I'd like to learn more on the theory behind the pulses of sensation...

thumbnail
Alan Smithee, modified 9 Years ago.

I'd like to learn more on the theory behind the pulses of sensation...

Posts: 310 Join Date: 4/2/10 Recent Posts
Can anyone recommend suttas, commentaries, and/or contemporary texts which explore the "pulses" or sensations which vipassana meditation is designed to investigate, how they operate, the theory behind them?

Iin the Attention Revolution Alan Wallace states that we may get 600 pulses of sensation per second, but doesn't explain much beyond that.

Obviously, Dan talks a bunch about these pulses, or sensations, in MCToB, and briefly states some of the theory behind it -- for instance, 1) that no two sensations can occur simultaneously (hence, the finger trip exercise), 2) there are no sensations that can observe other sensations, 3) there are no special sensations that are uniquely in control of other sensations, and 4) there are no sensations that are fundamentally split off from other sensations occuring at that moment.

You'd think there would be much more emphasis and discussion of this topic in Buddhist literature, but I have had trouble locating some. For instance, I was reading through Rick Hanson's The Buddhist Brain and couldn't find any material which talked about this subject, and in Jack Kornfield's The Wise Heart -- which is ostensibly about Buddhist psychology -- you'd think there would be a major focus on this, but instead it is kind of diffused and scattered throughout the text and doesn't get direct attention.

Where can you go to learn more about these fundamentals of the Buddhist school of psychology? Obviously one can learn more via personal practice and thus direct insight into these phenomenon, but until I reach those stages, I'd like to read a little more on the theory...
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: I'd like to learn more on the theory behind the pulses of sensatio

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
What do you want to know about them? I think it's just a matter of concentrating and seeing how many sensations you can sense at a time, and what their qualities are, etc. Experience will show you the way.

This topic might also be fundamental only to MCTB-style Vipassana, and not other Buddhist schools.

Alan Smithee:
1) that no two sensations can occur simultaneously (hence, the finger trip exercise)

This might not be absolutely true. If you try to experience two sensations at once, 'attention' will bounce between them, ping-ping-ping, in a stressful way. What happens if you try to do that, but see what's 'underneath' the ping-ping-ping between the fingers? Try to experience the fingers at the same time, but not by focusing harder + harder, rather, subtler + subtler.
thumbnail
Mr. Jake *, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: I'd like to learn more on the theory behind the pulses of sensatio

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
What do you want to know about them? I think it's just a matter of concentrating and seeing how many sensations you can sense at a time, and what their qualities are, etc. Experience will show you the way.

This topic might also be fundamental only to MCTB-style Vipassana, and not other Buddhist schools.

Alan Smithee:
1) that no two sensations can occur simultaneously (hence, the finger trip exercise)

This might not be absolutely true. If you try to experience two sensations at once, 'attention' will bounce between them, ping-ping-ping, in a stressful way. What happens if you try to do that, but see what's 'underneath' the ping-ping-ping between the fingers? Try to experience the fingers at the same time, but not by focusing harder + harder, rather, subtler + subtler.


It seems like in other traditions the term 'energy' often points in this direction. It's a broad topic and I just made a huge generalization which could incite a bunch of back and forth;-); but nevertheless I think any contemplative is likely to notice rather quickly that coarse experiences are composed of subtler experiences. I had never heard of MCTB or received practice instructions related to vibrations, sensations OR energy or another term for similar stuff, and I managed to notice that 'the breath' was actually more like a school of fish of tiny sensations the first time I sat, after a few moments of watching "it".

ETA: Ohhh, I just remembered listening to Shinzen Young in "The Science of Enlightenment" talking about the ways different traditions refer to this but all have some experience of it.
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: I'd like to learn more on the theory behind the pulses of sensatio

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
'attention'

(Single-quoted cause it isn't the actual faculty of receiving sensory input that is ping-pinging, but rather a distortion of the senses which makes it seem like the distortion is the actual faculty of receiving sensory input.)
Presumably the pulses of sensation are the same as dhammas, and so enumerated in the abhidhamma (which i haven't read, so can't comment) and given extensive treatment elsewhere, if you're into traditional buddhist lit.

Breadcrumb