A major pitfall of the noting technique

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Jason Snyder, modified 7 Years ago at 1/27/15 11:14 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/27/15 10:59 PM

A major pitfall of the noting technique

Posts: 186 Join Date: 10/25/13 Recent Posts
Some may detect heavy influence from Burbea's new book in this question...here goes. 

It seems to me that the main benefit of noting is that it allows one to objectify and disembed the apparent "I" from experience. Fine and good.

But it seems to me that there is also a major pitfall. By noting experience, we are making it solid, concrete. For example - there is tingling in the chest - we are turning it into "anxiety", which has a whole host of connotations and associations attached to it. Or even labeling "itching" - we are taking what were pulses of sensation and aggregating them up into "some thing". In other words, while we might be disembeding from the apparent subject, realizing that it is not self and empty, but we are simulataneously reifying raw experience into an apparent object and bestowing upon it inherent existence. Taking a step forward and then a step back (if the goal is to realize the emptiness of both subject and object, the latter of which I hadn't thought of until reading Burbea's book). 

Now I am guessing some people will say that the trick is to note experience as a purely practical matter, while keeping in mind that the note is provisional and is not to be taken seriously. I think this is very difficult in practice. By noting something it seems that I am - even subconsciously - believing in it. Sometimes we can trick ourselves, and sometimes we are too clever by half. 

Thoughts?
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bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 3:31 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 3:31 AM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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I don't worry about that. Experience remains impermanent whether or not I note it. Anicca isn't that easy to defeat.  emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 8:02 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 8:02 AM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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Remember that Daniel is talking about very fast noticing. Rob Burbea is talking about people who reify time with the practice. That's why he's good at reminding us of Nagarjuna's arguments about the lack of inherent existence. If one notes and believes that the measurement of time is a concrete solid thing, instead of a memory convention, they can get stuck. If one actually falls into cessation with noting then they did it properly. I would read "Mental Sensations as Echoes" in MCTB 2 which is well written.

Noting has many other pitfalls as pointed out here:

http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-articles/articles/mental-noting/

For me at one point it was solidfying a self that is noting. Noting intentions and the intention to pay attention can help with the feeling that a conceptual self is controlling meditation.
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Jason Snyder, modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 9:40 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 9:40 AM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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@ Pawel K

Thanks, this is good idea, but it seems to me that what you are describing is noticing finer and finer grains of experience. My concern is applying the label itself is subtly reifying it in our subconsious. Perhaps a good place to start and then quickly abandon ones concentration gets high?
x x, modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 9:43 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 9:41 AM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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In a way, noting gets you in the ballpark. It's a first step. The neat thing is there is a natural intelligence that investigates further on it's own and begins to see the actual nature of anxiety, self, etc.

Some noting meditators think that they are making awakening happen by the words they choose or by what they look for. They take the attitude that they can "hack" enlightenment. Actually, that's a little bit of the neurotic self trying to control the procress.

I think it's actually something that is much more non-conscious, much more subtle, which happens with time spent on the cushion. The point of noting is to keep you active and investigating, but a lot of what happens is organic and developmental and cannot be forced. That's why the number one indicator of likelihood of success is: does the person have a regular sitting practice.

edit: so rather than thinking of the subconsicous as a hidden trap that will prevent progress, have a bit of confidence in the natural intelligence of the mind.
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Jason Snyder, modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 9:48 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 9:48 AM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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@ Richard

I like your point about time. I have been experimenting with the sense of time recently - I have had great success noticing the subtle grasping involved, and gaining direct insight that time is empty. But I also remember Burbea talking about reifying more than just time. He also talks about reifying the apparent "object" as well. At some point one has to realize that even the object doesn't inherently exist. 

Your advice is good about drawing attention to the apparent noter. 
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Jason Snyder, modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 9:51 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 9:51 AM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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@ xx

Yes, I have definitely found that following my intuition is the way to go. But I only realized after reading Burbea's book that I was reifying objects more than I should. 
x x, modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 10:44 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 10:44 AM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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It's a good book, for sure.
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Dada Kind, modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 10:55 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 10:55 AM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 11:43 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 11:30 AM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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Jason Snyder:
It seems to me that the main benefit of noting is that it allows one to objectify and disembed the apparent "I" from experience. Fine and good.
The actual noting part is to keep the mind from wandering off into story. Otherwise take the training wheels off and notice sensations without the noting part....but realize there are many times when you need to downshift and go back noting at different times.

Jason Snyder:
But it seems to me that there is also a major pitfall. By noting experience, we are making it solid, concrete.
There are two overlays to sensations...Permanency and Self (identification, ownership, possession) These two things point to the "process" that needs to be shut down and does get shut down at each path. The "process" seems to be running in the subconscious but the effects can be sensed by looking to sensations and noticing that there are several things built into each and every one of them.
Jason Snyder:
For example - there is tingling in the chest - we are turning it into "anxiety", which has a whole host of connotations and associations attached to it.
This is noticing patterns of sensations combining....this is excellent, see each step of the pattern and each part that makes up the composite. Look for the overlay in this too...is there anything permanent or "Me"?
Jason Snyder:
Or even labeling "itching" - we are taking what were pulses of sensation and aggregating them up into "some thing". In other words, while we might be disembeding from the apparent subject, realizing that it is not self and empty, but we are simulataneously reifying raw experience into an apparent object and bestowing upon it inherent existence. Taking a step forward and then a step back (if the goal is to realize the emptiness of both subject and object, the latter of which I hadn't thought of until reading Burbea's book). 
Again notice this is happening anyway, whether you like it or not....notice that is what you do and look to the constituent parts that make this up....then look for the overlay -anything permanent or "Me"?
Jason Snyder:
Now I am guessing some people will say that the trick is to note experience as a purely practical matter, while keeping in mind that the note is provisional and is not to be taken seriously. I think this is very difficult in practice.
This is a training of the mind to look closely without getting lost in thoughts....it either works for you or not
Jason Snyder:
By noting something it seems that I am - even subconsciously - believing in it. Sometimes we can trick ourselves, and sometimes we are too clever by half. 
Yes, you are believing in something....subconsciously....already. Look closely, look closer, can you find the overlay? If so, feel into it and stay with it until it disolves....again and again. If not just notice what you can, however you can, as much as you can, whenever you can.
The actual training to look closely at things takes on a quality in and of itself after a while. This will allow it to happen on it's own when and where it will do the most good.
Good luck,
~D
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Nikolai , modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 2:16 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 2:11 PM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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I stopped noting post 2nd perception changing cessation. I wouldn't worry about it since you are aware of the pitfalls. You can learn much by becoming a master fabricater of objects as well as how to cease creating 'objects'. Use it  if it is useful and then let it go when it ceases being useful. 

Nick
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Jason Snyder, modified 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 8:38 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/28/15 8:38 PM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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@ Dream Walker 
@ Nikolai

This is all great advice. Thanks guys!
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 1/30/15 5:44 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/30/15 3:30 PM

RE: A major pitfall of the noting technique

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If this has already been covered, apologies. At a certain point the non-solidity of previous seemingly solid phenomena becomes evident without any effort to induce. Before that point it seems noting is useful if practiced correctly because in my experience the noting of phenomena that seemed solid happened alongside perceiving that phenomena and with continued practice and refined perception I began to see very clearly that that which I was perceiving as solid, stable, permanent was not, and in this there was a great degree of freedom that I had not come across at all in my previous several years doing concentration and anapanasati practice. Not to say noting is superior, it only was more useful for me at the time I was practicing it heavily.

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