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Observing vs. Contemplating

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Observing vs. Contemplating
anatta anicca goenka insight body scan meditation techniques stages of insight scan technique observation contemplate contemplation observing sayagyi u ba khin three characteristics dukkha panna anicca-sati anicca vijja right mindfulness right understanding samma ditthi samma sati
Answer
4/9/18 5:46 PM
Dear kalyanamitta,

I employ Goenka's instructions on how to develop insight and repeatedly throughout the courses offered in the tradition he states to keep observing anicca with anicca-sati to develop anicca-vijja.  

I have received instruction from a teacher to just feel the sensations, and at that instant, move further, as opposed to intellectually trying to notice anicca (which seems like a definition for contemplation) with the "surface level mind" and stay on the parts of the body for a long period of time, generally speaking.  Initially, the latter is what I was doing as I would only move further once intellectually noticing distinct change: be it a pulsing, vibrating, heat lessening, heat increasing, tension, etc.  My teacher said that if I do what he said, you eventually can not help but notice anicca.  I've done this and I can say that is true.  But in this post on this website, discussing how to do develop the 10 Stages of Vipassana Knowledge, the way to do so sounds like a middle ground between what I initially thought and what my teacher told me to do, causing some confusion, once again. 

This is the link to the full post, please read the whole post (there are two parts) so that you get an idea of where my confusion arises from  https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/395162 and here is an excerpt from it, (which I don't think are Sayagyi's actual words but nonetheless I believe they are inspired by U Ba Khin's 10 Nanas Discourses):

"Then, when we do Vipassana meditation, we become aware of the sensations, and that is the second type of mindfulness. We observe the sensations. We watch them. What we are doing in reality is to observe the characteristic (lakkhana) of each sensation. The object of our mindfulness is the characteristic of the sensations - their behavior. We observe whether they are permanent or whether they are not permanent, whether they are controllable or whether they are not controllable. If they aren't permanent, then we know that they're anicca. If they aren't controllable, then we know they're anatta. And if they are painful, unpleasant, we know they're dukkha. Watching the characteristics of these sensations is the purpose of Vipassana. These are the last two factors in the Eightfold Noble Path: Right Contemplation and Right Knowledge."

In the first five sentences of the excerpt above it sounds totally in line with what my teacher said, but then it seems to go off into a more contemplative territory as opposed to just raw observation until the characteristics start yelling at you that they are anicca, dukkha, and anatta.  

In this next excerpt, the distinction between observing and contemplating seems to become even stronger:

"Next comes the ability to view all conditioned states (sankharas) with an equanimous attitude, with neither attachment nor with displeasure. At this stage (sankharupekkha-nana) you don't have to make any special effort in order to experience these sankharas. It is almost automatic, and you can view them, observe and contemplate them, for quite a long time without any change in your mental attitude. This stage is free from all obstacles to attaining the stage of entering the Path (magga). Once you have come to this stage of Equanimity-Knowledge Regarding Conditioned States, if you haven't aspired in the past for some special attainment, there is no barrier to going on to the higher states, because the stage of Adaptation-Knowledge (anuloma-nana) will follow. This is the stage supporting the attainment of the Path stage."

I thank whoever took the time to observe and contemplate my post emoticon 

With loving kindness,

Mangala Mula

RE: Observing vs. Contemplating
Answer
4/10/18 6:35 AM as a reply to Mangala.
I am not sure I understand your question but here's trying to answer:

The 3Cs are GENERAL characteristics that applies to all phenomena. Your teacher is getting a beginner's mind to screw this observation tightly into the head and thus observe it habitually. After a certain point, ultra-purposeful noting is not necessary (the stage of Equanimity is a high stage 11 - when you are there, yes you do not need to note the 3Cs) as noticing of it becomes automatic with basic mindfulness on/off-cushion. You still need to be mindful though.

The vibration/flow/hard/soft/etc. are SPECIFIC characteristics. Read this link: http://www.buddhanet.net/vmed_7.htm

There are many ways of using them specifically to address issues or to notice them better.

Perhaps you can ask more specific questions. Good luck! emoticon