Vipassana: The Right Way?

Yilun Ong, modified 5 Years ago at 4/29/18 4:09 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 4/29/18 3:47 AM

Vipassana: The Right Way?

Posts: 623 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
After doing this for a year, thinking I know what is Vipassana, asking this question is hilariously stupid (But beats draining more time/effort burning the wrong candle hands down)! From Ajahn Chah's teachings, the bulk of my practice is Method 2: finding the 3Cs and either noting them directly or noticing them intently. Other technique I've been doing much more of recently - 'Doing Nothing' seems to be Method 1. Recently, as copied from another thread we see that there are 2 kinds of Vipassana - both of which I have done but confused as to which to best spend the bulk of efforts on or perhaps which-when is a better question...
Chris Marti 
Sure - using one method we do vipassana practice as prescribed in MCTB and examine very closely and in great detail the nature of the objects we're experiencing and how those objects are created and processed by the mind. When practiced often enough and properly this will reveal the very nature of those objects - that they are impermanent, not us, and lead to dissatisfaction (suffering). These 3 characteristics arise in this manner as insights as the objects are penetrated by the investigation process. 

In the second method we can decide to look for the 3 characteristics before we sit to meditate, and while we meditate we can examine what's going on and attenmpt to diagnose what we see as one of the three, or as the characteristic we're looking for at the time.
Method one presumes nothing and the characteristics appear as a natural part of objects as they are created by the mind. In the second method we presume the 3 characteristics are true (without necessarily having had any experience of them) and proceed from there. Method two can lead to side tracks because we might not know what we're looking for.

Method #1 - we find the characteristics after starting investigation
Method #2 - we assume the charcteristics and then investigate

I used method #1 throughout my practice, and still do on occasion. Method # 2 may appear to some to be a shortcut but I don't think it is.

@Chris’s post in the two methods.

I like Thanissaro’s take which seems to be method two and I riffed off it here:

So remember those three perceptions. And that's what the Buddha called them, "perceptions": the perception of inconstancy, the perception of stress, the perception of not-self. He never called them characteristics. He never talked about three characteristics. You do a search for the term, "three characteristics" in the Pali Canon, and you're not going to find it. The Buddha's talking about a way of perceiving that helps you see through your attachments, that helps you see through your delusions about where you can find happiness, so that the question that lies at the beginning of wisdom — What when I do it will lead to my true long-term welfare and happiness?" — finally gets its answer in the skills you've developed. And part of the strategy in mastering those skills is to master the tasks that are appropriate to the four noble truths. That's what we're doing: We're working on those tasks so that we can handle them skillfully. We want to skillfully comprehend stress and suffering, so we can understand why it is that we keep feeding on these things, even though they ultimately lead to disappointment. That helps us develop dispassion for the craving that keeps pushing us in that direction, so that we can let it go. At the same time, we're developing the path that puts the mind in a position where it can do this without feeling threatened, until it no longer needs that particular position, that particular center. Then you can take that apart as well. Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Can we have a clear understanding of these 2 methods and how best to use them? Method 2: What do people mean by investigate the 3Cs then? Have I been barking up the wrong tree by finding them instead of letting them show themselves? How do people know which they should be doing? emoticon

So fundamental but I think this is very important!
Chris M, modified 5 Years ago at 4/29/18 10:35 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 4/29/18 7:53 AM

RE: Vipassana: The Right Way?

Posts: 4826 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I think I've been pretty clear in several posts but here's another try:

You investigate phenomena by observing and examining, very, very closely and in very tiny increments of time and with as much precision as you can, the objects that arise in your awareness. You can choose to focus on one object for an extended period or to focus on whatever arises. Either way, you are observing the process of dependent origination -- seeing objects from the point of sensory contact to their passing away.

If you are unsure, try both methods. Take a few weeks to work with each, see what works better. Pick the one that works (actually brings some insight) and do that long term.

It helps to be very, very, very curious about what, exactly, an object is. Is it "out there?" Is it "in here?" How does an object form, and how does it disappear? (Arise... pass away, arise.... pass away.)

We are, at the end of all discussions about process, trying to pierce the veil of ignorance, which in pragmatic dharma terms means the illusion of permanence, satisfaction, and self.
Matt, modified 5 Years ago at 4/29/18 11:15 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 4/29/18 8:10 AM

RE: Vipassana: The Right Way?

Posts: 316 Join Date: 1/14/14 Recent Posts

Thank you so much for your posts and this one in particular!

I'm probably not as far along the path as most participants here, so take my thoughts with a big grain of salt.

I like the advise I read somewhere, perhaps in 'wings of awakening' by thanissaro [or 'the heart of buddhist meditation' by thera], to work with what is evident. Wow, that seems really profound to me.

'Work' means to practice something (as opposed to do the same old dumb thing I've done all my life). Surely doing something new will lead to beyond where I am. Notice if I'm having beneficial results and adjust.

'Evident' means what is actually perceivable, as opposed to what someone told me might be out there. Someone else's words are not actually evident by my senses, they are just me thinking about something somebody said. That kind of thinking is all we have [aside from pondering the first noble truth] for a starting point, but that's the start of practice not the meat of practice.

I naturally gravitated to unbiased, open minded observation of what is evident (Method 1 I guess) and I've been pleasantly surprised to recognize what I think are 3 C.

That "Oh, so *this* reaction to a sound is suffering, I didn't realize I had torture built into me" moment is a signpost that I'm doing good practice, so keep on doing that.

"Oh, *there* is a sensation that I've unconsciously identified as I/me/mine, it's there, I'm here...... what's next?" was a good moment, an *interesting* moment because of what I read before, so this seems like doing good practice.

So for me, reading about 3C provides diagnostic information that in the most motivating way can tell me that I'm doing good practice, what does good practice feel like. Once one layer of illusion is seen, that is the best possible place for sniffing out the next layer of illusion.

Vibrations, strobing of experience is a good example. It's a glaring blaring signpost of progress on the path. MCTB says something like 'lean into any hint of vibrations". I don't think I would have known to put my attention on vibrations without having read that line, but I would not have come to an experience of vibrations by thinking about trying to find them, I had to find interesting, static observations, very permanent seeming feelings and put my attention on them till they started to wriggle, wax and wane, etc and eventually vibratory phenomena appear in a way that I had no clue they would, and then I consciously shift attention that way.

edit: I'm voting for some *reading* and then a bunch method 1, but when 3C shows up, then dive in to something that looks like method 2, but when you you realize you're just wondering which book that you read something in, go back to method one.
Yilun Ong, modified 5 Years ago at 4/29/18 5:09 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 4/29/18 2:29 PM

RE: Vipassana: The Right Way?

Posts: 623 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Thanks Matthew & Chris!

I think you have been most clear! So what has been happening in my case in the past 6 months is that either method gets me to full body vibrations and then Fruition via the 3 doors. And no progress past that, just similar cycles (on and off) with changing energetics. It could simply be that my energetics are not ready/up to standard yet or something I am missing!

I have seen ultra-quick insights into Contact-Feeling-Perception OR Crave/Aversion/Ill-Will; are there other DO insights other than these? Other insights into 3Cs other than the 3 doors? <- I have been trying to catch the doors clearly but it is so hard and totally unpredictable!

I have to say Method 1 is the one that gets through directly to the doors, don't think I have ever crossed that whilst noting, always in bare attention...

And perhaps there is no practical need to differentiate them haha...


Paying direct attention to bare reality with clarity and precision will result in directly observing the Three Characteristics regardless of whether or not you wish to call them that, as they are absolutely the truth of all conditioned things in all times and in all beings.