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Insight vs. intellectual understanding

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Insight vs. intellectual understanding kylie 1/6/18 11:12 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Lars 1/7/18 2:04 AM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding kylie 1/7/18 2:40 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding shargrol 1/7/18 7:26 AM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding seth tapper 1/7/18 10:39 AM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding kylie 1/7/18 2:47 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding seth tapper 1/7/18 4:19 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding seth tapper 1/7/18 4:34 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding seth tapper 1/7/18 4:37 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding kylie 1/8/18 10:35 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Lars 1/7/18 10:30 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding seth tapper 1/7/18 11:38 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Lars 1/8/18 12:33 AM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Richard Zen 1/8/18 12:00 AM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Lars 1/8/18 10:46 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Richard Zen 1/9/18 1:48 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding seth tapper 1/9/18 11:03 AM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Matt 1/7/18 10:15 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Richard Zen 1/7/18 6:19 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Dom Stone 1/8/18 7:38 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding kylie 1/8/18 10:44 PM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Lars 1/9/18 12:39 AM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding Matt 1/9/18 12:50 AM
RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding shargrol 1/9/18 6:15 AM
How can one tell the difference between an intellectual understanding of something and an insight? I know that insight changes the way one experiences. But is there another marker that's more clear? 


Once you have an insight can it go away? Can it be made to go away on purpose? It seems like it can't because as far as I can tell this is more about revealing that things were already a certain way rather than adding anything. But maybe one can put their understanding back to the old way? 

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 2:04 AM as a reply to kylie.
The difference between intellectual understanding and insight is the difference between hoping/thinking something is true, versus seeing the truth of it through direct experience. For this reason, you can't make insights go away. Once you've seen the truth of something clearly through direct experience, you can't make it "untrue", and the changes it often brings can't be undone.

If you'd never eaten a strawberry before, but had read some books describing what a strawberry tastes like you might have some general idea of what you think a strawberry would taste like. Then someone gives you one, and you eat it. Now you know exactly what a strawberry tastes like, and if someone told you strawberries taste like cabbage, you'd know they're full of crap from direct experience (and you would realize your previous understanding of what a strawberry tasted like was just speculation).   emoticon

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 7:26 AM as a reply to kylie.
It's possible to have an insight about an insight about an insight... so it can go away by being seen in an even larger context. emoticon

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 10:39 AM as a reply to shargrol.
This is a pretty deep reply.  The insights do feel like Russian dolls, each one reveals the limits of the last. 

I do do think you can forget insights pretty easily though from lack of practice.  If you are sitting on a warm beach at sunset it is easy to have the insight that all that work stress is silly.  When back at work, it is hard to recall that mind state.  

That might also be the key difference between a rational understanding and an insight.  We all know intellectually that work stress is pointless, but we all feel it.  On the beach, we see that it is pointless and - at least for a moment - it goes away.   An insight makes something apparent and obviously true.  My mind tends to run intellectually ahead of its insights, so I come to the rational conclusions about things well ahead of having the insight experience - which feels like wow was I dumb to ever think anything else. 

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 2:40 PM as a reply to Lars.
Thank you, that makes sense. So probably best to always work from the assumption that I have no idea what strawberries taste like even if it really feels like I do. 

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 2:47 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
Have you had any problems with your mind running ahead of the rest of it? I was way too curious, got completely ahead of the thing and I think I came out with a solid understanding. But I'm a bit worried I might have ruined it by skipping ahead. And it was honestly so satisfying I'm not sure I care to get stream entry anymore. maybe that's a better space to work from though, I don't know.

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 6:19 PM as a reply to kylie.
The main insights in this type of practice (meditation or psychology) involve understanding that the intellectual, controlling, emotional side of the mind doesn't actually control our unconscious as we think it does. This of course is often layers and layers of insights as our practice matures. Much of the irritating and harsh mental control we expose ourselves to seems inadequate and damaging so we learn to do things with less and less harsh rumination and pushing control. Even practicing things requires more repetition and periodic rest, rather than cramming and impatience that can be a bad habit of "selfing".

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 4:19 PM as a reply to kylie.
Well, YES and no.  It felt like I was having all kinds of problems.  Stories would run about how inadequate I was because I knew the truth but couldnt feel it or see it.  I would sit with determination and then find myself making a sandwich or something and narratives would run about how I am wasting my time, or will never get there or am this or that.  

What was really happening was the mind was just racing as it always does.  It sounds dumb and Yoda like, but there really isnt anything that you have to do or be or change.  The quest for satisfaction is moronic.  Just be satisfied.  It took a lot of effort for me to see how stupid effort is. 

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 4:34 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
I thought a little more about it: 

I think rational understanding running ahead of inight has pluses and minuses.  On the minus side, I have had a very hard time with the kind of moment to moment awareness that the kind of vipassana a lot of folks here practice use.  A narrator keeps trying to stop the mind from just watching and fills in the rational understanding all the time.  That is a hinderance.  Moment by moment we experience a field of sensation and you can label it just vibrations and eventually the meaning drains out of it and you see it as just Nirvana.  I couldnt hold that frame for long enough with out a story I identified with arising. I solved it for myself by substitutiing body and nervous system awareness for "vibrational" awareness.  Every sensation I experience can be labeled as coming from a nerve in my body.  The "rational" mind accepted that frame easier and has less to say about it.  I have experimented with labeling it all Vanilla Gelato - works well if you can hold the frame. 

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 4:37 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
Hit publish too quickly, 

On the Plus side - the worst hinderance in my experience is Doubt.  Doubt will make you get off the cushion and try Cross Fit instead.  The rational conviction of my mind has kept me glued to practice and that is really the only way to get there for most people.  

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 10:15 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:

...I do do think you can forget insights pretty easily though from lack of practice.  If you are sitting on a warm beach at sunset it is easy to have the insight that all that work stress is silly.  When back at work, it is hard to recall that mind state.  ...
Oh Man, I wish for us all higher bars, where the insights read about make more and more sense, then there are pleasent moments in life where the truth wonderfully makes itself apparent, then further along the reason to remember the insights become less apparent, or the reasons are less of a problem.

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 10:30 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
It sounds dumb and Yoda like, but there really isnt anything that you have to do or be or change.  The quest for satisfaction is moronic.  Just be satisfied.  It took a lot of effort for me to see how stupid effort is. 


I don't disagree, acceptance of this moment warts and all seems to work in pretty much every situation, but do you really think people can just skip straight to satisfaction? Without the insights that lead to that realization, people tend to not be satisfied. Until you see "forcing it" fail repeatedly it's tough to realize it's better to let go.

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/7/18 11:38 PM as a reply to Lars.
"do you really think people can just skip straight to satisfaction?"


I certainly couldn't, but it seems like it is possible.  What I was trying to say is that while I felt like I had all these problems, I never really did.  It is different, I think, to imagine that you are making progress towards some purer, better state of mind or being than to imagine that you are just dropping the delusion that there are problems and accepting this perfect existence as it is.  I have been in both mind states and the first always feels fraught and important to me and the second happy and satisfied, though pointless.   I can see that my mind will eventually settle permanently in the second state - if I dont die first or get pulled into some narrative.  I feel like I am past the point of getting lost in a narrative, but I have felt that before and then found myself lost in states of stress and worry that seemed like they could never recur only hours earlier.

I really have no control.  

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/8/18 12:33 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
I wish it were possible as well, but I suspect there's a reason there are 7 factors of enlightenment (in buddhism anyway) including energy (determination) and investigation etc. If it were possible to jump straight to your state of mind, then they could just replace it with one factor like "Satisfaction". Would be nice though, and i'd be happy to be proven wrong through direct experience.  emoticon

The narrator is a tough one, it shows up at the wierdest times and even when the rest of the mind is in agreement that it's stillness time (or whatever) it wants to strap on a microphone and chat. I like your idea of rephrasing how it and other sensations are interpreted so that it's more accepting and less chatty. While i'm not sure that particular "view" will work for me, a little experimentation is in order, thanks.

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/8/18 12:00 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
It's easier to look at the pain, and see if the same action or mental movement can be done without the pain. When the brain learns to act with less stress there is insight, and also intellectual understanding.

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/8/18 7:38 PM as a reply to kylie.
Due to our default tendancy to automatically label mind as "I" instead of "thinking", it can be difficult to tell the difference. This ignorance is what leads to self deception, and giving thoughts an elevated status because of the pleasure that can follow scratching an intellectual itch. This is why a calm concentrated mind is needed for Vipassana, which means "clear seeing". It is to learn this knowledge that we call insight. There are no words attached to this, and it will permanently change how you relate to future phenomena.

The confusion arises because we relate to mind, the source of intellectual inquiry. Mind is subject to change, regardless of the insights we have gained, meaning we can still be subject to delusions that ravage us before gaining insight knowledge. It is not until we fully uproot the delusion of mind as self when we can stop resting undivided attention upon it.

I think that it is all too easy to disregard any knowledge that isn't "real" insight knowledge however, and that the intellectual knowledge gained is akin to the raft we build to get us across the river, but leave on the other side. Self does not like to give up easily. It needs to be worked patiently and skilfully.

"True" insight knowledge is called empirical insight, as it relates to a direct and pure understanding. Such knowledge will immediately be followed by inferential insight. Inferential insight is based upon the mind's interpretation on the previous insight knowledge. It is intellectual by nature, and it is what is discussed amongst peers. Like the finger that points to the moon.

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/8/18 10:35 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
Yeah, I'd been doing a lot of "I know this so why can't I feel this," type of stuff and was getting really frustrated. I thought about it some more and I think being able to not do that anymore is what's so satisfying right now. 

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/8/18 10:44 PM as a reply to Dom Stone.
Well that certainly makes it more confusing. 

I was thinking a little bit more about the whole thing. And yes, a lot of stuff seems to come intellectually first. But then I don't see how one can resist attempting to take a better look at it. Or, as was my case the past few weeks, attempting to fight against it and prove it wrong(which just ended with it being very clear it was true). So maybe it's not as clear of a line as I was hoping if experiential knowledge leads to intellectual knowledge and intellectual knowledge causes one to confirm through experience. 

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/8/18 10:46 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
It's easier to look at the pain, and see if the same action or mental movement can be done without the pain. When the brain learns to act with less stress there is insight, and also intellectual understanding.

This sounds a lot like Thanissaro Bhikku's advice on jhanas:

An ideal state of concentration for giving rise to insight is one
that you can analyze in terms of stress and the absence of stress even
while you're in it.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/jhananumbers.html


RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/9/18 12:39 AM as a reply to kylie.
kylie:
So maybe it's not as clear of a line as I was hoping if experiential knowledge leads to intellectual knowledge and intellectual knowledge causes one to confirm through experience. 


It's not so much the raw experience itself that's important, but the recognition of the significance of that experience. If someone gets into some high concentration state where they observe their sensory experience strobing in and out, breaking up into particles/vibrations etc, it wouldn't do them much good if they didn't recognize the impermanence, stress etc of that. If they just watched it and thought "neat!" it wouldn't be an insight, it would just be an interesting experience that happened during a sit.

Don't worry too much about classifying insight versus experience and knowledge, just keep practising and keep an eye out for suffering of any kind and it will work itself out. Once your body/mind notices over and over again that certain behaviours or tendencies cause suffering, it will drop those tendencies on its own.

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/9/18 12:50 AM as a reply to kylie.
kylie:
Well that certainly makes it more confusing. 

I was thinking a little bit more about the whole thing. And yes, a lot of stuff seems to come intellectually first. But then I don't see how one can resist attempting to take a better look at it. Or, as was my case the past few weeks, attempting to fight against it and prove it wrong(which just ended with it being very clear it was true). So maybe it's not as clear of a line as I was hoping if experiential knowledge leads to intellectual knowledge and intellectual knowledge causes one to confirm through experience. 

I have heard and I believe true that:

  1. recognition of suffering leads to seeking for a cure
  2. faith (the will to try things that you don't have perfect reasons to believe in) leads to practice.
  3. practice leads to understanding and better practice
  4. good practice leads to valuable experience
  5. repeated valuable experience eventually changes the way we see the world, how that makes us feel and how we react.  This is the end goal.
But it's not linear: 1-6 and you're done.  It is circular: 1 to 6, then back to 1 and on to 6 again at a higher level, and repeat.

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/9/18 6:15 AM as a reply to kylie.
Another small point I want to make: we really only think/feel things that are developing, things that are still have some aspect of "inability". We really don't have much mental feedback about our abilities, they are wired into the mind/body at this point and just part of how we operate. This can be disconcerting when we have worked so hard for something, something personally meaning, and when we get it, it's gone. 

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/9/18 11:03 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
I understand what you are saying.  I have no contol over what the mind is up to.  I being this.  It is settling into a model of ordinary human experience with satisfaction and effort as meaningful, yet obviously delusional terms.  I have a family and happy life that the mind couldnt let go of, so it has constructed a through line from husband and dad to fully awake process aware of its own meaninglessness and and the radically empty perfection of - this.  It was pretty hard to do. The neurological model you are using is definately less delusional, but in the end any model that has no meaning or flaws in it is equal.  Our models of reality are only necessary if we think there is something that needs to be done or can be done.  Any model that leads to the consluion that there is nothing to do and nothing that needs to be done will end the mind's craving.  

My working model: 
I am a dumb guy with a mind that has concluded that all the flaws in existence and all the narratives and meaning it believed in were like sports teams.  I accepted them as important and true because I wanted the joy that would come when the "team" won.  When I realized that that joy was me, I saw that everything I understood about the world was a superstition.  An irrational belief I held onto out of fear.   The entire enterprise of the mind to create, interpret and understand meaning and narrative is only an evolutionary adaptation and is vestigal. 

RE: Insight vs. intellectual understanding
Answer
1/9/18 1:48 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Richard Zen:
It's easier to look at the pain, and see if the same action or mental movement can be done without the pain. When the brain learns to act with less stress there is insight, and also intellectual understanding.

This sounds a lot like Thanissaro Bhikku's advice on jhanas:

An ideal state of concentration for giving rise to insight is one
that you can analyze in terms of stress and the absence of stress even
while you're in it.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/jhananumbers.html

That's bascially what Jhanas 1 to 4 feel like for me.