Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk John Power 2/20/15 9:46 AM
RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk Jenny 2/20/15 2:04 PM
RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk John Power 2/22/15 2:34 AM
RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk Jenny 2/22/15 11:02 PM
RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk bernd the broter 2/23/15 2:42 PM
RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk Jenny 2/24/15 1:22 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk Jenny 2/24/15 7:53 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk Jenny 2/24/15 8:02 AM
RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk Laurel Carrington 2/24/15 8:20 AM
RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk Jenny 2/24/15 8:56 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk John Power 2/25/15 2:30 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk John Power 3/25/15 10:59 AM
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John Power, modified 7 Years ago at 2/20/15 9:46 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/20/15 9:46 AM

Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Posts: 95 Join Date: 3/16/14 Recent Posts
Heey Everyone!

I asked the following question in the 'Q&A with Kenneth Folk' thread but because there are much other questions that are asked in between I started a new thread. You can read the article 'Jhana and Nana' here: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/Jhana+and+%C3%91ana+/en

My question

Hello Kenneth,

You wrote in the article 'Jhana and Nana'
That
pre- and post- fourth nana yogi's need to follow two different
instructions. A pre- fourth nana yogi should put his focus in
penetrating the object. A post- fourth nana yogi must concentrate.

My question
I
am planning to do a home retreat for a longer duration, maybe 30 days. I
am following the mahasi sayadaw noting technique. In the retreats I
have been to I just kept noting and noticing everthing that I would
experience. During sits I would take the abdomen as my ancher and would
stay there but with the intension to notice the characteristiscs (four
elements). During walking I would stay with the feet and notice the
characteristiscs. I wouldn't switch to more concentration practice but
just follow the same technique and instructions during the whole
retreat. The article is from 2009, do you still hold the opinion that
post- fourth nana yogi's should concentrate more? Do you suggest that
when I cross the A&P, I should do more samatha practice like
counting my breath or using a mantra to boost the concentration?
I
get the idea that concentration is important, but isn't it key to
understand what is happening in your experience? Or is the ability to
understand your experience automatic after your have crossed the A&P
and is it just a matter of concentration, so you can see deeper?

Thanks in advance for your answer!

Kenneths responds
Hi John,

Sorry to take so long to get to your question. I just
looked at the essay you mentioned, and I don't think I could do any
better now. Here's the link:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/Jhana+and+%C3%91ana+/en

So,
yes, if you are working toward the arising and passing away phase,
focus on "penetrating the object," which means to look carefully at some
aspect of your experience and watch it break down into its component
parts. If the sensations of the rise and fall of the abdomen are the
object, for example, break the experience down into pressure, warmth,
coolness, tightness, release of tension, softness, hardness, expansion,
contraction, etc. How big is the area of sensation? How long does it
last? Is it changing? Does it go away? Does it get stronger or weaker?
Investigating your experience with these simple questions in mind will
bring you to the all-important 4th Insight Knowledge, which is the
beginning of true vipassana and the doorway to the Paths.

Having
attained the A&P, the project is to learn to concentrate, which
means to develop the skill of non-distractedness. This is a big job,
because it's so dynamic. Things are changing all the time, so learning
to be non-distracted isn't something you can learn once; you have to
keep learning it over and over again in different situations. It can be
done, though, and it's well worth doing.

Post A&P, the mind
has gotten the knack of penetrating the object, and it will do so
automatically. So all you have to do is concentrate, and you will
eventually move through the remaining insight knowledges toward Stream
Entry.

So now my question is when practicing Mahasi Sayadaw style, how do you change your technique to focus more on concentration after the A&P? Normally during a retreat I note (label) sensations as fast as I can and some I just notice but are to fast to put in words. During meditation I stay with the abdomen and only when some other sensation caught my attention I note it and return to my breath. The same with walking, but then using the feet as an anker. So is the differents between before and after the A&P, that after the A&P you just put your attention at the abdomen/feet without investigation but just with the intention to stay there? Like samatha practice you just don't investigate the elements, only put your attention on an object?

An other question: do you suggest switching to a mantra or metta, after the A&P to boost the concentration? Or just stay with the breath?

I would appreciate your help, because I am planning a retreat for a longer duration like 30 days and my goal is SE.
Thanks in advance!
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/20/15 2:04 PM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Hi, John,

This is a good question, which shows that you are really paying attention.

I've never been much of a Mahasi-style noter, but I did try it via Ingram and quickly crossed the A&P and entered into two rounds of some really hard Dark Night stages. I do resort to slow noting when crossing into very difficult territory, but do so rarely and temporarily.

Daniel has in the past stated, "Noting is for kindergartners." What does he mean by this, given that he's a Mashasi fan?

Well, after you have seen things arise and pass away clearly, then you are "on the ride." Having crossed the A&P Event means you can and should relax, widen, and open up the "object-focus" perspective of your practice to other possibilities of what it means to take that object as such.

Specifically, I found that I got more out of practice after A&P by dropping the labeling subtask of noting altogether. Instead of noting, I just opened myself to "noticing" everything in a wider, more inclusive, let-it-happen kind of way. Let reality show itself to you, for it certainly will. The labeling was disrupting, obfuscating, and slowing down my bare "noticing." Even if I took a specific visual object as object of meditation, I opened myself to letting that center become murky as the periphery became jarring and clear; I opened to noticing that shift to the periphery in an accepting way, in a way that allowed that to become the object.

So instead of effortfully and precisely attacking the official object with your 3C agenda and arsensal of "noting" technique, you can relax and let your mind rest openly in its "natural" state. Your task then is to use only a tiny amount of pointed effort and to use that, paradoxically, to remain truly receptive, by which I mean simply present and undistracted from what you are there to observe as happening on its own. The emphasis moves away from effortful, pinpointed attack and control from your side, and more toward allowing the dynamics of reality to show up from its side to a fully present (but not overcontroling) you. 

The distinction that became especially pronounced after stream entry for me was this: I found that I did not have to "apply" the Three Characteristics in my sits, or even go looking for the Three Illusions to "penetrate." In fact, doing so was a distraction, meaning hindrance. In my experience, as you enter into the Dark Night, if you just do and persist with a calm, open jhana practice and can make it to the third and perhaps fourth, which are wide and soft-focus this way, then the Three Illusions will show up on their own soon enough, you will see them, and then you will begin seeing into and through them quite naturally if you are just committed to the session. I suspect that when people simply keep on with fast noting, attacking the object with determination, then Equanimity is lost or, more likely, thwarted from ever arising.

So, yes, at least in my experience, the technique has to shift--and especially radically so in Equanimity stage. I would reread over and over again the Equanimity chapter in MCTB before you go on retreat. It is tricky territory, which is why people here refer to it as the "Equanimity trap." You need to really study that chapter so that when you hit it in a retreat situ, you'll know what to do (and not do).

Have you read Part I from MCTB2 yet? If not, please do. It should help you prepare, too. 

Let us know what happens!

Jenny

Meantime, here is a pertinent part, and one of my favorite passages in the new edition so far:

Effort and Surrender (From Draft MCTB2 by Daniel M. Ingram) 

I realize that most people go into meditation because they are looking for stability, happiness, and comfort in the face of their own existence. I have spent many years cultivating extreme experiential instability, careful awareness of the minutia of my suffering, and the clear perception that I don’t even exist as a separate or continuous entity. Why these activities would be a good idea is a very complex topic that I will continue to address, but I can honestly say that these practices are without doubt the sanest actions I have ever taken in my life.

A useful teaching is to conceptualize reality as six sense doors: touch, taste, seeing, hearing, smelling, and thought. It may seem odd to consider thought as a sense door, but this is actually much more reasonable than the assumption that thoughts are an “us” or “ours,” or in complete control. Just treat thoughts as more sensations coming in that must be understood to be impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not self. In this strangely useful framework, there are not even ears, eyes, skin, a nose, a tongue, or a mind. There are just sensations with various qualities, some of which may imply these things for an instant.

For day-to-day reality, the specifics of our experience are certainly important, but for insight into the truth of things in meditation they largely aren’t. Said another way, these specifics are neither the object of meditation, the causes of the object of meditation, nor the significance of the object of meditation. It is the truth of the sensations that make up that “object” which must be understood. So don’t get lost in the drama and stories, but know this: Things come and go, they don’t satisfy, and they ain’t you. This is the truth, and it is just that simple. If you can avoid enmeshment in the content and know these simple, fundamental truths, moment to moment, some other wordless and profound understanding may arise on its own.

Thoughts, the breath, and all of our experience don’t quite seem to be in our control, do they? That’s it! Know this, moment to moment. Don’t struggle too much with reality, except to break the bad habits of being lost in stories, having poor concentration, and lacking understanding of the Three Characteristics of experience.
Allow vibrations to show themselves, and tune in to the sense that you don’t have to struggle for them to arise. Reality just continues to change on its own. That’s really it. Investigate this way again and again until you get it. Notice that this arising, this change, applies to each and every sensation that you experience, including all of the core ones that we think are really “us,” such as effort, those associated with the process of attending itself, analysis, investigation, and questioning.

Bare experience is just dancing, flickering color, form, energy, and space. Try to stay close to this level when you practice, the level of the simple, direct, obvious, literal. Whenever you are instead lost in interpretation beyond this level, that ain’t insight meditation, as much as people would like it to be. Have I said this enough yet? Okay, then.

Although we can direct the mind to penetrate into phenomena with great precision and energy, we can also sit quietly and allow reality to just show itself as it is. Both perspectives are important and valuable, and being able to draw on each along the way can be helpful. Said another way, we can realize that reality is already showing itself, settle quietly into this moment, and be clear and precise about it. Note well: Numerous people will totally miss these last paragraphs, get all into powering into their experience with everything they have, and just keep plowing on that way like mad bulldozers or rabid oxen. But really this practice is about noticing that everything shows itself on its own naturally, without any effort on the part of anyone, so any effort finally must lead to this quiet, easy, natural understanding.

There is a seeming paradox here relating to effort and surrender. In many ways this paradox is at the heart of the spiritual life. A lot of advice is available on this point, but in terms of insight meditation practice, I say this:
If, when meditating, you can perceive the arising and passing of phenomena clearly and consistently, then you are exerting enough effort. Once you can tell what is mind and what is body, then that extent of effort is, for the most part, enough. Allow the reality to show itself naturally, and surrender to it. If not, or if you are lost in stories, then some teachings in subsequent chapters may help. Part of your job is to figure out how gentle you can be and still perceive things extremely clearly. Doing so takes fine-tuning and usually in the beginning entails some overshooting, but remember that part of your goal is this efficiency, this delicacy, this subtlety.

Here is one more little carrot: It is rightly said that to deeply understand any two of the Three Characteristics simultaneously is to understand the third, and this understanding is sufficient to cause immediate first awakening.
John Power, modified 7 Years ago at 2/22/15 2:34 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Wow Jenny, I really appreciate your effort to write such a helpful post!
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/22/15 11:02 PM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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John Power:
Wow Jenny, I really appreciate your effort to write such a helpful post!

Sure thing. Best wishes for your retreat. 
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bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 2/23/15 2:42 PM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Hi,
I guess, both Kenneth and Jenny make this much more complicated than necessary.
Noting is a fine technique and there's no reason to abandon it after A&P. Personally I can't see any reason to abandon it even later.

The trick is to keep the balance between insight and concentration.
A teacher from the Ajahn Tong tradition (Mahasi derivative) told me that most people go wrong by noting a million things but not being grounded in the meditation object.
So if you're unsure if this is what you're doing, try this rule:
When distractions arise, only note 3 things at max. After that go back to noting 'rising, falling', i.e. the belly, again.

In the breaks do note movements and positions, such as 'standing, lowering, sitting, intention to lie down', moving, lifting, etc. as noting those is probably more grounding. Noting lots of thoughts only sends you faster to confusion.
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 1:22 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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I guess, both Kenneth and Jenny make this much more complicated than necessary.
Noting is a fine technique and there's no reason to abandon it after A&P. Personally I can't see any reason to abandon it even later.

I guess it depends on what you mean by "complicated." I'm talking about simplifying. And the text in the blue isn't from me or Kenneth; It is by Daniel Ingram (MCTB2). So this is coming from the Mashasi fan himself.

If you note in Equanimity, that will not be easy going at all for getting Stream Entry. Have you gotten paths, bernd, by noting throughout equanimity? I've not heard of anyone's doing so. Anyway, it is much easier, and simpler to loosen and back off the attack mode. 

John, I recommend that you read all this in MCTB, chapter on Equanimity.
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Nikolai , modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 3:15 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Jenny:
If you note in Equanimity, that will not be easy going at all for getting Stream Entry. Have you gotten paths, bernd, by noting throughout equanimity? I've not heard of anyone's doing so. 


I noted right up until the first cessation.

Nick 
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bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 6:01 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Jenny:

I guess it depends on what you mean by "complicated."
By complicated I mean "pretend that doing anything other than the simple noting technique correctly is necessary for insight to arise".

I'm talking about simplifying. And the text in the blue isn't from me or Kenneth; It is by Daniel Ingram (MCTB2). So this is coming from the Mashasi fan himself.

I'm not talking about that text, I'm talking about the part you wrote yourself. In the MCTB2 part you quoted there's nothing in there about quitting noting or somehow reacting to Equanimity.

If you note in Equanimity, that will not be easy going at all for getting Stream Entry. Have you gotten paths, bernd, by noting throughout equanimity? Yeah, I guess so.

I've not heard of anyone's doing so. Anyway, it is much easier, and simpler to loosen and back off the attack mode. 

If you keep noting in Equanimity, that will be in fact very easy and will continue to deepen the practice.  In Ajahn Tong's tradition, at this stage they introduce 12 additional touching points on the body just because noting becomes so much easier. This has also nothing to do with 'attack mode'. Noting is a relaxed method. (maybe 'fast-noting' isn't, whatever that is. I don't 'attack' objects either.) If it's not, you're off-balance already. I've never got stuck anywhere by using noting, including Equanimity. There's a reason why entire traditions (Mahasi, Ajahn Tong) let their lay people only practice noting. These people are not stupid, narrow-minded or nasty and want to keep you off your SE lol. They are just doing it right.
btw re-reading this it may come off as if I had some real authority on this subject. I don't. I'm just baffled to over and over read the same stuff that's flying in the face of what's obvious: The observation that the traditionals still thrive on just using noting.
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 7:53 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Nikolai .:
Jenny:
If you note in Equanimity, that will not be easy going at all for getting Stream Entry. Have you gotten paths, bernd, by noting throughout equanimity? I've not heard of anyone's doing so. 


I noted right up until the first cessation.

Nick 

Oh, interesting.

Daniel advocates "noticing" as practice advances, says "noting is for kindergarteners." I've only heard before of people's going into some kind of fixed reverie or kind of daydream in equanimity. Anyway, in Equanimity I do recommend what MCTB says, simply because it worked for me, twice so far.
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 8:02 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Do what works for you. I'm simply giving John my best advice from my own experience and what I understand and read Daniel's advice to be.

The blue text clearly warns against continuing to "bulldoze" through with effortful practice (ie, noting). Very clearly, it  advocates open receptivity, and this is emphasized particularly in the Equanimity chapter.  And cessation comes out of Equanimity.

The blue text also warns that people will miss what he's saying in these paragraphs and go right on with overshooting.

It is interesting that Nick noted right up to cessation. 
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Laurel Carrington, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 8:20 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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I gave up noting at Equanimity during my sits, but continued to note during the rest of the day. For awhile I did what many people do, which is slip back and forth between Reobservation and Equanimity. So what typically would happen is I'd begin a sit with focus on the breath and counting 3x10, then note for awhile, and then gradually drop the noting. So maybe I didn't give it up entirely, but I would shift into open awareness after everything started vibrating. 
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 8:56 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Daniel M. Ingram from "Equanimity" (Draft MCTB2, unedited):
It is common in these times to adopt ways of practicing that are familiar and worked in previous stages, such as powering things like worked in the A&P, or really noting fast like we may have tried to do in Re-observation, or going for really fine details about small things like we did building up to the A&P, or some other gamey strategy that we borrowed from an earlier part of the path. Few of these are likely to help, and most will hinder things, but plenty will try them again and again until they learn this, and there is something to be said for learning for ourselves by trial and error. As Mahasi Sayadaw says in Practical Insight Meditation, we may feel that the noticing and the objects are not close enough, not recognizing yet that the objects knew themselves where they were and on their own, and the noticing is just another set of sensations.

Daniel has gone further in this direction than MCTB1 does, to the broadly inclusive noticing and surrendering. Again from the Equanimity chapter, we have the following:
Like so many categories of experience we gradually got used to in order to get to this point, these Core Processes learn to be seen as they are automatically by the simple repetition of gently bringing attention to the sensations that make them up and finally nothing is left that doesn’t automatically know the truth of itself, including all the parts that were pretending to be a practitioner and a practice. These can be subtle, but in Equanimity we have the chops to do this, and they need not be blazingly strong or ultra-clear. No need to ruthlessly dissect them or catch every tiny detail of them: that sort of stuff worked well in the early stages, but this is sacrificing a bit of that for the bigger prize: wide-open, total, all-the-way through understanding. Just an ordinary, simple clarity with that natural curiosity of a fascinated child will do just fine at this phase of practice, a child who is willing to get lost in the daydream that is whatever the mind does and wherever it goes.
The chapter goes on and on in this vein, and the cessation is said to come out of a daydream-like state, a "reverie." That's exactly how it was for me, although I'm sure there are outliers to what he is talking about.
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bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 1:30 PM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Jenny:
Do what works for you. I'm simply giving John my best advice from my own experience and what I understand and read Daniel's advice to be.

The blue text clearly warns against continuing to "bulldoze" through with effortful practice (ie, noting). Very clearly, it  advocates open receptivity, and this is emphasized particularly in the Equanimity chapter.  And cessation comes out of Equanimity.

The blue text also warns that people will miss what he's saying in these paragraphs and go right on with overshooting.

It is interesting that Nick noted right up to cessation. 
Jenny, you seem to insist on this notion that somehow noting is effortful, and therefore 'attacking, aggressive, bulldozing, whatever'.
This notion is wrong.
Noting means using labels for sensations. Where's the special effort? It's not included in the technique, unless you're adding it in artificially. You can fry yourself with or without noting. You can be very unconcentrated or get lost in content with or without noting.

Now I agree that 'fast noting' sounds like a bad idea, especially at the 11th nana. If this means 'note as many things as fast as you can' then this is an example of what I mentioned in my first post as practice gone wrong.

Also, note that nowhere in these MCTB2 drafts (and in MCTB1, too) Daniel states that continuing noting practice is a bad idea. If you have some background information that this is unintentional, then these sections obviously need to be reviewed.

What is meant by "noting is for kindergarteners" is totally unclear to me. Being a kindergartener is a demanding job, so is Daniel likening meditation hindrances to stubborn spoiled brats? Really, I don't get it. (Maybe because I'm not a native english speaker.)

I have no idea what's so interesting about Nick's experience that noting does what it promises, when I and everyone else who has just stubbornly followed the traditionalists' instructions got the same unsurprising result for the last 3 generations.
Seriously, I find this to be a strange attitude, prevailing only on DhO - this idea of "I am a special flower, oh no, regular instructions won't work for me". This is obviously useless and just another sophisticated form of doubt.
Imagine just for a moment that you're a lineaged teacher in the Ajahn Tong tradition. You teach retreats most of the year. You have led hundreds of students through the first Progress of Insight and to their first fruition. Everytime you teach them the same technique, which uses noting all the way through, without exception.
And then you stumble on this weird internet forum which is DhO, you go to the frontpage and read what it's about:
  • pragmatism over dogmatism: what works is key, with works generally meaning the stages of insight, the stages
    of enlightenment, jhanas, freedom from suffering in what ways are possible, etc.
  • diligent practice over blind faith: this place is about doing it and understanding for yourself rather than believing someone else and not
    testing those beliefs out
and the next thing you read is some variant of "I have the secret trick! you have to stop noting at equanimity, otherwise you fall back to DARK NIGHT!!!111"
What then, as a teacher, would you tell your students who are asking you about DhO/MCTB? Very probably something like
"hm, dunno about MCTB. didn't read because I saw DhO and it was place of confused loonies mostly not getting anywhere who quoted MCTB saying that noting doesn't work in all parts of progress of insight.
I think it's better for you if you stay clear of this place/book and just stick to the basic technique."

By the way, if you use new unreleased MCTB2 quotes to reinforce your arguments, consider that you will be conditioning people to heavily disagree with you on anything emoticon

Regardless, here are a few arguments out of my own experience why noting is helpful still at Equanimity:
-parts of equanimity are very hard to focus. the mind slips of its object all the time. noting allows me not to go too mad over this and reassures me that I'm actually coming back to the object regularly.
-parts of equanimity are just WEIRD. noting these things as 'weird, weird, weird' or 'knowing, knowing, knowing' helps me to not get lost in this.
-the equanimity itself enables me to stay with the object (breath, sitting and body touching points) without distraction for a longer time. the dynamic is changed distinctly from the former nanas. this difference becomes very obvious when I continue noting.
-all the new 'wide-open' perspective does develop. Noticing is seen as new sensations. All of this can be noted. I would think that it would otherwise be easy to miss. It's sometimes a bit hard to find appropriate words, and "something, something, something" is probably one of my most favourite notes, but that's a perfectly fine thing to say.
-open receptivity is there. So I note what's there with open receptivity, and I note what is obvious about the experience of 'open receptivity'. No big deal really.
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Nikolai , modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 1:39 PM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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]enny, you seem to insist on this notion that somehow noting is effortful, and therefore 'attacking, aggressive, bulldozing, whatever'.
This notion is wrong.

Regardless, here are a few arguments out of my own experience why noting is helpful still at Equanimity:
-parts of equanimity are very hard to focus. the mind slips of its object all the time. noting allows me not to go too mad over this and reassures me that I'm actually coming back to the object regularly.
-parts of equanimity are just WEIRD. noting these things as 'weird, weird, weird' or 'knowing, knowing, knowing' helps me to not get lost in this.
-the equanimity itself enables me to stay with the object (breath, sitting and body touching points) without distraction for a longer time. the dynamic is changed distinctly from the former nanas. this difference becomes very obvious when I continue noting.
-all the new 'wide-open' perspective does develop. Noticing is seen as new sensations. All of this can be noted. I would think that it would otherwise be easy to miss. It's sometimes a bit hard to find appropriate words, and "something, something, something" is probably one of my most favourite notes, but that's a perfectly fine thing to say.
-open receptivity is there. So I note what's there with open receptivity, and I note what is obvious about the experience of 'open receptivity'. No big deal really.
Totally agree bernd in above quote. My experience was for years scanning in the goenka tradition, I got to High E and got taken away with the fairies and never progressed further. When i started noting all the compounding factors of equanimity and high E, that is when i made progress past that point. And it was never aggressive or attacking, noting usually slowed down a little naturally for me but I kept doing it, even noting the 3P's *** right up to entering via the dukkha door.


***three perceptions
C P M, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 2:03 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 2:03 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Posts: 218 Join Date: 5/23/13 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
Totally agree bernd in above quote. My experience was for years scanning in the goenka tradition, I got to High E and got taken away with the fairies and never progressed further. When i started noting all the compounding factors of equanimity and high E, that is when i made progress past that point. And it was never aggressive or attacking, noting usually slowed down a little naturally for me but I kept doing it, even noting the 3P's *** right up to entering via the dukkha door.


***three perceptions

Some good practical advice in this thread, thanks.  I think that "got taken away with the fairies" means that you entered some pleasant state, but I just wanted to make sure I understood correctly, and wonder if you could be more specific.
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Nikolai , modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 2:14 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 2:13 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Yeh, spaced out and immersed in the meh-ness of equanimity not investigating not paying attention further than spacing out. 8 years of it and not knowing nor having any intention of knowing what to do when getting into this territory. Suffice to say, it took noting to come back from la la land, and I was quite ready to pop.

Nick
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 2:16 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 2:16 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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This was my experience as well. Noting right up until cessation. And it was the primary practice that carried me quickly through first and second paths, supplemented with metta. I have seen people reccomend all the way through fourth, but that wasn't my experience so I can't testify to its usefulness in comparison.
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Laurel Carrington, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 8:08 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 8:08 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Hm. I got to equanimity and spaced out, and spaced out, and then one evening I felt this massive buildup happening in waves, one of which blew the top of my head off. That was It. 

Second path was different. I can't even remember what I was doing at the time; all I know is there was a blip, followed by a modest bliss wave, and that was that. I did not believe it amounted to anything until I found myself in review. 
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Jeff Grove, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 8:40 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 8:38 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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noting up to SE was the main tool for me as well
also Jenny Ive read the statement you reference in a few threads "noting is for kindergarteners" and Im wondering if you could point us to were Dan has stated this cause I can't remember reading it or the context it was in.
 Noting is a great tool if you use it as MS taught/wrote. Still use it now and then
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Piers M, modified 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 10:36 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/24/15 10:34 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Hello John,

To note or not to note, or perhaps when to and when not to seems to be an individual process judging from comments given here.  One that you have to work out for yourself. 
From a previous post: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5590456 Daniel said to me:

Daniel Ingram:

"Violent physical shaking and bright lights are the stage of the A&P, with Fear coming after that, as you describe. Thus, you have insights.

These things do commonly freak people out.

If you were in those stages, the standard advice is to realize that at that point your mind can go much faster than noting, which is slow and clunky, and drop to perceiving anything buzzing, vibrating, pulsing, all the way up and down the breath and in whatever else happens, basically without caring if the body shakes or not. It is best to practice this alone in your own room during that stage."


I've just come off a long retreat in Burma at Panditarama Forest Monastery. (Sayadaw U Pandita considered the foremost disciple of Mahasi by many). I'm pretty sure he said in one of his Dhamma talks that if a Yogi reaches the stage of experiencing very fast arising & passing of phenomena then he/she can either stop noting it with mental labels altogether (because it is happening too fast to note everything continuously) OR the yogi can note what he/she can comfortably label from time to time.
I am 99% certain he said something along those lines. I have a copy of the talks - more than 50 of them and each about an hour long. Unfortunately they also have the Burmese to listen to interspersed with the translation. Far too laborious a process to wade through for me!

However, I can tell you for certain that during one of my interviews - not with him, he is 93 and no longer interviews - but one of the appointed monk teachers, told me that during the walking meditation, I can note the "lifting-moving-placing" but I can also if so inclined just be aware (without mentally noting) of the movements and any attendant processes viz. heat, tension, pressure, aching.

~Piers
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 1:07 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 12:37 AM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Jeff Grove:
noting up to SE was the main tool for me as well
also Jenny Ive read the statement you reference in a few threads "noting is for kindergarteners" and Im wondering if you could point us to were Dan has stated this cause I can't remember reading it or the context it was in.
 Noting is a great tool if you use it as MS taught/wrote. Still use it now and then

Jeff,

Daniel has stated, "Noting is for kindergartners," orally to me twice, on two different occasions, in personal conversations. I've not ever searched to find that statement on the DhO, but he did say this to me, more than once and in those words verbatim. Maybe he meant "fast" noting, but that is not a qualification he added to his statements when we were talking. We've discussed noting by Skype and directly in person.

Here is a quotation from Daniel on a thread started by Fitter Stoke. I believe that the thread was titled something like "Help Getting to Third," meaning third path from second, but unfortunately the DhO search function doesn't seem to be working at all right now, at least for me:
Continuing to practice, and by that I mean directly seeing things arise and vanish on their own over there, however you can do that. Noting is good, direct observation of all the complexity is better, though using noting to ease into difficult patterns of sensations can be useful.
He is not talking specifically about Equanimity here, but about practicing after Second Path attainment. Anyway, yeah, he generally thinks that noting with labeling is good in the beginning and during difficult entries to new territory, but that the labeling can slow down noticing. That is sort of why I naturally dropped noting myself pretty early on: It slowed down my noticing, seemingly.

In Equanimity, for both paths I've gotten, there seemed to have to be this "forgetting," this kind of deep absorption into a daydream-like state for the fruition to happen. In a way, this was still noticing, but it was extremely different, for me, from anything that could be noted with a label without dispelling the reverie or absorption. When I read the chapter on Equanimity, Daniel, as author and practitioner and teacher, seems to be saying the same thing: that fruition is preceded by a reverie or dream-like state. I'll query him for clarification about varieties of experience as the editing of MCTB2 progresses.
John Power, modified 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 2:30 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 2:29 AM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Posts: 95 Join Date: 3/16/14 Recent Posts
This has become a popular thread. Nice to see your experiences and thank you for taking the time to write it down, it has give me more pragmatic advice and information to use in my own practise.

The following I get out of your posts.

Actually I think you didn't have(had) a very different attitude in meditation. Before A&P there is this tool 'noting' and it is very useful to learn the habit of noticing. After the A&P this habit of noticing has become more fast and automatic, so you can drop the 'noting' but this is not necessay. I think noting can be very helpful in the DN to not get dragged in your stuff. BUT: and that is what I just said about the attitude, the attitude is relax, open, awareness and investigation. So this doesn't mean noting as fast as you can and fry yourself (that is what I usually did), that doesn't work, why? Because the habit of noticing is faster then you can 'note', plus there is the phase problem between observer and the object. So for me I think that noting in a relax, open, receptive way is useful. And this is probably the noting you can do up to SE.

Is this a fair conclusion?
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 3:41 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 3:20 AM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Yes. I think what I'm getting at via my own experience getting two paths and via Daniel (esp. the new draft edition of MCTB2) is that Equanimity usually, for most people, requires a shift in technique. This is why the maps help: If you know where you are, then you know that you may need to tweak your practice technique, and you can look at that, decide, and experiment.

Some people on this thread seem to be invested in my being wrong, and in Daniel's being wrong. I'm not invested enough to argue with them. I think that the usefulness of these threads is that people gain a variety of advice and perspectives, listen to and consider them all, and then experiement to find what works for them.

So the context for my comments, which should be obvious but which I'll state for the record since apparently it is not obvious to some, is this: What I stated worked for me, for two paths, which I got in only 200 hours of meditation time and zero retreat time--just to be clear that I'm not someone who, as BB termed it, "never gets anywhere."

Nick is a much more advanced, experienced, and enlightened practitioner than I am, so I would listen seriously to any practice thing he says and advises. I think I did indicate interest in the fact that he noted to SE. I listen to him myself for my own practice considerations and reconsiderations.

My interest is due in part to the fact that in MCTB2 Daniel recommends that noting be stopped in EQ. In fact, he has a new analogy that is funny to complement the space aliens analogy earlier. He explicitly recommends laying off the noting in EQ. It is unambiguous. I coould quote this analogy, but doing so might spoil the impact of the draft here when it is edited and hits the draft publication site. If people want the quote, I'll ask Daniel if it is okay to steal that thunder here. It is not even edited yet.

So here are the takeaways, as far as I'm concerned:

  • These DhO threads exist so that differing experiences and opinions can come to the fore. I learned about Nick's experience here. So I learned something new, too, which is as it should be and is. That's why we are all here in this together, right?
  • You can listen to everyone, consider, weigh, experiment for yourself, and report back to join in the weigh-in.
  • I'm not someone who has "gotten nowhere." In fact my progress has been remarkably fast and dramatic. I've gotten two paths in 200 hours of formal practice time. I'm also experiencing a walking-around shift in perception that is more characteristic of third path than second as I understand it. This is confusing to me in terms of path models, but nonetheless something that I'm enjoying and that seems important. So my results have been strong and efficient so far.
  • Daniel Ingram, both in personal conversations with me and in MCTB2, recommends that noting be stopped in EQ. This is a fact. People may not like the fact, may reject what he is in fact saying, but that is indeed what he is saying. This is not Jenny's (mis)interpretation of what Daniel says; it is in fact what he says. The new analogy in the EQ chapter is unambiguous about advocating a broad, inclusive, open "noticing," dropping, specifically, the "labeling." He also points out that he is on purpose not mentioning frequency of vibrations in EQ because that is too particulate of a level to fix concentration on in this stage. He advocates taking in the whole flux of things at a more "macro" level. So it is a panoramic attention rather than narrow focus; it is noticing and not noting.
Daniel further states in MCTB2 that noting was a technique he used to get most of his breaks into new territory in his early-to-middle stages of practice. But he's not noted as a main technique since 1996. So he spent most of his practice time during the final 6 years to 4th path attainment doing something other than "noting."

Chapter 4, "Teachers" section of MCTB2, which is posted out for public commentary:
Sometimes people can be in places and doing practices that are in fact very different from the ones even they started with—or different from those that they are known for because of a past book or talk. The last time I did formal noting, for example, was probably sometime in 2001 or so, and that would have been only briefly, and the last time I practiced noting a lot was sometime in 1996 or so.
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 3:51 AM
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RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Hi Jenny
Do you still do any labeling now or you stopped doing it completely?

Hi, Pawel. I use it very, very rarely. My use for it these days is when I'm entering a really tough spot, where it is hard to stay on top of some intense suffering, for example. As soon as I can "get a grip," though, I drop the labeling and try to neither soothe away the suffering nor turn from it out of aversion. I try to "be" the suffering, if that makes any sense, as often words don't make sense, as you know.

I dropped noting even before I got A&P because I found it too slow for all that I was noticing: While I was making a label, I was aware that I was missing other sensations. Now I could have noted the noting, but that is a hall of mirrors, isn't it? Or is that turtles all the way down?
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Pejn , modified 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 3:54 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 3:54 AM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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For me, it is fairie-land fantasies and then cessation.
I can't even get myself to note (never could) in high-EQ and rarely do it anymore. Anapanasati makes it.
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 4:18 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 4:17 AM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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Nikolai .:
]enny, you seem to insist on this notion that somehow noting is effortful, and therefore 'attacking, aggressive, bulldozing, whatever'.
This notion is wrong.

Regardless, here are a few arguments out of my own experience why noting is helpful still at Equanimity:
-parts of equanimity are very hard to focus. the mind slips of its object all the time. noting allows me not to go too mad over this and reassures me that I'm actually coming back to the object regularly.
-parts of equanimity are just WEIRD. noting these things as 'weird, weird, weird' or 'knowing, knowing, knowing' helps me to not get lost in this.
-the equanimity itself enables me to stay with the object (breath, sitting and body touching points) without distraction for a longer time. the dynamic is changed distinctly from the former nanas. this difference becomes very obvious when I continue noting.
-all the new 'wide-open' perspective does develop. Noticing is seen as new sensations. All of this can be noted. I would think that it would otherwise be easy to miss. It's sometimes a bit hard to find appropriate words, and "something, something, something" is probably one of my most favourite notes, but that's a perfectly fine thing to say.
-open receptivity is there. So I note what's there with open receptivity, and I note what is obvious about the experience of 'open receptivity'. No big deal really.
Totally agree bernd in above quote. My experience was for years scanning in the goenka tradition, I got to High E and got taken away with the fairies and never progressed further. When i started noting all the compounding factors of equanimity and high E, that is when i made progress past that point. And it was never aggressive or attacking, noting usually slowed down a little naturally for me but I kept doing it, even noting the 3P's *** right up to entering via the dukkha door.


***three perceptions

That is interesting. I'll query Daniel in the MCTB2 draft, which, in its current form, in the new parts he's added, is unambiguous about recommending that practitioners lay off the "labeling" in the EQ stage. He even has a new analogy that kind of makes light fun of noting as a kazoo player in a symphany.

In general, I think that what is going to surprise (shock?) people when they read MCTB2 is how much of it is informed by "softer styles of practice" and Tibetan Buddhist practice (tantric, Mahamudra, etc.) rather than Mahasi noting. Daniel still stresses noting for early stages of awakening, but even for those stages he now gives instructions for alternative "softer" styles, as he terms it. 

There is a lot more emphasis on "surrender" over against effort and energy, too. This edition is much more interesting, nuanced, mature, and paradoxical than the first. It is the work of a mature meditation master who has come fully, completely, confidently into his own as a teacher.
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bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 3:00 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/25/15 3:00 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
Jenny:

Some people on this thread seem to be invested in my being wrong, and in Daniel's being wrong. I'm not invested enough to argue with them. I think that the usefulness of these threads is that people gain a variety of advice and perspectives, listen to and consider them all, and then experiement to find what works for them.
Hello Jenny,
First, please recognize that despite my disagreement, I have no beef with you of any kind (and in fact a lot of respect for your work), so I'm not invested in you being wrong.
Second, I invite you to refer to me by my actual screen name, when it is obvious that with "some people" you mean exactly me. By the way, there is another user with the screen name "B B". That user is not me.
Third, to clarify, I'm solely invested in debunking the following false statements, regardless of authorship (and I think I have seen some of those from other posters in other threads, and rarely contradicted):
-"If you do noting, your meditation practice is the opposite of effortless"
-"If you continue noting in Eq, you will fall back to DN fast"
-"If you successfully used noting to get to Eq, suddenly doing something totally different with which you have no experience and expertise yet is a very good idea"
-"Making progress with noting is hard in Eq. Therefore getting fruitions with noting is hard."
The strongest proof for the falsehood of these statements is the same for all of those (except #3): Look at people who train in traditions which teach noting exclusively. Find out that they're routinely doing what the above statements claim wouldn't work.

I have no doubt that a million methods other than noting work, too, and maybe Daniel has come to like them very much by now (and I'm excited to read all about it in MCTB2), but that just in no way invalidates the noting technique on its own.

So the context for my comments, which should be obvious but which I'll state for the record since apparently it is not obvious to some, is this: What I stated worked for me, for two paths, which I got in only 200 hours of meditation time and zero retreat time--just to be clear that I'm not someone who, as BB termed it, "never gets anywhere."
OK, this is a misunderstanding, lacking context. I was aware of you claiming 2nd path and I'm happy for your progress.
The misunderstanding arose because I was a bit sloppy writing it: I wanted my example to reflect what it would look like specifically to a teacher from a noting tradition. I'll try again: This person would read these lines and (rightly) understand: "Here is someone who tried to practice noting. They obviously got the dynamics wrong or are one of the few people for whom noting just won't work well. So they didn't get far [with noting <- this is the crucial part I accidentally left out]. Instead of finding a competent noting teacher to bring them on the right course, they did a completely different technique instead. With this, they had more luck. I'm happy for them. But now, they claim that it is a characteristic of the noting technique that it wouldn't help beyond a certain stage, rather than their own incompetence or their mind not being suited to noting at all. I hope my students see through this confusion."

On a side note: If you assume everyone on DhO ought to be informed about your current enlightenment level, maybe you should revive your practice thread on DhO. I enjoyed reading it.

Nick is a much more advanced, experienced, and enlightened practitioner than I am, so I would listen seriously to any practice thing he says and advises. I think I did indicate interest in the fact that he noted to SE. I listen to him myself for my own practice considerations and reconsiderations.
My initial mind response to this argument was to turn it around: If Nick is a highly talented practitioner, him getting to SE via noting doesn't say much. Because then he might have got it by dancing one-legged on a jinxed broom. This is obviously ridiculous (and false as evidenced by his own experience), but there's a grain of truth here: It's really not that interesting what highly advanced or naturally talented practitioners are doing if you're not such a person. IMO The more relevant question is if noting gets lots of people to SE reliably, yes or no? My impression is that there are plenty of posts here from people who didn't make much of a fuss about the whole thing, went to a noting center, stubbornly followed the instructions, got fruition after 2-3 weeks and were happy about it. Obviously, that doesn't make an informative statistic yet, but I'm amazed how you could completely overlook all these reports.
Here is just one:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4193658#_19_message_4444735
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Nikolai , modified 7 Years ago at 2/26/15 2:29 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/26/15 2:27 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

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bernd the broter:
Nick is a much more advanced, experienced, and enlightened practitioner than I am, so I would listen seriously to any practice thing he says and advises. I think I did indicate interest in the fact that he noted to SE. I listen to him myself for my own practice considerations and reconsiderations.
My initial mind response to this argument was to turn it around: If Nick is a highly talented practitioner, him getting to SE via noting doesn't say much. Because then he might have got it by dancing one-legged on a jinxed broom. This is obviously ridiculous (and false as evidenced by his own experience), but there's a grain of truth here: It's really not that interesting what highly advanced or naturally talented practitioners are doing if you're not such a person. 

Concerning Jenny's comment, I dislike the words 'more enlightened' or 'more advanced'. These days, I prefer 'different conditioning'. This bundle of body and mind may simply have different conditioning to contendwith /observe/flow with/ignore/work with/apply insight to/etc. compared to the mind/body organism labled 'Jenny'. An ever changing conditioning resulting in the varied personality quirks within the whole 'being a human being' package. 

Concerning bernd's comment, this is something to consider when taking advice from others. We all come with differing bundles of habits and past conditioning. When taking anything I have done on board, consider the base from which i jumped. When someone else offers advice, consider the base they jumped from as well. I had 8 years of a lot of dharma bumming and much retreat time to jump from when using the approach that I did. You have to find what works for your own conditioning, which is why this place is valuable in that you get a variety of takes and approaches to experiment with to see what works. 

Nick
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/26/15 3:55 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/26/15 3:35 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
Bernd the Broter:
The misunderstanding arose because I was a bit sloppy writing it: I wanted my example to reflect what it would look like specifically to a teacher from a noting tradition. I'll try again: This person would read these lines and (rightly) understand: "Here is someone who tried to practice noting. They obviously got the dynamics wrong or are one of the few people for whom noting just won't work well. So they didn't get far [with noting <- this is the crucial part I accidentally left out]. Instead of finding a competent noting teacher to bring them on the right course, they did a completely different technique instead. With this, they had more luck. I'm happy for them. But now, they claim that it is a characteristic of the noting technique that it wouldn't help beyond a certain stage, rather than their own incompetence or their mind not being suited to noting at all. I hope my students see through this confusion."

You several times in this thread appeal to authority to circumvent (I guess) lack of experience using noting, or not using noting, in EQ to get to path and fruition. You state again just above that my own advice must come out of my own incompetence at using the noting technique at all.

Not true. Noting technique worked so well for me, in fact, that I dropped the labeling part of the noting early on in my practice, except when I'm encountering new difficult territory. I was able to perceive vibrations so quickly that the labels were unnecessary and in fact needlessly slowed down my mind. So when I say that I've never been much of a noter, that is what I mean.

This is a bit of a side issue, but I also started using Thai Forest meditation manuals because I have a rare migraine disease and the fast noting/noticing was triggering migraine. So I started working from a more solid platform of jhana so as not to fry my brain with all the vibratory "noticing." I basically uses jhana as a platform for noticing. My most frequent current practice is to vipassanize the jhana state itself.

So, just to be clear, if anything, I got the hang of "noting" so well that I very quickly didn't need the labeling part anymore and found it slowed me down. I stayed right on top of the vibratory sensations with a lot of effortful concentration, and that got me far. I am not advising people anywhere against noting practice, not at all.

What I'm saying is that in EQ I had to dramatically change my practice, as is the common assumption via MCTB. How did I change it? By studying MCTB's chapter on EQ and applying its advice, which is now more elaborate and specific in MCTB2: to stop focusing on small-scale "vibrations" and their frequency in favor of very gently and openly noticing larger swaths of interwoven, if you will, sensations--their blooming, synching up, vanishing. This kind of noticing requires that panoramic quality that 4th jhana / 11th "knowledge" provides. Now one can "note" these larger swaths and still reach fruition, as I found out here from Nick. I'd not heard that before, and that is not what I did. Nor is it what Daniel Ingram did. MCTB2 advises against noting in EQ, explicitly, specifically with regard to the labeling.

I have personal practice experience changing technique from fast, precise "noticing" (ie, "noting" but without the labeling part) before EQ to something wide, open, and inclusive in EQ. But I also have authority for this view. Therefore, I gave my suggestions to John, the OP. These authoritative sources are not just MCTB, but also MCTB2, Daniel Ingram himself in conversations about this topic, including one yesterday, and Mahasi Sayadaw's Progress of Insight. 

Authority is not irrelevant here. You have invoked it to claim that my advice to John was based on my own incompetence at noting technique; therefore, given my faulty technique, I'm no authority. You cite the name of a prominent teacher of the noting technique.

So I marshalled out the quotations from MCTB2. Then the response was that those passages don't say to stop noting, just "fast noting." Well, in the passage right after those I quoted from the draft MCTB2 EQ chapter, Daniel does go on to unambiguously instruct that "noting" (meaning "labeling" what is noticed) should be dropped in EQ. He even provides a new little fun analogy like the Shooting Space Aliens analogy. It makes light of fun of the practitioner who continues to "note" in EQ because it worked in earlier stages. This chapter will be posted out for public commentary before too long, so please engage in the public commentary if you find fault with the analogy and the advice attending it.

Note that, in the passages I did quote from MCTB2 "Equanimity" draft chapter above, Daniel himself cites authority for his instructions, and that authority is no less than Mahasi Sayadaw's Practical Insight Meditation. As Daniel and I were catching up on editorial matters yesterday in chat, I mentioned this thread and the back and forth over noting in EQ. The first thing he said, without knowing what in MCTB2 I had quoted, was that "Practical Insight Meditation says to stop noting in EQ." I don't know of a more authoritative authority than that for noting practice. 

So, although you or anyone may like to believe that I just never got the hang of noting and that is why I suggested to John that, if he should get into EQ on retreat, then he should stop noting---actually I have very good authority for that advice. So my advice is not all that crazy, based on my failures to note, or out of the blue at all. The anomaly, as I understand it from Daniel Ingram, is the person who can use noting up to SE and actually get SE despite that off-instruction use for the noting technique. Perhaps he'll chime in here on this thread when his current run of hospital shifts is complete.

As for my practice journal, I began housing it in a private space because some of my practices started going into areas I didn't necessarily want broadcast, since even people at my workplace look at this site from time to time. However, I'll consider posting at least selectively back here if it is helpful and interesting to anyone.

I have written up a complete account of my getting 2nd on Jan. 29. I'll try to post that out when I get a chance, for it has some interesting variations on getting that path--for example, major shift in perception without fruition and then fruition 6 days later. First of all, the walking-around change in perception is more characteristic of getting 3rd than getting 2nd, which raises some theoretical questions for me, although not practice questions. Secondly, I got zero fruitions between first path fruition and second, so the fact that the second-ever fruition was 6 days after the perceptual shift begs the question whether the fruition locks in the shift, or the shift drives the fruition. 

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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 2/26/15 4:10 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/26/15 4:08 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
Nikolai:
You have to find what works for your own conditioning, which is why this place is valuable in that you get a variety of takes and approaches to experiment with to see what works. 

I agree with this, and it matches part of what I last said. If there is one thing I have learned it is that no two people's paths look alike and there is a limit to what is transferable. We do have to experiment and find out what works for us individually. 

So this is space is like a buffet. You survey the offering, guess what fits your constitution, and taste of it.

Increasingly, I find in my own practice that I can borrow some tools, but my toolbox is my own, and even some of the tools in it are byproducts of accident or intuition. Intuition is an important tool, increasingly important it seems.

Sorry for the language choices; I was quickly trying to defer to you for experiences I had not had or heard tell of before.

EDITED for typos.
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bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 2/27/15 2:22 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 2/27/15 2:22 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
Jenny:
Bernd the Broter:
[...] This person would read these lines and (rightly) understand: "Here is someone who tried to practice noting. They obviously got the dynamics wrong or are one of the few people for whom noting just won't work well.[...]
You several times in this thread appeal to authority to circumvent (I guess) lack of experience using noting, or not using noting, in EQ to get to path and fruition.

Hi Jenny,
I actually did answer this question as soon as you asked, right after Nick jumped in.
To be most precise: I only practiced insight meditation doing noting as instructed in Ajahn Tong's tradition. (after trying Goenka and abandoning it, that is)
I have never practiced in Eq by dropping the noting as I pretty much wouldn't even know what to do then.
My experience is that just continuing noting in Eq everytime deepened the meditation without exception.
In July 2012, at the end of my 2nd retreat in this tradition, which I did at home, I received what I still think was fruition. I did this by following the instructions as meticulously as possible which included keeping the noting all the time. My memory (and my Dho-writeup) about it isn't too good any more; it could be that the noting dropped by itself in the seconds/minutes before conformity knowledge, but I didn't do it on purpose. Even if it did, this doesn't say anything about the development of the whole, grand equanimity nana during the days before, which was still driven by doing noting.
In later retreats I didn't get too fruition yet, but everytime I got to Eq, it deepened considerably by just continuing noting. I wrote above some reasons why noting is helpful in Eq. Another reason is that it makes the recognition of not-self easy. I've seen this referred to as the 'here/no, over-there'-game on this board, and that captures it quite well. Syncronizing the dancing self-perspective seems to be made easy with noting.

You state again just above that my own advice must come out of my own incompetence at using the noting technique at all.

Not true.

In my example, I would have assigned you to the 2nd sorts of people: those for whom noting doesn't work.
I had (obviously incorrectly) remembered that you tried to do noting, but it exacerbated this aura migraine thing so badly that you had to do something else. I remember vaguely your vivid descriptions from your first (?) thread where you described those side effects which sounded completely out-of-this-world for almost everyone.
So if those were actually effects from dropping the labeling, I apologize for mixing that up.
However, that example wasn't really tailored to you. As I said, I've seen similar statements elsewhere, and I was/am especially irritated with Kenneth's even more absurd assertion that noting should be dropped after A&P, so I wanted to make a general point with my example.

Still, I do think that if a statement such as "noting can be a relaxed practice, both in Eq and in any other territory" is novel information for you, then there is something in your way of noting which can be substantially improved for your own well-being and progress.

I have personal practice experience changing technique from fast, precise "noticing" (ie, "noting" but without the labeling part) before EQ to something wide, open, and inclusive in EQ. But I also have authority for this view. Therefore, I gave my suggestions to John, the OP. These authoritative sources are not just MCTB, but also MCTB2, Daniel Ingram himself in conversations about this topic, including one yesterday, and Mahasi Sayadaw's Progress of Insight. 

[...]

[...]

Note that, in the passages I did quote from MCTB2 "Equanimity" draft chapter above, Daniel himself cites authority for his instructions, and that authority is no less than Mahasi Sayadaw's Practical Insight Meditation. As Daniel and I were catching up on editorial matters yesterday in chat, I mentioned this thread and the back and forth over noting in EQ. The first thing he said, without knowing what in MCTB2 I had quoted, was that "Practical Insight Meditation says to stop noting in EQ." I don't know of a more authoritative authority than that for noting practice. 

So, although you or anyone may like to believe that I just never got the hang of noting and that is why I suggested to John that, if he should get into EQ on retreat, then he should stop noting---actually I have very good authority for that advice. So my advice is not all that crazy, based on my failures to note, or out of the blue at all. The anomaly, as I understand it from Daniel Ingram, is the person who can use noting up to SE and actually get SE despite that off-instruction use for the noting technique. Perhaps he'll chime in here on this thread when his current run of hospital shifts is complete.
OK, so it seems there is quite some history to the idea of dropping noting in Eq. It raises the interesting question: "Why was that instruction completely dropped in Ajahn Tong's tradition?"
3 obvious possible answers come to my mind:
1) "In practice it was found to be bullshit advice. Students who stop noting just get confused and do... whatever."
2) "It was reasonable advice, but we found a way to effectively do noting, which is now even better than not noting."
3) "Oh, we sort of overlooked that detail. lol. Anyway we're not gonna correct that anytime soon, now our technique has already spread around the globe and spiritual imperium is running well..."
It seems to me that answer (2) is the most reasonable assumption judging by common sense, so the next important question would be: what is the difference here?

On a side note, Practical Insight Meditation may be the most authoritative authority (awesome term btw) there is for noting practice, but really no one (except people who drop the labels) practices according to its actual instructions, see page 4:
Never verbally repeat the words, rising,falling, and do not think of rising and falling as words. Be aware only of the actual process of the rising and falling movements of the abdomen.

Anyway, if it is in Practical Insight Meditation, I will obviously not accuse anyone of just making that up.
But is it? I don't know. I failed to find it. I didn't have any reason to doubt what you're saying since I assume that you are a skilled text editor and comprehending texts is something you do for breakfast (not sure if that idiom translates so well.)

I went back to the texts you mentioned which I have available (MCTB1, The progress of insight, practical insight meditation on google books) to copy and quote the relevant passages here for everyone, but I couldn't find them anywhere.
1) MCTB1: The chapter about equanimity doesn't even contain the word 'note'. At least Daniel is still alive, so we can ask him how he meant it. Shouldn't be necessary though, if MCTB2 clarifies it all.
2) Progress of Insight: Now here it's even more obvious. The text often mentions how the meditator is still 'noticing'. Here is the chapter about equanimity, with my highlighting of those instances:
When this knowledge of re-observation is mature, there will arise
knowledge perceiving evident bodily and mental processes in continuous
succession quite naturally, as if borne onward of itself. This is called
"knowledge of equanimity about formations."Now, in the act of noticing, effort is no longer required to keep
formations before the mind or to understand them. After the completion
of each single act of noticing, the object to be noticed will then
appear of itself, and insight knowledge, too, will of itself notice and
understand it.
It is as if no further effort need be made by the
meditator. Formerly, owing to seeing the dissolution of formations,
there arose, in successive order, the aspect of fearfulness, the
perception of misery, the aspect of disgust, the desire for deliverance,
and dissatisfaction with the knowledge so far acquired. But now these
mental states no longer arise even though, in the present state too, the
breaking up of formations which are dissolving more rapidly is closely
perceived. Even if a painful feeling arises in the body, no mental
disturbance (grief) arises, and there is no lack of fortitude in bearing
it. Generally, however, at this stage, pains will be entirely absent,
that is, they do not arise at all. Even if the meditator thinks about
something fearful or sad, no mental disturbance will arise, be it in the
form of fear or of sorrow. This, firstly, is "the abandoning of fear"
at the stage of "equanimity about formations."At the earlier stage, on attaining knowledge of arising and passing
away, great joy had arisen on account of the clarity of insight. But now
this kind of joy does not arise, even though there is present the
exceedingly peaceful and sublime clarity of mind belonging to
"equanimity about formations." Though he actually sees desirable objects
conducive to joy, or though he thinks about various enjoyable things,
no strong feeling of joy will arise. This is "the abandoning of delight"
at the stage of "equanimity about formations."He cherishes no desire nor hate with regard to any object, desirable
or undesirable, that comes into the range of his sense doors, but taking
them as just the same in his act of noticing, he understands them (that
is to say, it is a pure act of understanding).
This is "equable vision"
at the stage of "equanimity about formations."Of these three qualities just mentioned, it is said in the Path of Purification: "Having discarded fear and delight, he is impartial and neutral towards all formations" (Visuddhimagga, xxi,62).If he resumes the practice of noticing with the thought: "Now I will
do it vigorously again!" then, before long, the noticing will function
efficiently as if borne onward of itself.
From now onwards there is no
need for the meditator to make further (deliberate) effort. Though he
does not make a (deliberate) effort, his noticing will proceed in a
continuous and steady flow for a long time; it will go on even for two
or three hours without interruption.
This is "the state of long-lasting
(practice)" of equanimity about formations. Referring to this it is said
in the Patisambhidamagga: " 'The wisdom lasting long' is the
knowledge present in the mental states of equanimity about formations."
The Great Commentary to the Path of Purification explains as follows: "This is said with reference to knowledge functioning in a continuous flow."Now when noticing functions spontaneously as if borne onward of
itself, the mind, even if sent out towards a variety of objects,
generally refuses to go; and even if it does go, it will not stay long
but will soon return to the usual object to be noticed, and will resume
continuous noticing.
In this connection it was said: "He shrinks,
recoils, and retreats; he does not go forth to it."
3) Practical Insight meditation: Here it's the same case as in the 'Progress of Insight'. See here.
Copying from the pdf partly destroyed the text emoticon
I copied it from here, for those who want to check on the source themselves:
https://ia601403.us.archive.org/14/items/bub_gb_M2S-7-lWzHIC/bub_gb_M2S-7-lWzHIC.pdf
When the "knowledge of equanimity about formations"
becomes mature, the mind will be very clear and able to
notice the formations very lucidly.^ Noticing runs smoothly as if
 no effort is required. Subtle formations, too, are noticed
without effort.
The true characteristics of impermanence,
pain, and no-self are becoming evident without any
reflection. Attention is directed to a particular spot at any
part of thebody wher ever a sensation occurs, but the feeling
of touch is as smooth asthat of cotton wool. Sometimes the
objects to be noticed in the whole body are so many that
noticing has to be accelerated.
Both body and mind appear
to be pulling upwards. The objects being noticed become
sparse and one can notice them easily and calmly.

Sometimes the bodily formations disappear altogether
leaving only the mental formations. Then the meditator will
experience within himself a feeling of rapture as if
enjoying a shower of tiny particles of water. He is also
suffused with serenity. He might also see brightness like a
clear sky. These marked experiences, however, do not
influence him excessively. He is not overjoyed. But he still
enjoys them. He must notice this enjoyment. He must also
notice rapture, serenity, and bright light. If they do not
vanish when being noticed, he should pay no heed to them
and notice any other object that arises.

At this Stage he becomes satisfied with the knowledge that there is no I, mine, he, or his, and
 that only formations arise;
 formations only are cognizing formations.
 He also finds delight in noticing the objects one after another.
 He is not tired of noticing them for along time.

 He Is free from painful feelings. So whatever posture he chooses he can retain it
 long. Either sitting or lying he can go on contemplating
 for two or three hours without experiencing
any discomfort, spending his time tirelessly. Intending to
contemplate for a while, he may go on for two or three
hours. Even after that time hls posture is as firm as before.
At times formations arise swiftly and he notices them
well. Then he may become anxious as to what would
happen to him. He should notice such an anxiety. He feels
he is doing well. He should notice this feeling.
He looks
forward to the progress of insight.
 He should notice this anticipation.
 Heshould notice steadily whatever arises.

 He should not put forth aspecial effort nor relax.
 In some cases, because of the anxiety, joy, attachment, or anticipation, noticing
 becomes lax and slips back.
Some who think that
the goal is very near contemplate with great energy .
 While doing so, noticing becomes lax and they slip back. This
happens because a restless mind cannot concentrate
properly on formations. So when noticing is going well the
meditator must go on steadily:that means he should neither
relax nor put forth special effort.

 If he does go on steadily. he will rapidly gain Insight into the end of all the
formations and realize NIbbana.
In the case of some
meditators, they may, at this stage, rise higher and again
fall several times. They should not give way to despair
but Instead hold fast to determination. Heed must be paid
also to noticing whatever arises at
 all
 the six sense doors.

However, when noticing goes on smoothly and calmly,
contemplation In such adiverslfied manner is not possible.
So this manner of noticing should begin with gaining
momentum in contemplation until it becomes smooth and calm.
If the meditator begins either with rising and falling of
the abdomen, or with any other bodily or mental object, he
will find that he gains momentum. And then the noticing
will go on of its own accord smoothly and calmly.
It will
appear to him that he is watching with ease the ceasing
and vanishing of the formations in aclear manner. At this point his mind is quite free from all the defilements.
However pleasant and Inviting an object may be. It is no longer so to him. Again, however loathsome an object may be, it is no longer so to him.
 He simply sees, hears, smells,tastes, feels a touch, or cognizes.
 With six kinds of equanimity described in the texts he notices all the
formations. He ls not even awareof thelength of timeheis
engaged in contemplation. Nor does he reflect in any
manner. But If he does not develop sufficient progress of
insighttogain the"knowledgeof thepath and itsfruition"
(maggaar\6 p/7a/a) within two or three hours, concentration
becomes slack and reflection sets in.
On the other hand, If he is making good progress, he
may anticipate further advance. He will become so
delighted with the result that he will experience a "fall."
Then he must dispel such an anticipation or reflection by
directing bare noticing to it.
 A steady contemplation will achievesmooth progress again. But if sufficient strength
 of insight has not yet been achieved, concentration becomes slack again. In this
 way, some meditators progress and fall back several times. Those who are acquainted with
the stages of the progress of insight by way of study (or
by hearing about them) encounter such ups and downs.
Hence it is not good for a pupil who meditates under the
guidance of a teacher to get acquainted with these stages
before meditation begins. But for the benefit of those who
have to practice without the guidance of an experienced
teacher, these stages have been indicated here.
In spite of such fluctuation in his progress the meditator
must not allow himself to be overcome by disappointment
or despair, l-le is now, as it were, at the threshold of the
path and fruit. As soon as the five faculties {indriy^ of
faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom
are developed in an even manner, he will soon reach the path and fruit and realize Nibbana^^
So where does that leave us? Not Sure. If it's in there, I overlooked it, and anyone sees it, please point it out.

As for my practice journal, I began housing it in a private space because some of my practices started going into areas I didn't necessarily want broadcast, since even people at my workplace look at this site from time to time. However, I'll consider posting at least selectively back here if it is helpful and interesting to anyone.

Congratulations, it seems you have cool people at your workplace. (Unless they're stalking you)
Of course that would be appreciated. This place lives on the practice logs, and your experiences seem to differ impressively from everyone else's.

By the way, judging from the entirety of your post, I guess that you feel quite attacked by me. Please drop that idea. In this thread, I've disagreed strongly with you, but I'm not after you. My impression is that you're an intelligent and naturally talented practitioner, and you're doing a great job with MCTB2. I do not think you're delusional or totally incompetent or anything.
I have been ill for 2 weeks, and still haven't fully recovered. After being in the hospital for a week, I finally came back home yesterday only to learn that a close relative had died. I've been on the verge of tears for days. Attacking you really isn't on my agenda. Peace.
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 3/3/15 10:59 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 3/3/15 10:11 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
Bernd the Broter:

I'm so sorry to hear of your illness and loss. 

No, I'm not feeling attacked. I don't have much time for posting or commenting that involves debate, simply b/c of the time the editorial work demands. That is all, really and truly.

The passages you quote from Practical Insight Meditation, as I read them, have to do with the smooth, gentle self-sustaining noticing of six-sense-door (large) formations.
Now, in the act of noticing, effort is no longer required to keep 
formations before the mind or to understand them. After the completion 
of each single act of noticing, the object to be noticed will then 
appear of itself, and insight knowledge, too, will of itself notice and 
understand it.

This is a good quote for Equanimity. There is a kind of "groove" one gets into in mid-to-high equanimity that has a very different feel, focus width, and level of "effortfulness" to it than earlier stages. This doesn't mean to stop the effort known as meditating, but to notice in a more open, bare way all the complexity of each broad formation, and especially to notice the "core processes" of anticipation, fear, attention, asking, expectation, investigation, and the like. The field is coming closer to "cognizing itself," which it cannot easily do, I believe, if a lot of effortful noting/noticing "attack" is foisted on objects from the side of the subject in the way generally required or at least helpful in earlier stages.

MCTB2 does say to stop the labeling and "fast noting" in EQ. So that is how Daniel is reading the passages you quote above, I reckon. 
Still, I do think that if a statement such as "noting can be a relaxed practice, both in Eq and in any other territory" is novel information for you, then there is something in your way of noting which can be substantially improved for your own well-being and progress.

I've done slow noting, if that is what you mean, and sometimes still do if I'm heading into difficult territory. Nonetheless, it makes no logical sense to me how applying a label can be more relaxed than, or just as relaxed as, not applying a label or not applying anything else. Not doing something, not applying, is more relaxed than doing, applying, and so forth, just by definition. EQ benefits from open, bare awareness, which is how I read the passages you quote, taken as a whole. 

In Equanimity, the challenge is to allow, as opposed to penetrate, to return to Kenneth's term up thread. It is to surrender. It is to allow reality to represent itself, to finally cognize itself at the level of panoramic, texturally various totality (formations). This, anyway, has been my experience. And it is my understanding from Daniel and his current text, including the posted Part I of MCTB2. It seems that is how MCTB2 is reading Practical Insight Meditation.

In MCTB, more so in MCTB2, and by my own and others' accounts, the moments before cessation are said to be like a daydream or "reverie." It seems that this experience is a kind of absorption in the object of contempation, formation, so complete that a kind of collapsing into it occurs in the end. It seems to involve a kind of forgetting, a forgetting about the goal and an allowance to be so absorbed in the noticing that what is noticed and what is noticer cease to face off against each other.

About my quitting noting--I just wish to be clear that I laid off noting because I found it too slow, not because of my migraines. What I did because of the migraines was adopt a practice of getting into samatha jhana first and then practicing vipaassana from that. So I steered away from "dry" insight practice in favor of "wet."

I'll carve out some time to start backposting parts of my practice journal, in case it is helpful or interesting to anyone. 

Yes, I have a cool workplace. We have a meditation club that meditates together every Friday at lunch hour and then has lunch. I got stream entry (err, or whatever path that was, maybe second?) while sitting with them.

I hope you are feeling better.


John Power, modified 7 Years ago at 3/25/15 10:59 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 3/25/15 10:59 AM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Posts: 95 Join Date: 3/16/14 Recent Posts
I just listened to a talk of Joseph Goldstein: http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/284/
In this talk he mentioned that when mindfulness become continuous we can stop noting and just rest in the bare knowing. Sometimes the awareness becomes so refined that we see the dissolution of objects so clearly, even by the time we get there the object is gone. So the noting falls away. Because the awareness is well establisched, it is all happening by itself. It becomes effortless effort, we can rest in the continuity of awareness. He suggest to somtimes use noting when the awareness is continuous, to cut the identification with the objects.
So Jenny, Joseph agrees with you.
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 3/25/15 5:44 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 3/25/15 5:44 PM

RE: Article 'Jhana and Nana' - Kenneth Folk

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
John Power:
I just listened to a talk of Joseph Goldstein: http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/284/
In this talk he mentioned that when mindfulness become continuous we can stop noting and just rest in the bare knowing. Sometimes the awareness becomes so refined that we see the dissolution of objects so clearly, even by the time we get there the object is gone. So the noting falls away. Because the awareness is well establisched, it is all happening by itself. It becomes effortless effort, we can rest in the continuity of awareness. He suggest to somtimes use noting when the awareness is continuous, to cut the identification with the objects.
So Jenny, Joseph agrees with you.

So does Daniel Ingram, who points out that so does Mahasi Sayadaw. (I myself have not read through Practical Insight Meditation, as I mention by way of full disclosure.)

I'm about to take a Mahamudra retreat in July--my very first retreat! It is about this effortless effort, and bringing it off the cushion into all of life. To me, it seems that there is movement, in general, along a continuum: Earlier on the path a lot of pinpointed effort is exerted to penetrate an object at the level of vibrations and fine-grained detail; later, it is about resting awareness on/in itself, a wider, inclusive attention to all as of one piece in flux.

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