Message Boards Message Boards

Wetpaint Migration 4

Examining Intentionality

Toggle
Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/11/08 2:08 PM
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

I thought I'd share this insight, since my last one generated some discussion. For a while now, I've mostly identified with a "cognizing emptiness" or awareness that provides the context of the phenomenon in my perceptual field. It has, however, been hard to shake the feeling that this "cognizing emptiness" was "doing something" - "cognizing" for one thing. I was able to examine the sensations of how the focus of my perceptual field shifted, and I noticed that it did so in response to spontaneously arising (pre-verbal) cognitions, and that the shifts in focus also comprised a series of (formation-like) sensations. Nevertheless I never could shake the sense that the "cognizing emptiness" was doing something else - that it was somehow interacting with the contents of "the movie" and affecting "the plot." When you read the non-duality literature, and even some descriptions of enlightenment - often there is a sense of the quality of a passive observer - "I am being lived" and so forth. Yet I never could escape the feeling that I was somehow an active participant rather than a passive observer.

So I decided to look closely at the sensations of my own intentionality and how they arose, and how I experienced them. What I found was that I was in some sense an active participant - but in another sense not - rather the way one hears oneself play an amazing guitar solo, or make a spontaneous and clever remark, or write an eloquent passage. The cognizing emptiness DOES interact - it is a spontaneously arising autopoeisis - the creative process itself, and transcends the notion of intentional vs. involuntary. The closest thing I can compare it to is breathing - you can seem to control it, but you can't not do it...

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/12/08 2:29 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
Not much to add, save to say that first I have some difficulty understanding the top paragraph, and second that I agree, to the extent there's something to 'agree" with. The debate about what part of intentionality or "you" is doing stuff is a very old one, a "who" or "natural" practice rather than a "what" practice. My suspicion right now is that this active-witness flickers out during "unknowing" events, or for me seems to become transparent, to get out of the way of the "intimacy" model of reality (which i think shows up during the dark night, when it is for me more of a "vulnerability"), during sustained equanimity (though if concentration or energy gets too strong equanimity as a state can overwhelm mindfulness? maybe i am mis-using the terms)... maybe i am out of line here.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/14/08 8:13 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
No - thanks for replying at all! The first paragraph uses the term "I" rather loosely for the sake of expedience, but it gets pretty hard to talk about this stuff, as you know. I wasn't quite sure what you meant by "unknowing events" - but I think you're right - I've had more perceptions of selfing during meditative activity than I usually do during daily life being very absorbed in whatever activity I'm engaged in. The witness you refer to complicates matters - something has to observe the witness...

I think I had this insight by becoming so absorbed in the sensations of intentionality that I had the experience of "being" this interaction or creative emergence, if that makes any sense...

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/14/08 10:26 PM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
So, first you were noticing intentionality, then noticing sensations of intentionality, then identifying more with the noticing of sensations of intentionality rather than claiming them as actual intentions (while not losing the flavor of intentionality)?

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/18/08 7:23 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
Not quite - I'm sorry about the delay in responding to this, I'm trying to figure out how to describe it appropriately...

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/19/08 10:10 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
Ok, here goes: I noticed that most sensations of intentionality are "artificially produced" rather like "selfing sensations." (incidentally I've come to view these at times as personal animating "spirits" in a way - informing the "spirit" of the action or moment - I don't know if this fits for anyone - still empty or illusory but with aesthetic information. That's probably pretty non-Buddhist...) Most of the time you just start doing something. Sometimes a thought arises about doing something, and then you do it. The thing is, it seemed to make sense - there seemed like there was a connection between the awareness and the cogency of the acts performed.

So what I did was focus my attention on the spontaneous arising of thoughts and actions - the flow of experience, until there was no difference between observing the fountain of creative content ushering forth from emptiness interacting with the perceptible world "outside" and the fountain itself. "I" was the interaction. Again, "I" experienced a merging of the sensations of bubbling forth and intentionality - a transcendence of the two factors - the closest thing I can compare it to is the experience of breathing (which was in fact an aspect of the experience).

So emptiness is both active and passive and neither active nor passive.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/21/08 3:51 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
I primitively understand that this question becomes a more slippery with progress and higher paths... so apologies in advance!

Does the experience seem to coordinate with elements of Equanimity? I was just re-reading that section in Daniel's book this morning.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/22/08 3:02 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
Well now that you mention it, probably so. The kind of experiences that elicited the insight definitely involved the direct perception and understanding of formations without linguistic interpretation, a sense of "the space between" those sensation-cognitions, and the ability to enjoy a state of concentration that facilitated a (at least partial) coalescence of observation and perception. This latter, I think, from a theoretical point of view would imply 4th jhana or higher (?).

So the apprehension of formations seems to correlate with High Equanamity.

Does all that seem correct to other people reading who might have a better theoretical grasp than me?

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/22/08 5:49 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
If I'm reading your comments correctly - and I'm not sure I am - then what you seem to be describing are basic vipssana insights. Subject-object merging, observing the flow of perception in real time, and so forth. BUt then my theoretical understanding seems to lag my experiential understanding ;-)

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/22/08 6:43 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
Well - you know, maybe so - those were certainly part of the phenomenon I was experiencing... (What would that indicate in terms of progress of insight? Obviously those things wouldn't go away in later stages...)

Except the formations - that seems like equanamity stuff. When I read the description in Daniel's book I thought, "So that's what you call those things!" I called them "thought tendrils" and had noticed their synesthetic nature - actually Daniel's book has helped me to pay more attention to the visual components, which I, on a conscious level, simply had been dismissing as "noise." I had also come up with uses for them relevant to someone interested in "the powers." At any rate, I know that, for me, these things had always been there, but sort of below the level of awareness, untranslatable to the point of not even being able to describe them to myself until I had done a lot of observation of sensations. I didn't even suspect they were meaningful until I had observed them quite a while.

Just to be clear, the insight I suppose might be distinguished from the exact phenomenon that inspired it. I suppose I on some level thought, "I know I don't have a self - but if you just sit back and observe - you'd really think there was an agent... It doesn't seem like a purely passive experience the way it seems sometimes described - "I am being lived." So I was examining those features of experience that seemed to imply an agent even if I couldn't directly observe one, when it dawned on me that my actions and thoughts were a spontaneous welling forth like all of creation - a creative process of "inside" interacting with "outside." Not "like" 'all of creation', but an aspect of Creation (happening right now).

Sorry - that probably confused things more...

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/23/08 4:43 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
haquan, don't take this wrong but I sometimes think you're talking yourself into things with such a deep focus on theory and desire to compare this and that. And please, I mean that not as criticism. It's just an observation and I am as guilty of it as anyone. And keep in mind as you read what I say -- I'm not an expert on any of this, but...

Here's my take on the "progress thing" from my own practice: it's quite easy to assume I've attained a certain "level" of progress. This is especially true when I read Daniel's book and others that contain maps, or talk about progress. My ego is always trying to put me as far "up" on the continuum of attainment as possible. I want to be enlightened and vastly accomplished. This makes it very easy to get confused. Very easy. Thoughts and concepts can, and will, be mistaken for progress. Thinking I have no self can lead to the assumption that I've had the experience of non-duality. This path is, above all, a very complicated, nuanced and subtle experience.

Then I realize that the path takes time and takes patience, and that quick assumptions about attainment are usually just quick assumptions, not very accurate. So I try to wait. And wait. And wait. And at some point it eventually becomes clear that what I really need to do is just keep practicing and focusing on the three characteristics and by doing that everything will eventually take care of itself. I want to be honest and clear about "where" I am on the path but I find that if progress becomes my main focus I'll almost inevitably mislead myself, get tripped up and waste time.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/23/08 4:53 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
My last comment appears on second reading to be a lecture. I'm sorry for that,

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/23/08 7:03 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
I want to make a few general comments about this thread before I respond to the more personal remarks. First, this thread was started with the attempt to describe an insight I had, with the hope that it would lead to a good conversation, and hopefully some instruction (for me). I've made no claims of attainment here or anywhere on this particular forum. The subject of equanamity or the progress of insight came up in response to a specific question from betawave,

Now as far as your comments go, I've picked up on the sense that you may think that I'm not as far along as I think I am. I'm not sure why it would irk you even if that's true. I can assure you I'm more interested in an accurate assessment of my progress than some sort of recognition from others here, which I get more than enough of in other settings. Now I know I've thrown out words like "emptiness," but I'm just trying to describe my experience the best I can. I'm sure I could always do with more humility... In regards to the above quote, that has been my basic philosophy, but was assured by Daniel on this forum that that was not the most accurate position - that it is much better to attempt to accurately assess your progress, but to be skeptical. I have made some provisional claims on another forum, but again, those are provisional, and I plan to wait the obligatory year and a day before making anything official. Since you seem interested in my self assessment - here it is: I can do samatha jhanas 1-8 (and more than likely some of the "higher ones"). I'm as good as anyone here regarding practical application of those. I've crossed the A&P and had that experience more than once - there's not much doubt about that and Daniel also confirmed this privately. I can also clearly recollect much of the Dark Night, and I'm not in it right now. So where does that leave me? It's anyone's guess.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/23/08 7:29 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
Author: lm913

I'm not sure cmarti was trying to be insulting in any way and I don't get the feeling that he is/would be "irk"ed about anything. It just seemed like objective advice, to me that is, and he did apologize for the "lecture" sounding post.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/23/08 8:47 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
I didn't find it insulting, nor am I offended. Seems like good advice in a general sense (though as I pointed out, it doesn't correspond exactly with what I've heard elsewhere), and I appreciate that intent on cmarti's part. I suppose I was responding to a particular intuitive sense I was getting with the word "irk" not simply to this post but a few past ones as well - my apologies to him if that sense was inaccurate. If not though, maybe that will help cmarti.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/23/08 10:12 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
He's right. It's irk, Im913.

Haquan, of all the comments made here over the past few months what pecentage do you think yours account for? I feel that this has become the "haquan message board." Few others seem to post much any more. I've seen this phenomenon take place many times before on other message boards that I was responsible for, so I'm filtering this through past experience. It's definitely immature and un-dharma-like. And maybe I'm completely full of crap about it, but that's the source of my irk.

Apologies to all.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/23/08 12:18 PM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
Author: lm913

Hmm...

I think we should have faith in the moderators to gauge whether a user is an issue or not. I may sound like an idiot about this but I think this post started out just fine but degraded a bit lately. I came here, personally, to escape this kind of back-and-forth, and I know declarations or hints at certain attainments can seem really uncalled for but I had belief that this forum was created to reduce those kind of taboos... that being said... I'm an arhant! Just kidding, felt like I had to introduce a wee bit of humor into it emoticon

Well all that being said, this is my last post in this particular thread

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/23/08 1:01 PM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
Yuck.

Hopefully all of this leads to a greater clairity on how to ask questions that help one's practice... and how to repond to posts to help another's practice.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/24/08 12:24 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
I apologize again, to everyone and to haquan, and now I'm going to let this go.

Thanks, to all of you who commented.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/24/08 2:57 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
I actually greatly appreciate this response, and find it infinitely preferable to attempts to alienate me with sugar-coated intentional patronization. Chris, you get to have feelings, and I see it as an expression of how much you value the community here (as I do). Plus, it's more than likely you are not the only one who has been secretly irked. I'd like to express my regret to any who have felt this way. I also want people to know that I am aware of my own tendency for hypergraphia, and that not only have I not intended to monopolize any discussion, but I have been actively working on abbreviating both the length and frequency of my posting. You guys have a good thing going, and I don't want to ruin it. If at any point either of the moderators believe I'm more of a liability than an asset to the community, I'll voluntarily relinquish my membership. In the meantime, I'll work on contributing appropriately.

Well, this conversation is dead, huh? Oh well, it never got too much farther than trying to describe an ineffable experience...

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/24/08 3:00 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
Maybe we can resurrect this topic by explaining how intentionality factored into what we said here ;-)

And I certainly don't want you to quit, David. Your comments are well put and we'll certainly be fine - as will the others who've been off-put by my diatribe.

RE: Examining Intentionality
Answer
11/24/08 3:56 AM as a reply to David Charles Greeson.
hi haquan, (cmarti, et al,)

first, the topic. yes, i agree that there's an active participant component, and letting this active part be there (i used to try to negate it without realising it) really lets something (let's call it 'emptiness') unfold. and it can take away the solidity of the passive observer.

and about haquan's many posts, yeah i've found it irritating myself. i find you tedious to read and your posts remind me, like a caricature, of my own intellectual preoccupations, the subject matters of which become largely pointless after the 'hit' i get from thinking wears off (a bit like pornography). so it's not the length or frequency alone that puts me off, it's how i don't deeply resonate with all that writing but have to wade through so much anyway. for example, hokai can be pretty wordy too but i've gotten so much out of some passages that i am usually ready to tolerate the lengths, except for when it gets too unfamiliarly scholastic.. but i digress..

by the way, cmarti, my way of dealing with it's been to just skip haquan posts that don't interest me by the first sentence or two. i know it's not a perfect solution cos it means the threads are still 'disproportionately' filled with his many responses and maybe that discourages other people from posting more but that's just the way things work i guess. there's something about the interdependent universe and how the sensations that make up haquan's writing as well as my feelings about it and all the other sensations that exist mutually support and interpenetrate each other, that seems very true to me, and particularly relevant..

and ajahn sumedho did say ajahn cha used to talk so much sometimes it would bore him to tears, so you never know, some people are both wise and windbags.. what can you do? how to change the nature of the interpenetrating universe? anyway..