Message Boards Message Boards

Toggle
where am i?
Answer
10/12/11 2:23 PM
hello all,

if you could please read this message, and let me know where am i on the path, it would be very useful.
I will try to make it as short as i can.

okay so i just finished my second 10 days retreat.
The first one was 3 years ago, very interesting things happened and it took some time to put things in perspective.
i also wasted much time trying to fit my experience in the progress of the path, and now i realize that i must not have been too far.
anyway in that 3 years, i learned quite a bit, read the MTCB and many other things so for this retreat, i was ready to put a much more focused effort.

I cannot seem to be able to explain my experience in the same kind of terms that mr Ingram say is beneficial for the teacher to be able to determine where the student is precisely, like in the "From Content to Insight" section so i will just try to explain the best possible from the only angle i seem able to do it.

So my concentration went very well, after a while i was able to kind of "zoom-in" on the breath, to a smaller and then even tinier part of the sensation.

then vipassana started.

after a day of body scan, kind of to be able to feel everywhere in the body,
i started to do the same thing i was doing to the breath, but doing it to the sensations (mainly in the trunk of the body).
i was eventually able to "zoom-in" the sensations.
So it went from being solid, to being vibrations.
like defined clouds of vibrations.
I could observe and look at whichever one of theses clouds of vibration, even very subtle, very fine and almost gentle vibrations.
Then i manage to be able to zoom in those clouds, zoom in to a very small part of one cloud, and eventually being able to only perceive one single vibration.
and really, really observe that vibration.
i was paying attention to the space between 2 vibration (on-off-on-off-on-off... just paying attention to the "off" seem to allow me to really focus on them and see them clearly.)

I tried to really zoom in on theses, really really zoom in to the point of seeing just one individual vibration because i thought maybe this is it. maybe this is the stream, the stream of conscious moments.
maybe everytime it is on, it is a conscious moment, but there is a space in between each of the moment so maybe if i can see this space, the illusion that the self is a continuous thing would break. so maybe if i stare hard enough and close enough at that thing something will happen.
but nothing happened. ;)

sometimes there were some sort of a million tiny, very fast vibrations, but it seem to have been of a different nature than the usual stomach "clouds", theses one were not in a cloud and i didn't have a change to zoom in on them as i did with the clouds.

i could do all that stuff, and concentration really easily the whole retreat after two days.
sitting and getting relatively quickly to the level of very fine vibrations.

and that's it on the experiential level.

beside the 3-4 major mental breakdowns I've had during the retreat.
when i broke down at night, completely depress, restraining myself from crying too loud, feeling like life had no meaning and there were no reason to go on, thinking "i don't wish this to anyone. Everyone should stay away from dharma!"
and the day after I would be the happiest i've felt in years, thinking "what the hell was up with me yesterday? am i a drama queen?" "Dharma is so easy, everyone should do it! I figured it out i should just quit the retreat and go home now" so happy. Then the same night i would broke down again.
But i could kind of see those depressions as impermanent, and thinking that they may only be the dhukka nanas (i don't know if they were or not but thinking this was helping to see them with equanimity)
I don't usually get depressed in my life so this was very unusual, usually i see the positive side of things all the time and i've got rid of many "Shankaras" over the last 3 years.
(i believe shakaras are simply negative automatic emotional reactions recorded by our subconscious mind to, in concept, make it easier for us to go through life. just a very clever system that evolution came up with that most animals have)
I thought that if my life was like this usually, someone would be prescribing me truck loads of anti-depressors and mood stabilizing medicine. It must truly suck to be bi-polar.

After the retreat, i was still extremely sensitive (and raw, which was unpleasant).
I was walking around town at the park, and i could observe that every time i would see something that would somehow annoy me to the least, like my dog would do something i don't like him to do, and a very fine cloud of vibration would just "open" in my stomach. And just looking around, the traffic, someone having something i would like to have... 2 or 3 would open based on what i would see.
I realize that i could almost "calm" them voluntarily, like relaxing a clench fist.
and when i would calm them, they would just start to vibrate slower and slower and dissipate entirely.

but if i get excited instead, the cloud would vibrate faster and faster and become "solid".

So i guess based on this it's seem pretty self explanatory, the whole emotion thing.
the body react to what we think is not a good thing....



anyhow if anyone could help me figure out where am i on the path, and how to get the next insight and progress, it would truly appreciate.
If you have any questions that would help you estimate my situation better I will try to answer it as quickly as possible.


thank you so much for having taken the time to read my message.


kindly

RE: where am i?
Answer
10/12/11 11:18 PM as a reply to Patrice Berube.
Hi Patrice,

I read your post with great interest. I just finished a Goenka retreat as well. I am not convinced that what Goenka describes can be mapped to MCTB in a straightforward way.

However...

Patrice Berube:
I was walking around town at the park, and i could observe that every time i would see something that would somehow annoy me to the least, like my dog would do something i don't like him to do, and a very fine cloud of vibration would just "open" in my stomach. And just looking around, the traffic, someone having something i would like to have... 2 or 3 would open based on what i would see.
I realize that i could almost "calm" them voluntarily, like relaxing a clench fist.
and when i would calm them, they would just start to vibrate slower and slower and dissipate entirely.

but if i get excited instead, the cloud would vibrate faster and faster and become "solid".


If you notice your experience equanimously, do you find that these "clouds" arise in various parts of your body?

If so, can you "calm" them so as to make them dissipate entirely?

Can you simultaneously avoid any action or mode of thinking during meditation and during life that aggravates them?

If so, how confident would you be that this method is sufficient to attain a very high level of realization, if practiced assiduously? Could you do that, and that only, for awhile?

I practiced something like this for some time (without knowing about anything about Goenka or his theory of sankharas...sankharas being or being related to what I understand these painful "clouds" to be) and I found that it was extremely powerful. Having recently listened to Goenka's discourses for the 10-day course, I was struck by the fact that he had recognized something similar to what I had, and made a formal meditation method out of what I had done informally.

RE: where am i?
Answer
10/13/11 8:51 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
Could you do that, and that only, for awhile?.

i think this is what the vast majority of Goenka meditators are doing, and most seem quite happy with just that.

but from my point of view and how i understand the whole picture;
End in Sight:
If so, how confident would you be that this method is sufficient to attain a very high level of realization, if practiced assiduously?


I think there is 2 part to dhamma.

Purification of the mind and paths of self realization.

Goenka allow to get a little bit of self realization (theses thoughts are not me, only come from the reactions, the reactions are not me, only a mechanical process of the body)
But then stop on the path and focus on clearing all of the reaction of ones life.
So one just get to the point where he can see all of the sensations, and all of the reaction sensations, look at them with equanimity so they go away.

They will go away forever, but unless one changes the way he sees himself (self realization), he may re-create the same ones.


path allows us to change the way we see ourself,
(i think stream entry allow people to break the illusion of a continuous self)
this realization would allow one to see the reactions with equanimity much more easily and frequently, naturally looking at them with equanimity. Therefore getting rid of them much more easily.
(as in "theses really don't matter")


if one focus on purifying the mind, and do very well, this person will be very happy.
(i failed my job interview,
- reaction in the belly: ahhh this sucks! i suck... so sad and angry at himself. Spend hours or days in a constant internal dialog of what he did wrong, how sweet it would have been to get the job, how shitty a person he is, cannot even do this simple thing.
- no reaction in the belly: (feeling exactly the same as he felt while taking a pleasant walk in the park over the week-end) well what can i do now? I'll apply to this one instead.

but path allow one to do this much more easily.

but there are thousands of other tiny reactions like this in daily life
(things like psychology and therapy can help people deal with huge ones that take over peoples life, but could never allow one to deal with the thousands of little one in daily life that all add up together and make big difference (since no one can even guess that they are there unless they get into meditation deep enough to notice them all)

Like waiting in line at a coffee shop, and that lady is making everyone wait because she cant decide what coffee to get.
- With a reaction: What the hell is wrong with that woman? stupid! Why can't she just order a coffee like a normal person?... (keep going on and on and later hate yourself because you feel guilty...)
- without a reaction: Ah well, lets plan the weekend, enjoy looking at people etc...

But dealing with reaction should lead to very great insights as well (maybe not those related to path)
Like how will you think of your job, once you removed the automatic negative emotional reaction of losing it?
Like how will you think of your wife, once you removed the automatic negative emotional reaction of losing her?
Like how will you think of your own death, once you removed the automatic negative emotional reaction of it?


So ideally, if path was easy to do, finishing all of the path and then only purifying the collection of negative emotional reactions would be the ideal approach.

But in reality path seems fairly difficult to do.
so i guess a balance of both is the ideal approach.

Goenka seem to only care about purifying the mind and Mahasi about getting the paths.

I've read a message here a few years back, someone was arguing with kenneth folk,
this person was saying that he finished the path and was anrahat, but still was getting annoyed with his partner and get into fights with her. So i guess this person did finish all of the path and was self realized, but just didn't go through his collection of automatic negative emotional reactions, which would have been much easier for him to do than for a person who didn't finish any path.




thats how i understand things, but im open to different interpretations if anyone has any.

RE: where am i?
Answer
10/13/11 9:40 AM as a reply to Patrice Berube.
I am not sure what Goenka meditators are doing or not doing. After the 10 day course, I spoke to many of the students; some described experiencing "sankharas" (clouds of tension that could be reduced via attention) but many did not.

As for what this technique would lead to, according to Goenka it leads to the end of suffering. Attaining MCTB 4th path leads to a different perspective on life and reality, but not the end of suffering. What are your practice goals?

In any case, here is a brief version of my own theory, based on the core doctrine of Buddhism, and what I found using Goenka's method. It is not completely formulated (I have been working on preparing it for posting recently but am not done), so you will have to excuse any lack of clarity in it.

All beliefs that people have regarding self-identity, and all instances in which people experience themselves as having a self, are instances of what is called "becoming" (bhava). The cause of becoming is "craving" (tanha). The clouds you experience have a tension-pain component (craving) and thus an equally large component of becoming which can be experienced in a number of ways, but (in the most generic way) is something like "an amorphous blob over the tension-pain component which feels like something I experience as a self". (This, I assume, is the "cloud" part of the description.) If you have found a way to reduce the cloud, you are reducing craving. As the ultimate cause of craving is ignorance, you must thus be reducing ignorance. If you reduce ignorance a little bit, you feel better, but get no insight into reality and self. But if you reduce it a lot...well, the end of ignorance is the goal of Buddhist practice, so if you reduce it a lot, your experience is likely to be transformed in enormous and profound ways. (This is why I asked you whether you would be willing to keep this practice up for awhile.)

I don't know how much you follow this site or those who post here, so for what it's worth, I am an advanced practitioner, beyond MCTB 4th path, and I think very highly of this method, and have (unknowingly) used it extensively to go far beyond MCTB 4th path. So, the suggestion to use it exclusively for awhile and see what happens simply comes from the fact that I benefited enormously from doing something similar.

If you are interested in exploring this subject further, or refining just what it is that you're doing in the practice of it, let's continue the conversation.

As I said, I do not know if what arises in the practice of Goenka's technique can be translated into MCTB's terms in a straightforward way, so I declined to offer a specific guess about that.

RE: where am i?
Answer
10/13/11 11:32 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
I am not sure what Goenka meditators are doing or not doing. After the 10 day course, I spoke to many of the students; some described experiencing "sankharas" (clouds of tension that could be reduced via attention) but many did not.

What do you mean?

Those people don't have butterfly in their stomach when faced with a situation (or a thought about a situation) that they are nervous about? like talking in public?
Those people don't feel a pain in their heart when they see or think of something they consider sad?

everyone have emotional responses to our environment. Weather they can perceive all of them or not, and weather they can recognize them for what they are or not. no?

imo non meditators just cannot perceive the insanely more subtle ones, they can only perceive the real big ones.
the subtler ones remain on the subconscious level and affect their behaviors and thoughts.


End in Sight:

As for what this technique would lead to, according to Goenka it leads to the end of suffering. Attaining MCTB 4th path leads to a different perspective on life and reality, but not the end of suffering. What are your practice goals?

My goal is to be able to be free from suffering (getting rid of all of the negative emotional reactions), but to do so as easily as possible (easier to do with the different perspective on life that comes with MCTemoticon..

End in Sight:

All beliefs that people have regarding self-identity, and all instances in which people experience themselves as having a self, are instances of what is called "becoming" (bhava). The cause of becoming is "craving" (tanha). The clouds you experience have a tension-pain component (craving) and thus an equally large component of becoming which can be experienced in a number of ways, but (in the most generic way) is something like "an amorphous blob over the tension-pain component which feels like something I experience as a self". (This, I assume, is the "cloud" part of the description.) If you have found a way to reduce the cloud, you are reducing craving. As the ultimate cause of craving is ignorance, you must thus be reducing ignorance. If you reduce ignorance a little bit, you feel better, but get no insight into reality and self. But if you reduce it a lot...well, the end of ignorance is the goal of Buddhist practice, so if you reduce it a lot, your experience is likely to be transformed in enormous and profound ways. (This is why I asked you whether you would be willing to keep this practice up for awhile.)

i think we pretty much agree on how things work, but i come from a biological/evolutionary point of view.
I will try to improve on my Buddhist point of view.

To answer the question, i'm not satisfied with simply getting rid of shankaras, i want to finish the paths if possible.
I see this as a education, a technical thing like learning maths and getting a degree.
seeing the things i need to see to realize certain key important points about myself and reality.

End in Sight:
I don't know how much you follow this site or those who post here, so for what it's worth, I am an advanced practitioner, beyond MCTB 4th path, and I think very highly of this method, and have (unknowingly) used it extensively to go far beyond MCTB 4th path. So, the suggestion to use it exclusively for awhile and see what happens simply comes from the fact that I benefited enormously from doing something similar.

Thank you for your advice! I will certainly keep on doing it, as i see no way right now to avoid doing it.

End in Sight:
If you are interested in exploring this subject further, or refining just what it is that you're doing in the practice of it, let's continue the conversation.

please, thank you for taking the time to go through my almost unreadable messages and questions!
I take all suggestions, and especially from such a achieved experienced and knowledgeable person like yourself.
please help me understand how to get MCTB paths!! emoticon

End in Sight:
As I said, I do not know if what arises in the practice of Goenka's technique can be translated into MCTB's terms in a straightforward way, so I declined to offer a specific guess about that.

What is different?
What do MTCB observe that i did not observe?
Reading the board once in a while, the old questions, i was reading about how people kept on talking about perceiving the vibrations. I never perceived any vibrations before.
before the retreat, i had the impression that vibrations were everything.
I would be reading stuff from mr Ingram, things like "some vibrations begin to appear? I think early A&P."
Everyone kept on talking about vibrations.

so i went in the retreat thinking: "i'll get a super strong concentration, and i will get to those g#$% damn vibrations!!"
and i did.
then i didn't stop there, i went closer and closer and see them more and more clearly etc...
noting everything i could note, things like whatever i was onserving and my general mood.

So i guess vibrations are not everything. What else that MCTB does that i don't do?
or
How could i change my practice so it would be a MCTB practice?


thank you so very much for your time and advices!!

RE: where am i?
Answer
10/14/11 9:45 PM as a reply to Patrice Berube.
Sorry for the late reply.

Patrice Berube:
End in Sight:
I am not sure what Goenka meditators are doing or not doing. After the 10 day course, I spoke to many of the students; some described experiencing "sankharas" (clouds of tension that could be reduced via attention) but many did not.

What do you mean?

Those people don't have butterfly in their stomach when faced with a situation (or a thought about a situation) that they are nervous about? like talking in public?
Those people don't feel a pain in their heart when they see or think of something they consider sad?

everyone have emotional responses to our environment. Weather they can perceive all of them or not, and weather they can recognize them for what they are or not. no?

imo non meditators just cannot perceive the insanely more subtle ones, they can only perceive the real big ones.
the subtler ones remain on the subconscious level and affect their behaviors and thoughts.


What I meant was that, many meditators do not realize that their emotional reactions are body sensations + (emotionally neutral) thoughts. They often believe that body sensations are one thing, and emotions are another...and while it may be believed that emotions and the thinking surrounding emotions may be connected to body sensations, it is also believed that emotions and emotion-related thinking stand alone and are affectively charged in themselves.

In cases like that, they may think things such as: "Goenka's technique is so limited, because it does not address all the feelings and emotions that come up for me in the course of meditation!"

If you can see that the thing that gives your feelings and emotions "heft" is the body sensations that come up in relation to thoughts, you are doing something (in terms of perception) that they are not. If you can attend to these feelings in a way that drains them away, your are doing something (in terms of practice) that they are not.

Patrice Berube:

My goal is to be able to be free from suffering (getting rid of all of the negative emotional reactions), but to do so as easily as possible (easier to do with the different perspective on life that comes with MCTemoticon..


Wonderful!

Patrice Berube:
To answer the question, i'm not satisfied with simply getting rid of shankaras, i want to finish the paths if possible. I see this as a education, a technical thing like learning maths and getting a degree. seeing the things i need to see to realize certain key important points about myself and reality.


My personal opinion about this (and it is not well-validated, just my best guess given what I know) is that, if you keep draining away sankharas, and you do it assiduously, and find the most efficient way to bring sankharas up, and find the most efficient way to get rid of them when they arise, you will likely get the MCTB paths.

In my opinion, it's extremely likely that you will get stream entry, but only reasonably likely that you will get 4th path. However, again, I do not know for sure.

The funny thing is, if you follow the method of getting rid of sankharas, you may not realize what paths you get other than stream entry. The way that people evaluate the paths they've gotten is by trying to figure out what in their experience they identify with. As every sankhara generates a bunch of stuff to identity with, one who observes them will never be able to stand back and say: "Aha! I don't identify with any of this!", because they will see that whatever sankhara they experience is an identification of some kind.

I consider that to be a good feature, because it keeps you focused on the goal of the end of suffering (= the end of all identification whatsoever), by keeping you honest about where identification remains.

Speaking for myself, I found that doing his practice made me cycle round and round the progress of insight...but, I always cycle round and round the progress of insight, so aside from the fact that it was more prominent than when not on retreat, I'm not sure what to say about its relationship with his method, except that navigating through the nanas is compatible with his method.


Patrice Berube:

End in Sight:
As I said, I do not know if what arises in the practice of Goenka's technique can be translated into MCTB's terms in a straightforward way, so I declined to offer a specific guess about that.

What is different?
What do MTCB observe that i did not observe?


Well, what I meant was that Goenka and MCTB part ways very quickly in terms of mapping, at least given the material I heard on the 10 day course.

When Goenka talks about observing subatomic particles arise and pass, he is surely talking about A&P.

However, when he talks about total dissolution (bhanga), that does not seem to have anything to do with MCTB Dissolution, as the criterion is whether one observes the entirety of one's body (including the insides) arising and passing (which is like A&P on steroids, and is probably not required to pass through the nanas or get stream entry).

He never talked about anything that sounded like MCTB Equanimity to me during the 10 day course.

As for how to get MCTB paths...if you want to use the typical instructions, the main thing to do during the A&P is to notice vibrations as precisely as possible. Simply sit, observe the skin, and notice vibrations with equanimity. The more equanimity, the less agitation, the better your concentration may become, the faster the vibrations become...eventually that gets you through the A&P.

For the dark night, most people do well by observing vibrations in the body, and observing negative emotional states. However, insofar as you can see that negative emotional states are vibrations in the body, you are back to noticing the body.

So, I would say that insofar as you can observe vibrations easily and precisely, it seems that not very much distinguishes Goenka and MCTB at this particular point in your practice.

One important instruction (which I believe Nick, who had a long history of sitting Goenka courses, has pointed out) is to notice the way that attention constantly "bounces" between generic vibrations on the body and various regions such as the head (etc.) which are connected to a sense of self. This is absolutely required...however, in my experience, it appears that this bouncing phenomenon is equivalent to what Goenka means by "sankharas" (regions in which there is some kind of negative self-y experience that draws the attention). But it appears that many people miss that. So, you should make sure that you see that phenomenon very clearly, as it is related to the fundamental problem of suffering (why this is may become clearer in time).

One thing to keep in mind is that my opinion of Goenka has been formed very late in my practice...I have a very high opinion of his methods, but I might think quite differently about their effectiveness if I were still trying for stream entry. So, you would do well to solicit some opinions from other practitioners who had more experience with Goenka early on in their practice, as they may be able to give you various useful pointers, as well as a potentially different perspective. The posters on this forum who fit the bill are Nick, Tarin, and Jill.

Overall, I would say, keep noticing vibrations, keep drawing out and eliminating the sankharas that come up, you can probably do both at once, and so good things of all kinds will come to you via that practice. In terms of attaining MCTB stream entry, the main thing is probably to give the process more time, while practicing assiduously and with dedication.

As I don't know where you stand now in terms of practice (it may have changed in the last few days, and it probably changed post-retreat), why don't you start a practice thread and let us know what your meditation is like currently, so we can give you much more specific advice with respect to navigating the progress of insight.

(EDIT: Of course, this is your practice thread. Duh. In that case, it would be good if you posted details of your current experiences in meditation, post-retreat, from the last few days.)

RE: where am i?
Answer
10/15/11 12:45 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Patrice Berube:
Then i manage to be able to zoom in those clouds, zoom in to a very small part of one cloud, and eventually being able to only perceive one single vibration.
and really, really observe that vibration.
i was paying attention to the space between 2 vibration (on-off-on-off-on-off... just paying attention to the "off" seem to allow me to really focus on them and see them clearly.)

I tried to really zoom in on theses, really really zoom in to the point of seeing just one individual vibration because i thought maybe this is it. maybe this is the stream, the stream of conscious moments.
maybe everytime it is on, it is a conscious moment, but there is a space in between each of the moment so maybe if i can see this space, the illusion that the self is a continuous thing would break. so maybe if i stare hard enough and close enough at that thing something will happen.
but nothing happened. ;)


From your description, the "off" moment of the vibration is the moment in which there's a perception of self / me / mine.

You should not pay attention to the "off" moment exclusively, as (if you do this) you are exaggerating the thing that you are trying to get rid of.

You should make sure that you are at least giving the "on" and "off" moments balanced treatment. However, my recommendation is to incline your mind towards seeing the "on" moments, and ignore the "off" moments. (The "off" moments should continue to be clear by themselves, they should not require effort to observe...whereas one can get lost in the "off" moments and lose track of the "on" moments easily.)

Balanced attention to both is more MCTB-like, and a strong bias towards "on" is more Goenka-like (according to my understanding of Goenka's admonishment to pay attention only to "actual" sensations and not "imaginary" sensations...you may see, as your practice develops, that there is a sense in which the "off" moment is imaginary).

You can try both ways and see what you think.

RE: where am i?
Answer
10/16/11 8:15 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
From your description, the "off" moment of the vibration is the moment in which there's a perception of self / me / mine.


From considering something that Antero wrote at KFD, I should really have been more explicit about this.

I have always considered "off" to be the part of the vibration when there is no normal sense-perception, but (if one can discern it) a movement of the attention "inward".

However, this way of thinking about "on" and "off" may vary between people.

Keep that in mind when evaluating my comments (and when trying to describe your experience to others).

RE: where am i?
Answer
10/17/11 9:53 AM as a reply to Patrice Berube.
Hi Patrice,

your practice experience, thoughts, insights and concerns seem to be typical of what most sincere goenka-style meditators go through. EIS has already posted some good feedback; i'll add whatever i can think of at the moment.

you've gotten into the arising & passing territory (when chunks of solid sensations break down into faster and finer vibrations, and you're able to "zoom in" and observe them with more detail and precision).
your moments of depressing feelings, from those very brief descriptions, may or may not be signs of the early dark night ├▒anas. they could just be emotional tensions coming up and getting very magnified due to higher concentration than usual.

most goenka students have no trouble understanding the importance of equanimity and how to develop it. what to watch out for, however, is what kind of attention is being developed.

it's good to be able to sharpen and refine your attention so that you're able to "zoom in" on the vibrations, but don't spend the whole sit time being a microscope examining every pinprick on the body. about 20% of the practice time spent doing this with speed is enough. you can alternate "zooming in" with fast part-by-part scanning, alternating with whole body awareness (sweeping), alternating with going back to the breath whenever you sense the mind is getting unstable. this isn't my advice--this is exactly what goenka advises, and i'm just highlighting the importance of it. one reason for this is to develop different aspects of awareness together--deep, penetrating, subtle, shallow and wide. another big reason (in a way it's the same reason) for this alternating is to keep part of the attention aware of the whole present moment--to not get lost or absorbed in some aspect of some sensation. if someone comes near you when you're sitting and whispers your name you should hear it just as well as when you're not meditating. part of your mind should ALWAYS have that wide shallow awareness of this present moment here and now--that shallow awareness that's there when you're just walking around trying to enjoy the present moment, the kind of easy attention to the present that any healthy non-meditator has access to (but finds difficult to maintain). if you drop that in exchange for "deeper" awareness, then you miss the kind of balanced practice that will allow different aspects of awareness to develop equally and take you towards path.

i think this overall constant present attention can be easily missed in goenka scanning practice but is automatically exercised in mahasi-style noting practice, while the goenka-type depth of equanimity towards all sensations(addressing all types of suffering) can be easily missed in some traditions.

getting the mind to progress towards stream entry is like trying to get a bucket of dirt through a sifter or sieve. no matter how many times you sift the small grains of sand and dust through the holes over and over again, if the big chunks still aren't broken up, there's more work to be done.
so developing your ability to maintain your shallow awareness of your overall present experience consistently, moment to moment without breaks, is more important than working on laser-beam penetration abilities here and there. relaxed attention to the breath is a great tool for keeping attention anchored to the present. it's not that subtle penetrating attention isn't important, but that's the easier and more fun part of meditation, while ironing out your mind's worst moments of inattention takes more effort and is easy to overlook because it seems so mundane.

another pitfall to be avoided:
now and then on the noble chatting day of goenka courses i'd hear meditators talk about how much they enjoyed scanning the body while intentionally doing complex math problems or working out travel plans in their head--half of the increased or restless attention is allowed to play around in the imagination when the scanning gets too easy... O_O ...good way to get stuck in early a&p!

when the mind has sped up, concentration has increased, and there is more attention and energy than you need for scanning, it's a golden opportunity to refine and strengthen awareness. it's best to dump all the attention you can afford at the sense doors. a good practice that shouldn't be too hard at any stage is to be at least vaguely aware of the breathing while scanning sensations. but if you find that you have even more attention and energy to spare, you could observe the breathing, the scanning, and surrounding sounds all at once. (not to mention being aware of arising thoughts--that should be a given because if you follow the instructions to bring the attention back to breathing and sensations whenever the mind wanders, this should automatically make you notice arising thoughts without dwelling on their content.) when there is a lot of restless energy, a good way to quiet wandering thoughts is to listen to sounds while observing bodily sensations.

i describe how goenka students might overlook the observation of impermanence here:

hope that helps
jill

RE: where am i?
Answer
10/17/11 9:48 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
i agree with all of this:

End in Sight:

What I meant was that, many meditators do not realize that their emotional reactions are body sensations + (emotionally neutral) thoughts. They often believe that body sensations are one thing, and emotions are another...and while it may be believed that emotions and the thinking surrounding emotions may be connected to body sensations, it is also believed that emotions and emotion-related thinking stand alone and are affectively charged in themselves.

In cases like that, they may think things such as: "Goenka's technique is so limited, because it does not address all the feelings and emotions that come up for me in the course of meditation!"

If you can see that the thing that gives your feelings and emotions "heft" is the body sensations that come up in relation to thoughts, you are doing something (in terms of perception) that they are not. If you can attend to these feelings in a way that drains them away, your are doing something (in terms of practice) that they are not.
...
My personal opinion about this (and it is not well-validated, just my best guess given what I know) is that, if you keep draining away sankharas, and you do it assiduously, and find the most efficient way to bring sankharas up, and find the most efficient way to get rid of them when they arise, you will likely get the MCTB paths.

In my opinion, it's extremely likely that you will get stream entry, but only reasonably likely that you will get 4th path. However, again, I do not know for sure.

The funny thing is, if you follow the method of getting rid of sankharas, you may not realize what paths you get other than stream entry. The way that people evaluate the paths they've gotten is by trying to figure out what in their experience they identify with. As every sankhara generates a bunch of stuff to identity with, one who observes them will never be able to stand back and say: "Aha! I don't identify with any of this!", because they will see that whatever sankhara they experience is an identification of some kind.

I consider that to be a good feature, because it keeps you focused on the goal of the end of suffering (= the end of all identification whatsoever), by keeping you honest about where identification remains.

Speaking for myself, I found that doing his practice made me cycle round and round the progress of insight...but, I always cycle round and round the progress of insight, so aside from the fact that it was more prominent than when not on retreat, I'm not sure what to say about its relationship with his method, except that navigating through the nanas is compatible with his method.
....
As for how to get MCTB paths...if you want to use the typical instructions, the main thing to do during the A&P is to notice vibrations as precisely as possible. Simply sit, observe the skin, and notice vibrations with equanimity. The more equanimity, the less agitation, the better your concentration may become, the faster the vibrations become...eventually that gets you through the A&P.

For the dark night, most people do well by observing vibrations in the body, and observing negative emotional states. However, insofar as you can see that negative emotional states are vibrations in the body, you are back to noticing the body.

So, I would say that insofar as you can observe vibrations easily and precisely, it seems that not very much distinguishes Goenka and MCTB at this particular point in your practice.
...
Overall, I would say, keep noticing vibrations, keep drawing out and eliminating the sankharas that come up, you can probably do both at once, and so good things of all kinds will come to you via that practice. In terms of attaining MCTB stream entry, the main thing is probably to give the process more time, while practicing assiduously and with dedication.

RE: where am i?
Answer
8/21/19 2:55 AM as a reply to Jill Morana.
Jill Morana:

another pitfall to be avoided:
now and then on the noble chatting day of goenka courses i'd hear meditators talk about how much they enjoyed scanning the body while intentionally doing complex math problems or working out travel plans in their head--half of the increased or restless attention is allowed to play around in the imagination when the scanning gets too easy... O_O ...good way to get stuck in early a&p!

when the mind has sped up, concentration has increased, and there is more attention and energy than you need for scanning, it's a golden opportunity to refine and strengthen awareness. it's best to dump all the attention you can afford at the sense doors. a good practice that shouldn't be too hard at any stage is to be at least vaguely aware of the breathing while scanning sensations. but if you find that you have even more attention and energy to spare, you could observe the breathing, the scanning, and surrounding sounds all at once. (not to mention being aware of arising thoughts--that should be a given because if you follow the instructions to bring the attention back to breathing and sensations whenever the mind wanders, this should automatically make you notice arising thoughts without dwelling on their content.) when there is a lot of restless energy, a good way to quiet wandering thoughts is to listen to sounds while observing bodily sensations.

i describe how goenka students might overlook the observation of impermanence here:

hope that helps
jill
Hello Jill,

ths is a very old thread but I think you said something very important and that could have avoided me a very painful DN. With the increased attention I scanned while "thinking about my things". This was a big mistake I see now.