Insight Meditation and AF

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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 5/9/10 6:12 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 5/9/10 6:01 PM

Insight Meditation and AF

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Another debate that has been discussed here is insight practice or AF or both and if so, how to combine them?

It should be noted that of the relatively few people who claim AF by that name, a substantial number were accomplished insight practitioners before that.

Both Trent and Tarin claimed arahatship with jhana abilities before deciding to explore AF (though I believe Tarin had played around with it years ago and pre-stream entry), and both of them regularly help people with their insight practice here, and thus must see the value in these practices and conceptual frameworks or presumably wouldn't.

Richard also explored various insight practices and apparently had some success with them pre-AF. However, others didn't, though many had long meditation/spiritual questing histories in various traditions before coming to AF.

Thus, the question remains: is it easier, in their opinion, to see the value of AF and to attain AF after having become accomplished insight practitioners, and how would they recommend that people apply the various practices and teachings of insight and AF specifically, particularly regarding timing?

How would they recommend that practitioners use the various frameworks and techniques available to maximize practitioners' success and happiness?

Specifically, some of the frameworks and emphases are seemingly at odds to various degrees, such as looking into suffering and also cultivating felicitous feelings, as well as inhabiting this flesh and blood body and noticing the transience of the sensations that make up the whole sense field. Insight practices emphasize causality and things happening on their own, whereas AF emphases autonomy and things happening on their own. I think that the word "autonomy" requires some further definition here so that it can be compared and contrasted with the way no-self is used in insight practices.

Further, insight practices tend to emphasize bare sensate investigation in a way that ignores being caught up in one's stuff, whereas AF emphasizes noticing emotions/feelings and then noticing the causes of how they arose and eliminating those causes, much as the sutta on the Removal of Distracting Thoughts, MN 20. These are clearly different, though related.
Trent , modified 12 Years ago at 5/10/10 3:55 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 5/10/10 3:55 PM

RE: Insight Meditation and AF

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Thus, the question remains: is it easier, in their opinion, to see the value of AF and to attain AF after having become accomplished insight practitioners, and how would they recommend that people apply the various practices and teachings of insight and AF specifically, particularly regarding timing?

How would they recommend that practitioners use the various frameworks and techniques available to maximize practitioners' success and happiness?


Hi. These are tough to answer with any sort of reliability, since the data points on "true" arhats is small, even smaller for actually free people, and practically non-existent for people whom have been both. And that's even if we assume that self-proclaimed arhats were what they claimed. Regardless, as data analysis is both my academic and professional expertise, I can say with utmost confidence: we don't have 1/100th of the data we need to even begin to draw reasonable correlations, let alone say anything definitively. With that in mind, this is my current take.

Being enlightened to the degree I was helped an actual freedom to occur for a lot of reasons. This isn't really debatable: being a master of insight territory / achievement will help, unless the person also becomes attached / trapped in dogma (even very subtle beliefs), which is another issue altogether. The problem is that it is not at all simple nor easy to attain any of those meditative 'heights,' and especially without getting caught / trapped at some stage that is not yet actual freedom. This begs the question: is the risk (taking years to make meditation progress and possibly get trapped for years or more) worth the reward (ease of doing the necessary work to gain an actual freedom, which does not seem horribly difficult (in the technical sense we're talking about) from either point of view)?

With those thoughts planted firmly in mind, I think that stream entry is probably a good idea (or perhaps even 3rd path), via strictly non-dogmatic means, as a firm base to launch oneself toward an actual freedom, as this would clear out a lot of the "mess" and give one more "room" to work with. However, I do not think the reward justifies spending a lot of time doing this. Thus, I think if someone is naturally inclined to understanding and making relatively rapid progress in meditative insight, then it seems useful to go that way first. If that is not the case, it seems like a better idea to just aim for actual freedom directly.

Again, these are just my thoughts for now, as there is a lot of this that hasn't even been discussed, let alone supplemented with more data. This is just a bit of food for thought; possibly to spur further discussion.

Enjoy,
Trent
Jon Højlund Arnfred, modified 12 Years ago at 5/12/10 6:37 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 5/11/10 4:42 PM

RE: Insight Meditation and AF

Post: 1 Join Date: 6/9/09 Recent Posts
This is my first post at Dharmaoverground and I haven’t read many of the other posts on the topic of AF on the forum, so I excuse any repetition that might be in what follows. I here outline why I think skilfulness in insight meditation may help one to progress in AF and why being enlightened might inspire someone who haven’t payed any notice to it before enlightenment to go with AF.

Training in general
To let ones experience of the world with whatever fundamental characteristics it have be an activity which one can get better at, is – as I think hardcore practitioners have to remind themselves once in a while– quite remote from the normal way of experiencing the world. So alone the method of going to the basics, the bottom rock of experience that you're introduced to by insight meditation could help one to be more open to AF.

Concentration in particular
Developing concentration as the skill of again and again catching ones awareness and leading it back to whatever object that’s the object of concentration in insight meditation, might help the mind to effectively check up on itself as is the procedure in AF.

The consequences of the cycles
Going through the cycles again and again tends to remind one that mind states are transient phenomena. One conclusion to draw from this, is that the subject going through the cycles can with a little training remain detached and untouched. The more enlightened way of looking at it, I think is that the perspective on the sensations (in the widest ranging use of the term) in this very moment is inherent in the sensations of this very moment. This enlightened perspective can give way to the suggestion that modulation of perspective is not an unreal or wrong thing to do, since there never was anything but sensations anyway. This I think is one reason why enlightened people might find AF more interesting after they’ve got enlightened.

Feelings
Experiencing ones feelings change as one sits on the pillow and progress on the path to enlightenment by the sole cause of paying close attention to the three characteristics, can be helpful in understanding the lack of what I'll call heavy metaphysical necessity of feelings. In other words feelings are not constituents of experience, but are ways of relating to experience. Feelings are a range of attitudes to experience, and if the process of positioning attitudes is stopped so is the process of generating feelings, that is really all there is to feelings. Most people would cling on to their feelings because they've proven useful for navigating in the world - not that they consciously make the argument - but it feels important to preserve identity, because identity is that which gets satisfied with the achievements that the person has in the world, and if no identity - no reason for achievements and that's obviously counter intuitive. So the rationality of preserving feelings are rarely questioned as feelings are unconsciously seen as the reasons for being rational in the first place. So what one initially have to start doing in AF is to see the relativity of feelings, and that they lack heavy metaphysical necessity, which I guess is very much easier when one have been doing a significant amount of insight meditation. Feelings are not the constituents of experience, though they might be the constituents of a sense of being, but as one know from insight meditation like all other things within the realm of experience they come and go, and at some point they might go - and not come back. Here the PCE plays a certain role, I see the PCE as any experience which have the qualities of being really pleasant but without intermediary feelings that isolate the reason for pleasantness and so make the experience dependant on the presence of that particular entity. In other words any experience that by being remembered or in other ways induced can guide oneself to the experience of being happy without a particular reason. And that's being happy without feelings, because reasons are attitudes to experience and attitudes to experience are feelings. Being happy because there is no reason whatsoever to be unhappy.

The feeling of being
An obvious similarity in the method is that the question: "How does this feel?", or "What the fundamental characteristics of this little or big chunk of experience" is not far from the question: “How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?”. So the whole idea of being interested in the basic of experience and relating that to the basic of the sensation of identity or self, is not something normal coming naturally out of everyday engagement with the world. It's something one have to learn to do properly. This is also connected to

The self
From insight practice one knows that there is something important to be cleared out regarding the notion of self. This establishes a relationship within oneself to ones self as a riddle one wants to solve in order to eliminate suffering, solving that riddle is insight, and insight comes from practice and more practice. And then at enlightenment you see that there really was no riddle anyway, and it feels like coming home. There is a slight change of perspective in AF though, but I think that as soon as you’re in the game of dealing with the self, the change of perspective is an easier one than establishing the AF perspective from the beginning. As I understand it in AF it’s about not trying to solve the riddle of the self, but simply ignoring it as more noise from the underground.

Post-enlightened doubts about enlightenment
These doubts stem from our wrong conceptions of enlightenment in the first place, and ought never to have occurred. But the fact is that life can still be pretty tough post-enlightened, at least this is what one hears from these folks, and the other fact is that there are some other folks, the folks who claim to be actually free, who tells us that life is not tough in any way as it used to be. So if someone searched for the elimination not just of fundamental suffering, but also of less fundamental suffering; the suffering on the level of feeling, but didn’t find it, then that might give the person some strong inclination to try hard on another track.

I agree with Trent on all he says, and would like to add what I take to be the most valuable insight from enlightenment pertaining to AF: The possibility of deleting once and for all
1. Our wrong conceptions about enlightenment
2. Attachment to feelings and to the notion that feelings are what to be preserved for any reason.

And of course getting enlightened might make way to the suggestion that also AF is possible, since enlightenment turned out to be not just fantasy talk after all.

Jon
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Jeff Grove, modified 12 Years ago at 5/14/10 1:25 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 5/13/10 8:19 PM

RE: Insight Meditation and AF

Posts: 310 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Hi Tarin, Trent and Dan, thank you for participating in these discussions on AF. After reading through some of Richards web page I have been intrigued in the methods of AF and explanations and have recently started the practice of HAIETMTBA to gain a better understanding of what AF is about.

It is interesting to note that in doing this practice experiencing the sense doors in this moment is similiar to what I had termed rigpa or non dual awareness. This non dual awareness has no conceptual mind arising conditioning perception. There is no trace of "thinking mind" to label as self. But by recalling a moment of previous "happiness" I lose this non dual awareness and slip into what I would term awareness watching awareness as now I have created (although empty) a separation. Say if it is a moment of "love" for someone I recall (I also note this needs imagination) I can trace this back to a feeling of fear of loneliness which turns out to be as empty as the concept. In non dual awareness, below there are feelings which are not coloured or emphasized by the mind feeding on its self, say a pain and the mind emphasizes this until its unbearable. I find the concept of a thinking self and a feeling self interesting to investigate and that AF identifies the lose of the feeling self as the precursor to the lose of the thinking self.

It would be interesting to know how an AF person:
learns new ideas such as new concepts in maths.
Eg can an AF person imagine/conceptualize an equilateral triangle (this is a basic example but I am interested to find out how new concepts are learnt without involving any faculty that uses imagination)
Would an AF person's mind complete an incomplete word with inco plet letters.
Focusing awareness on one sense door stabilizes a "Mind" even if this mind is the jhana (if that makes sense (-)) why do you think this layer isn't created, something to do with the feeling self? or do you have any thoughts (-)) as to why.
Have you been out enough in the marketplace to be confident to say without doubt it is permanent (I know you have said it is permanent and its just that there are situations that may only arise on rare occasions)
thanks for your patience, again wonderful topic and great discussion

thank you
Jeff
Trent , modified 12 Years ago at 5/14/10 1:29 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 5/14/10 1:26 PM

RE: Insight Meditation and AF

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Jeff Grove:

I find the concept of a thinking self and a feeling self interesting to investigate and that AF identifies the lose of the feeling self as the precursor to the lose of the thinking self.


Just wanted to note that "the loss of the feeling self" is not just a precursor "to the loss of the thinking self" but that they both disappear simultaneously (if one has not already taken the thinking self out of one's experience already, via mctb-defined enlightenment). The "thinking self" is basically an "addition" to the feeling self, so it cannot operate without the feeling self.

Jeff Grove:
It would be interesting to know how an AF person:
learns new ideas such as new concepts in maths.


An AF person learns via freed intelligence (which seems more functional after the identity has been booted out than before). For example, I am currently reading a couple of books regarding behavioral economics and finding it an ease to understand the subject matter; I find learning to be fun.

Jeff Grove:
It would be interesting to know how an AF person:
Eg can an AF person imagine/conceptualize an equilateral triangle (this is a basic example but I am interested to find out how new concepts are learnt without involving any faculty that uses imagination)


The same way a person does it otherwise, except without seeing the image (or seeing a very transparent / ephemeral image). That is to say, if given a pen / pencil / computer / etc, I am able to draw an equilateral triangle (as best as I could given the tools available) and go on to describe the angles (each having 60*) and so forth. It is worth noting that Tarin and I agree that our short term memory capacity seems increased, which is nice for doing tasks like math.

Jeff Grove:
It would be interesting to know how an AF person:
Would an AF person's mind complete an incomplete word with inco plet letters.


Ys, thy mst crtnly cld.

Jeff Grove:
It would be interesting to know how an AF person:
Focusing awareness on one sense door stabilizes a "Mind" even if this mind is the jhana (if that makes sense (-)) why do you think this layer isn't created, something to do with the feeling self? or do you have any thoughts (-)) as to why.


I'm not sure I understand this question. Could you please rephrase it?

Jeff Grove:
It would be interesting to know how an AF person:
Have you been out enough in the marketplace to be confident to say without doubt it is permanent (I know you have said it is permanent and its just that there are situations that may only arise on rare occasions)


Seems to be permanent regardless of circumstance. There are qualitative differences between the PCE and an AF which differentiate the two. If, in my case, it were revealed that I had only been in a PCE and not AF (meaning, I felt / reacted to something one day, for example), then I would not be upset. There would be a bit of work to do and then all would be perfect again, presumably.

Enjoy,
Trent
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tarin greco, modified 12 Years ago at 5/14/10 3:08 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 5/14/10 3:05 PM

RE: Insight Meditation and AF

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Another debate that has been discussed here is insight practice or AF or both and if so, how to combine them?

...

Both Trent and Tarin claimed arahatship with jhana abilities before deciding to explore AF (though I believe Tarin had played around with it years ago and pre-stream entry), and both of them regularly help people with their insight practice here, and thus must see the value in these practices and conceptual frameworks or presumably wouldn't.


i see value in insight practice (as well as the conceptual framework(s) used here in conjunction with it), otherwise i would not spend my time helping people who want to do them successfully (and all the better if they also have the good sense to be aiming at an actual freedom for themselves).


Daniel M. Ingram:

Richard also explored various insight practices and apparently had some success with them pre-AF. However, others didn't, though many had long meditation/spiritual questing histories in various traditions before coming to AF.


while richard has never learnt from or practised meditation in any school or tradition, and yet has has described getting path, as well as entering nirodha samapatti, both of which presupposes jhana experience (as does all the psychic phenomena he also reported experiencing during his enlightened years).


Daniel M. Ingram:

Thus, the question remains: is it easier, in their opinion, to see the value of AF and to attain AF after having become accomplished insight practitioners, (...)


it is probably easier to appreciate the value of actual freedom (and possibly easier to attain it) after becoming more accomplished at insight practice, unless, along the way, one gets one's head stuck up one's ass (about what is and isn't possible and for what one ought and ought not to strive) to such a degree as to cause one to overlook the value of an actual freedom, and to mistake it for a foolish ideal one may have once had (but have now wised up to its impossibility/undesirability) rather than comprehending it as the living actuality that it is.

Daniel M. Ingram:

(...) and how would they recommend that people apply the various practices and teachings of insight and AF specifically, particularly regarding timing?


i would recommend that people who want the totally suffering-less, fairytale paradise which is possible to live, here and now, start with AF and give figuring out how they're experiencing this moment of being alive a sincere go before taking up any alternate routes.

i would recommend that people who don't really care about want to do insight practice really badly get stream-entry and then figure out what they really want (which may be easier to see from there), and then take things from there.


Daniel M. Ingram:

How would they recommend that practitioners use the various frameworks and techniques available to maximize practitioners' success and happiness?


i would recommend that practitioners care more about the results than the methods they use to achieve them.


Daniel M. Ingram:

Specifically, some of the frameworks and emphases are seemingly at odds to various degrees, such as looking into suffering and also cultivating felicitous feelings, as well as inhabiting this flesh and blood body and noticing the transience of the sensations that make up the whole sense field. Insight practices emphasize causality and things happening on their own, whereas AF emphases autonomy and things happening on their own. I think that the word "autonomy" requires some further definition here so that it can be compared and contrasted with the way no-self is used in insight practices.


the actualism method doesn't emphasise 'inhabiting this flesh and blood body', it emphasises noticing how your direct experience of this moment of being alive is *as* this flesh and blood body... and that any experience of feeling is a separation (no matter how refined) from this moment as it exactly is (which is where the sense of being an identity which can 'inhabit' the body comes from).

Daniel M. Ingram:

Further, insight practices tend to emphasize bare sensate investigation in a way that ignores being caught up in one's stuff, whereas AF emphasizes noticing emotions/feelings and then noticing the causes of how they arose and eliminating those causes, much as the sutta on the Removal of Distracting Thoughts, MN 20. These are clearly different, though related.


both ways are clearly useful. the relevant questions for the discerning practitioner are, then:

how do you want to live your everyday life?
what is the absolutely optimal way of living you consider to be possible .. and are you willing to find a way to live it full-time?

tarin
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Jeff Grove, modified 12 Years ago at 5/16/10 5:49 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 5/14/10 6:27 PM

RE: Insight Meditation and AF

Posts: 310 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
"Just wanted to note that "the loss of the feeling self" is not just a precursor "to the loss of the thinking self" but that they both disappear simultaneously (if one has not already taken the thinking self out of one's experience already, via mctb-defined enlightenment). The "thinking self" is basically an "addition" to the feeling self, so it cannot operate without the feeling self."

Yes thanks I need to apply more thought before mailing this.
I have noted that you can
lose the thinking self but the feeling self can remain;
lose the feeling self and you automatically lose your thinking self as well,

So the feeling self may be the source of both "selves" whereas my prior thought has been that the conceptual mind (if its possible to mix terminologies) created both the thinking self and the feeling self, and in the past I would have thought that since this second self cannot be separated out of the conceptual mind it is just be another label or "View" conditioning experience.

But this may disregard what has be pointed out as the the experience of Being (or life) which is identified as the Feeling Self.

This would also be that a pure sensory experience is one without the experience of Being (or life) which may identify it as different from a non dual experience or are they just more concepts,

I would have described Non dual experience as IS Being not "my being" not my feeling self, its like asking to find a my center (feeling of being) in a centerless view.

This would be hard to definitely know what is identified as Being or Life until you lose it? - wonderful.

If I now look for a (my) feeling of being it just creates a separation an empty "feeling" center in space, with movement to and from objects but I also see this as just conditioning of awareness. Awareness watching awareness.

The usual distractions of life create this center and although it is seen as empty, I can still get caught up with the suffering the thinking mind can still arise and the silence, space, stillness and knowing is interrupted if I am not aware, it would be interesting to know that this subtle center and all the grasping and aversion that goes with it could be not just seen through but removed

The interesting thing is that when I ask myself HAIETMOBA i don't experience it as an emotion or passion but I experience this moment as the sound of the car coming down the street, the tactile sensation of my shoes on my feet, the vividness of the landscape before my eyes, the physical energy on the crown, third eye, throat, heart, stomach and small of the back. I guess these are the experiential energies which drive the emotive system called the feeling self.

The traditional Buddhist view of the self involves 5 skandhas - form (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching) feeling, perceptions, mental formations (violation) and consciousness, grouping this into Feeling Self and Thinking Self seems like more concepts or a different View. I would think that emotions and passions would involve contact, feeling and perception (which distorts feeling), could this account for the Feeling self and mental formations (violation) and consciousness the Thinking Self. Contact, feeling and perception would still require consciousness to create a Feeling Self but Thinking Self wouldnt require any of the skandhas I've listed for the Feeling Self. Maybe I am trying to fit a square peg in a round hole by trying to compare AF and Buddhism but it is interesting to look at as it may give insight into why the lose of Feeling Self means the lose of the Thinking Self simultaneously and as to what is left.

I would like to explore some questions regarding the purpose of cultivating felicitous feelings and conditioning awareness.

From my current understanding it seems that in seeing through the self removing the separation and the movement

towards and away from an object, in experiencing non dual awareness one is freed from a range of feelings in that moment and there is a newness to experience.

I am trying to understand the aim in cultivating felicitous feelings (I can understand tracing feelings to the root, objectifying them and seeing the emptiness). Creating these imaginary moments (recall previous moment of happiness) to condition awareness (do they not also re-enforce the self).

Do you think this an essential part of the practice?
What do you believe this cultivation brings to the AF experience?
Any ideas if AF could be achieved with HAIETMTBA alone and without this cultivation (is this not conditioning?)

I know these questions are just distractions for the inquisitive mind but this is a fascinating topic so again I thank you for your patience as I stumble through this topic

more questions to follow on jhanas after I apply more thought (-))

Jeff
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Steph , modified 12 Years ago at 5/16/10 2:40 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 5/16/10 2:40 PM

RE: Insight Meditation and AF

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
I'm intrigued by this Actual Freedom thing.

When I first started noting/insight practice a couple months ago some of the more interesting experiences came about when I dropped the noting and did something more along the lines of choiceless awarness. Even upon getting into Equanimity, practice that seemed the most "successful" was when I was simply aware of what was coming and going, without the noting. I wonder then, at that point, what its purpose is. Regardless of my playing Referee, my biological functions continue undisturbed, sensations still arise and vanish. In noting and labeling a tingle, vibration, etc.. if there is awareness of it, why the need to note? It seems to add excess processing to what happens on its own. Is there a lack of trust in natural occurances or an assumption that it will all cease to continue if there is not a deliberate attempt at recognition?

Anyway, just some thoughts I'm throwing out there for now.

Tarin - I know you're traveling and don't expect you'll be chillin at the computer.. but if/when you're up for it, I'd like to discuss AF with you. Perhaps if we catch each other on chat or when you get back.

Trent - Would also like to discuss with you.

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Steph