Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

Posts: 733 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
What is the correct dharma terminology to describe qualities that sensations are made from?
I mean any sensation is made from bunch of qualities arising at the same time and can be analyzed down to most basic components that define each aspect of them. For example if there is touch sensation somewhere then it might have qualities of position (and these can be divided to 2d position, depth, and position might be not only in space but also in other formats), size, strength (yup, this one is separate), qualities describing what exact touch it is, etc. There also might be other sense modalities like color, taste, fragrance, sound, etc. If position in space quality does not arise along with sensation then it has no discernible position and if no position quality is present in mind when thinking about this sensation then such sensation won't even be considered in categories of position-less, this whole topic won't arise at all. Kinda like for most people quality of taste does not arise in relation to perceived colors whereas it is certainly possible to make sensations to arise with colors and their tastes.
Hope this example is sufficient to get general idea what is it that I am talking about here.

I always used term "qualities" for these things and for those which were highly refined as "pure qualities". By highly refined I mean that found quality can still be made out of more qualities and if these are noticed separately then each of these which doesn't seem to be able to be divided anymore would be the "pure qualities". These pure qualities are very useful as it is possible to directly modify experiences with them. Reasons for anything arising in the first place itself pure qualities so by having ability to notice them allows for shaping what arise and when and with such ability one can make themselves feel as good as they want and even notice exactly what wanting is by analyzing it down to its pure qualities. Pretty much essence of Vipassana imho.

There is probably better term for that but what would it be?
The idea I had for a moment was that what I considered sensations are actually just perceptions and these pure qualities would be then sensations and Pali word would be "Vedanā". This would make practice of "noticing sensations" as much more powerful and relevant for the purpose of getting enlightenment. On the other hand the idea of such sensations to have any characteristics other than what they themselves are seems to be complete absurd. Also if that was the meaning then it would require a lot of explanation when talking about sensation as this is not something eg. beginner meditators would be even able to do as it requires considerable Vipassana skills to be able to isolate from things which arise in consciousness, especially that first idea that comes to mind what "sensation" is is something completely different.

One other word that comes to mind, not Buddhist one though, is qualia. Though it seems to point to composite experiences of multiple pure qualities arising and not these pure qualities themselves. Also term "pure qualia" somehow feels worse than "pure quality" because it is less generic and not fit for this purpose as more generic word 'quality'.

Any ideas on what term should be used for that?
Also is noticing these pure qualities (or however they are called) something you practice or at this point just do?
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

Posts: 1901 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
sense quanta ("squanta")

(formations? sankhara?)
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

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Gotta say, I kind of liked "neurons" though :-)
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

Posts: 733 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
"Sense quanta" me like, even very much, my neurons got excited emoticon
There are some references in google but it doesn't seem to be classical term. Still better than my own "pure qualities" in both describing what it referrs to and how it sounds.

"squanta" neurons voted "boo" so no ;)

"formations" as I always understood (well, not going too far back emoticon) are more like effect of experiencing many copies of normal all sense experience at once that happens at EQ because nervous system after it was obviously in wrong configuration in DN and which was caused by getting too excited and doing stupid reckless stuff at A&P is re-mapping itself. By the way formations are related to neurons more, and more precisely "single neuron perspective" idea is causing such re-mapping (or more like causing such signals which can help map nervous system to be done constantly) thus making something like EQ (or even more similar to high EQ with something similar to very low intensity white noise caused by neuron chatter) in to default state and avoiding any other insight cycle to ever happen again. Cycles and more precisely their strangely consistent sequence of states is the result of nervous system being very reactive. By introducing self-consciousness to neurons they stop being as reactive and have more say in to responding to what is to them external stimuli. It also breaks illusion of volition of whole body which is exactly so tiring because consciousness broadcast stuff pretty much everywhere and in case of something described like "now I have to move my hand" its like every neuron gets this signal and is alarmed by it and every neuron by default think it is somehow self (as its the impression it gets from consciousness - 1st fetter related stuff right here) and has to do it it gets stressed by it. With more self consciousness and consciousness of other beings neurons are like "moving hand? naaah, not my business, I will gonna rest now, wake me up when they need somethign to do with moving legs, then I might do it if I feel like it". Just to be on the same page - "neurons" here in this paragraph are as much neurons as whole other self-conscious parts of nervous system with their own consciousnesses. It is pretty confusing to try to understand it all at once but the big picture creates itself through lots of vipassana and mindfullnes.

"sankhara" is like actual Buddhist term to formations. I opened wiki page and one part arrested my attention
"Mental factors (Sanskrit: caitasika; Pali: cetasika; Tibetan Wylie: sems byung) are formations (Sanskrit: saṅkhāra) concurrent with mind (Sanskrit: citta). They can be described as aspects of the mind that apprehend the quality of an object, and that have the ability to color the mind."​​​​​​​ - and this is probably what I looked for. The pure qualities I was speaking of are as much "coloring the mind" (and in my practice of synethesia pretty much literally :huhemoticon as they take part in decoding what they themselves generated. This citta might be exactly what I refereed to as "projectors". I did not mention it here to not use too much self invented language but it was supposed to be projectors which generated these pure qualities / sense quanta and projected them to consciousness.

What does not play nicely here is that my understanding of formations as specific projected content during EQ and them being somehow equated with projectors or maybe it is just citta being equated to sankharas or something else. Though because all the consumed content being somehow created by multiple people with different overview on the whole picture and there being tendency to name things the way they were first named this ought to create some confusion in used terminology. And this is exactly the reason for this topic, to do review of used terminology as it might need some adjustments.

Anyhow, big like from me for your ideas.
And I hope there were enough neuron references in this post ;)
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

Posts: 1901 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta
"Sense quanta" me like, even very much, my neurons got excited emoticon
There are some references in google but it doesn't seem to be classical term.

That's because I just pulled it out of my arse emoticon

I experience it like white noise, undifferentiated from any particular sense organ. If I step back I can see oh yeah that's my leg tingling and that's my ear buzzing, but up close it's just uniform noise. I think of it as the electric hum of the nervous system. Maybe it's what Daniel calls vibrations. Sankhara has different meanings depending on context, but the idea that it might also refer to this stuff I got from Ajahn Maha Bua:

Arahattamagga Arahattaphala
Sankhãras  arise  and  cease  with  distinct  beginnings  and  endings,  like  flashes  of  lightning  or  fireflies  blinking  on  and  off.  When observed  closely,  saññã  khandha  is  far  more  subtle  than  sankhãra khandha.  Bursting  into  awareness,  sankhãras  are  the  basic  building  blocks  of  thought.  Saññã,  on  the  other  hand,  is  not  experienced  as  flashes  of  thought.  When  the  mind  is  perfectly  still  and the  khandhas  are  very  quiet,  we  can  clearly  feel  the  manner  in which  each  khandha  arises.  Saññã  will  slowly  spread  out,  permeating  the  citta  like  ink  moving  through  blotting  paper,  expanding  slowly  until  it  forms  a  mental  picture.  Following  saññã’s  lead, the  sankhãras,  that  are  constantly  arising,  begin  to  form  a  picture and  create  a  story  around  it  that  will  then  take  on  a  life  of  its own.  Thoughts  about  this  or  that  begin  with  saññã  recognizing and  interpreting  the  ripplings  of  sankhãra,  molding  them  into  a recognizable  image  which  sankhãra  then  continuously  elaborates. Both  of  these  mental  factors  are  natural  phenomena.  They  arise spontaneously,  and  are  distinct  from  the  awareness  that  knows them.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

Posts: 1901 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I do like the idea of bases though. Reminds me of representation theory. Also interesting model for synesthesia - take the eye static and map it onto the ear basis ("hearing colors") etc. Then basis would be playing part of sanna in above, though maybe that's pushing it too far.
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Oatmilk, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

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Those qualities "temperature, etc." are concepts. If you practice Vipassana you can choose your objects - you could for exaple just note the Vedana, or you just try to notice warmth and coolness
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

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You can surely create concepts of each quality. The "pure quality" which I used is concepts itself.
Though these pure qualities themselves are not concepts but actual components of sensate experiences.

In vipassana one can note anything that can be noted with note that noting different things train different part of perceptions. Noting breaths will yield different results than noting some obscure details of sensate experiences even if both help keep mind in some way fit to notice. What I am trying to say is that choice of noted objects does make difference in what outcomes we will get. Someone who does noting practice of the same things all the time might not be able to notice other things, even if they do it for years for few hours a day and have some kind of perception shifts due to their practice. In other words: it is helpful to diversify own vipassana practice. I am saying this also to remind myself of that.
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Siavash ', modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

Posts: 1357 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
"Prime Numbers" of experience/sensations!
Or prime movements/waves!?​​​​​​​
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

Posts: 733 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
The idea was to get dharma terminology right, not to invent new one ;)
Observing the mind one gets to create bunch of new terms which are clear only to their creator. Especially when doing so without having maps with terminology describing similar things but also when not wantign to put too much effort on guessing if that thing I observe matches some Pali word from book that was read some time ago.
Using own terms is fine for personal growth but not for communication.
Hector, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

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I like basis space. That way you are not stuck with just one description but can do a change of basis anytime
and basis spaces do not have to be orthogonal, can overlap and you can add arbitrarily many dimensions to represent stuff.
It's also pretty compatible with your neuron terminology, artificial neural networks are a basis and you can stack them on top of each
other to form more complex bases, the higher ones integrate and sum the inputs of the lower ones, then the high level one is just one component
of the basis vector. 

Many things are conveniently defined already as vectors in their basis spaces
position - 3 meters ahead, 2 meters to the right, 1 meter up (3, 2, 1)
color - cyan is 50% blue, 50% green, 0 % red (0.5, 0.5, 0.0)
rotations - pitch, yaw, roll
with that scheme you can say I am feeling 75% pleasure, 20% contentment, 5% tranquility

Long duration things like sounds can be reduced to one number with a change of basis e.g. Discrete Fourier Transform
You can also then make hypotheses about perception and test them with these models
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

Posts: 733 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Math would probably be more useful to describe human brain functions when doing brain research as a scientist who study other people brains, not when doing self investigation in meditation.

Artificial neuron networks use a lot of math for sure but people cannot measure action potentials or assess amount of active things in more precise terms than "a lot" or "not a lot" or at the very least "roughly the same" ;)

BTW. When I see yellow I do not experience #FFFF00, I know it is roughly the same stimulation of cones responding to pure red and pure green but this is not part of the experience. The direct experience is yellow thus as far as color conciousnesses go it is yellow consciousness that is active. Conversion from ratios of red and green probably happen very early on. It might be interresting to investigate if that can also be vispassanized to the point to being able to perceive red and green separately... but I doubt it would be very useful and I fear it might lead to color perception issues... but it might as well not and be leading to some great color perception discovery. Something I will probably think about now that I thought about it. The idea was registered.

In any case interresting post, little off topic though ;)
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Siavash ', modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

Posts: 1357 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta
The idea was to get dharma terminology right, not to invent new one ;)
Observing the mind one gets to create bunch of new terms which are clear only to their creator. Especially when doing so without having maps with terminology describing similar things but also when not wantign to put too much effort on guessing if that thing I observe matches some Pali word from book that was read some time ago.
Using own terms is fine for personal growth but not for communication.


I didn't intend to introduce new terms.
It was a question: Is it even possible to find those basic atoms  of experience/sensations? And then have a term for it?
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

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It is possible but from practical point of view it matters more what you intend to do with them than actually finding them because if you know what action from them you want to achieve then you do not even need to bother seeking them, just apply change and if it is action which execution includes a kind of sensual feedback then you can locate them easily.

Ok, this might hardly sound like useful advice but imagine you do not know where your hand is. Easiest way to locate it is to move it, right? Same with cittas, they even have the same basic interfaces... though not necessarily in motor cortex so it might be strange place to execute some kind of moving/action. In mind space it is definitely located somewhere. Of course I am talking in very general terms here in relation to no specific citta/quality.

Another useful tip would be that in consciousness actually pleasant things are known more closer to where they are. This class of experiences are generated by these citta things. I called them "projectors or pure experiences". Pleasure of them you need not to be stronger, or to even be there, you always enjoy and there is no point to them other than they are as they are. So if some of such quality seems like to be stronger in some direction then moving that direction they will be more defined, more known. Though and this was strange to me, experiences of dukkha and relief from it are reflections and you need to look in completely different direction to find cittas of which they originate. Where exactly can be assessed by location of dukkha and presumable experience of relief from it.

At times location configurations make this hella confusing to figure out direction but the unfortunately typically dukkha and relief are closely together and relief feels like solution, and this experience always present itself as solution. And in fact experience of relief does help locating citta which need to be located to not experience dukkha. What needs to be unlearned is to try to somehow experience pleasure in place of relief but use it to locate it elsewhere.

This looks like this, if I notice experience of dukkha or experience of relief I can safely assume the other one is there somewhere, not far away and actual citta is somewhere far away. Either I can try to find citta directly, which works very quickly if it works which to some degree it tend to work but usually doesn't work completely. Still this is the better approach of the ones I tried. Otherwise any of the remaining dukkha or relief experiences (or whole thing if no cittas were first found) I need to somehow use to figure out location of cittas. Nothing is done with either dukkha or relief. I specifically do not try to experience relief.

Now that I am saying this I realized I also need Buddhist word for relief. And I mixed two methods here in this post and most probably not exactly described what was asked of me but what I think should be done for dukkha and this whole relief to not have any reason for existing in mind. Because of closeness and ease with which this relief/dukkha presents itself in presence of dukkha/relief the question related to finding components was most likely about either of them, not what I consider to actually be "pure experience" and it makes sense because these experiences contain in them location of the other experience while neither contain location of cittas alone. Only both when taken together can point to off what these experiences are reflecting and knowing location of mirror and reflections the source can be worked out.

Not sure if my explanation hit the mark but I at least hope to have explained why figuring this out is so damn hard emoticon

BTW. The first paragraph is about part of this searching where if there is any indication of existence of citta it is directly located, here by right action. Right because it is the action that is citta. Experience of citta or these pure qualities is like doing something, not something to get these experiences but these experiences are this doing itself. So if you know what are the symptoms of you not doing it then you have no reason to perform complex geometry calculation in some multi-dimensional space to figure out where is the consciousness of doing it and you can just start doing it. Then if that is somehow not entirely accurate then finding rest of it is easier.

What I find amazing is that this not only allows or have better experience but also doesn't in any way or form impede acting. It improves it. Instead of chasing relief one can ride waves of citta, pure pleasure and somehow body and mind will do everything they wanted to do and do it as good as they could. Not perfect mind you as perfection is never guaranteed. Just doing it the way that leave no complaints from oneself and having fun while doing it.

This post is a mess ;)
It have all the important bits and pieces, at least I hope emoticon

ps. Disclaimer: presented things are valid in relation to perspective which I used to describe them from which is purposefully made as neutral as I can. This of course resulted in perspective that I used, not necessarily one that is universal and easiest to apply. From different perspectives meaning of certain words might get transformed and even different words should be used. General idea I feel is however solid. It just work and I myself do not do some multi-dimensional geometric gymnastics and just let my mind do what it wants to do to make itself feel better... making whole exercise of describing kinda silly and solved issue mostly related to using unnatural perspectives. Though what is the natural perspective? It should not be assumed correct perspective is known cause the perspectives are themselves subject to the same issues as what is source of dukkha, they appear in presence of liberation and resolved in the same way, finding from where they come and off which they reflect.
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Siavash ', modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

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I need to read it a few more times, but I am not sure I can understand it clearly.
​​​​​​​Thanks emoticon
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Qualities of which sensations are made from - correct terminology

Posts: 1901 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi Nin, I was just re-reading Knowing and Seeing by Pa Auk Sayadaw. Maybe you're already familiar with it, but I had forgotten how much micro-phenomenology is in there, especially chapters 4-5 on materiality-mentality:

​​​​​​​INTRODUCTION Today, we shall  discuss  materiality  meditation  (råpa. That  is four-elements  meditation , which is  discerning  the different  types of  ultimate  materiality . Materiality  is  the  first of  the five  clinging-aggregates,  and  the  remaining  four  (feeling  (vedanà), perception  (sa¤¤à), mental  formations  (saïkhàrà), and consciousness  (vi¤¤àõa)) can together  be called  mentality  (nàma).  In our  five-constituent  existence , mentality depends on materiality, which means  that  consciousnesses arise dependent  on  their  respective material  base.  For  eye-, ear-, nose-,  tongue-  and body materiality,  the  base  (vatthu)  and the door (dvàra)  are the  same  thing. Thus, an  eye  consciousness arises  dependent  on the  materiality that  is  the  eye door/eye base;  an ear  consciousness  arises dependent  on the materiality that  is the ear  door/ear  base, etc. But  a  mind consciousness arises  dependent  on the mind door  (bhavaïga), which is mentality:  and in our  five-constituent  existence,  mentality  arises dependent  on  a  material  base that  is  located in  the  blood in the  heart:  it  is  for  that reason called  the heart  base  (haday. 190
To see  this, you  need  to  see  the  individual  types  of  materiality, which means you  need  first  to penetrate  to  the  sub-atomic particles  called råpakalàpas. You  need  to  see  that  materiality is  nothing except  these  råpa-kalàpas. But  they are not  ultimate  reality. 191  To penetrate  to  ultimate reality, you need  to  see  that  the  individual  type of  råpa-kalàpa  consists of  elements  (dhàtu): 192  only then can you see what  materiality  really is, and  can  see how  it  is  related to mentality.  That  is  the  aim  of  four-elements  meditation. 

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