do have associated colors and I can experience these colors. I need to shift my attentin to this (or activate parts of brain which trigger color responses to letters - and with colors tastes/smell/touch). For example "a" is yellow.

Other type of experience is fonts themselves and their rendering. I am very caucious about font rendering and in eg. Windows platform I use programs which change it, today MacType and in the past gdi++/ezgdi. Good rendering makes fonts experienced as sweet where bad elicit a rather bitter sensations.

Then there are experiences from text itself. When I read any text there are experiences which say something about author. Out of the blue I would feel set of experiences indicating how author feels like while writing it. This is more pronounced when I read spiritual/meditation books, etc. This works better for cases where I have more sensual contact with the person eg. audio and best audio + video. I can feel how clothes people wear feel on their body and when I concentrate I can feel their mind down to how their mind is configured and what strategies they use to make it feel good.

This especially fun because there is like unlimited source of ideas fow how I can make my own mind feel like. I can read or see someone and experience them. When they talk aboutalternate mind states I can experience them also.

Normally this is our human beings capability. Typicilally these experiences get buried up in the stream of normal sensual experiences. Integrating sense doors is however meant by me as also integrating mirror neurons which are their own sense door. Buddha might have not listed it but I never cared for lists but most generalized advices and figure out what thsese "sense doors" actually are and what they mean to me.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 8:56 AM as a reply to A. DIetrich Ringle.
I remember Kenneth Folk talking about the jhanas having flavors. Hmm

Flavors as a metaphor. They certainly don't taste.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 9:12 AM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
Ok, i certainly can relate to what you are describing. But this is far from meaning that one sense door is litterally merged with another. Experience is always made up of all sensations, sure, but then mysteriously they are also always manifesting as their own thing. Chris ?

I wan't to reiterate my my friendly criticism of the use of neuroscientific notions to explain things like that... 

Also the part where dan ingram talks about this in that podcast certainly confirms the way i had understood the merging thing. It's not like a G note played on a guitare is gonna be experienced as a taste, as a sight and as a sound simultaneously. Even if it does get experienced on different levels of sense spheres at the same Time, it feels like this would still be : neither the same nor different, etc.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 10:20 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:

Ni, can you try to point to how this would be done in practice please?

Currently I'm getting a lot out of experiencing the senses simultaneously while sitting and walking but only experience true merging from time to time, almost always with seeing sounds.

~BTG

PS...
Great topic Punto, thanks!
The general idea I had 14-15 years ago was to allow neurons freely communicate between each other. At that time I did not consider single neurons yet (I did not feel them individually) as much a "brain parts" but the general idea was the same and without differentiation of the level or reality and no matter what levels of reality there are. This means change in connections in brain where each part of brain do create connections to any other part no matter what they functionally normally do. Just connect and share.

I predicted some issues with this and in fact this didn't made my brain too stable. It forced me to develop ways to control and stabilize this and took more than ten years to consider myself to have actually mastered it. Totally worth it.

The practice idea was simple:
- meditate on many things at once to condition my mind to have more streams of experience
- do body scanning/visualization with specific type of visualized touch experience which was encouraging creating new connection and/or activating them
- change how I use yes from controlling them to allow them to control themselves and do the same for everything I felt I was controlling

The latter part did not take that much to figure out what this should be and I learned it in about two months where I started to experience synesthesia partially on some experiences. Color white and red at first. In next few months I had full blown all sense synesthesia. It took many years to master this. Now I can literally control this and keep myself having some of these effects to increasing them in real time.

Fun thing is that merely doing this to my senses almost completely eliminated any fixed ego or doer. The processes were there but along all encompassing non-dual reality which was even then much stronger. Not quite 4th path level of non-duality mind you, just in some sense I already knew what enlightenment is about and the rest was me lazily sorting through remaining misbehaving processes in my mind and finding what mind is capable of.

With more connections it would seems that if neuron figures out something interesting it will be immediately experienced somewhere and if it is something interesting everyone else can learn it to achieve similar result. This is why I mention supermundane stuff. Though for many years I did not even allowed myself to think about any supermundane capabilities and just worked on decoding capabilities and by how these things are, thinking about supermundane is more a nice idea for facilitating this process of training mind to decode everything more accurately.

Decoding what?
When seeing image/video there is experience of everything I experience on all senses. So when I see eg. tropical island I can experience sun, wind, smell in the air, touch trees, feel water, experience people and even their minds, taste and smell foods. When I watch winter I experience cold, etc. Literally.

Normally when I saw something I just saw what I saw so when watching picture I saw the picture, its surface. I can't say there was any watcher there because I was rather concentrated on what I saw so for example "in seeing only the seen" already was already true. This is however no fun. To really see what is being seen mind need to concentrate properly on the content and show everything it knows about what it see on all senses. For this all senses need to be integrated. Without this integration the same experiences are still generated so I did know all that I can feel now Just the problem was that this "knowing" is dry in no fun at all and wihout actual sensual experience there is little incentive for mind to go deeper in to objects and it just hangs on where it is. This in turn generate need to move somewhere else eg. thought space. When sensual experience generates even more sensual experiences you can really dive deep in to the moment.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 10:30 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:
Ok, i certainly can relate to what you are describing. But this is far from meaning that one sense door is litterally merged with another. Experience is always made up of all sensations, sure, but then mysteriously they are also always manifesting as their own thing. Chris ?

I wan't to reiterate my my friendly criticism of the use of neuroscientific notions to explain things like that... 

Also the part where dan ingram talks about this in that podcast certainly confirms the way i had understood the merging thing. It's not like a G note played on a guitare is gonna be experienced as a taste, as a sight and as a sound simultaneously. Even if it does get experienced on different levels of sense spheres at the same Time, it feels like this would still be : neither the same nor different, etc.
To some degree we already have merged sense doors. Note will feel the same as you can say it will feel like.
When it actually is experienced it makes all the difference to quality of experience.

Some things like how colors feel like you do not even get to experience because if you would want to probe it with focus you would do too much mental gymnastics and even then you would realize one way they actually present themselves when they can just be experienced on all senses in which case colors are much more vibrant and shine with multiple sensual experiences at once. And especially multiple colors at one can generate incredible experiences. Again, if you focus, do mental gymnastics you can asses what it could feel like. It is again nothing like the real experience when it happens.

Quality of experience makes all the difference. If your experience is so good it is always satisfying then you do not even have any inclination to renuntiate about what is not ok with reality, have existential depression or thing it all does not make any sense. It also makes you a better person because introducing any ill will breaks this incredible experience by introducing stream unpleasant experiences in to it.

When you can focus out of evil in your heart it will persist and grow. If you experience everything as is then nothing can hide. This is also why Buddha stressed importance of merging ALL sense doors.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 10:51 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I remember Kenneth Folk talking about the jhanas having flavors. Hmm

Flavors as a metaphor. They certainly don't taste.
If you don't have merged sense doors they don't taste. Nothing tastes. You experience nothing and with poor sensual experience you rather concentrate on making even what you experience less, thus I believe obsession that people have on "emptiness" which they believe is not experiencing anything.

It is a form of mental suicide imho and complete misunderstanding of what it supposed to mean.
When you experience everything about everything then you have righ satisfying experience and deconstruct everything in-place so that emptiness shows itself naturally.

Take experience of ego or doer. You can certainly not experience it, brain has capability to not generate it. You can however see through it so deeply and experience it so thorougly to deconstruct it down to experiences on all sense doors and realize what it is. It is then neither needed nor an issue. This is why mergin all sense doors make ego not only not an issue but even makes whole notion of it being an issue being completely stupid.

Buddha said he is just senses, and after death these senses will disperse. If you have poor senses then you feel dissatisfied with reality, start wonder about your being, what it is and what will happen with it. The way imho is to work on senses.

And to be even more clear: working with senses also means improving their sensory capability. So for example with sight if you canno say that your sight improves and you can not see smaller details from further away due to your meditative practice then you are doing poor practice.

And jhanas have taste. This taste comes from all the places which normally make you experience tastes and which experience bliss when in state of jhana. Taste is but one type of sense and jhanas feels like everything being experienced on all senses, just in their best versions. It literally feels like being in heaven, thus the notion of pure abodes. By the 3rd hinayana path literally living in pure abodes all the time is the mind state one should have. This also makes me doubtful about attainment level of anyone at 3rd path who desire 4th. It does not make any sense and suggest that people practice and practice but they did not even do first step required for enlightenment and merely train but a small fraction of their mind. Then they get 4th path and talk about nothing changing from how they experienced reality before everything except some bullshit about ego/doer. The fu...

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 12:23 PM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
Huh?

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 1:08 PM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
Ni:

And to be even more clear: working with senses also means improving their sensory capability. So for example with sight if you canno say that your sight improves and you can not see smaller details from further away due to your meditative practice then you are doing poor practice.


Oh bugger. That's me stuffed then. I'm only partially sighted emoticon

Thanks for the reply to my question earlier. I can't even respond to that. I'll have to read it again a couple of time...

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 2:35 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:

Oh bugger. That's me stuffed then. I'm only partially sighted emoticon

Thanks for the reply to my question earlier. I can't even respond to that. I'll have to read it again a couple of time...
Having issues in senses doesn't mean you should give up on them.
Actually quite opposite is true and special effort should be made to feel eyes and understand what is wrong with the whole process of seeing that eyes can't find proper focus.

I recommend books from William Horatio Bates
In his method after you close eyes you should see total blackness with as litthe noise as possible.
You should also visualize small black dot, as small as possible. Like very small, and if you do then visualize even smaller dot inside, and so on. This pretty much is type of Samatha meditation and will give your sight laser-like focus.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 4:44 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Huh?
Everything having the same no-taste to it is an ego issue.
However you are right, explaining colors to blind people is quite pointless emoticon

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 5:06 PM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
Maybe the first person to discover no-taste actually had no taste. I certainly am not the first.

I am looking more at a nexus of possibilities and feeling my body sensation as it is reflected by its shadow. 

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/19/20 6:24 PM as a reply to A. DIetrich Ringle.
A. DIetrich Ringle:
Maybe the first person to discover no-taste actually had no taste. I certainly am not the first.

I am looking more at a nexus of possibilities and feeling my body sensation as it is reflected by its shadow. 
Probably everyone who meditates for long enough can do no-taste. It is called dissociation and has its uses in the mind.
Staying in this state is an option and good it is an option but self-development is not about permanently keeping yourself in a closet no matter what this closet is.

Synesthesia is exactly what love is and is our natural mind state.
Normally it feels too strong and via various processes driven by ignorance and hate gets blocked out of mind.

So yeah, when everything glows like you were in love with it and makes you literally melt away and when it disappears you do not desire it and love whatever else you now experience then this is what I consider to be enlightenment. Most natural state ever. Even babies can do it. At least until they do not get clever and know better how they should feel like... And yes, it has taste to it, multiple heavenly tastes you cannot get enough of. Then when it is not experienced it is not desired anymore and dissotiation is felt instead of longing.

Any mind state that doesn't feel like you are actually in love all the time is not it. Imho.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/21/20 9:21 PM as a reply to punto.
I've been reflecting on all of this along with the comments, so thanks to all.

Certainly there's a possibility of training an ability to track more sense doors simultaneously, but to what end?

I think what was/is being missed are two subtle tendencies:

1. At times, clinging to some desire to somehow link the disparate sense appearances, or abide in some (nonexistent) ground between them.  Instead sensations just instantaneously and randomly appear and disappear -- no ground, no source, no returning, no now, no exit.  

2. Even though self is gone (-ish), there's a habitual tendency to see the sensations as in some way real. But no inherent existence can be found; they're simply illusory.  Every sensation is infinitely conditioned; no two sensations are ever equivalent, so how could they possibly be real?

The 2nd point is particularly intriguing when thinking about relating to other people; how they're perceived is of course, just dependently originated. So why not encourage habits that spark love, compassion, joy, and the like? Ah yes, good old morality...

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/21/20 10:57 PM as a reply to punto.
punto:

Certainly there's a possibility of training an ability to track more sense doors simultaneously, but to what end?



I have found this ability to be helpful. At first you realize, attention is flickering back and forth between sense doors.

In high equanimity, flickering between sense doors stops as attention gets panoramic. This is a prelude to later paths where walls between sense doors come down. See dream walker's framework for awakening. It sounded like jibberish the first time I read it but it lines up with my experience. 

I started making good progress following the instruction in this video.
https://vimeo.com/250616410

I would start by trying to know the visual, tactile and auditory field totally at once. You will probably have get concentration strong enough that you can perceive subtle impermanence in each. Feel vibrations, see eyeball static, hear the ringing.

I would totally fall short of the inclusiveness that Daniel suggests at first but really trying for it is what brought progress. 

The thing to watch out for is too much effort and energy. Some is required but keep it balanced with tranquility and concentration. Try to feel/hear/see more while doing less.

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/22/20 1:10 AM as a reply to punto.
punto:
Certainly there's a possibility of training an ability to track more sense doors simultaneously, but to what end?
In this question what I find important is what "simultaneously" means.
You can train yourself and have at seemingly awareness of all five senses at once. When you dig deeper it can be that they are still quickly changing. Kinda like in DLP projectors you have color wheel that is rotating quickly and coloring normally black and white images but because of speed alone you experience blend of colors. When however you move eyes quickly or if you had high speed camera you could see that actually it is just flashing few colored images in quick succession.

Then there is merging senses where one sense modality triggers experiences on all sense modalities. This is what I refer to in this topic.

There is simple practice that can done: focus on two points, eg. two hands. At first your consciousness with shift slowly between them with an effort. Then it will be changing increasing speed and effortlessness. At some point both hands will kinda get further away and blend in to what seems one mind object in a kind of 4th jhana type perception. Even at this stage it will be quick switching between hand consciousnesses. The next step is actually splitting your consciousness to two consciousnesses which experience hands separately at once. This can be taken further to experience your raw nervous system where hands are just branches out of tree and all is static but for the purpose of merging sense doors this state of split consciousness is enough.

If your mind can do that then it will be able to split itself when experiencing multiple sense doors at once, multiple objects at once sense door and even apply different sense modalities on objects from one sense door.

If you still have normal self based perception at this point then these selves will be experienced along with each consciousness. It will feel completely strange and this sense of self will seems completely out of place and sooner or later it will fall away. It will feel nonsensical to have "watcher" when there is so much of them at once. If however you do not split consciousness and instead just switch them quickly between objects then even if you can do this with ridiculously high speed it won't ever cause this watcher to feel out of place and won't cause by itself to fall away.

This is at least how I did my non-duality. At 4th path it is more like this 8th jhana merging where everything is experienced as nervous system activation trees and then from these trees perception of everything at once is derived so it is all even more merged and seems completely static. Generally technically it was just following this practice/idea to its conclusion. It works so well I can activate more brain resources and all additional experiences they generate integrate seamlessly to this static perception increasing its depth, colors have more colors in them, there being more experiences of things at once and apparently for some reason make sounds to be much louder and more bassy... though it kinda make sense that more neurons firing generating sound sensations would make sounds louder emoticon

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/28/20 10:40 PM as a reply to punto.
Renunciation reestablishes one's own sense base. How obvious is that?

I see you Ninurta

My practice now is to erradicate

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/29/20 8:38 PM as a reply to punto.
Update -- doesn't seem I'm missing anything.  The unity in a single "taste" of the sense doors is apparent, and everything is in sync.

I think what's going on is the attention system is primed/trained to notice change, which makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint.  Sense doors that have changing sensations automatically receive more attention, while those that with relatively stable sensations are perceived subtly.  Conditions of higher energy or intention can cause overemphasis of certain sense doors, but that's just a distortion.  To me it feels quite natural that only a few sense doors would predominate in any particular "moment" (quotes to signify there's no such thing).

Will be interesting to see how these attentional habits morph over time.  For now, I'm exploring "total exertion" which is a nice counterbalance to hardcore emptiness...

RE: Merging the senses
Answer
7/29/20 11:18 PM as a reply to A. DIetrich Ringle.
A. DIetrich Ringle:
Renunciation reestablishes one's own sense base. How obvious is that?

I see you Ninurta

My practice now is to erradicate
Sounds like communism to me...