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Huatou: an overlooked practice?

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Huatou: an overlooked practice? End in Sight 5/21/12 10:41 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Eran G 5/21/12 10:32 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? End in Sight 5/21/12 10:40 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Tommy M 5/21/12 3:15 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? End in Sight 5/21/12 6:29 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Tommy M 5/21/12 4:09 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Steph S 5/21/12 6:28 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? End in Sight 5/21/12 7:24 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Tommy M 5/22/12 5:50 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? fivebells . 5/21/12 2:28 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? End in Sight 5/21/12 7:10 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? fivebells . 5/21/12 7:53 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? End in Sight 5/21/12 8:08 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? fivebells . 5/21/12 9:39 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Nikolai . 5/22/12 4:56 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? End in Sight 5/22/12 8:06 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Jill Morana 5/22/12 5:26 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Tommy M 5/22/12 5:35 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Stian Gudmundsen Høiland 5/23/12 2:41 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Jill Morana 5/24/12 9:49 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? fivebells . 5/22/12 9:32 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? End in Sight 5/22/12 8:01 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? fivebells . 5/22/12 9:43 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Steph S 5/21/12 2:41 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? An Eternal Now 5/22/12 7:05 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Steph S 5/23/12 12:47 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? fivebells . 5/23/12 7:28 AM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? An Eternal Now 5/23/12 12:20 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Jill Morana 5/22/12 5:25 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Tommy M 5/22/12 5:36 PM
RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice? Adam . . 5/22/12 7:49 PM
Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 10:41 AM
Very recently I've been experimenting with the practice of continually asking myself a simple question ("what is this?") and allowing the mind to dwell on the sense of the questioning, rather than the conceptual meaning of the question. This has had some surprisingly powerful effects. I've heard of practices like these in the past, but (due to hearing a dharma talk a long time ago about it, and perhaps misinterpreting it) assumed that it was a fairly introductory sort of practice, not worth pursuing beyond a certain point; this may not be true after all. (I also had an ultrabrief exchange with AEN about the power of koans here on the DhO not long ago; my position there may have been founded on the same ignorance.)

The basic idea seems to be to redirect all thinking, all mental inclinations, all proliferation of ideas, etc. back to one single thing, namely, the question. If done assiduously, it seems to undercut normal cognition quite profoudly; first, by removing wandering thoughts; then, by removing the mind's overt reactions to the outside world; then, by removing a great deal of cognition (resulting in the loss of the ability to formulate the question as a sentence); then, by removing a great deal of the sense of where one is, what one is doing, etc. (Other things may happen with further practice that I don't know of yet.) All of these things are replaced by the question.

The effect is fairly profound, dragging my mind towards the senses in a very non-conceptual way (though it's not conceived of as doing that during the practice). It seems similar in a way to fast, MCTB-style noting, except that it doesn't exaggerate the attention wave by directing the mind to grasp at the objects being noted; but it still builds a stream of concentrated moments (khanika samadhi) through the mind's insistence on continually re-generating the question.

As the mind becomes more concentrated, the question seems to refine itself progressively, i.e.

* What is this? [+ mental motion of finding a 'this', as the field of experience, for the question to be about]
* What is this?
* What?
* ?

This seems to be because, as concentration grows, the ability to fabricate more complex thoughts becomes impossible.

I suspect that this practice may be especially suited to people who are very poor at concentrating in the traditional, eyes-closed sitting meditation sort of way. This is often true of beginners and would probably be effective for them in the same way that Mahasi-style noting is (by providing a roundabout way to obtain concentration), but in principle applies to anyone.

(EDIT: Similarly, it may be especially suited to people who have a high degree of restlessness or wandering mind, as it appears to offer a way to re-direct that useless mental activity towards something useful. cf. my post on "Drunken Vipassana Fist" on KFD.)

The basic tips that I have found effective so far are:

* Pick one question and stick with it. (Find a list online, or just use "what is this?")
* Use unwavering intensity; 100% commitment to the practice. (Think deeply on what "100%" means.)
* Anytime you think a stray thought or experience a mental reaction, you're using mental energy on something that could be re-directed into asking the question; try harder. (Refine your discernment of these things to ever-subtler levels.)
* Approach the practice without a sense of effort; the sense of effort is only a distraction from the question (see point above). (Intensity without effort, as much as possible.)
* Don't focus on any idea you have about the question or its parts; focus on the question mark.
* Traditional explanations of this practice say that one is cultivating a sense of doubt, but I suspect that this should be interpreted differently; not cultivating the hindrance of doubt, i.e. the experience of worrying or having second thoughts or reservations about something, but cultivating a sense of not knowing set in context of clarity. But, perhaps this depends on the stage of practice one is in, or something else.

Presumably someone who has experience with this practice would be better qualified to give advice. (Anyone here, with advice or experiences of their own to share?)

If anything interesting develops from this I'll post further comments then.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 10:32 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
.
* Traditional explanations of this practice say that one is cultivating a sense of doubt, but I suspect that this should be interpreted differently; not cultivating the hindrance of doubt, i.e. the experience of worrying or having second thoughts or reservations about something, but cultivating a sense of not knowing set in context of clarity. But, perhaps this depends on the stage of practice one is in, or something else.


I've heard this doubt described as an attitude of questioning. To me, this sounds a lot like the enlightenment factor of investigation.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 10:40 AM as a reply to Eran G.
Eran G:
End in Sight:
.
* Traditional explanations of this practice say that one is cultivating a sense of doubt, but I suspect that this should be interpreted differently; not cultivating the hindrance of doubt, i.e. the experience of worrying or having second thoughts or reservations about something, but cultivating a sense of not knowing set in context of clarity. But, perhaps this depends on the stage of practice one is in, or something else.


I've heard this doubt described as an attitude of questioning. To me, this sounds a lot like the enlightenment factor of investigation.


"Attitude of questioning [that isn't worrying or having second thoughts or reservations about something]" sounds pretty apt to me, a better phrasing than I could figure out at the time, thanks.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 3:15 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
I've got more to add about this as it's very similar to practices I've worked with, although didn't know them by this name. One thing I wanted to say though was in relation to this:

End:
The basic idea seems to be to redirect all thinking, all mental inclinations, all proliferation of ideas, etc. back to one single thing, namely, the question. If done assiduously, it seems to undercut normal cognition quite profoudly; first, by removing wandering thoughts; then, by removing the mind's overt reactions to the outside world; then, by removing a great deal of cognition (resulting in the loss of the ability to formulate the question as a sentence); then, by removing a great deal of the sense of where one is, what one is doing, etc. (Other things may happen with further practice that I don't know of yet.) All of these things are replaced by the question.

That part about losing the ability to formulate the question as a sentence is something I used to notice when working with mantra, it's also part of a certain method of 'charging' sigils wherein one repeats a phrase until the ability to consciously, inwardly or outwardly, verbalize switches off completely. Clearly there are various possible routes to take in terms of outcomes but it's interesting that all of these things seem to be methods to bring the semantic mapping/conceptualizing mind to a halt and expose the clarity of what these words truly mean experientially; even more interesting is the fact that similar, repetitive mantra-like [1] chains of sound such as the "Shem ha-Mephorash" are found in Western contemplative traditions like Kabbalah.

Interesting stuff, thanks for posting it! I'll post something else later on when I get the chance to.

[1] I'm saying "mantra-like" 'cause it's not actually a mantra, it's more about the repetition and observation of how mind moves than using it to fix concentration as you would with a mantra.

Edited to correct: "72 Names of God" - It's actually the 72-lettered name of God a.k.a. "Shem ha-Mephorash".

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 6:29 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
[1] I'm saying "mantra-like" 'cause it's not actually a mantra, it's more about the repetition and observation of how mind moves than using it to fix concentration as you would with a mantra.


Can you say more about this?

That there are connections and similarities between this practice and magick, Kabbalah, etc. surprises me, but maybe it shouldn't. There seem to be connections and similarities between so many different traditions...here's another possible one (in relation to the "attitude of questioning" being cultivated):

[quote=Trent, Between Chaos and Order Lies Wonder]
This wonder I speak of is not of the same meager intensity ‘I’ experienced while ‘normal,’ nor when ‘I’ was ‘enlightened’, but is of an entirely new level. It is as though one is perpetually questioning all things sensed and experienced and also answering all of those questions in some sort of elegant (and mostly subconscious) ‘dance duet’. It is as though one’s mind is always on the “edge of its seat.” And this scintillating, peerless, wonderful awareness is just part of what it means to be fully alive!

It is as a result of this wonder-full awareness that one may find one’s day to day dealings increasingly dominated by question, rather than by statement. (This seems to be a reflection of the intellect’s fundamental function, viewed at a macro level rather than a micro level). One’s interaction with other people shifts from judgment, accusation and wild-eyed guessing to one of sensitive acceptance and gentle (although often quite persistent) questioning. Further, I find that the majority of my conscious thought is phrased in the form of a question…

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 2:28 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
As I understand them, this is basically the insight step in mahamudra/dzogchen practice. I've done a lot of this in the context of what Ken McLeod calls the primary practice, but with the question "What is experiencing this?" The trick is to look and see nothing, and rest in the looking. This is essentially the same capability that the "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" koan develops, but with the "mind sense" rather than hearing. A good book on the topic is Clarifying the Natural State or the second last chapter of Wake Up to Your Life.

I've given it a rest for the last few months because that head tension would just get worse and worse as I did it, and insight was clearly no longer the way forward for the time being. But I did it for years prior to that.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 2:41 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Dude, this kind of sounds like HAIETMOBA. The initial phases of repeatedly asking HAIETMOBA got me to look at whether I was feeling good, neutral, or bad. That's clearly different than the practice you describe here. The more I asked this question and the closer I got to a point when things were very good the vast majority of the time, HAIETMOBA changed course in a distinct way, though. Examining whether things were good became redundant.

So following the asking of it pointed directly to apperception. It's not that the moment of apperception didn't occur when I was moreso using HAIETMOBA to examine how I was feeling - it's just the moment of apperception seemed more vague and I would skip over it too quickly to get to "feeling things out." This tip you wrote seems to apply: "Don't focus on any idea you have about the question or its parts; focus on the question mark." What happens *at* the question mark is the question has passed and everything drops, except what's happening right then. So it's like, focus on words, a string of meaning, then the mind gets to the question mark point and can't focus on anything conceptual because a question mark is basically a bare pause.

And what's bare pause? Apperception. Conceptual definitions automatically drop with apperception. There isn't a looking for definitions or a trying to cognize. With practice, the moment of apperception becomes more clear, recognizable, and extended. At my smoothest and most diligent, I don't even really need to ask HAIETMOBA because it's obvious when apperception is or is not happening.

Steph

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 4:09 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Tommy:

[1] I'm saying "mantra-like" 'cause it's not actually a mantra, it's more about the repetition and observation of how mind moves than using it to fix concentration as you would with a mantra.


End:
Can you say more about this?

That there are connections and similarities between this practice and magick, Kabbalah, etc. surprises me, but maybe it shouldn't. There seem to be connections and similarities between so many different traditions...

The particular technique I mentioned uses the Shem Ha-Mephorash, or "72-Fold Name of God", as a sort of audible mantra but it's divided over 18 breaths and involves a series of gestures to be made with the head until the "divine influx" causes you to stop. It's not a technique I have a lot of experience with, but in the times I have used it I found it natural to observe the way the mind moved between the sound, the mental concept of "God" and the sensate experience.

Any technique I've ever worked with that involved any sort of repeated phrase or question has always led me to observe those mind movements, the concentration part always seemed like a side-effect to me, possibly because I was always "looking for" something (insight) instead of just "looking at" something (concentration).

The connections and similarities are, as I've come to realize lately, the very reason I became obsessed with all of this stuff and why it is that I've never been able to walk away from these investigations. I suspect that if we take away all the concepts, models, metaphors and language, strip things right back to the direct sensate experience of what each of these symbols actually represent, which is all words and language are: symbolic representations of pure sensate data, then there's a good chance we're talking about the same territory. This is one of the reasons why I continue to doubt Richard's claims to the uniqueness of his "discovery", not that it really matters anyway, but it seems highly improbable that an entirely new mode of consciousness could have gone undiscovered since mankind evolved the ability to record information. Anyway, I'm rambling here... emoticon

Edit: By the way, you may be interested in having a look at The Soldier & The Hunchback by Crowley. It's not entirely related to what we're talking about here but I think it's a good read regardless.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 6:28 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:

The connections and similarities are, as I've come to realize lately, the very reason I became obsessed with all of this stuff and why it is that I've never been able to walk away from these investigations. I suspect that if we take away all the concepts, models, metaphors and language, strip things right back to the direct sensate experience of what each of these symbols actually represent, which is all words and language are: symbolic representations of pure sensate data, then there's a good chance we're talking about the same territory. This is one of the reasons why I continue to doubt Richard's claims to the uniqueness of his "discovery", not that it really matters anyway, but it seems highly improbable that an entirely new mode of consciousness could have gone undiscovered since mankind evolved the ability to record information.


Yea, the question of who did it first sounds like a bunch of nitpicky fanboy/fangirl talk to me. I think most of the difference is probably conceptual like you mention here. For example, the reason I think I started trying to stick with the Actualist stuff exclusively is because it was getting too confusing going back and forth between all the conceptual stuff of the various traditions & methods. I got to a point where I was like.... Who gives a shit? What's the fastest way to simply be happy right now? Well, I put a ton of legwork into this one method so far, might as well keep using that. So then, a whole heap of conceptual stuff dropped away after making a firm decision to just go with that. Freed up mental space to pay attention to get to apperception because I didn't have to rationalize how things might be causing mental movements of one kind or another. Said another way... I think a huge obstacle for me, then, was that I had started creating an extra system of thought so it was like a triple whammy of Buddhism, Actualism, and Reconciliation (of those two). It's funny how that tendency still shows up sometimes... like me posting in this thread asking, hey isn't this Buddhist question thing just like Actualism? LOL.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 7:10 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
As I understand them, this is basically the insight step in mahamudra/dzogchen practice. I've done a lot of this in the context of what Ken McLeod calls the primary practice, but with the question "What is experiencing this?" The trick is to look and see nothing, and rest in the looking. This is essentially the same capability that the "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" koan develops, but with the "mind sense" rather than hearing. A good book on the topic is Clarifying the Natural State or the second last chapter of Wake Up to Your Life.

I've given it a rest for the last few months because that head tension would just get worse and worse as I did it, and insight was clearly no longer the way forward for the time being. But I did it for years prior to that.


Would you say it's accurate to summarize what you did as using "What is experiencing this?" as a way of pointing the mind towards a mode of functioning that you then try to stabilize or keep stable (vs. focusing on the questioning-ness of the question)?

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 7:24 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
Tommy:

[1] I'm saying "mantra-like" 'cause it's not actually a mantra, it's more about the repetition and observation of how mind moves than using it to fix concentration as you would with a mantra.


End:
Can you say more about this?

That there are connections and similarities between this practice and magick, Kabbalah, etc. surprises me, but maybe it shouldn't. There seem to be connections and similarities between so many different traditions...

The particular technique I mentioned uses the Shem Ha-Mephorash, or "72-Fold Name of God", as a sort of audible mantra but it's divided over 18 breaths and involves a series of gestures to be made with the head until the "divine influx" causes you to stop. It's not a technique I have a lot of experience with, but in the times I have used it I found it natural to observe the way the mind moved between the sound, the mental concept of "God" and the sensate experience.

Any technique I've ever worked with that involved any sort of repeated phrase or question has always led me to observe those mind movements, the concentration part always seemed like a side-effect to me, possibly because I was always "looking for" something (insight) instead of just "looking at" something (concentration).


Was your experience of charging sigils different, and if so, why?

Does the lack of verbalization (in the case of charging sigils) have some kind of exoteric or esoteric significance, apart from a sign of having performed the task?

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 7:53 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Yes, that's roughly how it works, though of course you don't actually try to stabilize anything, you rest. When it decays into thoughts or emotional reactivity, you start over.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 8:08 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
So far I've found that asking "What is this?" is very different from any ways that I've used pointers or inclined my mind towards modes of functioning.

Have you ever tried focusing purely on a question, and if so, was the result the same or different?

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/21/12 9:39 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Hmm, I missed the "focusing on the questioning-ness of the question" parenthesis the first time through. You do hold the question in attention, though you don't repeatedly internally re-verbalize it the way your OP seems to suggest. I haven't tried repeated internal reverbalization, in fact I think there's advice in Wake Up to Your Life discouraging that.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 4:56 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
Does this questioning lead to what Jill referred to as 'unknowing'?

CAUSE: (a shadow side of insight mentioned above) being fixated on knowing that certain sensations are tensions, thus creating a mental processing of "i'm tense/i'm too tense/i'm still tense", an unsatisfactory evaluation/negative judgement which can keep subtly feeding and compounding the tensions more.
REMEDY: impose some more innocence, or what i like to call "unknowing" or "unknowifying" to every step of paying attention. also called "naivete", "curiosity", or "observing objectively" in my understanding. observe things as if you're an alien consciousness visiting this earth realm to observe what it's like to operate through the human body and its senses. the alien knows nothing about what anything is, but it has been sent to perceive everything possible in the most detail (otherwise it will get banished by the mothership). there is nothing wrong with knowing too little, but "knowing" too much can be a hindrance to effective investigation. http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3007184

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 7:05 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
Dude, this kind of sounds like HAIETMOBA. The initial phases of repeatedly asking HAIETMOBA got me to look at whether I was feeling good, neutral, or bad. That's clearly different than the practice you describe here. The more I asked this question and the closer I got to a point when things were very good the vast majority of the time, HAIETMOBA changed course in a distinct way, though. Examining whether things were good became redundant.

So following the asking of it pointed directly to apperception. It's not that the moment of apperception didn't occur when I was moreso using HAIETMOBA to examine how I was feeling - it's just the moment of apperception seemed more vague and I would skip over it too quickly to get to "feeling things out." This tip you wrote seems to apply: "Don't focus on any idea you have about the question or its parts; focus on the question mark." What happens *at* the question mark is the question has passed and everything drops, except what's happening right then. So it's like, focus on words, a string of meaning, then the mind gets to the question mark point and can't focus on anything conceptual because a question mark is basically a bare pause.

And what's bare pause? Apperception. Conceptual definitions automatically drop with apperception. There isn't a looking for definitions or a trying to cognize. With practice, the moment of apperception becomes more clear, recognizable, and extended. At my smoothest and most diligent, I don't even really need to ask HAIETMOBA because it's obvious when apperception is or is not happening.

Steph
Yes, HAIETMOBA leads to direct experience of aliveness.

If you ask, how am I experiencing this moment of hearing? It leads to the direct, non-dual, non-conceptual, immediate experience of hearing.

So on for seeing, smelling, thinking.

"Who am I?" has a similar function of leading to the "bare pause" and discovering what is present in the pause, i.e. without even a single thought what am "I". What remains is a pure presence, pure existence, pure consciousness, which is no different from PCE, but now it is the PCE of mind itself, as a non-conceptual thought, as a thought. (but it is not the ordinary conceptual thoughts) Owing to the nature of this inquiry and framework of the person (when one inquires "Who am I?" - one tries to trace the thought of "I" to its pure source), one clings to the moment of beingness as one's purest identity. Similarly HAIETMOBA is able to lead to a direct pure experience of PCE... but then apart from this it is also important to arise insight that deconstructs our view of an ultimate ground (whether it is a substantial mind, or an actual world here/now).

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 8:01 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
Hmm, I missed the "focusing on the questioning-ness of the question" parenthesis the first time through. You do hold the question in attention, though you don't repeatedly internally re-verbalize it the way your OP seems to suggest. I haven't tried repeated internal reverbalization, in fact I think there's advice in Wake Up to Your Life discouraging that.


It sounds like what you were describing is asking the question "What is experiencing this?" as a pointer towards the answer to the question ("just the experiencing"), which you then stay with. I wanted to confirm that this is what you meant, because (to me, so far) it seems like a very different practice from asking the question and focusing on the questioning-ness without looking for an answer or interacting with the meaning of the question.

It would be interesting to know if there were different results from each approach.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 8:06 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
Does this questioning lead to what Jill referred to as 'unknowing'? (...)


Maybe.

The strongest effect of this practice for me, so far, was the temporarily loss of any clear context for experience (like waking up from sleep and not knowing where you are, minus the disorientation); sounds similar to what Jill says, except the ability to entertain the idea "I'm on a mission to observe things" (and any sort of active investigation based on that) is gone too.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 9:32 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Thanks for the pointer. That thread was extremely interesting. Ideally it does, but first it usually kicks a lot of reactivity into high gear.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 9:43 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
No, you don't hold an answer in attention, except in as much as the answer is the looking itself. That would undermine the intent of the practice by giving you something to cohere around.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 5:26 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
Nikolai .:
Does this questioning lead to what Jill referred to as 'unknowing'? (...)


Maybe.

The strongest effect of this practice for me, so far, was the temporarily loss of any clear context for experience (like waking up from sleep and not knowing where you are, minus the disorientation); sounds similar to what Jill says, except the ability to entertain the idea "I'm on a mission to observe things" (and any sort of active investigation based on that) is gone too.


it should.

the idea of a "mission" or "task" or "effort" or "exercising" or even "forcing" usually applies more when someone is relatively new to insight practice and has to fight a lot of tense habit patterns.

the "unknowing" attention that i often describe is a that habit/perspective/mode of awareness that initially has to be adopted and exercised repeatedly until it becomes more possible, then more manageable, more frequent, more fun, more detailed, then more effortless, then more natural, more automatic, until it becomes the continuous default mode, until it becomes impossible to not pay bare attention. whether it's totally forced or totally automatic or something in between, the same type of attention can be accessed, provided it has been seen to make sense.

in actual practice, as in whenever i've actually "exercised" or "forced" or "inclined towards" or "allowed" or "accessed" or "maintained" this attentiveness, i could see no difference whatsoever in the following pointers for it:

-sati
-mindfulness
-maintaining bare awareness
-remembering (to stay aware)
-HAIETMOBA
-curiosity+naivete
-as it actually is
-noticing feelings and emotions as unlabeled qualities/phenomena, not as evaluations or judgements
-paying attention
-being attentive
-resting alert
-wondering, not assuming or concluding
-mimicking the PCE
-observing sensations
-observing, not knowing
-"unknowifying"
-accessing and generating equanimity
-noting without labels
-sense sense sense
-what is this

...none of which brings fruit without continuity, and the wide range of mental tools used to develop continuity are often seen as very different practice techniques.

if there's actually any difference in how the various "practices" above are supposed to get rolling for progress towards freedom from suffering then i must be missing something. for the most part i've found it impossible or absurd to separate them, but there have been periods when certain words resonated better than others as good practice reminders or explanations.

one practice that does sound different to me is the "who am i" question, because it seems to assume that there is a certain 'i' somewhere that needs to be figured out and matched with a yet to be found 'who'. maybe "who am i" is also supposed to open up the same inquisitive investigation but the wording just happens to throw me off conceptually?

jill

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 5:50 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End:
Was your experience of charging sigils different, and if so, why?

With the charging of sigils, one of the techniques was to formulate and write down your intent, for example: "It is my will to render Justin Bieber mute"; reduce it to the consonants and remove any repeating letters: ITSMYWLORDJUNBE; then jumble the letters up so that the original intent is no longer discernible: JUNILO WRYST B'DEM; you repeat it continually like a mantra until you get into "gnosis" which is like a mental spasm wherein the intent is forgotten, after which it's customary to banish with laughter. Fun stuff.

The moment of "gnosis", I speculate, may be a momentary exhaustion of the entire semantic/symbolizing faculties of the brain via overload, i.e. continuous repetition of a word or phrase. It simply ceases to have any meaning, it's becomes a mentally repeated sound with no concept attached; from an insight perspective, it's a fine opportunity to investigate the emptiness aspect of phenomena. In my experience, there are several ways to "enter gnosis" ranging from that mantra method I mentioned, to finding numerological correspondences between different words really quickly; the latter method led to me experience what I think were "satori" on a few occasions, flashes of insight where subject and object would become one leaving just the sensate...hang on, that sounds a hell of a lot like apperception! Hmmmmm, I hadn't even thought about that until just now...I'll get back to you 'cause there's something interesting there that I just picked up on. My idea here isn't clear enough, I'll need to think about this.

End:
Does the lack of verbalization (in the case of charging sigils) have some kind of exoteric or esoteric significance, apart from a sign of having performed the task?

Nothing that I'd consider applicable in a practical way, it's mainly about either concentration or excitation and then 'releasing' the sigil into the "subconscious" (which I place in quotation marks because I'm not entirely certain that the chaos magick model has an accurate interpretation of the terms it uses sometimes).

Edit: After thinking back on that "satori" comment, I've remember one specific instance of experiencing this same thing when I was about 8 or 9 years old; there was a playground (we call them "swingparks") along the street from my parents house and in it there was this sort of monkey-bar/swinging thingy, wooden and vandalized heavily. Anyway. On the swinging thing, there were these thing that looked kinda like handcuffs to swing on, weird I know but this was a rough council scheme [1] and some things are better left unquestioned, and if you dangled upside down on the middle one you could see that someone had written this: If you notice this notice then you'll notice that this notice is not worth noticing at all. Someone had also drawn a cock, but that's just mentioned for further comedy value. I'm rambling...so, I became quite obsessed with this sentence and used to run it over and over in my mind until one day something different happened, I'm fairly certain I had a PCE around this time too but I can't be certain. It just seemed interesting to mention.


[1] Found this picture of the actual park as it looks now. It looked worse back then!

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 5:25 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
p.s.

End in Sight:

* What is this? [+ mental motion of finding a 'this', as the field of experience, for the question to be about]
* What is this?
* What?
* ?


i used that exact phrase 'what is this' now and then--it's the closest explanation to the mental-reminder-process i was using at some vipassana retreats. your shortening above articulates that mental momentum/simplification well. yet what actually happens in practice still seems simpler than when it's spelled out in words...

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 5:35 PM as a reply to Jill Morana.
the "unknowing" attention that i often describe is a that habit/perspective/mode of awareness that initially has to be adopted and exercised repeatedly until it becomes more possible, then more manageable, more frequent, more fun, more detailed, then more effortless, then more natural, more automatic, until it becomes the continuous default mode, until it becomes impossible to not pay bare attention. whether it's totally forced or totally automatic or something in between, the same type of attention can be accessed, provided it has been seen to make sense.

I'm in the process of writing something about the word "attentiveness" right now and this paragraph right here sums it all up wonderfully, it's this sort of quality that I've been trying to describe! I'm even digging into the synonyms and metaphoric representations for this, comparing models and various ways of expressing the same thing...then I read this:

in actual practice, as in whenever i've actually "exercised" or "forced" or "inclined" towards or "allowed" or "accessed" or "maintained" this attentiveness, i could see no difference whatsoever in the following pointers for it:

-sati
-mindfulness
-maintaining bare awareness
-remembering (to stay aware)
-HAIETMOBA
-curiosity+naivete
-as it actually is
-noticing feelings and emotions as unlabeled qualities/phenomena, not as evaluations or judgements
-paying attention
-being attentive
-resting alert
-wondering, not assuming or concluding
-mimicking the PCE
-observing sensations
-observing, not knowing
-"unknowifying"
-accessing and generating equanimity
-noting without labels
-sense sense sense
-what is this

...none of which brings fruit without continuity, and the wide range of mental tools used to develop continuity are often seen as very different practice techniques.

And I am grinning like a Cheshire cat 'cause you've just summed it up really, really clearly and quite comprehensively.

Thank you, this is really helpful!

but there have been periods when certain words resonated better than others as good practice reminders or explanations.

This is also what happens in my experience, I'm curious as to why that is and how to utilize it in some way to help those still dealing with affect.

Thanks again for this post, you have no idea how useful it's been in clarifying my thinking on this stuff.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 5:36 PM as a reply to Jill Morana.
yet what actually happens in practice still seems simpler than when it's spelled out in words...

Hahahahaha, well said!

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/22/12 7:49 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
"It is my will to render Justin Bieber mute"


this must be the way to freedom!

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/23/12 12:47 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:

"Who am I?" has a similar function of leading to the "bare pause" and discovering what is present in the pause, i.e. without even a single thought what am "I". What remains is a pure presence, pure existence, pure consciousness, which is no different from PCE, but now it is the PCE of mind itself, as a non-conceptual thought, as a thought. (but it is not the ordinary conceptual thoughts) Owing to the nature of this inquiry and framework of the person (when one inquires "Who am I?" - one tries to trace the thought of "I" to its pure source), one clings to the moment of beingness as one's purest identity. Similarly HAIETMOBA is able to lead to a direct pure experience of PCE... but then apart from this it is also important to arise insight that deconstructs our view of an ultimate ground (whether it is a substantial mind, or an actual world here/now).


Could you please explain further what I put in bold?

I've never used the "Who am I?" question and I basically agree with what Jill says here for why I'm not sure it would work.

one practice that does sound different to me is the "who am i" question, because it seems to assume that there is a certain 'i' somewhere that needs to be figured out and matched with a yet to be found 'who'.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/23/12 7:28 AM as a reply to Steph S.
I think Ken covers "Who am I?" somewhere in his Buddhahood without meditation series of talks. As answers occur to you, you investigate them. ("Am I my name?" "Am I my fingers?" "Am I the observer?" "Am I the controller of my behavior?" "Am I my experience?") Of course, the answer is always "No." Eventually, you run out of answers and are just left with the question. If you attach to an answer, it's up to your teacher to undermine it. So it really ends up working the same way.

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/23/12 12:20 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:

Could you please explain further what I put in bold?

I've never used the "Who am I?" question and I basically agree with what Jill says here for why I'm not sure it would work.

one practice that does sound different to me is the "who am i" question, because it seems to assume that there is a certain 'i' somewhere that needs to be figured out and matched with a yet to be found 'who'.
There can be utter certainty in the absence of all conceptual thoughts, pure certainty arises in directness, and has nothing to do with the mind figuring things out conceptually by comparison, matching and so on. No inference can touch that realm. Every koan, hua tou, or inquiry must be designed to lead to that direct realization, but different koans or hua tou can lead to a particular or different insight/realization such as Tozan's five ranks. "Who am I?" is likened by Ramana Maharshi to a stick that when burnt leaves nothing behind - not including the flame or the stick, i.e. self-inquiry leads to a realization where not even the question or the 'I' thought remains. So when the I-thought is traced to its source by inquiring "Who am I?" What remains is no (conceptual) thought, only Presence, a pure conceptual-less sense of existence which is utterly doubtless and certain. In other words, it is Presence as a non-conceptual thought. There is nothing to be figured out as it is only in the absence of all conceptual thoughts, in direct presence, that there is self-realization. But it is true that "Who am I?" already presumes a pure identity, so what is realized is reified into a pure identity and one will be inclined to always seek to abide in that purest realm of presence. It is a non-dual, non-conceptual, direct and immediate mode of perception but only pertains to the pure thought realm. Such practitioner may not be able to see the one taste of luminosity in all 18 dhatus but cling to a purest state of presence which is seen as the background source of everything.

As for HAIETMOBA, it leads to similar experience but instead of seeking the realm of pure, the mind realm, rather the inquiry is directed to the immediate experience of aliveness in the foreground, in the senses, which is very important and essential. But even when all sense of self/Self goes into abeyance in the experience of PCE, one can be led (due to faulty view) to attach to an ultimate ground, to being "actual", to an objective universe. When it is seen that there is something "actual" and "objective", one will seek to ground oneself/be grounded in the here and now, the objective, the actual. The PCE becomes treated as ultimate like in the previous case, but now it is being "actual, objective, here/now" while the "I AM" is reifying a subjective self. Both are a form of self-view, one subject the other object. Also, PCE will not be effortless until some insight arise. And depending on one's practice and insight, even if insight into anatta arises one may be skewed to the second stanza and overlook the first stanza and the aspect of emptiness, i.e. http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/03/on-anatta-emptiness-and-spontaneous.html - in this case it is very much like those trying to ground themselves in the actual, direct experience of aliveness all day. Aliveness is important but should be complemented with the insight into emptiness, for if one does not go through two fold emptiness (of self and emptiness), how is a dual and inherent view going to lead one to that uncontrived awareness as this moment of suchness and which self-releases? There will always be contrivance and grasping instead of naturalness and release owing to faulty view.

When one penetrates first stanza and emptiness, then nothing is clung to as ultimate, whether subject or object, all are thoroughly deconstructed and emptied, one experientially realizes the insubstantial, unsupported, disjoint, self-releasing, coreless nature of everything, and also one understands that everything is "merely imputed" - from self, to awareness, to universe, everything is a mere imputation, convention, label in the same way that "weather" is a convention or imputation on a process of everchanging forming and departing clouds, rain, wind, etc. One has a better understanding of the implication of view, and one does not cling to anything subjective or objective (both are views, mere imputation). Whatever manifest is vividly luminous and present but nothing to cling as there isn't anything truly 'there' or 'here' - empty. Luminosity and emptiness are without hierarchy in terms of importance - there is no true understanding of emptiness without direct realization of luminosity (one can study madyamika teachings but without true experience of luminous presence whatever understood is merely intellectual views), no true understanding of luminosity without realizing its empty nature (despite having had direct experience of it).

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/23/12 2:41 PM as a reply to Jill Morana.
TJ Broccoli:

-sati
-mindfulness
-maintaining bare awareness
-remembering (to stay aware)
-HAIETMOBA
-curiosity+naivete
-as it actually is
-noticing feelings and emotions as unlabeled qualities/phenomena, not as evaluations or judgements
-paying attention
-being attentive
-resting alert
-wondering, not assuming or concluding
-mimicking the PCE
-observing sensations
-observing, not knowing
-"unknowifying"
-accessing and generating equanimity
-noting without labels
-sense sense sense
-what is this


Does 'wonder' fit in this list, TJ?

Although off-topic, I'd like to see a thorough discussion on 'apperception'. Maybe I'll start a new thread... Does your understanding of 'apperception' fit in this list?

RE: Huatou: an overlooked practice?
Answer
5/24/12 9:49 AM as a reply to Stian Gudmundsen Høiland.
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland:

Does 'wonder' fit in this list, TJ?


hi Stian,

i think good "bare awareness" practice should ideally have an element of wonder(curiosity) in it, but i wouldn't say that every type of wonder fits in the list. for instance, wondering about your personal dramas and stories that rationalize arising tensions would not fit here.

Stian Gudmundsen Høiland:

Although off-topic, I'd like to see a thorough discussion on 'apperception'. Maybe I'll start a new thread... Does your understanding of 'apperception' fit in this list?


yes, my understanding of apperception is the same as my understanding of mindfulness or sati...i just realized that the items in the list aren't exactly parallel because the -ing verbs are more like practices to help the practitioner access the mode of awareness while words like "mindfulness" or "sati" refer to the mode of awareness itself.

jill