Distinguishing Rupa/Nama, Open Eye Practice, Notes, Fabrications, Formation

Mind over easy, modified 8 Years ago.

Distinguishing Rupa/Nama, Open Eye Practice, Notes, Fabrications, Formation

Posts: 216 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
I've been tuning my practice, looking for things to tweak and optimize. While I've made progress up the nanas many times, there seems to be something very basic in mind and body (and the whole thing) that I missed. I didn't use noting much when I started. I'd just "notice around" and try to increase the speed and consistency. This indeed worked, but I now realize what I missed that noting gets at. When you note, you separate the rupa, the noted, from the nama, the note. In my practice, I was so into looking at each rupa, or body sensation, that I wasn't clearly seeing the nama, the knowing of that sensation.

I was sitting downstairs at the piano, not playing. In fact, it seemed that in whatever dukkha nana I was in, any attempt to create and feel music resulted in a complete disenchantment with the feelings felt and the sounds created. In this state, actually, any intentions seemed to cause an explosion of stress and frustration. More on that later. I just stopped playing and started to do vipassana. This time, though, I did it with my eyes open, which is unusual for me in a more or less formal sit. I started paying attention to my eyes, and nama suddenly became clear. "How is it that my eyes can rest upon something, yet my attention can jump all over the field of vision?" is the line of inquiry which led to a solid discovery of the mental moment of recognition of a sensation. The trick is that sometimes in vipassana, it's hard to know whether or not you're zeroing in on the physical sensation, or your cognition of that sensation. I highly suggest trying out this exercise of open eye practice and moving the attention about while keeping the eyes fastened. If the vision itself isn't changing, then what is changing as you notice various aspects of the visual field? Get really good at seeing the field of vision as it is and seeing the attention of it's various parts as separate. Then, ask yourself: how fast can I move my attention from this to that?

I thought of this: Notes are, first, for penetrating the noted, next, for penetrating the notes, and finally, for penetrating the noter.

Having trouble seeing the note? Clearly see what consists of the noted and see what could remain aside.
Having trouble seeing the noter? Clearly see what consists of the note, and determine what could remain asides.

I also thought of this: don't be afraid to fabricate in order to understand how fabrications work. This seems very relevant in the dukkha nanas. If the yogi is making progress at the A&P, then where do fear, misery, and disgust come in to play? At first it seemed like a twisted, terrible territory to be in, but now I realize that these nanas force fabrications to surface. Terribly awful feelings of loneliness and intense sorrow have been nagging at me lately, but yesterday I made some progress in understanding this. Even harboring the idea that you are depressed or lonely or miserable in the dukkha nanas is unsatisfactory. Normally we play the happy/sad game, seeing causes and effects as the forces that keep happiness and sadness in motion. However, in the dukkha nanas, sadness, a tool that has "served us" in life for so long, loses it's ability to act as the write off for suffering. Suffering is not sadness. Suffering is not fear, misery, or disgust. Fear, misery, and disgust seem to be feelings on which suffering is written off. However, the suffering never came from fear, misery, or disgust. The suffering came from fabrications, such as, I have this fear, I'm cast into this misery, I retreat in disgust. These feelings are just empty canvases which lend to the work of insight by displaying the fabrications we are constantly buying into, and showing that from exhibit to exhibit, there is nothing that goes from one moment canvas to the next. Suffering is written off as terrible feelings. It seems that when we stop writing off the suffering, the terrible feelings are reduced to emptiness.

Let the suffering happen in dark night, and whenever you start to feel overwhelmed or miserable or as though you're stuck, realize that these feelings are not "side effects" from the dark night. The appearance of these feelings and states is what you're trying to do and exactly what you want to see in your practice. If these feelings arise, I wager it's time to speed up your awareness. "Refresh" your awareness as fast as you can while still being precise. If you do this, you'll start to see that you've left the suffering and the sufferer behind, in the last frame. In fact, there never was a sufferer; the suffering came from not seeing the impermanence of the entire field of experience. For me, impermanence is the remedy for great suffering. This translates thus: when in the dark night and in particular, re-observation, notice impermanence, as your salvation is seeing directly how no suffering, or any thing, is carried from moment to moment. Once your refreshing of awareness speeds up, really notice the "noise" that seems to stay from frame to frame. This noise can be internal dialogue, music, subtle thoughts of the future or past, or anything that seems to survive as you refresh attention. If you practice with diligence, you may find you can stop these noises by quieting the mind. Tommy M told me that 4th vipassana jhana is concentration territory, and I see what he means. At this point, you have to use concentration to stay with each frame and to calm the "noise", the fabrications. For me, this led to what felt like 4th jhana, where there is a profound quietude and lack of internal noise. Pertinent to vipassana, this is the point at which fabrications are stilled, and each moment of sensate experience can be noticed and distinguished from the last.

At this point, formations seem to occur. At first, I thought formations would be extremely obvious. For me, it actually felt as though the only thing that was different was that the mind was not fabricating, and was refreshing all the senses at once in each moment of noticing reality. This is my threshold of practice currently. It seems as though from this point on, the effort should go into sustaining concentration to keep refreshing the frames at a rapid rate without fabrications arising and making things unclear, and observing one of the three characteristics to the end. The three characteristics seem profound and obvious at this point. I have been trying to contemplate impermanence, coupled with no self. Seeing each frame appear and disappear with nothing surviving from frame to frame leaves very little room for a self. When the mind is extremely quiet in equanimity, it's as if it doesn't exist in between the frames. I'm investigating this and I hope to direct my focus on the discontinuity from frame to frame. I've been getting the feeling of looking back at myself, right between my eyes, and not seeing anything there. I hope to pursue that as well.

Hopefully all those thoughts can be of use to yogis all across the board! Please feel free to correct any mistakes I made or point me in the right direction where I have fallen short.

Bonus content: Only in A&P do I excitedly jabber statements such as this-
"Dance: the universal equanimity of humanity! Wow! Music: the dance of equanimious consciousness infinitely blipping in and out of existence, majestically!"

Oh boy, haha... emoticon