Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Marty G, modified 5 Years ago at 11/3/16 1:58 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/13/16 4:50 PM

Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Posts: 95 Join Date: 9/3/16 Recent Posts
This is something of a practice journal and conversation about "the clear present mind" which may be interest to some .I call this 'mindfulness'more as used and pointed to in the Tibetan, Chan and Zen traditions, as distinct from the term vipassana in modern Theravada, because mindfulness is often used to mean 'noting'  objects arising in consciousness (either using verbal mind or with raw observation).

If we are noting in this process, then it would be about noticing that awareness, consciousness or mind  is simply awake, alert and present. There's  a hint of Dzogchen here, in the 'pristine wakefulness' concept, but there is no need for all the baggage of Northern Buddhist culture to ramp on top of and obscure this simplicity of 'clear present mind'.

There is a growing meditation movement among Advaita/non-duality offshoots to create meditative practices based on noticing when we are conscious or unconscious , and when we are awake or conscious in each moment, and cultivating being awake and aware and alert and attentive and available ( all slightly different nuances of  awake awareness).

Now anyone who has been doing samatha or vipassana practices over time may have a feel for this, at times we will 'notice' an almost perfect clarity, sharpness and focus of the mind or our "awareness itself", rather than the objects that arise in that awareness such as thoughts, emotions, body sensations, sensory input. When we begin to notice 'that', then we can focus on remaining awake in the present rather than any other practice. More and more this practice becomes far more interesting than any content arising.

It's a very tough practice at the start and often reminds me of tearing a velcro-strip off the mind itself. What I mean by this is awareness tends very strongly to unconsciousness but the more the mind is un-velcroed  the 'clearer the view'.If you've done the basics ( vipassana/samatha)  already once you get the thread of this practice, it's profoundly refreshing just as the Dzogchen guys say.

The beauty is, it becomes your personal practice not hitched to any dogma at all.I have found that using a simple inquiry such as " Awake?", " Present?," Conscious?" or other 'meaningful' terms ( we are asking meaningful questions here, requiring awareness to  notice it's not beingawake, present or conscious) will shift us to awakeness.

This is a work in progress so it's not perfect and I expect to grow more clarity over time with practice. If you have thoughts or experiences on the subject please add your perspective. I do not relate this practice or its variations or outcomes to enlightenment, as others do.

Some links and quote below for different perspectives.

http://freddieyam.com/gen2/p/how-to-stop-thoughts.html

http://freddieyam.com/wordpress/how-to-stay-conscious-1

“The real object of devotion is thought-free wakefulness, which is the
ultimate guru of our innate nature — your natural mind, your
self-existing wakefulness or natural awareness. This is the true view of
Mahamudra and Dzogchen. So first we must recognise, then train in that
recognition and attain stability. But remember, this recognition must be
genuine and not some kind of personal concept we’ve made up. If we can
train in genuine thought-free wakefulness, then it is possible to awaken
to enlightenment fully and completely in this very lifetime. But it
doesn’t help much just to train in your own intellectualized version of
the view, no matter how long you try. That is why it is said that
Vajrayana can be very risky, but also has great advantages.” 
— Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche

(Edit spelling)
Banned For waht?, modified 5 Years ago at 10/13/16 6:35 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/13/16 6:35 PM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

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pretty good.
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Years ago at 10/13/16 10:27 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/13/16 10:27 PM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Posts: 1452 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Marty G:
This is something of a practice journal and conversation about "the clear present mind" which may be interest to some .I call this 'mindfulness'more as used and pointed to in the Tibetan, Chan and Zen traditions, as distinct from the term vipassana in modern Theravada, because mindfulness is often used to mean 'noting'  objects arising in consciousness (either using verbal mind or with raw observation).

If we are noting in this process, then it would be about noticing that awareness, consciousness or mind  is simply awake, alert and present. There's  a hint of Dogzchen here, in the 'pristine wakefulness' concept, but there is no need for all the baggage of Northern Buddhist culture to ramp on top of and obscure this simplicity of 'clear present mind'.

There is a growing meditation movement among Advaita/non-duality offshoots to create meditative practices based on noticing when we are conscious or unconscious , and when we are awake or conscious in each moment, and cultivating being awake and aware and alert and attentive and available ( all slightly different nuances of  awake awareness).

Now anyone who has been doing samatha or vipassana practices over time may have a feel for this, at times we will 'notice' an almost perfect clarity, sharpness and focus of the mind or our "awareness itself", rather than the objects that arise in that awareness such as thoughts, emotions, body sensations, sensory input. When we begin to notice 'that', then we can focus on remaining awake in the present rather than any other practice. More and more this practice becomes far more interesting than any content arising.

It's a very tough practice at the start and often reminds me of tearing a velcro-strip off the mind itself. What I mean by this is awareness tends very strongly to unconsciousness but the more the mind is un-velcroed  the 'clearer the view'.If you've done the basics ( vipassana/samatha)  already once you get the thread of this practice, it's profoundly refreshing just as the Dogzchen guys say.

The beauty is, it becomes your personal practice not hitched to any dogma at all.I have found that using a simple inquiry such as " Awake?", " Present?," Conscious?" or other 'meaningful' terms ( we are asking meaningful questions here, requiring awareness to  notice it's not beingawake, present or conscious) will shift us to awakeness.

This is a work in progress so it's not perfect and I expect to grow more clarity over time with practice. If you have thoughts or experiences on the subject please add your perspective. I do not relate this practice or its variations or outcomes to enlightenment, as others do. Cheese and chalk in my opinion.

Some links and quote below for different perspectives.

http://freddieyam.com/gen2/p/how-to-stop-thoughts.html

http://freddieyam.com/wordpress/how-to-stay-conscious-1

“The real object of devotion is thought-free wakefulness, which is the
ultimate guru of our innate nature — your natural mind, your
self-existing wakefulness or natural awareness. This is the true view of
Mahamudra and Dzogchen. So first we must recognise, then train in that
recognition and attain stability. But remember, this recognition must be
genuine and not some kind of personal concept we’ve made up. If we can
train in genuine thought-free wakefulness, then it is possible to awaken
to enlightenment fully and completely in this very lifetime. But it
doesn’t help much just to train in your own intellectualized version of
the view, no matter how long you try. That is why it is said that
Vajrayana can be very risky, but also has great advantages.” 
— Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche
You are throwing out a bunch of terms without defining what they mean. A bit confusing.

Perhaps you could define and point out what exactly you mean by "the clear present mind", awareness, awakeness.

Then you could say why your definition isn't a personal concept?-"...recognition must be genuine and not some kind of personal concept we’ve made up... ... it doesn’t help much just to train in your own intellectualized version of the view, no matter how long you try..."
Thanks,
~D
Marty G, modified 5 Years ago at 10/13/16 11:34 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/13/16 11:34 PM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Posts: 95 Join Date: 9/3/16 Recent Posts
Thanks DW.

"You are throwing out a bunch of terms without defining what they mean. A bit confusing.

Perhaps you could define and point out what exactly you mean by "the clear present mind", awareness, awakeness."

I assumed most meditators would know what these terms mean, because it is experiential, if some one points it out. Also please read Freddy Yams linked pages he seems to do a good job of going through the basics.


"the clear present mind"  means when we are freely attentive to anything we may choose without (ordinary level) thought/emotive stress and fundamentally thought free or free of chronic non-directed thinking. Clear directed thinking is possible, if required for any situation. You would know this state ( if you have done vipassana/samitha)  it is just when the mind is clear, sharp but relaxed.Nothing special or otherworldly. It has a crystalline, luminous quality when we look closely. The ability to look at it closely comes from your meditative practice. I don't think many could do it or even get what is being pointed to (oddly it is very simple) straight off, without doing some form of mind training. In that sense it is one of the outcomes of mind training.

"Awareness" and "Aware" is being  conscious of any objects or arising states, internal or external.

"Awakeness"and being "Awake" in this context (not referring to any transcendent condition) means just recognizing we are presently aware and conscious.

It's generally known by the contrast with being unconscious or unaware, as when lost in thought ( most commonly). So when we notice we have been lost in thought, in that instant we are awake and thought free. To cultivate this as a constant or more than random occurrence is the practice. There are a lot of minor but significant nuances, such as alertness (degrees of awakeness), attentiveness (degrees of free attention) availability ( can attention move freely to various demands {e.g phone rings when writing} without stress?) I'm sure someone else has detailed this to the nth degree. Culadasa does an impeccable job of
much of it.

In this video, the teacher claims this to be his constant state, whether it's true in his case or not, I have no idea. Anyway some degree of greater wakefulness definitely makes for a fuller life on many levels.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtOHyVal6JQ
Then you could say why your definition isn't a personal concept?-"...recognition must be genuine and not some kind of personal concept we’ve made up... ... it doesn’t help much just to train in your own intellectualized version of the view, no matter how long you try..."



Well that is why I added the links to indicate it's not just my personal viewpoint, more that I noticed it in the midst of meditation practice, and thought "umm that is interesting" and then went looking for other descriptions and clarifications of the same process. As for Rinpoche's criticism, the experience we are talking about does not 'belong' to Dzoghchen  there are movements there that take it in other directions perhaps. But no one owns awakeness itself or has any claims on it, as if it could be given a brand.
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Years ago at 10/14/16 1:24 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/14/16 1:24 AM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

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Marty G:
I assumed most meditators would know what these terms mean, because it is experiential, if some one points it out. Also please read Freddy Yams linked pages he seems to do a good job of going through the basics.
Thanks for the follow up. I totally get what your saying but its not an obvious thing to tune into the attributes of awareness without the objects being the primary focus. I'm glad your discussing it.
Thanks for the links. Good stuff.

Might I add that although this shift from awareness practise is a major one, it tends to often be built on the earlier paths.  I would recommend getting a couple paths before shifting to this as a primary practice, but different strokes different folks. Let us know how it goes.
Good Luck,
~D
Mark, modified 5 Years ago at 10/14/16 12:29 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/14/16 12:29 PM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Hi Marty,

I'd be interested in your take on this, thanks. There is a mindfulness with an observer or witness which seems to be accentuated by noting practise. There is another mindfulness where the witness merges with the object.

In a metaphorical sense, the witness is like the foreground and objects flow past it. By bringing the witness into contact with the object the witness takes on the form of the object. There is no distinction between object, observer no experience of time. Anoher way of saying this might be "the thought is thinking".

I'm wondering if you are describing a similar state but focusing on the moments when there is no object present ?
Marty G, modified 5 Years ago at 10/14/16 4:03 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/14/16 4:00 PM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Posts: 95 Join Date: 9/3/16 Recent Posts
Hi Mark
There is a mindfulness with an observer or witness which seems to be accentuated by noting practise

Yes if you turn your attention to that which notes, which is awareness itself, you may notice that that "awareness is awake". Sorry if that sounds like a conundrum, or a proclamation of non-duality  but it is pointing to something very simple, not complex. The trick is to develop the fineness or acuity of focus, to notice that it is there. Which it will be if you have done a descent amount of work. Culadasa calls it introspective awareness, as another tier of mindfulness wherein our discriminating power is turned to the mind or awareness itself and inquires of it. In his case he hones in on lucidity or dullness which is the classic route taught through the 9/10 stages of meditation in Northern Buddhism ( mainly). Now other teachers and teachings take it indifferent directions. If you focus on the breathe for instance which is the most common object of concentration and notice you have been momentarily distracted then notice you are awake, in the contrast,that's seen. I was unconscious, now I'm not, hold onto that clarity as long as you can, it's that simple. The joy and clarity of merely being awake, alive, conscious. Then take it in any direction you wish. Some people  push it into the dream state for instance

In a metaphorical sense, the witness is like the foreground and objects flow past it. By bringing the witness into contact with the object the witness takes on the form of the object. There is no distinction betweenobject, observer no experience of time. Another way of saying this might be "the thought is thinking".I'm wondering if you are describing a similar state but focusing on the moments when there is no object present ?

From what you describe, that sounds very much like the zen style outcome, you are merged with the objects of mind or senses, this is more a 'concentrated' exercise. Sounds great especially if time vanishes. You could do the same thing here. Find simple present being, don't worry about the witness. When you locate the natural awake state (remember nothing special, just awake) there does not seem to be a witness. The witness is a form of suffering or self division at some level. Maybe this is what you are getting at ? When the witness vanishes peace reigns?
Mark, modified 5 Years ago at 10/15/16 8:26 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/15/16 8:26 AM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

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Marty G:
Hi Mark
There is a mindfulness with an observer or witness which seems to be accentuated by noting practise

Yes if you turn your attention to that which notes, which is awareness itself, you may notice that that "awareness is awake". Sorry if that sounds like a conundrum, or a proclamation of non-duality  but it is pointing to something very simple, not complex.


Re-reading this and the paragraph below is a bit distracting, I'll leave it here but you might ignore it emoticon

This reminds me of "recursion", in theory we could be aware of being aware of being aware of being aware.... Like holding two mirrors opposite each other. But I don't see any reason the brain would have evolved to do that. Having a "theory of mind" for others is extremely useful,  maybe self-awareness is a side effect of that ability. To have a "theory of mind" of someone else requires an ability to "simulate" their mind state. Turning that ability toward the self might be what we are describing. That would explain why we can experience "aware of awareness" but don't experience an infinite recursion.

Following from the above the "witness" could be the experience of "simulating" my own mental state. Which normally we don't do so it takes some practise to develop it. 



The trick is to develop the fineness or acuity of focus, to notice that it is there. Which it will be if you have done a descent amount of work. Culadasa calls it introspective awareness, as another tier of mindfulness wherein our discriminating power is turned to the mind or awareness itself and inquires of it.


I've not read his book but it is on my "wish list".


In his case he hones in on lucidity or dullness which is the classic route taught through the 9/10 stages of meditation in Northern Buddhism ( mainly). Now other teachers and teachings take it indifferent directions. If you focus on the breathe for instance which is the most common object of concentration and notice you have been momentarily distracted then notice you are awake, in the contrast,that's seen. I was unconscious, now I'm not, hold onto that clarity as long as you can, it's that simple.


This might be close to what Shinzen Young refers to as noting gone. The attention is on what happens between the experience of sense objects. Typically the mind is skipping from one object to another and as we get deeper concentration we are aware of the object coming and going and a "gap" prior to the next object. Is that making sense ?



The joy and clarity of merely being awake, alive, conscious. Then take it in any direction you wish. Some people  push it into the dream state for instance


I'm not sure about the joy. In those states I experience high clarity and equanimity. Joy points to discerning that as a positive thing and owning it. There is certainly an afterglow and I'd associate that with taking ownership of those experiences.


In a metaphorical sense, the witness is like the foreground and objects flow past it. By bringing the witness into contact with the object the witness takes on the form of the object. There is no distinction betweenobject, observer no experience of time. Another way of saying this might be "the thought is thinking".I'm wondering if you are describing a similar state but focusing on the moments when there is no object present ?

From what you describe, that sounds very much like the zen style outcome, you are merged with the objects of mind or senses, this is more a 'concentrated' exercise.


I've not studied Zen but those experiences resonated with the little I've heard of Zen mindfulness. But Zen seems to elevate some of these experiences e.g. your "original face". I think we can put all experience on a level playing field. So for example "aware of awareness" is like "sound listening" but the objects are different (or not present in the case of awareness). We can reify "aware of awareness" because it is not so obvious/easy but that may be inviting atman through the back door.

There is certainly concentration but it is not fixed, objects come and go, sometimes there are no sense objects. This seems closer to Insight Meditation than Concentration Meditation e.g. I'm not expereincing jhanas. There could be a flow like "aware of awareness", "sound listening", thoughts thinking", "aware of awareness" ....

Sounds great especially if time vanishes. You could do the same thing here. Find simple present being, don't worry about the witness. When you locate the natural awake state (remember nothing special, just awake) there does not seem to be a witness. The witness is a form of suffering or self division at some level. Maybe this is what you are getting at ? When the witness vanishes peace reigns?

In what I was describing there is no longer an experience of the witness, it is extremely intense in regards to clarity and equanimity. After experiencing that I was left wondering how the hell did I have such an intense experience without being distracted by the intensity. I guess the equanimity just lets the experience go much deeper than usual, as you said there is a "division" in typical experience that is being held onto.

As to time vanishing, I've heard it said that this is a pre-condition to being present i.e. if we are fully in the present moment there is no comparison to past or future so there is no experience of time. It is not a feeling of time vanishing more like not being aware of time and not being aware that time has vanished emoticon

I resonate with your reference to how "simple" this is. Not simple in the sense of "easy", it is so simple that it is really difficult to understand! For me it felt like a paradigm shift. Someone was explaining mindfulenss to me and I starting seeing the witness experience as a problem, not a solution. After some sitting with this, the idea of "merging" the witness with the object came up. Then it was pretty easy to get into that state during meditation. The witness state seems very dry compared to a mindfulness which is immersive. 

Keen to have your thouhgts on the above, thanks. I'm still unsure if we are talking of the same thing!
Marty G, modified 5 Years ago at 10/15/16 4:43 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/15/16 4:39 PM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Posts: 95 Join Date: 9/3/16 Recent Posts
Hi Mark, thanks for the detailed response
Re-reading this and the paragraph below is a
bit distracting, I'll leave it here but you might ignore it 


This reminds me of "recursion", in
theory we could be aware of being aware of being aware of being aware.... Like
holding two mirrors opposite each other. But I don't see any reason the brain
would have evolved to do that. Having a "theory of mind" for others
is extremely useful,  maybe self-awareness is a side effect of that
ability. To have a "theory of mind" of someone else requires an
ability to "simulate" their mind state. Turning that ability toward
the self might be what we are describing. That would explain why we can
experience "aware of awareness" but don't experience an infinite
recursion.

Following from the above the "witness"
could be the experience of "simulating" my own mental state. Which
normally we don't do so it takes some practise to develop it.




I guess you are having a bit of creative speculation here.
This might be close to what Shinzen Young
refers to as noting gone. The attention is on what happens between the
experience of sense objects. Typically the mind is skipping from one object to
another and as we get deeper concentration we are aware of the object coming
and going and a "gap" prior to the next object. Is that making sense ?


No, not exactly It's not the gap we notice (in this method) it's that we notice when a thought, or sensory input overwhelms us (to the point where we are distracted) and we return to our meditation object, we notice we were unaware, unconscious or unawake in that period and we notice we are now presently awake (having noticed this). Do you use a meditation object or are you doing dry vipassana or something similar? if you don't focus on a static form it would be more difficult to get this simplicity: 

{Was Unconscious , Now Conscious}

You go to bed at night and awake in the morning, when your eyes open you notice you are awake, that sort of stark obvious contrast. The awake state will pass quickly unless you cultivate it.That's really the root of all mindful practice. If you read the 2 Freddie Yam links, you should get 'it' by the end of the read. My reference to noticing getting lost in thought and noticing we are awake in the moment of seeing this,is only one place where we may notice this.

http://freddieyam.com/gen2/p/how-to-stop-thoughts.html

http://freddieyam.com/wordpress/how-to-stay-conscious-1

On his pages you can ignore all his personal preferences, saint and sages,they're just his personal views, however he does give clean descriptions that may be of use.one quote :
If you pay attention to an object — to something of which you are aware — you will
probably pull yourself into the lost-in-thoughts state. In order to stay out of
the lost-in-thoughts state, you have to keep your attention on consciousness,
not on objects.Consciousness is not an object. At this stage, it seems like a
state. It is the state in which you are aware. The state in which you aren’t
lost in thought. The state in which it feels like the lights are on.One way you
can keep your attention on consciousness is by focusing on the task of staying
in that state. To me it feels like the lights are on. If it feels some other
way to you, focus on how it feels to you. However it feels, keep that feeling
going. In my case, I keep the lights on.

Also read Susan Blackmores  " Am I conscious now?" she is even more to the point.

http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/Books/Tenzen/question1.htm

But we are talking about 2 different things in the end. You may not have the inclination to investigate this track further, or it may become clear at a later time and you say " Now I know what he was on about! ..", that kind of thing.  All the best on your journey.
Mark, modified 5 Years ago at 10/16/16 7:48 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/16/16 7:48 AM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

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Marty G:
Hi Mark, thanks for the detailed response

I guess you are having a bit of creative speculation here.



Yes emoticon


This might be close to what Shinzen Young
refers to as noting gone. The attention is on what happens between the
experience of sense objects. Typically the mind is skipping from one object to
another and as we get deeper concentration we are aware of the object coming
and going and a "gap" prior to the next object. Is that making sense ?


No, not exactly It's not the gap we notice (in this method) it's that we notice when a thought, or sensory input overwhelms us (to the point where we are distracted) and we return to our meditation object, we notice we were unaware, unconscious or unawake in that period and we notice we are now presently awake (having noticed this).


I think I'm getting on the same page. It seems close to being aware of the witnessing.


Do you use a meditation object or are you doing dry vipassana or something similar? if you don't focus on a static form it would be more difficult to get this simplicity: 


At the moment I don't use a meditation object. Although sometimes I'll try to focus on a sensory mode e.g. sound, image, thought, feeling. I'd call it closer to investigation than noting, I'm not labeling.



{Was Unconscious , Now Conscious}

You go to bed at night and awake in the morning, when your eyes open you notice you are awake, that sort of stark obvious contrast. 

.....

Also read Susan Blackmores  " Am I conscious now?" she is even more to the point.

http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/Books/Tenzen/question1.htm

But we are talking about 2 different things in the end. You may not have the inclination to investigate this track further, or it may become clear at a later time and you say " Now I know what he was on about! ..", that kind of thing.  All the best on your journey.
The quote and Susan Blackmores page made it clearer. I agree we are talking about different things.

With an awareness of witnessing there is a strong sense of being "awake". At the same time it dissociates the experience, there is an observer. The type of mindfulness I've been experimenting with seems more immersive, there is not an awareness of observing. But I've only been able to achieve that on the cushion.

So could we say there is :

Awareness of the experience - the witness state with attention on the objects of experience
Awareness of the witness - the witness state with attention on the witnessing
Immersion with the experience -  no distinction of an observer/object separation

Asking the question "am I conscious now ?" could be a trigger for the witnessing state while drawing attention to the witnessing process.

Are you familiar with the "flow state" ? I think of this as being different from mindfulness. Recently someone told me it is possible to be mindful and in a state of flow. This got me very intrigued up until then I'd associated mindfulness with the witness and it seemed impossibel to witness the state of flow. For me part of the experience of flow was having the attention completely absorbed by an activity. 
Marty G, modified 5 Years ago at 10/16/16 3:47 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/16/16 3:30 PM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

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Awareness of the experience - the witness state with attention on the objects of experience

Awareness of the witness - the witness state with attention on the witnessing

Immersion with the experience -  no distinction of an observer/object separation


Now you are onto it, except I'm shy of the words witness and witnessing, I would have to write a long post to explain why. If we change the second line, to "awareness of awakeness"  it's a slight nuance but significant because it does not have an 'I' in it, where Susan B. was asking "Am I conscious now ?" for instance always inquire ( if you use an inquiry) : Conscious ? or Awake? without the self referent, this has a different impact. In fact I would go as far as to say, that: "Awareness of the witness - the witness state with attention on the witnessing" is a contrived, unnatural and self divided state  not to be cultivated .

Are you familiar with the "flow state" ? I think of this as being different
from mindfulness. Recently someone told me it is possible to be mindful
and in a state of flow. This got me very intrigued up until then I'd
associated mindfulness with the witness and it seemed impossibel to
witness the state of flow. For me part of the experience of flow was
having the attention completely absorbed by an activity.



Thanks for digging that up. Mate,  I love and cultivate what is called here 'the flow'. One of the ridiculous, conceits and ignorance's of  psychologists with no or little study in the traditions is they assume they have found  new or uninspected mind/body states and of course the  hindu/buddhist meditators have mapped every possible movement of mind/body to the finest octave for thousands of years emoticon

 Nothing wrong with putting a new spin on it, which may make it more accessible to others, of course.

This site covers it, pretty well:

http://davidmichie.com/blog/2014/06/07/meditation-and-being-in-flow/

I want to carefully study the flow in my own practice, and relate it back to the big picture ( so to speak). So again, thanks for this.
Thich Nhat Hanh really brought the flow to the west in the 70's, until quite recently I thought he was just a populist, fusion, Buddhist-romantic. Not so,  this guy is the king of flow, he understands it and practices it every moment ( as far as I can see). So here you can feel its fullness expressed in a tradition. His old original text, caught my eye years ago.

http://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Thich%20Nhat%20Hanh%20%20The%20Miracle%20of%20Mindfulness.pdf

the line "when washing the dishes, only wash the dishes" (or very similar) so you are fully absorbed in action. The whole body is integrated and to different degrees, the 'self' is set aside. No self, no chronic suffering in effect . Another modern exponent is Lama Surya Das.

(Edit, can't get link to function, search "miracle of mindfulness pdf")
Mark, modified 5 Years ago at 10/17/16 11:28 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/17/16 11:26 AM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Marty G:
Awareness of the experience - the witness state with attention on the objects of experience

Awareness of the witness - the witness state with attention on the witnessing

Immersion with the experience -  no distinction of an observer/object separation


Now you are onto it, except I'm shy of the words witness and witnessing, I would have to write a long post to explain why. If we change the second line, to "awareness of awakeness"  it's a slight nuance but significant because it does not have an 'I' in it, where Susan B. was asking "Am I conscious now ?" for instance always inquire ( if you use an inquiry) : Conscious ? or Awake? without the self referent, this has a different impact. In fact I would go as far as to say, that: "Awareness of the witness - the witness state with attention on the witnessing" is a contrived, unnatural and self divided state  not to be cultivated .

I think I'm a step closer to understanding you. I agree the "witness" is problematic. Perhaps the positive point is that it leads to the question "what/who is the witness?" If the witness is labeled "awareness" it might be confused with some sort of ground (I'm not implying that is what you are doing).

I wonder if awareness is really a thing or just a concept. I'm more convinced that there is just different types of experience and we are eiher experiencing something or not. 

Earlier I wrote about experiencing no object, this is not what you are pointing to. There is a sort of meta-experience, the "aware of awareness" that you are pointing to.  My working theory is, not that objects come into awareness, but objects are awareness. So aware of awareness is what it is like to be aware, it is just another object. This would mean it would be possible to have an immersive experience of awareness. Maybe higher jhanas are actually describing that.

Another theory has awareness being like a screen that objects are projected onto. The issue with this is that seeing the screen requires an observer and that does not fit with anatman.

What I described above would be like Google Glass - projecting straight into the eye - no screen and you can't take the glasses off. When there is nothing being projected there are some artifacts of the projector running, unconscious is when the projector switches off. Once we have noticed the artifcats then we can also notice them while a movie is showing. This is sounding ridiculous emoticon 
 



Are you familiar with the "flow state" ? I think of this as being different
from mindfulness. Recently someone told me it is possible to be mindful
and in a state of flow. This got me very intrigued up until then I'd
associated mindfulness with the witness and it seemed impossibel to
witness the state of flow. For me part of the experience of flow was
having the attention completely absorbed by an activity.



Thanks for digging that up. Mate,  I love and cultivate what is called here 'the flow'. One of the ridiculous, conceits and ignorance's of  psychologists with no or little study in the traditions is they assume they have found  new or uninspected mind/body states and of course the  hindu/buddhist meditators have mapped every possible movement of mind/body to the finest octave for thousands of years emoticon

 Nothing wrong with putting a new spin on it, which may make it more accessible to others, of course.

This site covers it, pretty well:

http://davidmichie.com/blog/2014/06/07/meditation-and-being-in-flow/




Excellent! Yes that makes perfect sense, a meditation session can be very much like flow. It seems so obvious now you point it out!



I want to carefully study the flow in my own practice, and relate it back to the big picture ( so to speak). So again, thanks for this.
Thich Nhat Hanh really brought the flow to the west in the 70's, until quite recently I thought he was just a populist, fusion, Buddhist-romantic. Not so,  this guy is the king of flow, he understands it and practices it every moment ( as far as I can see). So here you can feel its fullness expressed in a tradition. His old original text, caught my eye years ago.

http://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Thich%20Nhat%20Hanh%20%20The%20Miracle%20of%20Mindfulness.pdf

the line "when washing the dishes, only wash the dishes" (or very similar) so you are fully absorbed in action. The whole body is integrated and to different degrees, the 'self' is set aside. No self, no chronic suffering in effect . Another modern exponent is Lama Surya Das.

(Edit, can't get link to function, search "miracle of mindfulness pdf")

Excellent, I'm really happy we got to this. Downloaded the book, thanks.

I can see that meditation can be a state of flow and that washing the dishes can be a state of flow. But with a mentally taxing task which leads to a state of flow e.g. playing chess, is this possible ? It seems you are saying Thich Nhat Hanh proposes this. Maybe it is a case of being mindful all the way along into the state of flow. Avoiding going into a sort of autopilot or having an autopilot maintain some attention on what it is "like to be aware".
Marty G, modified 5 Years ago at 10/17/16 5:09 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/17/16 5:09 PM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Posts: 95 Join Date: 9/3/16 Recent Posts
I think I'm a step closer to understanding you. I agree the "witness" is
problematic. Perhaps the positive point is that it leads to the question
"what/who is the witness?" If the witness is labeled "awareness" it
might be confused with some sort of ground (I'm not implying that is
what you are doing).


I wonder if awareness is really a thing or just a concept. I'm more
convinced that there is just different types of experience and we are
eiher experiencing something or not. 


EarlierI wrote about experiencing no object, this is not what you are pointing
to. There is a sort of meta-experience, the "aware of awareness" that
you are pointing to.  My working theory is, not that objects come into
awareness, but objects are awareness. So aware of awareness is what it
is like to be aware, it is just another object. This would mean it would
be possible to have an immersive experience of awareness. Maybe higher
jhanas are actually describing that.


Another theory has awareness being like a screen that objects are projected
onto. The issue with this is that seeing the screen requires an observer
and that does not fit with anatman.


What I described above would be like Google Glass - projecting straight into
the eye - no screen and you can't take the glasses off. When there is
nothing being projected there are some artifacts of the projector
running, unconscious is when the projector switches off. Once we have
noticed the artifcats then we can also notice them while a movie is
showing. This is sounding ridiculous

I can't help you much with your exploration into the witness and the roots of consciousness. I don't think you will find a final resolution. In very real terms the flow puts an end to this quest. Any watcher/ witness is a mind created state. Moving into complete immersion with active, whole body living is a pragmatic solution to this dilemma. No watcher/witness, no problem That's not to say you should not have a base theory of consciousness to refer to. The flow, or zone state, is about being fully concentrated, fully absorbed, yet profoundly aware and alert and optimally thought free. It's pleasurable, because there is no self-division. The watcher or " me apart", self-consciousness is vanished. You can't do this on an intellectual level. Thinking, Thinking. Awareness is sharp, can focus on a twig or leaf or move to the distant sound of voices (when walking consciously). It's alert, attentive, present and very simply 'happy'.
Mark, modified 5 Years ago at 10/18/16 4:03 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/18/16 4:03 AM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Marty G:

I can't help you much with your exploration into the witness and the roots of consciousness. I don't think you will find a final resolution.


I agree, that is one of the core insights of modernity, there are certain questions that can't be answered. At the same time there will always be more to learn. For example we might say the idea of consciousness as a screen is a worse analogy than consciousness as a projector. Consciousness as a screen typically leads to objectifying it. Likewise learning that the earth goes around the sun, is a better model than the sun going around the earth, but is far from a resolution of cosmology.



In very real terms the flow puts an end to this quest. Any watcher/ witness is a mind created state. Moving into complete immersion with active, whole body living is a pragmatic solution to this dilemma. No watcher/witness, no problem.


I think this is problematic. The flow state is another mind created state. Resting in the flow state there is still ideology at work. It is a desirable state if the subject realises they are a subject, otherwise it is another (happier) way of being asleep.



That's not to say you should not have a base theory of consciousness to refer to. The flow, or zone state, is about being fully concentrated, fully absorbed, yet profoundly aware and alert and optimally thought free.


I'm with you up to the point of "thought free" I think this depends on what you are doing. Thinking is just another sensory input. If you are in a flow state and doing something that requires deductive thought then thinking may be part of it, for example problem solving may use thinking to change perspective intentionally. This can be part of a flow state.



It's pleasurable, because there is no self-division. The watcher or " me apart", self-consciousness is vanished. You can't do this on an intellectual level. Thinking, Thinking.


Agreed it is not an intellectual exercise, the analysis of it does seem useful e.g. the books and articles you referenced.


Awareness is sharp, can focus on a twig or leaf or move to the distant sound of voices (when walking consciously). It's alert, attentive, present and very simply 'happy'.

You could add thoughts to the example. Thoughts are often seen as a problem because they often are! But it is rumination that is typically the problem, thinking that creates a dualistic experience. Thoughts thinking can be the same as sound listening. Some people put so much focus on stopping rumination that they aim to stop thoughts. This might be possible but I think it is a bit like poking your eyes out because you don't like looking at some things emoticon

The experience of 'happy' is also something that raises questions. There is some ideology at work there. If there is an experience of happiness while the self is suffering e.g. physically or emotionally, then there is probably some sort of dissociation going on. Happiness is a feeling sensation. It might come up a lot more in states of flow but I'm not sure it has to be there. Sometimes it seems the state of flow leaves an afterglow of joy but I would not necessarily be aware of joy when immersed in some other experience.

I hope the above is not sounding too preachy - I find it helpful to exchange on this because it lets me see parts of my own ideology playing out. The relationship between meditation and flow is starting to make more sense - thanks!
Patrick TwoSwans, modified 5 Years ago at 10/19/16 10:14 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/19/16 10:14 AM

RE: Noticing and cultivating Clear Present Mind

Posts: 3 Join Date: 2/29/16 Recent Posts
Great post.  Certainly sounds very like Dzogchen's "rigpa," but explained in simpler everyday language.

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