Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

By natural phenomenon I mean is it a specific definite state common to all humans who experience it?

Or is it simply a list of characteristics required by an arbitrary definition set out by a person?

If you want to answer the question but you need a definition of awakening, don't ask me to provide the definition, use the definition you think is appropriate, or discuss various definitions that interest  you. I am interested in what different people think, I'm not looking for personal guidance.


Thanks in advance.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Both. I see no contradiction there. We manifest the world all the time, and that is a natural phenomenon. All humans share karmic formations that cause us to manifest the world in specific ways. 
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Awakening is like math. Is it invented or discovered? Two Pi only knows emoticon
shargrol, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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It is very easy to see that it is "natural" in the sense that each stage builds upon the other. 

It is very easy to see that aspects that are argued to be natural are cultural, by looking across cultural expressions of awakening.

To get a sense of the univeralness of human development, take a look at this document: 
url=http://www.cook-greuter.com/Cook-Greuter%209%20levels%20paper%20new%201.1'14%2097p%5B1%5D.pdf

(Search for "cook greuter 9 stages" if that internet address doesn't work)

It's only been in very recent human history -- less that a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the times humans have walked this earth -- that we have been able to make such comparisons and see universal aspects of human development and can tease apart universal from cultural. 

Really hope this helps. The idea is like the Rosetta Stone for understanding how awakening is a farily natural experience yet it isn't an easy thing --- it's at the end of human development. 
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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shargrol:
It is very easy to see that it is "natural" in the sense that each stage builds upon the other. 

...

Do you think it is easier for students to take it in two steps, first develop a certain amount of detatchment by being an observer. Then when that is sufficiently realized, get rid of the observer? Is trying to do it all in one step too much?
shargrol, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Jim Smith:
shargrol:
It is very easy to see that it is "natural" in the sense that each stage builds upon the other. 

...

Do you think it is easier for students to take it in two steps, first develop a certain amount of detatchment by being an observer. Then when that is sufficiently realized, get rid of the observer? Is trying to do it all in one step too much?

Interesting, so you think the options are one step or two steps? 
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Helen Pohl, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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I'd say it's natural and would happen even if we'd found no methods for helping the process along. It would have taken an awful lot longer, though. 

My 2 cents.

(Why do I have to choose a font to even beging writing? And why is the html visible?)
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Stirling Campbell, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Jim Smith:
Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

Were you born knowing you were going to die, or did someone TELL you later? Both birth and death are stories we were told at some point, not realities we have had any real personal experience of. So it is with awakening. There is some point where we come to believe in our agency and our separateness. Awakening is having these conceptual misunderstandings dispelled, and for the underlying reality to be remembered. Ultimately it is understood that what we are has never NOT been awakened.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Stirling Campbell:
Jim Smith:
Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

Were you born knowing you were going to die, or did someone TELL you later? Both birth and death are stories we were told at some point, not realities we have had any real personal experience of. So it is with awakening. There is some point where we come to believe in our agency and our separateness. Awakening is having these conceptual misunderstandings dispelled, and for the underlying reality to be remembered. Ultimately it is understood that what we are has never NOT been awakened.

Is continuity (of self) also one of those conceptual misunderstandings?
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Stirling Campbell, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Jim Smith:
Is continuity (of self) also one of those conceptual misunderstandings?

Absolutely. You can prove this to yourself in any moment. Where is the "self" when the mind is quiet and empty? Where are your clinging and aversion? Where are the past or future? 
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

My frank response to this questoins is "who cares?" This is one of those questions without an answer  emoticon
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Chris Marti:
Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

My frank response to this questoins is "who cares?" This is one of those questions without an answer  emoticon


Some techniques might work well for cultivating natural aspects of awakening and other techniques that work better for cultivating invented aspects of awakening. 
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Olivier, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Jim Smith:
Chris Marti:
Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

My frank response to this questoins is "who cares?" This is one of those questions without an answer  emoticon


Some techniques might work well for cultivating natural aspects of awakening and other techniques that work better for cultivating invented aspects of awakening. 

Subtle thinking and barely disguised insinuations : classic Jim Smith !

In that case, you are invited to get off this platform, which was also invented by Daniel Ingram, and is being paid for by the same, and is surely not to your convenience, and spare yourself and us too all this useless banter trying to spark the same old boring controversies...

It's honestly starting to be disrespectful.
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Olivier:
Subtle thinking and barely disguised insinuations : classic Jim Smith !

In that case, you are invited to get off this platform, which was also invented by Daniel Ingram, and is being paid for by the same, and is surely not to your convenience, and spare yourself and us too all this useless banter trying to spark the same old boring controversies...

It's honestly starting to be disrespectful.
This is not nice Olivier, very not nice even

I do not see anything wrong with Jim's message
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Some techniques might work well for cultivating natural aspects of awakening and other techniques that work better for cultivating invented aspects of awakening. 

"Might"

I think this is idle speculation with no practical application.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Jim Smith:
Chris Marti:
Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

My frank response to this questoins is "who cares?" This is one of those questions without an answer  emoticon


Some techniques might work well for cultivating natural aspects of awakening and other techniques that work better for cultivating invented aspects of awakening. 

Do you really think that there is a divide between "natural" and "invented"? Natural sciences are invented. How could anyone ever find something that is purely natural in the sense that it has no constructional aspect to it? How could anyone construct something outside what's natural? Exploring that perceived divide might be a good practice. It would be both natural and invented and none of them. 
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Given how different are some descriptions and how many types of practices you can do and how programmable mind really is it would kinda seem plausible that enlightenment really IS invented.

On the other hand if you assume certain supermundane element are true and it is discovering them that is the core of "awakening" then those cannot be invented no matter what path and practices you took to "awaken to higher reality". This type of awakening is however not the topic of pragmatic dharma community emoticon Also in the context of pragmatic dharma community (and common sense) even these "supermundane awakening" effect can and should be explained in pragmatic / realistic ways even if after awakening they just sream "Truth!"

This ground truth seeking approach is invented even though it is natural to even supermundane aspects of reality and liked by them emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Do you really think that there is a divide between "natural" and "invented"? 

Yes, this discussion is indeed occurring with little wisdom - the Buddhist flavor of wisdom, meaning everything is constructed by the mind. Nothing is exempt from that, and to fret over whether or not a thing is invented or natural is folly* from that perspective.

Folly!

emoticon

*Folly could also be called sophistry in this case.
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Olivier, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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+1 from the not nice guy
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Sometimes when we express our honest, heartfelt opinions we can be accused of being "not nice." I think, however, that being honest can be the nicest thing we can do for others, even though there can be short-term hurt that is perceived to come from that. The question I try to ask myself is, "What course can I take for the greater good, in my best estimation right now, when I have to act?"
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Chris Marti:
Sometimes when we express our honest, heartfelt opinions we can be accused of being "not nice."
Yes, and some times that heartfelt opinion is that someone posted "not nice" post emoticon

Jim is asking good questions.
Controversies die out when they get boring and people understand the topic better. It is better to lead discussion in the direction of that happening, increasing knowledge about the reasons and whatnot and not blasting post about "you are evil does and you want to burn this house down, get out!" which is what I call "not nice". Just sayin...
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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You're quite entitled to your opinion, Ninurta.

I get to follow every conversation here and every post within them. As I have already said multiple times, this question is a waste of time and ignores the practice-fueled wisdom that every concept is mind-created, and the question from that perspective is moot. I do wonder why you feel the need to protect Jim - he's obviously very capable and can deal with any criticism on his own.

Are you after my job?  emoticon
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Personally it is not asking the same question bazzilion times that I find unskillful but overracting and this is how I train my mind.
Obviously Jim need answers if he is asking the questions so I find it as skillful to just provide answers.

Provide answer once, provide it twice, ..., for bazzilionth time and maybe by that time not only the question evolve but answer also.

ps. I have my own job(s)
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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This is an interesting issue because there is a norm on most Buddhist message boards that we all have to be nice. After doing this stuff for so long I observe that this norm can smother honest opinion from being expressed. I'm not saying we should be assholes to each other, but a little courage and forthrightness can be more informative, refreshing and help us have real conversations.
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Siavash, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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I think this is so important.
And I think this gentle leaning toward being seen as a nice one, is a big factor that turns many conversations into something that is not helpful. Those conversations look like that have a lot of good information in them, but are just some distractions, and don't move it forward, and you end up hearing many different kinds of nice-looking things, but not what you need to hear. I think we need more honesty, and more encouragement for honesty. This culture makes us to not be honest to ourselves in the first place, and when that is the case, we can not be honest with others, often though.
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Chris Marti:
This is an interesting issue because there is a norm on most Buddhist message boards that we all have to be nice. After doing this stuff for so long I observe that this norm can smother honest opinion from being expressed. I'm not saying we should be assholes to each other, but a little courage and forthrightness can be more informative, refreshing and help us have real conversations.
I can hardly call myself or my actions as driven by niceness. You should know emoticon

When there is a kind of critique which seems convoluted, like trying to hit flint above dry leaves it doesn't automatically mean that the motivation behind it is ill will. It doesn't even need to be ignorance as nature of ignorance is different than having controversial ideas or questions.

As for real conversations I believe that especially in dharma the key to it is the self expression. Simply saying what we currently believe to be the truth. Let ourselves say stupid things as this is different than actually being stupid. We should not cling to what we think or say anyway and the more people say what they think the easier it will be to have a dialog and learn from each other and perhaps become smarter together. It is clinging to this idea of not wanting to say wrong things which keep people from speaking their minds and this lead to not training themselves in experessing themselves and this leads to not being able to even express themselves to themselves and in turn to stalling, lack of progress, dissatisfaction and dukha.

So... if you ever have something to say to me Chris then I invite you: just bring it on!
I will be sure to not be rude but especially for you not necessasily super nice emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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So... if you ever have something to say to me Chris then I invite you: just bring it on!
I will be sure to not be rude but especially for you not necessasily super nice emoticon
 
Yes - the Middle Way!   emoticon

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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I think this is an interesting and important discussion. It's off topic, but since the only active moderator is engaged in it I'll assume that it's okay. Still, apologies to Jim for straying away from the topic - not because of some obsessive idea about being nice but because I really don't want Jim to feel left out and I see no reason for contributing to that if I can accomplish the same thing just as easily without doing it. I also happen to be nerdily fascinated by communication and all the ways people go about trying to avoid it while still doing it, or trying to do it while avoiding it, and often both at the same time. I will try to bring it back to the original topic at least somewhat, so please bear with me.

I tend to feel very awkward in environments where people feel that it's taboo to be critical. I find that it's often fear-based and counterproductive and leads to passive aggressiveness and all sorts of negativity beneath the surface. I'm relieved that we aren't all hearts and smiley faces here all the time, because that usually makes me want to crawl out of my skin. Still, there are many ways to be less than nice and still not very communicative of what we really have on our mind. That's not the solution. I think this is a very illustrative example, from more than one side. So this is where I'll try to tie it back: It seems like Jim has some genuine questions here that are all tied together and to some bigger issue that tends to come up in a variety of threads. It also seems that Olivier picks up on that and feels uneasy because of it. What I wonder is why this bothers both of you so much, and I think that answering that for yourselves might be helpful in your practices. I could be wrong, of course. That's for you to find out for yourselves. 

Jim, what's the deal? I have seen you say that you aren't really interested in awakening and want to feel welcome here anyway. Is that a fair description or am I mistaken? If that's the case, then why do you keep bringing up what awakening is about in so many threads? Do you feel that you have to be able to relate to it somehow even though you don't want to? Or are you ambivalent about the whole thing and trying to make sense of it for yourself? Personally, I don't have any problem with if somebody has a different goal for their practice, and I don't need for everybody to believe in awakening. Not everybody believes in awakening. Some do. So what? I believe in it and that's enough. ...which leads me to...

Olivier, I get the impression that Jim's scepticism bothers you, or at least something about how he expresses it. Why? Does it make you feel that your life choices are questioned? Are you afraid that it will somehow affect the community in a bad way? Or are you just frustrated because you get the feeling that there's more to it than what's being said? Or are you bothered because it's a repetitive thing and therefore creates a noice that deflects focus from the more methodological discussions that is the strength of the forum?

I do agree with Chris that this question tends to solve itself with insight practice. Of course, that requires actually doing insight practice. That's not everybody's cup of tea, and that's okay as far as I'm concerned. Personally I won't go into lengths in discussion questions like this in theory because I prefer just doing the practice. As long as I'm not required to answer, I don't mind if the questions are raised. It might be helpful to keep those questions more concentrated to a smaller amount of threads, though, to avoid the "here we go again" response. It might also be helpful to listen to what people are saying and reflecting on it, for yourself, since the threads are already here and people have responded. As I said before, I think it could be very helpful to ponder over the perceived divide between natural and invented. That's insight practice, though, and if you're not up to it, that's okay. But then again, if you keep asking questions that relate to insight, you are bound to get replies that relate to insight. That's hard to avoid. I wonder if maybe this has become a self-fulfilling profecy for you, Jim? Fearing that it's not okay to be uninterested in insight practice --> asking critical questions about the outcome of insight practice --> getting comments that imply that you should do insight practice or shut up --> increased fear that it's not okay --> increased scepticism, and so forth.

(edit: I wrote this as a reply to Ni Nurta's last post because having that text available helped me to remember what I wanted to address, even though I'm not addressing Ni Nurta.)
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Great comments! Thanks for posting them.
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Insight practices reinforce positive feedback loops of beliefs-experience-practice.
This is why you have people who meditate for ridiculous amounts of time and not even remove first fetter, let alone know anything useful.

What is actually needed is good perception and this is the one thing that people do not train. Perhaps because they are affraid that improving perception would improve their perception of suffering... which is actually VERY TRUE. So they train themselves to see even less instead emoticon
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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"What is actually needed is good perception and this is the one thing that people do not train."

Can you describe this in detail please. What would in practice be a good perception? Take a simple example for dummies like myself. For example an "itch" or else, and describe the process/practice of good perception. 
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Helen Pohl, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Papa Che Dusko:
"What is actually needed is good perception and this is the one thing that people do not train."

Can you describe this in detail please. What would in practice be a good perception? Take a simple example for dummies like myself. For example an "itch" or else, and describe the process/practice of good perception. 


I'm interested, too. emoticon
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Perception is something you can train and there are many aspects to this training like:
- sorting out major control issues eg. typical perspective that perceptions are somehow perceived by you is one such issue
- creating references for sharpness/resolution
- optimizing resource usage and spreading workload across more parts of the nervous system
- process of "formatting" parts of nervous system to even be able to process perceptions
- creating accurate references
- calibrating senses
- making perceptions nicer and more pleasant - simply making your sensual experience more awesome

When your perception works optimally then when you do not perceive object there is no mind to perceive it and once there is object then mind is created for it with its separate consciousness and this mind is perceiving this object and while it can move to somewhere else it stays on the object. Processing is done on perception of the object in part of the nervous system which after just one full pass of processing is put to state of half-activation and next passes of perception are done in different parts of nervous system and then results are compared and combined to create what is being experienced. Of course these passes continue with more parts of mind and eventually difference won't be noticed and processing will be done with further passes of course happening but they won't "fill" anything anymore and there is experience of finishing perception. Object recognition is done inside perception automatically and there is neither need not perception of this object recognition action. Focus of sensual organs is controlled automatically so for example eyes always control themselves and there is never any conscious effort in trying to make things sharper or move them anywhere to see things. Proper perception also use memory and have tons of post processing to correct anything in the way to what you are perceiving.

If perception is untrained then you have convoluted structure where there is a mind which was created for something else but somehow it needs to move to part of the nervous system which processes sensual perception where you need to participate in focusing and control of the sense organs. Then you get the image but it will need to be recognized which you do by somehow recognizing things "yourself". Small amount of nervous system participate in perception and it is constantly overwritten so you look at static object and it doesn't look static. This whole process also feels like a chore. Mind you, if you have normal perception then most of perception is still automatic. There are just still things which you need to do in order to perceive things and the more convoluted your perception is then less useful details you get and more useless experiences like perspective of watcher which should not happen at all. Such perception also feels tiring to the point it creates suffering. It might not even be noticed because this suffering is always there, just like the fact that perception is not static is not noticed and both of these things are only recognized when perception is sorted and this suffering and movement is gone.

Untrained perception also is pretty unimpressive when it comes to its presentation. When working with sight once I made changes in the right direction the one immediate effect I had was that I started experiencing all objects and surfaces as touch, like I was literally touching everything which I saw and colors became incredibly vibrant, to the point of having jhanic qualities of piti and sukkha and started having tastes and smells which could only be described as "heavenly". When my sight was "normal" I experienced not jhanic bliss but suffering.

I mainly work with sight but perception on all sense doors got the same kind of improvement. Body is felt differently, I pretty much feel touch and quite sharply but body itself feels like jhana. Smell for example works in funny way because depending on what I want to smell I can smell real air or virtual air from what I see or from colors or visualized. It took years to get to any level of control and I even had perception issues after I started changing perception which issues literally forced me to learn how all this work including especially all the things related to brain resources allocation and knowing what causes suffering and how to deal with it. Or to put it differently, when I increased my perception capabilities then all flaws in my mind started to be directly experienced whereas previously they could hide behind all the noise my awareness generated so I could not ignore anything anymore.

This is quite a big topic and this summary as short as I could make it.
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Insight practices reinforce positive feedback loops of beliefs-experience-practice.

How so? I'm curious about your description. When I practiced insight (vipassana) it was to observe and investigate.


What is actually needed is good perception and this is the one thing that people do not train.

But... that is exactly what insight practice does. 
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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In general observing and investigating is also how I work with perception.
There is however quite a lot things you can observe and investigate and this observation can be different as can be ways you investigate.

In typical Vipassana practice descriptions you are supposed to observe qualities which do not exist. This is not observation but visualization practice. Investigation can be pretty passive or can you can literally change things in your brain and try all sorts of things to see how they affect perception. By general rule I would say that if you do not aim at improving specific quality of your perception then any such observations/investigations won't improve it, especially when you are focused at executing practices as they are described or temporary ideas from your mind.

Vipassana practices of course do affect perception and some effects on perception like non-duality are aligned with "good perception" nicely. There is specific quality to perception that Vipassana gives and it is not exactly as "pure" as perception can be made. I am not sure what is the limit of doing it simply Vipassana-way but because even people like Daniel not report certain things I assume that things I noticed about how Vipassana change perception are valid.

In the other thread I said that insight practices have no end. This is exactly why. Vipassana will make you feel some definitive end but this perception of completeness is result of specific configuration that is created by these practices and practice of perception itself have no end.
shargrol, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Ni Nurta:
In typical Vipassana practice descriptions you are supposed to observe qualities which do not exist. This is not observation but visualization practice.


Could you give a specific example of observing a vipassana practice method that directs someone to focus on qualities which do not exist? What qualities are you talking about here?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Ni Nurta:

In typical Vipassana practice descriptions you are supposed to observe qualities which do not exist. This is not observation but visualization practice.

I have never heard of that. What Vipassana practice is that? Not Theravadan, right? Tantric visualizations, perhaps? There are practices, like Tantric visualizations, that mix different modes of practice in the same exercises. Calling them Vipassana seems misleading to me, even though they certainly involve insight at a symbolic level. The perception practices that you describe are what I would call Vipassana, although from what you have been describing in my practice log I believe you have a nondual twist to them that tends to come in eventually in Theravadan Vipassana but not from the beginning. 


In the other thread I said that insight practices have no end. This is exactly why. Vipassana will make you feel some definitive end but this perception of completeness is result of specific configuration that is created by these practices and practice of perception itself have no end.

I think that maybe you are using words differently here. There will always be specific patterns that weren’t ”online” during the awakening that will have to reconfigure themselves once they show up. That part of the practice never stops. The notion that insight has en end is at another level, as I understand it.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Ni Nurta:
Insight practices reinforce positive feedback loops of beliefs-experience-practice.
This is why you have people who meditate for ridiculous amounts of time and not even remove first fetter, let alone know anything useful.

What is actually needed is good perception and this is the one thing that people do not train. Perhaps because they are affraid that improving perception would improve their perception of suffering... which is actually VERY TRUE. So they train themselves to see even less instead emoticon

I would say that's not really insight practice if that's what happens. There are indeed lots of people who think they are doing insight practice but aren't really doing it, but you can't blame insight practice for that. 
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

I would say that's not really insight practice if that's what happens. There are indeed lots of people who think they are doing insight practice but aren't really doing it, but you can't blame insight practice for that. 
I would be careful with name "insight" in relation to Vipassana practices because most experiences and mind states resulting from them are visualizations and there is very little actual knowledge gained there on the level of these practices and certainly calling any experiences as insight is overstretching definition of word "insight".

Insight/knowledge is result of contemplation in which you actually create models of how these things work, challenge these models and refine them.

I have never heard of that. What Vipassana practice is that? Not Theravadan, right? Tantric visualizations, perhaps? There are practices, like Tantric visualizations, that mix different modes of practice in the same exercises. Calling them Vipassana seems misleading to me, even though they certainly involve insight at a symbolic level.

In Mahasi noting you are typically instructed to observe 3C or Three Characteristics. Typically you do not perceive anything like impermanence aspects to sensation, suffering aspects or no-self aspects. When you observe sensations and think about these characteristics you create connections in mind which add these characteristics directly to sensations and they arise with these qualities and that is how you get to experience these aspects. This is directly how I do mind state visualization, it is all about timing of experienced things and having just the right activation states to strengthen process of making these connections. Normally you do not know how to do mind state visualization and but due to repetitive nature of these Vipassana practices and time they take you are still programming them, just less directly than if you did it via mind state visualization.

Try practicing Vipassana-like practice but in which you observe characteristics of jhanic pleasure of sensations or even jhanic bliss of your normal sensual perception in waking state and over time you will experience jhanic qualities in all sensations and on all senses on which you did these practices. They will arise with exactly these qualities.

Investigating and figuring out how given practice generate results is what I would call "insight practice". Doing these practices and getting the results I would never call as insight practice because just having effects does not give you knowledge about how any of it works. Also imho being meticulous about these definitions is very important as it directly affect how you think about things and can influence it in grand ways. Especially because when you do meditation and enter deep concentration states your intellect is kinda challenged and you are more likely to believe in words you use. When you do not call things like "fruition" as insight then it naturally beg the question "then what insight I could have about this event/mind state?" and stimulates you to do contemplation.

The perception practices that you describe are what I would call Vipassana, although from what you have been describing in my practice log I believe you have a nondual twist to them that tends to come in eventually in Theravadan Vipassana but not from the beginning.

Yes, they kinda are.
Vipassana however in Buddhist descripions is utilizing very specific mechanism of getting to non-duality and it is this mechanism and their effects which create the specific flavor of experience which make experience feel in the way that is then called non-duality. The way I practiced most of the time does not add this quality but open sense doors to experiences related to perceptions creating all-sense synesthesia. Last few years I did however use mind states resulting from Vipassana and had quite a lot of this quality in my experience. It is intrinsically easier to use but it also does not provide as much actual feedback about what happens in your brain and is thus worse for investigations and observations and getting actual insight.

Normal Vipassana does not create synesthesia because the moment you process given perception you have activations in all the parts of brain which you conditioned yourself to have active when processing sensations and this is then experienced on all sense doors filling these doors. These doors are always present and need to be filled with something and normally people fill them with sense of self and this is why they experience themselves observing world.

I doubt pure Vipassana eventually lead to making all perceptions being experienced on all sense doors because this is not described in dharma book. Arhats do not talk about it. Daniel kinda went in this direction with his Actualism practices but these were not exactly that either and from what I know Daniel did not really move out of non-duality to just pure all-sense synesthesia experience.

Thing to note here would be that actual suffering and its ellimination does not have anything with duality or non-duality or synesthesia or whatever but not overusing parts of your brain to the point they get tired and generate firing patterns which are interpreted by brain as "there exists pain" and then create consciousness of suffering. One could as well have such "dual" sense of self based mind that does switch between parts of brain which generate this duality/dual perception on coarse enough level to not generate normal perception but without any suffering. One could also have sense of self but switch in on per-object basis making all objects appear as observing itself. I tested many such options and tested what actually causes me to suffer in all these options, hence my conclusions.

I think that maybe you are using words differently here. There will always be specific patterns that weren’t ”online” during the awakening that will have to reconfigure themselves once they show up. That part of the practice never stops. The notion that insight has en end is at another level, as I understand it.

The mind states / perception resulting from Vipassana (Mahasi Noting) are simply very easy to manage and hard to screw up and this is why this "non-duality" it is making this type of suffering to not not arise as much. It is actually very clever technology. Just having two out of three 3C will trigger switch in used brain resources and this is experienced as fruition which is itself forced switch of used brain parts but on larger scale in the brain. The same action happens all the time in "non-duality" exactly because of having 3C programmed/visualized in to sensations.

I would not however say that even people who managed to configure their minds to have it all the time posses any insight/knowledge about how it all works. It is obvious when you know and read what they say about non-duality and their practices... This is why I say that perception of even people who practice Vipassana is severely lacking resolving qualities needed to perceive these things. I practiced perception and when I experienced fruition it was obvious to me that at some point in time parts of the brain which were in use were marked to shut down, new parts started arising and fruition moment itself was the moment activity switched. Then new parts didn't really know how to do it resulting in some fancy perception effects. These new brain parts generate pleasure because activating brain parts which are well rested generate pleasure. Resting parts which are tired also generate pleasure, thus fruition generate its specific afterglow. After experiencing it for some time I learned how this work and directly use this switching of used brain parts and thus any suffering which would result from having tired brain parts won't affect me and this is irregardless of how my perception is configured. This is also why I talk a lot about brain resources, tired neurons, and so on.

BTW. When you remove normal sense of self experience and replace it with pure sensual experience on all sense doors then you loose mechanisms normally used for swtiching brain parts. This is why until you really know how it all works and can do it yourself separately these perceptions are incredibly hard to sustain, especially without some nasty side effects in perception. When we are very young we have synesthesia but quickly it is replaced by mechanisms which can switch used brain parts and which then fill our experiences instead of us having pure perceptions. It is just that some times for some people these mechanisms start to fail because we cling too much to our own experience of ourselves and which causes us to not let our brains switch these parts of brain. Then doing Vipassana and replacing these mechanisms with clever visualizations provides different mechanism of switching brain parts and this helps with the suffering caused by having tired brain parts.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

I would say that's not really insight practice if that's what happens. There are indeed lots of people who think they are doing insight practice but aren't really doing it, but you can't blame insight practice for that. 
I would be careful with name "insight" in relation to Vipassana practices because most experiences and mind states resulting from them are visualizations and there is very little actual knowledge gained there on the level of these practices and certainly calling any experiences as insight is overstretching definition of word "insight".


Visualizations? How have you come to that conclusion? I don’t recognize that at all. Which Vipassana practice would that be?


Insight/knowledge is result of contemplation in which you actually create models of how these things work, challenge these models and refine them.

I don’t agree. Insight and Intellectual knowledge are not the same thing. All models are constructions. Insight aims beyond constructions. Of course we can’t describe it or make sense of it without constructions, but the insight that liberates goes beyond what we can conceptualize.

I have never heard of that. What Vipassana practice is that? Not Theravadan, right? Tantric visualizations, perhaps? There are practices, like Tantric visualizations, that mix different modes of practice in the same exercises. Calling them Vipassana seems misleading to me, even though they certainly involve insight at a symbolic level.

In Mahasi noting you are typically instructed to observe 3C or Three Characteristics. Typically you do not perceive anything like impermanence aspects to sensation, suffering aspects or no-self aspects.

I do. Why wouldn’t I? It’s fairly obvious. I very rarely do noting nowadays, though, as I find it more natural to just let awareness be aware, and I have had that mixed into my practice from the start. That’s insight too. There are many different kinds of practices that are geared towards insight.


When you observe sensations and think about these characteristics you create connections in mind which add these characteristics directly to sensations and they arise with these qualities and that is how you get to experience these aspects.

I don’t agree.


This is directly how I do mind state visualization, it is all about timing of experienced things and having just the right activation states to strengthen process of making these connections. Normally you do not know how to do mind state visualization and but due to repetitive nature of these Vipassana practices and time they take you are still programming them, just less directly than if you did it via mind state visualization.

Try practicing Vipassana-like practice but in which you observe characteristics of jhanic pleasure of sensations or even jhanic bliss of your normal sensual perception in waking state and over time you will experience jhanic qualities in all sensations and on all senses on which you did these practices. They will arise with exactly these qualities.

I observe whatever characteristics come to awareness. The kinds of sensations that you mention are included, as they do arose in normal sensory perception. I don’t need any particular method for that.


Investigating and figuring out how given practice generate results is what I would call "insight practice".

It sounds like you use the word insight differently than how it is used in MCTB2. I wouldn’t say that the theorizing is insight in the liberation sense. That’s just regular thinking and strategy, or mundane insight. That can be useful too, of course, as it helps with the practice, but it’s not the insight I’m talking about.


Doing these practices and getting the results I would never call as insight practice because just having effects does not give you knowledge about how any of it works.

That is what is generally referred to as insight in the Buddhist sense, though.


Also imho being meticulous about these definitions is very important as it directly affect how you think about things and can influence it in grand ways.

Yes, that’s why it is important to understand how different people use words differently. I prefer to use the concept insight as it is used in the Buddhist context. Chosing to do otherwise might lead to confusion.


Especially because when you do meditation and enter deep concentration states your intellect is kinda challenged and you are more likely to believe in words you use.

It’s not about intellect. Words can never do justice to insight.


When you do not call things like "fruition" as insight then it naturally beg the question "then what insight I could have about this event/mind state?" and stimulates you to do contemplation.

Of course fruitions are insight. That is, cessations.

The perception practices that you describe are what I would call Vipassana, although from what you have been describing in my practice log I believe you have a nondual twist to them that tends to come in eventually in Theravadan Vipassana but not from the beginning.

Yes, they kinda are.
Vipassana however in Buddhist descripions is utilizing very specific mechanism of getting to non-duality and it is this mechanism and their effects which create the specific flavor of experience which make experience feel in the way that is then called non-duality. The way I practiced most of the time does not add this quality but open sense doors to experiences related to perceptions creating all-sense synesthesia. Last few years I did however use mind states resulting from Vipassana and had quite a lot of this quality in my experience. It is intrinsically easier to use but it also does not provide as much actual feedback about what happens in your brain and is thus worse for investigations and observations and getting actual insight.

Hm... Then I’m not so sure that what you refer to as fourth path mode (in my log) is what I would describe as such. Maybe you are more into the siddhis than to actual liberation?


Normal Vipassana does not create synesthesia because the moment you process given perception you have activations in all the parts of brain which you conditioned yourself to have active when processing sensations and this is then experienced on all sense doors filling these doors. These doors are always present and need to be filled with something and normally people fill them with sense of self and this is why they experience themselves observing world.

Whatever insight practice one does, the sense gates gradually merge, as the separation is a mere construction.


I doubt pure Vipassana eventually lead to making all perceptions being experienced on all sense doors because this is not described in dharma book. Arhats do not talk about it. Daniel kinda went in this direction with his Actualism practices but these were not exactly that either and from what I know Daniel did not really move out of non-duality to just pure all-sense synesthesia experience.

Vipassana means insight practice. Insight practice is defined as the practice that leads to liberation. As I said above, there are many different ways of doing Vipassana. I don’t think any of them is ”pure”. What would that even mean? The aim is liberation. The method is doing whatever leads to liberation. Use whatever tools are needed!


Thing to note here would be that actual suffering and its ellimination does not have anything with duality or non-duality or synesthesia or whatever but not overusing parts of your brain to the point they get tired and generate firing patterns which are interpreted by brain as "there exists pain" and then create consciousness of suffering. One could as well have such "dual" sense of self based mind that does switch between parts of brain which generate this duality/dual perception on coarse enough level to not generate normal perception but without any suffering. One could also have sense of self but switch in on per-object basis making all objects appear as observing itself. I tested many such options and tested what actually causes me to suffer in all these options, hence my conclusions.

Good for you. I trust nonduality over brain enhancement, as this brain is only temporary anyway.

I think that maybe you are using words differently here. There will always be specific patterns that weren’t ”online” during the awakening that will have to reconfigure themselves once they show up. That part of the practice never stops. The notion that insight has en end is at another level, as I understand it.

The mind states / perception resulting from Vipassana (Mahasi Noting) are simply very easy to manage and hard to screw up and this is why this "non-duality" it is making this type of suffering to not not arise as much. It is actually very clever technology. Just having two out of three 3C will trigger switch in used brain resources and this is experienced as fruition which is itself forced switch of used brain parts but on larger scale in the brain. The same action happens all the time in "non-duality" exactly because of having 3C programmed/visualized in to sensations.

I would not however say that even people who managed to configure their minds to have it all the time posses any insight/knowledge about how it all works. It is obvious when you know and read what they say about non-duality and their practices... This is why I say that perception of even people who practice Vipassana is severely lacking resolving qualities needed to perceive these things. I practiced perception and when I experienced fruition it was obvious to me that at some point in time parts of the brain which were in use were marked to shut down, new parts started arising and fruition moment itself was the moment activity switched. Then new parts didn't really know how to do it resulting in some fancy perception effects. These new brain parts generate pleasure because activating brain parts which are well rested generate pleasure. Resting parts which are tired also generate pleasure, thus fruition generate its specific afterglow. After experiencing it for some time I learned how this work and directly use this switching of used brain parts and thus any suffering which would result from having tired brain parts won't affect me and this is irregardless of how my perception is configured. This is also why I talk a lot about brain resources, tired neurons, and so on.

BTW. When you remove normal sense of self experience and replace it with pure sensual experience on all sense doors then you loose mechanisms normally used for swtiching brain parts. This is why until you really know how it all works and can do it yourself separately these perceptions are incredibly hard to sustain, especially without some nasty side effects in perception. When we are very young we have synesthesia but quickly it is replaced by mechanisms which can switch used brain parts and which then fill our experiences instead of us having pure perceptions. It is just that some times for some people these mechanisms start to fail because we cling too much to our own experience of ourselves and which causes us to not let our brains switch these parts of brain. Then doing Vipassana and replacing these mechanisms with clever visualizations provides different mechanism of switching brain parts and this helps with the suffering caused by having tired brain parts.

You do know that Mahasi noting is but one of many toolboxes, right?

Are you doing your practice for this temporary life only? I'm not. Also, I'm not doing it solely for "me". 
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Ni Nurta, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

Posts: 654 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
What is "liberation sense" of insight?
I understand and approve concepts like: feeling bad -> doing something -> feeling better.
I do not understand concepts like: liberation.
If my head hurts then I take aspirin and my head hurt no more. I do not call aspirin as a mean of liberation but means for solving specific set of issues and also a mean which can cause issues by itself if applied in wrong way. Everything in dharma and meditation which is available when you learn how to do it is the same no matter what it is and what it does.

I am pragmatic guy and I do not dwell in concepts for concepts themselves. Conceptual understanding is rather necessary to not fool yourself with nonsense. What you describe is intellectual knowledge which people have when they just heard about dharma and think they understand something. They first need to get experiential knowledge before they can start understanding what other people meant when they described these concepts.

Vipassana practices are heavily influencing sensations ==> this is a form of mind state visualization. Just not direct and I would suspect it is understood as something else.
Just being aware is also form of mind state visualization. This time actually very direct even though it might not be understood as such without actually trying to create different modes of awareness.

Maybe calling Vipassana as form of visualization is overdoing it. Not because of it being wrong but because this concept is too alien to most people...
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Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hi Ni,
It seems to me like you are using the word visualization in a similar way that burbea uses "Ways of looking".

As in : the three characteristics are not actually universal characteristics of experience (this is the heart sutra), but are ways of looking which look for/isolate certain aspects of phenomena. The act of looking for those is not nutral, it fabricates theses phenomena (this is dependant origination). The three characteristics are not properties of manifestation, they are ways of looking which actively deconstruct experience (this practice is called vipassana).

Other ways of looking could be : unifying the perceptions of movement and stillness. That fabricates different kinds of experiences, but they are somehow created into existence.

Still other ways of looking could be metta practices, where actual visualizations are employed in order to modulate consciousness towards certain emotional experiences. This IMO is the standard acception of visualizing : using mental visual imaginative power.

Is that a fair description of what you mean ?

Best regards
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Ni Nurta, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

Posts: 654 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Yes, nice wording there.

Some random notes:

Mind state visualization is about directly inducing experience with visualization which when it is experienced changes brain firing patterns which in turn changes mind states and thus changes ways of looking.

What we want is to not overstimulate one place in the brain. Firing patterns in the brain need not be too complex if the complexity is not helping with perception/cognition, unnecesary things should be removed and for anything which need to be there the activity need to be spread over as large area of the brain as possible to avoid re-using part of brain for as long as possible.

Visualization which is used to affect firing patterns can include this switching to new parts of the brain and keeping previously used part in a kind of half-activation state so that its generated output can be used for perception/cognition. This is the basis of making perception to stop its internal movement and using more parts of brain in parallel to generate perception can lead to experience of "certainty" in perception itself which is very pleasant. It also improves perception and I pretty much invented this to improve sight, not to deal with suffering... emoticon
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

Posts: 202 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Jim Smith:
Is awakening a natural phenomenon or is it invented by people?

By natural phenomenon I mean is it a specific definite state common to all humans who experience it?

Or is it simply a list of characteristics required by an arbitrary definition set out by a person?

If you want to answer the question but you need a definition of awakening, don't ask me to provide the definition, use the definition you think is appropriate, or discuss various definitions that interest  you. I am interested in what different people think, I'm not looking for personal guidance.


Thanks in advance.

     After reading all the different points of view, I would like to return to the original question. What is "awakening?  I have wondered about this. We can begin by following the development of, lets call it, "advanced brain functions" starting with the most ancient version of humans the Homo Habilis or “handy man,” who lived about 2.4 million to 1.4 million years ago in Eastern and Southern Africa. https://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-habilis  This forerunner of our species is said to be the first to use stone tools.  We can speculate as to what kind of insight was needed to make this jump and how it was produced.  But insights were definitively needed, although this development was still in the range of the practical, the survival mode. A development that continued growing.
     During the Paleolithic Age and the later Neolithic Revolution, (a shift from hunting and gathering to an agricultural lifestyle that occurred approximately 12,000 years), we get into the type of awakening that fascinates us. Catherine Perlès, a professor of anthropology at the  University of Paris X, tells of cave paintings that show "the presence of a hierarchical structure in which relationships between humans and human spirits became more important than relationships between humans and animal spirits."  
https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2007/04/scholar-cave-paintings-show-religious-sophistication/ 
I think the operant word here is spirit.  How was the jump, from a purely material existence full of hardship to the perceived reality of an immaterial realm made?  We can suppose that very few discovered how to access this realm and tried to communicate it to others by painting about it.  Can we call this awakening?   
     It is said that, in the Indus Valley, archaeologists discovered evidence of meditation in wall art dating from approximately 5,000 to 3,500 BCE. The images depict people sitting in what many of us would recognize as meditation postures. Does this show an early systematization of techniques that could lead to a shared knowledge of these inmaterial realms?  The Silk Road was instrumental in starting the spread of techniques that started to be developed about five centuries BCE. And so we arrive to our era.
     When I consider the information as provided here, and try to answer the questions, I conclude that awakening is a natural phenomena.  Part of our evolution.  The existence of an immaterial realm is the central finding. The techniques developed as a way of communicating this finding.  But as has always happened, control over the technique as a source of power eventually ends up forcing the experience into a prescribed form and description. No longer is the natural occurrence accepted. If you don't follow a lineage you're not doing it right and whatever you learn is not IT.  I concede that clear instructions are needed and favor the accomplishment of the goal. What are not needed are the arbitrary definitions imposed. Let the results of the practice, in making our lives better, speak for themselves.  
 

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