Objects of focus

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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/8/08 3:11 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/8/08 3:11 PM

Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Soakn108
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Could awareness itself be an object of concentration and or insight? Awareness being ordinary consciousness that thought is taking place within. I'm sure this is answered in Danials book and I am not remembering where, but thought I'd put it out there regardless. This came to me when I was thinking about the no-self door and wondering if this is where koan questions (hwato's) such as "what am I?" (Chinul's tracing back the radiance, etc...) come into play.

Thanks

G.
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 14 Years ago at 2/8/08 4:51 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/8/08 4:51 PM

RE: Objects of focus

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I like your references and it sounds like you have basically answered your own question. Regardless of whether you come from a no-self, True Self, or non-dual point of view, the direct, second by second investigation using any of those focuses or techniques falls squarely in the heart of wisdom tradition territory and should, if done well, lead to something very good that goes beyond the dogmas and concepts. I say: pick one that sounds good to you and go for it, or just take on the bare sense of "awareness" directly without a more formal technique and see what you find and who is the "you" that finds it.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/9/08 4:49 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/9/08 4:49 AM

RE: Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Soakn108

Thank you for your comments, advice and encouragement. The direction to take on the bare sense of awareness reminds me of Ramana Maharshi's technique of turning attention away from the content of the mind and towards the substance of the mind itself, what he called "the self." I believe that ultimately this is what is taking place in contemplative prayer and Bhakti yoga (surrender), except that attention is being turned outwards instead of inwards. In the end it seems to point to the same non-dual experience of reality.

Greg
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/17/08 11:56 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/17/08 11:56 PM

RE: Objects of focus

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Author: xsurf

Yes, and I do practice this.. the first or second time I practice taking awareness as the object of concentration, or 'awareness watching awareness', by following the instructions at http://www.albigen.com/uarelove/most_rapid/chapter07.aspx , I had some experiences, basically I was practicing 'awareness watching awareness' until there is left just a pure sense of existence, just awareness itself. At that point it seems I enter some sort of absorption in 'awareness itself', and then strong feelings of bliss not unlike some of the jhana like experiences I had, but my mind quickly came in, tried to figure out what is happening, and then I went out of the state. I did not attain any sort of realisation from the experience, but I know this method is effective, and my friend 'Thusness' tells me I'm on the right track.

But my understanding is that this technique would usually lead to the experience of 'I AM' or the experience of the luminosity of citta itself, but usually does Not come with the insights into No-Self/Non-duality. Further insights is needed to clarify the nature of 'Awareness' which would otherwise be understood as 'Eternal Witness' or a background reality. To my understanding, Self-Inquiry is neither a vipassana nor the ordinary type of samatha method.

(to be continued)
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 12:02 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 12:02 AM

RE: Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: xsurf

As my friend 'Thusness' wrote some years back,

"The AMness can be said to be a form of absorption where the object of concentration is the Self. It can be a question "Who am I" that leads one to the experience of the subject-object becoming one. Till a point the practitioner simply experiences a pure sense of existence. However such mode of experience has no understanding of its luminous clarity and its nature as anatta. The key point about mindful awareness is there is no keeping of the mind on anything and by not resting on anything, it fuses into everything; therefore it cannot be concentrated; rather it is to relax into nothingness empty of self, empty of any artifical doing so that the natural luminosity can take its own course. There is no focusing, there is only allowing the mirror bright clarity to shine with it natural radiance. In essence there is no one there, only the phenomenon arisng and ceasing telling their stories."

Self inquiry may be a fast track method to experience 'Presence' or 'pure consciousness' but one still needs a teacher to point out the nature of non duality to him. Many get stucked at the 'I AM' level and thought it is enlightenment. Perhaps this is why Buddha never spoke much about this.

To understand more about this you may read my friend 'Thusness's six stages of experience, http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html , as well as Ken Wilber's articles differentiating the two 'levels' of realisations -- http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/05/some-writings-on-non-duality-by-ken.html

Lastly I agree no-self and true self is actually talking about the same thing using different perspective, however only with the correct insights into Non-Duality and Emptiness.
Guillermo Z, modified 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 6:08 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 6:08 AM

RE: Objects of focus

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Question to all: This practice sounds pretty much like Dzogchen to me, or is Dzogchen something completely different?
Hokai Sobol, modified 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 7:54 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 7:54 AM

RE: Objects of focus

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Yes, there's a Dzogchen and a Mahamudra way of doing this in the Buddhist tradition, but there are also non-traditional, and non-denominational teachers out there. However, Dzogchen usually presents a whole range of teachings, with a lot of preparation to be done before actually proceeding to unadulterated, natural awareness.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 9:55 AM
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RE: Objects of focus

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Author: marigpa

Preparatory practices (ngon.dro) aren't a prerequisite. What is, is receiving "direct introduction" from a qualified master, a la first statement of Garab Dorje: 'Introduce Directly'.

After this the most important practice is Guru Yoga -- unifying ones newly discovered primordial state with that of all masters, male and female, and thus enering into the practice of contemplation according to ones capacity. If ones capacity is low, one would be well advised to do the dzogchen ngon.dro, including the outer and inner ru.shen practices (separating ordinary mind from nature of mind) ... and always Guru Yoga. Of course, the dzogchen ngon.dro are always beneficial to do at any time, regardless of ones capacity.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 2:12 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 2:12 PM

RE: Objects of focus

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Author: xsurf

Just my take... To even enter 'dzogchen non-dual contemplation' and experience self-liberation (which means delusory experience liberates itself spontaneously) there must already have been deep insights into non-duality and emptiness. That is why dzogchen is pretty advanced.

But to a 'dzogchen novice' the first glimpse or introduction of pure consciousness/pure awareness or the 'I AM' experience is also important.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 3:14 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 3:14 PM

RE: Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: xsurf

Just a side note.. Daniel seems to describe the experience of 'I AM' as being a jhana beyond the 8 jhanas, but prior to nirodha samapatti:

http://web.mac.com/danielmingram/iWeb/Daniel%20Ingram%27s%20Dharma%20Blog/The%20Blook/2CECD5EA-6058-4428-8DDD-002856C2E28A.html

There is also a state somewhere in that territory that seems basically like pure presence, like being a super-pervading Watcher, with the quality of perceiving or awareness itself being the dominant quality. This has a very different quality from the 6th jhana Boundless Consciousness, and in my opinion is far superior, more fundamental, and could be argued as the highest of the states that involve experience. However, the fact that states that are so clear to me continue to show up that were never described in the old texts so far as I can tell brings up another important point: the territory out there past the fourth jhana and particularly the eighth jhana is very malleable.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 11:48 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/18/08 11:48 PM

RE: Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: marigpa

I guess it depends on what you mean by a 'dzogchen novice'.

I have heard it stated that anyone who receives dzogchen teachings, to all intents and purposes for the first time in their life, has had a prior connection with the dzogchen teaching. This of course presupposes previous lives. On this basis, it is possible that a seeming 'first-timer' may have quite a high capacity for understanding / knowing the state of dzogchen.

Another person may have a lower capacity for being/remaining in this knowledge, or may have obstacles to maintaining this understanding for more than a few moments at a time. Nevertheless, according to the dzogchen teaching at least, dzogchen is the true nature/condition of all sentient beings, and called "the state of total completedness" and "the self-perfected state" because it naturally 'posseses' non-duality and emptiness, among other things, "wearing them like ornaments" ... in other words, if a person even of lower capacity were to find themselves in the state of guru yoga which is synonymous with the state of dzogchen, for just a few moments, and a thought were to arise in that time period, this thought would spontaneously self-liberate. My point being that such a person wouldn't have needed to have already had deep insights into non-duality and emptiness from prior practice / experience ... they are already part of that person's 'real condition'.

I'm beginning to wonder if this (if it's not already) is getting off-topic. Apologies if so.
Hokai Sobol, modified 14 Years ago at 2/19/08 1:33 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/19/08 1:33 AM

RE: Objects of focus

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Hi all -
lets do our best to keep the conversation real, practice-based, backed by experience. Correcting someone's conceptual misunderstanding is real enough, as long as we stick with what we ourselves know to be so, have found it out for ourselves and seen it have meaning and effect.

Hearsay - even if it's centuries old and transmitted in scripture - is not what this DhO is about, unless we wish to discuss it as such. Modes of practice such as "natural awareness" have an uncompromising feature of being all about our direct knowledge - 1st person experience, not about 3rd person descriptions. When Dzogchen and Zen etc. get it on with absolutes and true conditios and always alreadys, we need to take a deep breath and decide whether we're going to speak from that perspective, or stay silent. Speaking ABOUT that perspective is not an option, at least not among practitioners. Even "radical" traditions present their trainings in stages (whether nine yanas in Nyingma or the five ranks of Tozan or the ten ox-herding allegories) and it's getting to the details of negotiating these stages in real life and real practice that makes it possible to even connect the "confused state" and the "real state", not to mention their eventual identity. High calibre phrases will not bridge the gap for us. Again, let's keep it real.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/19/08 3:21 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/19/08 3:21 AM

RE: Objects of focus

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Author: xsurf

Again just my take.. well first of all I acknowledged there are some great masters and practitioners who get full enlightenment in no time, but most of us and dzogchen novices as well do not have that calibre and so as you said, have to work on dzogchen ngondro, and so on even after direct introduction. And for these people [prior to being able to enter true contemplation] they would usually have to pass through the various stages, such as the 6 stages listed by my friend.

As my friend commented last month, "experiencing "I AM", as a rigpa experience, is crucial in dzogchen, coz it is the first glimpse of direct experience of our pristine awareness. in fact if read correctly the six stages are very suitable for the practice of dzogchen. but only stage 5and6 together is real dzogchen, however the practice is introduced step by step, it will be like the 6 stages, except that 3 is bypass, coz due to the profound teaching, and 5 and 6 becomes one. stage 1-2 is an intro, the first experience of rigpa. 5-6 [non-dual + emptiness] is the mature stage, but the purpose is the know[ledge] that 5-6 is an already is all the time. it starts from 5-6 as an already is.

that is dzogchen, from the understanding that it is an already is, and practice, but yet it is still step by step, so no diff. but with only the understanding that it is possible to be enligthened within one life because one already is. it is the speed of arriving at non-dual and emptiness, to realise this 'already is' aspect of pristine awareness from before begining. therefore i said, in mahayana, it is already perfected, in theravada, it is a seal, in dzogchen it is self perfection. all is taught but not understood."

As my friend says at first the 'already is' is intellectual, but the purpose of course is to realise it asap. But without 5-6 insights it's not possible [to realise 'already is]. Dzogchen takes emptiness as its base of the path.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/19/08 3:59 AM
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RE: Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: xsurf

As a Loppon once said, "As soon as you completely understand what has been introduced, then you will understand Dzogchnen view-- then you can actually practice Dzogchen itself. Everything else is Ngondro."


Prior to realisation of Dzogchen view, prior to understanding non-duality and emptiness and 'already is', whatever practice is dzogchen ngondro, preparatory, but not Dzogchen [non-dual contemplation] itself.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/19/08 7:07 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/19/08 7:07 AM

RE: Objects of focus

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Author: marigpa

Hey Hokai,

I originally responded to your incorrect portrayal of Dzogchen as "... usually [presenting] a whole range of teachings, with a lot of preparation to be done before actually proceeding to unadulterated, natural awareness." -- and I have been speaking from my own experience, with any 3rd person description for context -- maybe your own 3rd person descriptions serve the same purpose?

And you are mistaken in implying (if that's what you were doing) that the Dzogchen teaching is necessarily framed within or bound by the ".. nine yanas in Nyingma .."
Hokai Sobol, modified 14 Years ago at 2/20/08 5:13 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/20/08 5:13 AM

RE: Objects of focus

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Hi, Marigpa.
I'm not implying any such, or portraying Dzogchen, either in my first note (where I say usually), or in the second (where I give several generic examples). Dzogchen has been and continues to be presented in a variety of contexts. You can relax.:-)
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/20/08 7:53 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/20/08 7:53 AM

RE: Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: marigpa

" You can relax.:-) " ..... I'll do my best #:-o
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 14 Years ago at 2/25/08 8:40 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/25/08 8:40 PM

RE: Objects of focus

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I'd like to go back to the original question: "Can awareness be a focus of inquiry?"

From a very stripped down point of view that is at once practical and very ultimate at once, all sensations are aware where they are. There is no separate observer, though the sense of one is contrived by a very complex process of layers of content, inference, habit, poor perception, false assumption, and in general poor perception of the true nature of one's sensate reality, and investigating that is direct wisdom practice.

Thus, investigation of "awareness" yields the following: one finds only sensations, and the more one looks, the more one finds that all the things that were pretending to be an observer, attention, consciousness, awareness, and the like were merely transient, ephemeral, implied by habitual patterns of association, and not the true nature of things. Even the looking is just a causal, transient process, not self, not other, part of a naturally unfolding field of experience that never needed to nor did contain any experiencer apart from that which is experienced.

Thus, taking on "awareness" or similar objects, such as "investigation" or "attention" or "consciousness" as object takes on an illusion to try to see through that illusion, and show it to be just a trick of smoke and mirrors, something that never actually was, and all that is there is the self-luminous flickering sense-field.

Daniel
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/28/08 12:59 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/28/08 12:59 PM

RE: Objects of focus

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Author: Soakn108

Thank you for your post Daniel. It did raise the following question for me. What is cognizing the self-luminous flickering sense-field?

Thank you

Greg
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 9:29 AM
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RE: Objects of focus

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Author: eevld

Just a quick stab at this based upon part of Daniel's answer from before, I'm sure he will have far more detail, but I think I can address this a little. The answer to "What is cognizing the self-luminous flickering sense-field" is actually partially within your question. In other words, it is very helpful, as you have done here, to take the pronouns out of the equation from time to time (i.e. my senses, my attention) and de-humanize it a bit with words such as "What?" That might actually lead a little closer when it comes to certain forms of inquiry than usually can happen when pronouns are stumbling a practitioner in the narrative back toward personal identification. Secondly, when I see Daniel's sentence "Even the looking is just a causal, transient process, not self, not other, part of a naturally unfolding field of experience that never needed to nor did contain any experiencer apart from that which is experienced," it is pointing to a specific revelation - in fact the revelation at the heart of it all. And that revelation is "all sensations are aware where they are." The "What" that is taking this in does not exist, but that first has to be grappled with through the increase of direct perceptual intake and discernment through practice and contemplation and wrestling with these realities. In other words, "your" ears are not hearing the bubbling brook over there - the sound of that brook is taking the sound of brook in, directly, in the field at a certain distance from the body - with the illusion being created that it is being heard by the ears, through mental processes, as a separate observer. The more the perceptual nature and processes are dissected and investigated & the more the sense of separation is challenged/dismantled, the more it is directly seen how the sense-field is one, (i.e., is not "solid form" full of separate conscious objects) and is senseing itself.
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 10:24 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 10:24 AM

RE: Objects of focus

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Sing it, Brother! ;)
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 10:54 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 10:54 AM

RE: Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: eevld

The laughter in this sense-field was just taking itself in down in Florida -
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 11:42 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 11:42 AM

RE: Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Soakn108

Can you expand on this and or state it in a different way?

Thank you

Greg
Hokai Sobol, modified 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 1:05 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 1:05 PM

RE: Objects of focus

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Awareness is not a separate event, it's as simple as that. The who and the what - the knower and the knowledge - are the knowing itself, the sensing itself, and of course the bodying itself. The "act of becoming aware" does not really take place in as much words. The linguistic structure, as pointed out by David, may indeed produce unnecessary reifications, and it usually does. However certain distinctions may prove useful in everyday life, most people just presume distinction implies separate existence, where nothing separate is to be found at all. Even the Truth of it all isn't separate from the all, ever. The paradox remains at the heart of this matter. Once accepted, it is realized as "just so". And so it is with awareness being it's own object, without becoming separate to itself.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 7:51 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/29/08 7:51 PM

RE: Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: xsurf

When one first experiences the 'I AM' one would think that there is a 'What is cognizing' as the Seer, the Eternal Witness, the 'I AM', as an unmoved background reality where things arise and subside within, etc.

The nondual understanding is that the flickering sense-field is itself self-luminous, self-aware. It is then seen that there is no 'What is cognizing', i.e. no Cognizer, only a *process* of cognizing that is not separated from the seen, the heard, etc. That is why in Bahiya Sutta the Buddha taught that in the seeing, there is just the seen (i.e. no seer). In the hearing, there is just the heard (no hearer). In Mahayana terms, all that is Buddha-nature. Dogen says, Impermanence is Buddha-nature.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 3/1/08 1:30 AM
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RE: Objects of focus

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Soakn108

"Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."