What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? M N 5/17/12 9:22 AM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Tommy M 5/17/12 5:54 PM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Andrew K 9/1/12 5:31 PM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Nikolai . 9/2/12 6:37 AM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? bud . 9/5/12 12:01 PM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Tommy M 9/5/12 3:12 PM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Tommy M 9/5/12 3:09 PM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Bagpuss The Gnome 9/12/12 1:40 AM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Steph . 9/12/12 9:05 PM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Bagpuss The Gnome 9/13/12 1:14 AM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Steph . 9/13/12 3:51 PM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Bagpuss The Gnome 9/13/12 4:04 PM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Peter Plan 9/11/12 10:21 AM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Nikolai . 9/11/12 2:35 PM
RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once? Tommy M 9/11/12 6:03 PM
M N, modified 10 Years ago at 5/17/12 9:22 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/17/12 9:22 AM

What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 210 Join Date: 3/3/12 Recent Posts
I'm quoting MCBT:

"If you find it too complicated to try to investigate all Three Characteristics at once, then I recommend quick and precise investigation of impermanence"

This implies that is possible to investigate all the three of them at the same time... but how is that this an be done? What does it mean, in very practical terms?
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 5/17/12 5:54 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/17/12 5:54 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
This implies that is possible to investigate all the three of them at the same time... but how is that this can be done? What does it mean, in very practical terms?

It's possible to investigate all three at once because they occur simultaneously, it requires precision to really experience the entirety of each sensation but it's possible with practice. In practical terms, what you're try to experience fully is how each sensation is:

a) Impermanent: Evident in the fact that each and every sensation can be, and is, seen to arise and pass of it's own accord; whatever it is, it's there and it's gone; regardless of 'time' (a human-created measurement of naturally occurring entropy[1]), it's evident that nothing in existence is truly permanent and unchanging; "be" impermanence, experience it directly in all phenomena; notice how the sense of an unchanging or permanent observer isn't excluded from this either...

b) Unsatisfactory: This is already implied by a) since nothing transitory, which means any and all phenomena, can be held onto and so can't provide satisfaction. What happens if you try to hold onto any experiences in life? Look at the way the mind pulls towards the past and compares this experience to one that's gone before, if you're constantly living in this state of comparison then you're not really here, right now; "you" are always in the past or in the future unless you're paying attention to what's going on right now.

c) No-self: But wait! This "you" who's always in the past or in the future? Where does that go when you're here right now? When you're comparing experiences or trying to predict outcomes, "you" seem to exist in the memory of the experience or in those imagined potential outcomes; "you" seem to exist as the one who's doing the thinking of those thoughts, but look closer: The "you" who thinks it's the thinker of these thoughts only exists as the thought itself. Can you find it in any of these transient, unsatisfying sensations? Is it apparent in the gap between thoughts? It's happening right in front of you.

Combining all three isn't all that difficult if you're well concentrated and able to note the arising and passing of sensations accurately. I've tried to demonstrate how they're all evident in everything you can possibly experience, it's just a matter of doing it and understanding what each of the 3C's refer to experientially. You don't need to "note" anything, they're just concepts to communicate something fundamental about this experience as it happens, they're there to be seen if you know how to look.

T

[1] Entropy used in this sense: "The tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity; Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society."
thumbnail
Andrew K, modified 9 Years ago at 9/1/12 5:31 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/1/12 5:31 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 52 Join Date: 2/27/12 Recent Posts
I was also wondering about this, thanks for the explanation, it seems clearer now.
thumbnail
Nikolai , modified 9 Years ago at 9/2/12 6:37 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/1/12 6:08 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
this is how I do it:


1/ annica/impermanence: whatever phenomena is being observed it is cognised with the notion in the forefront of the mind that it is changing, morphing, shifting about, never staying static, always dynamic, always showing some manifestation of the ever changing flow of impermanence. Even a gnarly sensation in the chest that just wont go away. It does not stay the same 'gnarly' even for one moment. There are ever changing levels of sensations that can be extremely sublte to perceive by an unconcentrated mind. 'Gnarly' or 'shitty' or any quality assigned to sensations may entail a variety of differing texture, shape and tone of sensations from moment to moment which shift about and do not stay in the one localized spot. Paying attention to this dynamic dance of impermanence is how I've done it. This notion of 'never staying the same' is kept in the forefront of the mind so it informs how phenomena is being cognised. It adds curiosity where there was previously an old automatic deeply engrained way of reading and reacting to phenomena.

If one gets interested in seeing how any experience is never static, never permanent (as permanent would mean a sensation would never shift about, change in level and intensity, texture, quality, nor stay put in one marked location and not move over the borders the mind has fabricated for it), curiosity towards the change that can be cognised is cultivated. With a mind curious as to how phenomena is never staying the same and actually cognising all phenomena like so (as all phenomena is like so), there is now room for the mind to develop dispassion for phenomena and shift the automatic deeply engrained habit of having the mind lunge and react towards it all with craving and clinging to a view that now counteracts such that mental habit as well as the inherent stress of it, which only arise when the mind is ignorant of the inherent characteristics of all phenomena experientially. Such as impermanence.

2/ annata/not of self: this characteristic is put into the forefront of the mind while whatever phenomena is cognised via simply understanding experientially that 'I' have no control over the arising of any phenomena. It is all arising without 'my' help. This is a great way to de-grasp, drop, let go of phenomena, to cease giving weight to phenomena as part and parcel of 'I', of 'me'. The ever flowing flow of impermanence is seen simply with the notion at the forefront of the mind that it is arising and passing without 'I' having any control over it. If it was 'self', then 'I' would be able to control it. 'I' can't therefore 'I' suffer for that lack of control and wanting to control it but not being able to. So, one shifts this 'view' to the opposite. 'I' have no control over the arising and passing of sensations perceived. This works best when concentrated at high levels and the minutiae of moment to moment experience such as sensations and fleeting thoughts, are apparent and obvious. One just watches phenomena with the notion that all phenomena being experienced right now, showing an ever dynamic movement and change, is beyond the control of any 'self'. All phenomena is cognised with this notion of 'no control by self' in the forefront of the mind as they arise and pass.

3/ dukkha/unsatisfactory: I would simply recall the two characteristics above and ponder how when any phenomena is grapsed at, hung onto, craved, averted from, lunged onto by a hungry mind, that because of these two characteristics, suffering and mental stress ensues. With this notion in the forefront of the mind, that grasping at such phenomena in any way regardless of being pleasant, unpleasant or neutral is inherently stressful, phenomena is cognised. This will lead to de-grasping, letting go of, becoming dispassionate for the phenomena of 'the field of experience', and the craving and the aversion will lose its fuel and thus strength and fade. The dark night will fly by when this is done correctly, because if it isn't, phenomena will be reacted to as if 'permanent', 'of the self', and with ignorance of the very fact the mind creates it own fabricated madness by grasping at impermanent and not of self phenomena.

See how this is so. If you can't, make the mind able to see how this is so first. Kasina practice worked for me.

My 2 baht

Edited x 3 for flow and extra stuff.
thumbnail
bud , modified 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 12:01 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 12:01 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 49 Join Date: 6/6/11 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
...whatever phenomena is being observed it is cognised with the notion in the forefront of the mind....

...this characteristic is put into the forefront of the mind while whatever phenomena is cognised...


I think this clears up a subtle point that I've always wondered about. Would you say the mere act of noting itself is not enough, that it needs to be contextualized by one of the three characteristics to produce insight? I find that when I need to consistently re-invoke context by applying effort to bring one of these notions up, it can slow noting down and make the practice seem a little unwieldy. But I'm sure it get's easier with practice.
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 3:09 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 3:09 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
That's quality, mate!
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 3:12 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 3:12 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Bud:
I find that when I need to consistently re-invoke context by applying effort to bring one of these notions up, it can slow noting down and make the practice seem a little unwieldy.

Don't worry about it, just go for accuracy and detail.
thumbnail
Peter Plan, modified 9 Years ago at 9/11/12 10:21 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/11/12 10:21 AM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 14 Join Date: 9/23/11 Recent Posts
Thanks to all of you for your writings, the same question is on my mind for some time.

I remember Daniel writing that when you experience two of the three characteristics, you "get the third free".

I dont find the quote but on the three doors he writes:
"There are three basic ways the doors may present themselves, which I will describe shortly, at least two of which are combined to produce the experience of entering ultimate reality. The third characteristic is considered inferred from the way the other two present, but sometimes aspects of that third characteristic will be experienced directly."

How do you relate to that? Both Tommy and Nikolai seem to put in extra work to extract either No self from the others (Tommy) or unsatisfactoriness from the others (Nikolai).

Is it possible to extract Impermanence out of the other two Cs? Like hey I'm not me and not satisfied, so this got to be impermanent?


Tommy M:
'time' (a human-created measurement of naturally occurring entropy[1])

[1] Entropy used in this sense: "The tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity; Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society."


In my knowledge, time is defined/extracted from the frequency of atoms and in this sense quite independent of entropy.

Wiki:
An atomic clock is a clock device that uses an electronic transition frequency in the microwave, optical, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element.

What do you mean with your definition of time / how humans measure time?
thumbnail
Nikolai , modified 9 Years ago at 9/11/12 2:35 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/11/12 2:24 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Peter Plan:


How do you relate to that? Both Tommy and Nikolai seem to put in extra work to extract either No self from the others (Tommy) or unsatisfactoriness from the others (Nikolai).

Is it possible to extract Impermanence out of the other two Cs? Like hey I'm not me and not satisfied, so this got to be impermanent?


Rather than 'I'm not' , switch to this or that is not 'me'.

Now contemplate pleasant sensations, pleasant minds states of profound mind-made happiness. What would make such 'impersonal' happiness/pleasantness suck for someone who is fully identified with it as of the 'self'?

Now contemplate unpleasant sensations, unpleasant minds states of profound mind-made unpleasantess. What makes such 'impersonal' unpleasantness suck for someone who is fully identified with it as of the 'self'? This answer is easy.

Now contemplate neutral sensations, neutral peaceful minds states of mind-made neutrality. What would make such 'impersonal' neutrality suck for someone who is fully identified with it as of the 'self'? This one may not be so easy to answer but it has something to do with ignorance.

Investigate these questions in your practice and answer them in real time for each. Contemplate why such phenomena would be considered unsatisfactory?

How does one not become 'fully identified with phenomena. In what ways can phenomena be observed to cultivate dispassion towards them rather than 'self-identification' (which fuels the fire of craving, aversion and ignorance)?

Edited a couple of times for extra stuff.

Nick
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago at 9/11/12 6:03 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/11/12 5:56 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
In my knowledge, time is defined/extracted from the frequency of atoms and in this sense quite independent of entropy.

Wiki:
An atomic clock is a clock device that uses an electronic transition frequency in the microwave, optical, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element.

What do you mean with your definition of time / how humans measure time?

I've likely misused the term "entropy", I simply meant it in the sense of deterioration but it may have been inappropriate to what I was trying to describe at that point. When I say "time" I'm just talking about the basic movement of the Earth around the Sun, which is what sundials were invented to chart and which formed the basis for the everyday clock or watch.

Time itself can't be said to exist other than via imputation, it's conventionally useful but ultimately non-existent as an object or thing-in-itself. The data recorded by an atomic clock may be based on the frequency of atoms, but do you experience those atoms directly? Do you ever see, hear, touch, taste or smell an atom? Do atoms have an independent or permanent existence?

How do you relate to that? Both Tommy and Nikolai seem to put in extra work to extract either No self from the others (Tommy) or unsatisfactoriness from the others (Nikolai).

Is it possible to extract Impermanence out of the other two Cs? Like hey I'm not me and not satisfied, so this got to be impermanent?

Impermanence is so incredibly obvious that it's impossible not to notice it if you're practicing correctly, but not-self and unsatisfactoriness can be more subtle at first which can make it more difficult to accurately experience them. I also tend to talk more about not-self as I consider it to be one of the most important seals to realize, both for beginners and advanced practitioners alike.
thumbnail
Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Years ago at 9/12/12 1:40 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/12/12 1:40 AM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
this is how I do it:


1/ annica/impermanence: whatever phenomena is being observed it is cognised with the notion in the forefront of the mind that it is changing, morphing, shifting about, never staying static, always dynamic, always showing some manifestation of the ever changing flow of impermanence. Even a gnarly sensation in the chest that just wont go away. It does not stay the same 'gnarly' even for one moment. There are ever changing levels of sensations that can be extremely sublte to perceive by an unconcentrated mind. 'Gnarly' or 'shitty' or any quality assigned to sensations may entail a variety of differing texture, shape and tone of sensations from moment to moment which shift about and do not stay in the one localized spot. Paying attention to this dynamic dance of impermanence is how I've done it. This notion of 'never staying the same' is kept in the forefront of the mind so it informs how phenomena is being cognised. It adds curiosity where there was previously an old automatic deeply engrained way of reading and reacting to phenomena.

If one gets interested in seeing how any experience is never static, never permanent (as permanent would mean a sensation would never shift about, change in level and intensity, texture, quality, nor stay put in one marked location and not move over the borders the mind has fabricated for it), curiosity towards the change that can be cognised is cultivated. With a mind curious as to how phenomena is never staying the same and actually cognising all phenomena like so (as all phenomena is like so), there is now room for the mind to develop dispassion for phenomena and shift the automatic deeply engrained habit of having the mind lunge and react towards it all with craving and clinging to a view that now counteracts such that mental habit as well as the inherent stress of it, which only arise when the mind is ignorant of the inherent characteristics of all phenomena experientially. Such as impermanence.

2/ annata/not of self: this characteristic is put into the forefront of the mind while whatever phenomena is cognised via simply understanding experientially that 'I' have no control over the arising of any phenomena. It is all arising without 'my' help. This is a great way to de-grasp, drop, let go of phenomena, to cease giving weight to phenomena as part and parcel of 'I', of 'me'. The ever flowing flow of impermanence is seen simply with the notion at the forefront of the mind that it is arising and passing without 'I' having any control over it. If it was 'self', then 'I' would be able to control it. 'I' can't therefore 'I' suffer for that lack of control and wanting to control it but not being able to. So, one shifts this 'view' to the opposite. 'I' have no control over the arising and passing of sensations perceived. This works best when concentrated at high levels and the minutiae of moment to moment experience such as sensations and fleeting thoughts, are apparent and obvious. One just watches phenomena with the notion that all phenomena being experienced right now, showing an ever dynamic movement and change, is beyond the control of any 'self'. All phenomena is cognised with this notion of 'no control by self' in the forefront of the mind as they arise and pass.

3/ dukkha/unsatisfactory: I would simply recall the two characteristics above and ponder how when any phenomena is grapsed at, hung onto, craved, averted from, lunged onto by a hungry mind, that because of these two characteristics, suffering and mental stress ensues. With this notion in the forefront of the mind, that grasping at such phenomena in any way regardless of being pleasant, unpleasant or neutral is inherently stressful, phenomena is cognised. This will lead to de-grasping, letting go of, becoming dispassionate for the phenomena of 'the field of experience', and the craving and the aversion will lose its fuel and thus strength and fade. The dark night will fly by when this is done correctly, because if it isn't, phenomena will be reacted to as if 'permanent', 'of the self', and with ignorance of the very fact the mind creates it own fabricated madness by grasping at impermanent and not of self phenomena.

See how this is so. If you can't, make the mind able to see how this is so first. Kasina practice worked for me.

My 2 baht

Edited x 3 for flow and extra stuff.


I'm going to print this and stick it on the wall emoticon

I've struggled with this also. In terms of anicca, which is my main focus, it just seems "too simple" --but there's no way to misread Nick's explanation --it really is that simple!

Seems amazing that something so simple can lead to awakening...
thumbnail
Steph , modified 9 Years ago at 9/12/12 9:05 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/12/12 9:05 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:


I've struggled with this also. In terms of anicca, which is my main focus, it just seems "too simple" --but there's no way to misread Nick's explanation --it really is that simple!


If anicca and dukkha are already pretty easy for you to comprehend, then I would say lay off a bit on those (don't drop them entirely, obviously) and see what happens when you focus a bit more on annata. Reason being, if you simply rely on what seems the easiest to recognize, you'll get lazy and tend to ignore the more subtle stuff.
thumbnail
Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Years ago at 9/13/12 1:14 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/13/12 1:14 AM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Hi Steph, thanks!

I have more trouble with dukkha actually. Particularly right now as Im predominantly in Equanimity. But when I have focused on anatta during my sits it has often caused a rapid speed up / progression in vibrations. (i do u ba khin style meditation). I'll try to give anatta a stronger focus today and see if I can take it further...
thumbnail
Steph , modified 9 Years ago at 9/13/12 3:51 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/13/12 3:51 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
You're welcome!

What seems difficult about seeing dukkha during Equanimity?
thumbnail
Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Years ago at 9/13/12 4:04 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/13/12 4:02 PM

RE: What does it mean to investigate the Three Charateristics all at once?

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Well, the sensations aren't unpleasant. I think in theory I should be looking at how the mind craves progress, pleasant sensations, absorption etc right? It seems hard to do though, despite there being plenty of craving/effort to work with!

I didn't get as much sit time today as I usually do, but tomorrow I'll work on this again!

Breadcrumb