Question: Formations or one sense door at a time?

Oochdd, modified 6 Years ago.

Question: Formations or one sense door at a time?

Posts: 102 Join Date: 12/16/14 Recent Posts
I have a question concerning formation. In the definition given in MCTB formations are basically the perception of the entire sensate field all at once (if I'm understanding correctly). However, it is also said earlier that according to basic dharma theory you can only perceive a single sense door at the same time. This is also what I was told at a retreat in Thailand this summer. (although the teacher added that it may seem as if you can perceive a physical sense door and a mental impression at the same time, but if you get high enough resolution you'll see that this also goes sequentially and does not overlap.

So this begs the question: can you perceive all sense doors all at once, or only one at the time?

Part of the reason I'm asking is that I seem to be/may be in equanimity at the moment and seem to be able to perceive/take in multiple sense doors at the same time with a certain way of looking, but with another way of looking I can still see attention jumping from sense door to sense door very rapidly. And I wonder what would be a better practice at this point of the cycle. 

The other part is that I'm simply interested in basic dharma theory emoticon
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Nikolai ., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Question: Formations or one sense door at a time?

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An experiment:

Can a "sense door" be experienced without it being designated a "sense door"? Can the field of experience be experienced without being objectified and cut up into "doors"? 
Does hearing/heard take shape in some way when attention is directed to "there"?
Same for the other sense doors?
If they do "take shape" each one at a time, do they seem not to overlap?
What if the mind inclined away from giving them "shape" ?
What does the field of experience seem like when not taking "shapes"?
Does the mind try to give "shape" to even the concept of no "doors" taking shape?
What if one inclines to the cessation of even that?
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Nikolai ., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Question: Formations or one sense door at a time?

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P.s. Easier done in Jhana or where dispassion takes root. Inclining away that is.
Oochdd, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Question: Formations or one sense door at a time?

Posts: 102 Join Date: 12/16/14 Recent Posts
Hmm, can you explain more what you mean by "taking shape?" Or perhaps I just need to wait til High Equanimity until I can understand your suggestions emoticon Thanks in any case for the suggestions!

High equanimity is a good place to see "thing/s"  taking shape. 

An experiment: Stare at a visual object in front of you. Notice that the mind will give it "shape". It may even give it a "name" or conceptual meaning such as "pot plant", the colours will "take shape" and "name" perhaps as well, a "yellow pot plant". As I see it, there is an co-movement of mind due to deep habit to "land" on and create (give shape) an object within the field of experience. Once it has shape, it is given a name. Name and form/shape, nama/rupa. Once an "object" has taken shape and name, it can then act as a reference point for a sense of being "me" to react towards. 
When my teacher at the retreat in Thailand this summer (Anthony Markwell, former monk that has trained intensively with both U Pandita and Pa Auk), suggested that we are actually only ever to observe one sense door at the time, this was actually very inspiring for my practice: only one sense door at a time! I can do that!

Yeh, it is good to start to see how perception plays out. It leads to seeing cause and effect. Fabrications at play like Jake was talking about.
So the rest of the retreat I spent a lot of time simply following attention around and noting or noticing at which sense door it was, how it shifted back and forth, how attention seemed to have preferences, desires, aversion, etc. Was actually a very fruitful practice, think I got to a near-miss SE at that retreat.
Sounds like progress. Have you seen how the fetter of identity view operates? How there seems to be a deeply felt belief in a seperate identity? Perhaps that sense of self does not "survive" that type of investigation you describe? Where does it play out when seeing attention jump from door to door?
So the basic practice question is: should one shift one's practice to a more 'taking in everything at once' vs 'noting one sense door at a time' during EQ? 

It helps to let go of mind created "objects" and let them rise, merge, morph and drop within/with/of the mass soupy experience that is the field of experience, in EQ. But don't force it, just be aware of the periphery as well as centre, and see it all jump, move, morph about "at once" without trying to assign the notion that it can all be seen "at once". But if that urge to assign comes up, include it in the mix as well. 

Though I wont poopoo the other approach either. Both could trigger results. Do what seems to move towards the desired outcome. As in experiment with both approaches. Sometimes having these differing approaches can snap us out of unsuspecting ruts and trigger the result. 

Nick
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Chris J Macie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Question: Formations or one sense door at a time?

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re: Oochdd (4/18/15 2:50 PM )

"
according to basic dharma theory you can only perceive a single sense door at the same time. .. it may seem as if you can perceive a physical sense door and a mental impression at the same time, but if you get high enough resolution you'll see that this also goes sequentially and does not overlap.
… can you perceive all sense doors all at once, or only one at the time?"


This is sort of orthagonal (perpendicular, i.e. neither pro nor con) to Nikolai's comments.

My sense (from dhamma, abdhidhamma, neuro-science, and personal practice) is that, when observed / discerned in sufficient detail, mental attention (maniskara) is, so to speak, by nature one-pointed; i.e.along the lines of the Thai teaching you mention. The neuro-science indicates that there are in fact always a multitude of processes going on at the same time, at various levels of background or closer to the surface, the single point of focal attention. The kamma-conditioning aspect (to mix in a traditional metaphor) influences perhaps which of those other levels of processing is ready to jump in, become the next present focus.

The point I want to suggest is that in the (abdhidhamma) scheme of the "6 senses" – broken down as the "5 sense-doors" plus the (6th) "mind-door" – those phenomena that arise at the mind-door can represent apparent combinations of the results of multiple sense-door phenomena. So they may seem like containing several or all senses at once – BUT they are all to some degree pre-processed symbols or "signs" or whatever of past sensations, not the bare original sensations themselves. They are "formations", "fabrications" (sankara).

This may relate to that mysterious idea of perceiving "kalāpas"as a stage in the development (bhavana) of insight.
" [kalāpa =] … 'comprehension by groups', which is the application of 'methodical (or inductive) insight' (naya-vipassanā) to the comprehension of the 5 aggregates (khandha) as impermanent, painful and not-self. It is a process of methodical summarization, or generalization, from one's own meditative experience that is applied to each of the 5 aggregates, viewed as past, present, future, as internal and external, etc. In Vis.M. XX, where the 'comprehension by groups' is treated in detail, it is said to constitute 'the beginning of insight' as it leads to the 'knowledge of rise and fall', being the first of the 8 insightknowledges (s. visuddhi VI). It is necessary for accomplishing the 5th purification (s.
visuddhi V; Vis.M. XX, 2, 6ff.)."
(from the BPS Dictionary)

That is to say that this level of understanding fits into the classical (Visudhimagga) 16 stages of insight at "A&P". In oral teaching (PaAuk Sayadaw Burmese lineage), I have heard that discerning the kalāpas is practiced by breaking down, deconstructing perception (the reflexive mental action that immediately follows every bare sensation) into it's elemental constituents – earthness, fireness, waterness, airness. These in turn contribute to discerning how discrete bare sensations are used by the mind to build apparent "things" (made-up of khandhas which group associated qualities of sensations).A paradoxical side note: sankaras are the 4th of the khandhas, but at another level, all the khandhas are forms of sankara.

I'm not sure if MCTB interpretation of the stages of insight recognizes or makes use of that level of analytic insight, but it is there in other (no less practice-focused) intrepretations (that I have practiced).

Another interesting side note: Nikolai notes his perspective associates with samatha (or also dispassion) aspects of practice. My posts in DhO have generally related more to samatha (jhana), as that's where one begins in the PaAuk tradition (my training), but here (above) my thoughts have jumped-ship, focusing on vipassana aspects.

Is it that Nikolai is pointing to 'non-dual' experience of realization? And vipassana, which is a practice tool, provisionally uses, deals with duality on the way to realization?
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Nikolai ., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Question: Formations or one sense door at a time?

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Chris J Macie:


Another interesting side note: Nikolai notes his perspective associates with samatha (or also dispassion) aspects of practice. My posts in DhO have generally related more to samatha (jhana), as that's where one begins in the PaAuk tradition (my training), but here (above) my thoughts have jumped-ship, focusing on vipassana aspects.

Is it that Nikolai is pointing to 'non-dual' experience of realization? And vipassana, which is a practice tool, provisionally uses, deals with duality on the way to realization?

I prefer neither dual nor non-dual myself. Not a fan of the term "non-dual" as it can just act as another loka to plant one's behind. I'd like to add that I don't claim anything here as absolute or THE thing amongst things, it is just an experiment. An experiment to shuffle and loosen any 'views' a bit, regardless of how "correct" they may feel.
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. Jake ., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Question: Formations or one sense door at a time?

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Oochdd:

[...] I seem to be able to perceive/take in multiple sense doors at the same time with a certain way of looking, but with another way of looking I can still see attention jumping from sense door to sense door very rapidly. [...]




To me, the above observation itself is fruitful for insight into the nature of fabrication, emptiness, experience. Sorry, not a theoretical answer, so i apologize if it's off topic, but, yeah, I have found examining this flexible nature of how things (can be made to) appear to be very beneficial.
Small Steps, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Question: Formations or one sense door at a time?

Posts: 249 Join Date: 2/12/14 Recent Posts
Oochdd,
I wrote a little bit about this in my practice thread recently. In short, while doing walking meditation I've slowly been adding sensations along all the physical doors till it appears that awareness is tracking all at once. What I think is actually happening though is the brain is just too fast and smooth at context switching. Then all things seem to be known at once, in the moment.

I think it's easier to see this in action in a non-medatative context: just stand up and walk across the room. Ever wonder how many things your brain needs to keep track of to allow this to happen? It's mind blowing sometimes to think about this. But... what happens when that mind is then blown? ;)

small edit for clarity
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Nikolai ., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Question: Formations or one sense door at a time?

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Sorry oochdd,

i realised I somehow unknowingly posted within your own post. Seems like an issue when replying as a moderator. Aargh! Sorry bout that. Will try and fix it when not on my iPhone. 

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