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Noting and the 3Cs
Answer
6/28/14 11:57 PM
Hi Good People,

So I've been practicing Mahasi style noting for the past month as my main practice, both on the mat and off (while driving, waiting in line, walking, cleaning the house, etc.)

I've been enjoying the practice and feel I'm making progress.  However, one question has come up in reading various threads about Noting and the 3Cs.  I've read in a bunch of contexts folks saying how important it is to see the 3Cs while noting.  Can someone explain what this means during the actual practice?   ie. does this mean people are actually noting "seeing, walking, suffering, hearing, no-self, impermance, seeing, smelling, etc."

When I note, I do notice often how impermanent things are (ie. the quick flux of my perception/attention, the arising and quick passing of various emotions, thoughts, senses, etc)  I also note dissatisfaction as well from time to time.  As for no-self, that really hasn't come up.  

Cheers,
Tom

RE: Noting and the 3Cs
Answer
6/29/14 3:42 AM as a reply to tdiggy t diggy.
yes you can note, "anicca", for example when you notice the impermanant nature of anything.  in fact, i have found that dedicating a part of your sit to looking for "permanance" helpful.  that is, look for something that does not have the nature of impermanance.

noting progresses naturally from the obvious to the subtle.  things like itching, pulsing, pressure generally give way eventually to things like "feeling tone", and "mind states", "space" ...

the satipatthana (sp) sutta is a good example of how ever more subtle things should be noticed as you refine your skills.  it suggests that one moves from investigation of the body to feeling tone, to "mind" and then to the "contents of mind".

each person generally finds one of the three C's more attractive than the other two to investigate.  that doesn't mean you shouldn't investigate the other two as practice makes perfect but don't feel obliged to.   all of those things you mention are worthy of investigation.  good luck and keep at it.

tom

RE: Noting and the 3Cs
Answer
6/29/14 8:57 AM as a reply to tdiggy t diggy.
There seem to be different takes on that.

My take:
I have never noted 'impermanence' or 'suffering' or 'no-self-.
Just noting what's there creates the conditions for insight to arise, which is probably enough.
When I notice some characteristic or really anything about it (which you seem to describe, too), and it's really obvious, I will note 'knowing' or whatever comes up in response to it.

Very often, I only noticed that the 3 characteristics were there in great abundance after the meditation session.
Often I noticed them, but didn't realize that this was what is referred to by dukkha, anatta, anicca.

RE: Noting and the 3Cs
Answer
6/29/14 4:07 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
Thank you very much for both comments.  They are both helpful.  Would love to hear if others have any insights here.  

RE: Noting and the 3Cs
Answer
6/29/14 7:01 PM as a reply to tdiggy t diggy.
Just in speaking to my own practice, I've found impermanence to be the absolute linchpin. While unsatisfactoriness and non-self are subject to degrees of subjectivity and interpretation (at increasingly subtle levels), impermanence just completely, irrefutably is.

Impermanence is often framed as dukkha, but in experience can be absolutely delightful. I've spent more time than I care to own up to observing impermanence and imagining it to be a source of stress in a misguided attempt to follow the Buddha's line of reasoning. Truth is, there's something completely awesome about seeing sensate reality melt like ice cream on a hot day. Eventually it dawned that I had managed to miss the larger point: that imputing qualities onto phenomena that they do not possess was itself the source of stress. You can feel dejected that a particularly blissful state of absorption has ended, or you can feel delighted in witnessing sensate reality spontaneously arise and expire: same lesson, different perspective.

Likewise for non-self. Sometimes the hedonic experience of impermanence -- no matter where it's landed on the spectrum -- can really seem to inform a totally concrete, separate sense of self. Better to note this honestly than to diligently pretend it hasn't happened. Better yet, note when this sensation subsides. Impermanence is to selfing as the tide is to sand castles. On grosser levels this tends to have a sinusoidal and gradual in-and-out quality. At finer levels, self really flickers and strobes.

One last point: it's often helpful to turn the 3Cs around from "external" phenomena and apply them to awareness itself. In this way one can really get the center rocking, too.

Some of this is a bit tangential I'm sure, but it's what sprung to mind based on my own explorations along the 3Cs. 

RE: Noting and the 3Cs
Answer
6/29/14 7:36 PM as a reply to John M..
Thank you.  In my own sitting practice, I can clearly see impermanence as well.  Its the "in your face" of the 3Cs for me too.  Things come and go non-stop.  

I see suffering or unsatisfaction as well.  But frankly not as clearly as impermanence.  Suffering/unsatisfactoriness arises in view at times in tandem or close to impermance ("ahh, that nice visual/state is gone, that's too bad."  "Good things come to end, that sucks.")  So I suppose I can kind of see to some degree in my practice how impermanence and suffering go hand and hand. but again, I'd say duhka is not as clear at all as impermanence in my noting.

Non-self remains somewhat of a mystery to me in my practice.  I've read the descriptions in various contexts, and can understand to some extent rationally what non-self points to, but I don't "see" it in my experience yet.

RE: Noting and the 3Cs
Answer
6/30/14 1:29 AM as a reply to tdiggy t diggy.
tdiggy t diggy:
So I suppose I can kind of see to some degree in my practice how impermanence and suffering go hand and hand. but again, I'd say duhka is not as clear at all as impermanence in my noting.

If it's not clear, do yourself a favour and don't strain for it like I did. Deliberately steering your inquiry toward dukkha is just another layer of fabrication, and an unpleasant one at that -- no sense engendering suffering over a perceived inability to discern suffering.

If you can't discern any dukkha -- great! Use those calmer waters to deepen your concentration and cultivate stillness to the point where subtler aspects of dukkha do present.

Non-self remains somewhat of a mystery to me in my practice.  I've read the descriptions in various contexts, and can understand to some extent rationally what non-self points to, but I don't "see" it in my experience yet.

The 3Cs form a line of inquiry meant to disabuse us of the habitual notion of an independent, separate, abiding self. So, don't look to it as a view to be adopted so much as an exercise to be performed. Rational thought and intellectual gymnastics are of little help where this is concerned. Keep looking toward meditative experience as the real acid test and you're bound to be on the right track.

RE: Noting and the 3Cs
Answer
6/30/14 11:14 AM as a reply to tdiggy t diggy.
tdiggy t diggy:
I see suffering or unsatisfaction as well.  But frankly not as clearly as impermanence.  Suffering/unsatisfactoriness arises in view at times in tandem or close to impermance ("ahh, that nice visual/state is gone, that's too bad."  "Good things come to end, that sucks.")  So I suppose I can kind of see to some degree in my practice how impermanence and suffering go hand and hand. but again, I'd say duhka is not as clear at all as impermanence in my noting.

Try this-
Sensations do not observe other sensations; sensations observed are not you - No-self
Sensations do not last - Impermanence
Sensations do not satisfy and sometimes the stress is clearly visible - Dhukka
Just see these as they arise....is it me? did it last? did it satisfy?
Good luck,
~D