Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

Andrew P, modified 14 Years ago at 3/15/08 12:03 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/15/08 12:03 AM

Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Practical Dharma

Hello all,

I have been recently reading Daniel's book (Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha). I've come across it through listening Buddhist Geeks and some of the more edgy and seemingly true perspectives / criticisms on the current state of western buddhism.

The concept of hardcore practice appeals to me tremendously, and just this week I have been motivated to make more time for sitting. Hopefully I can maintain this momentum and this trend will continue.

My question pertains to the practical exercies that have been talked about in the "Three Characteristics" chapter, namely the sensation exercises from index fingers and front/back of the head.

On top of page 19 Daniel said that "the theory tells me that it is definitely not possible to perceive both fingers simultaneously." I have tried this and the difficulty I ran into was that I seem to be able to perceive sensation in both index fingers. My question is whether one is to perceive and note the more dominant, more pronounced sensation? Or is my concentration not stable enough to be distinguish the subtle changing sensations fast enough?

Thanks.
thumbnail
Daniel M Ingram, modified 14 Years ago at 3/15/08 1:11 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/15/08 1:11 PM

RE: Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Great question.

If you think you can perceive both fingers at exactly the same time then you can't perceive the sensations as precisely and rapidly as you need to in order to distinguish each one arise and vanish, because when you can you will notice interference patterns between them, with one arising and vanishing extremely rapidly and then the other arising and vanishing extremely rapidly, back and forth, with all sorts of other sensations interspersed with these, all arising and vanishing, and while one is there, the other is not.

Best advice: go on retreats, and when there, really inquire, rapidly, precisely, critically, trying to figure out what I mean when I say you can't perceive two of anything simultaneously, fingers or otherwise.

This is a great hint.

Helpful?

Daniel
thumbnail
Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 3/15/08 5:20 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/15/08 5:20 PM

RE: Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

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

This is fascinating.

My first try - couldn't feel anything in index fingers. Just relaxed. Then, felt like I had contracted both bedbugs and fleas all over my body. I guess the answer is to keep it to a small local area.... I was just amazed at the amount of activity. And, it was like it needed permission to happen.

But - the questions of vibrational speeds and of what is mental and what is physical remains to be discovered.
thumbnail
Daniel M Ingram, modified 14 Years ago at 3/16/08 5:13 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/16/08 5:13 AM

RE: Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
All that complexity is the point! Nice job.

Most people get frustrated when they find so much sensate chaos, but insight practice is about seeing that vague, amorphous, pulsing, vibrating, twitchy chaos. Don't worry about the vibrational speeds, just pay attention to what is there with as few expectations as possible, except to realize that the Three Characteristics: impermanence (it coming and going in each little spot), suffering (some odd tension in the thing related to observation itself), and no-self (that it is too ephemeral to be a consistent self AND it is happening on its own in a causal, natural fashion), are key aspects of the thing to pay attention to. In fact, you don't know what is mind and body really, just so long as you can stay with these aspects of the thing, as they are the keys to deep insights.

Attention doesn't even need to be that focused from a certain point of view, just consistent, meaning it is there second after second, and in fact the wider you can get the thing and still stay with this activity of sensate chaos and its Three Characteristics, the better, as when you can perceive this of the whole field simultaneously, that'll do it. It typically takes some time to allow the mind to get to that point, but it is worth knowing that this is what you are working towards.
Andrew P, modified 14 Years ago at 3/16/08 6:50 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/16/08 6:50 AM

RE: Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
After couple of attempts at the exercise, I noticed a strong sense of a "striving mind", WANTING to notice those sensations, WANTING to follow the instructions. I am familiar with this feeling as it shows up during various meditation instruction attempts.

The feeling arising is "Is this it?", "Are these sensations I'm looking for?". As a result confusion arises in trying to discern the actual sensations. The noting practice would turn into a more automatic "left/right" rhythm, less indicative of the actual experience itself.

The difficulty I basically run into is the arising confusion out of questioning the technique during its application (doubt arising?)
I try to stay mindful of it and go back to sensations, breath, sound of silence, whatever can ground me again.

It seems this doubting/striving mind is mostly content or my "stuff", nevertheless somewhat challenging to stay mindful of.
Or maybe I'm just looking for too much clarity in the experience.

Looks like more practice is needed.

Of course any clarification/skillful means are appreciated.

Thanks.
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 12/13/08 11:11 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 12/13/08 11:11 AM

RE: Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hey man, don't know if you're still around but i was trolling through the archive looking at threads i missed while i was on retreat and i found this, and i could probably be helpful here so here goes:

if you haven't figured it out by now in the 8 months or so since you wrote this, the feeling arising 'is this it?' (as you put it) is also a bunch of sensations, the sense of things being automatic, indicative of anything or not, is a bunch of sensations, confusion out of thinking about the technique while you're trying to practice is a bunch of sensations, the effort put into 'going back to sensations' (things you clearly and comfortably recognise as objects of practice) is a bunch of sensations... etc. hope this drives the point home, which is that so long as you're looking with insight, there's no part of your experience that is out of bounds and cant be seen manifesting the three characteristics. and if you're not looking with insight, just keep at it, it's dependent on mental habits and is an organic process. good practice and good luck.
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 12/13/08 11:14 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 12/13/08 11:14 AM

RE: Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
that 2nd to last sentence there should be amended to read 'and if you're not looking with insight, *just keep at it and it's bound to happen more and more*, as it's dependent on mental habits, is an organic process, and will occur more often when practiced repeatedly.'
Andrew P, modified 13 Years ago at 12/23/08 7:17 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 12/23/08 7:17 AM

RE: Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
I appreciate your suggestions. My life has been very busy with little time for retreats and mostly supported by daily practice. Thank you.
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 10:08 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 10:08 AM

RE: Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi AndruP,

Daily practice is nothing to scoff at. There are times when it just isn't feasible to go on retreat. That's okay. I hope no one here will feel that their daily practice is wasted or even trivial. Every moment of mindfulness makes the next moment of mindfulness infinitely more likely. Go on retreat when you can. Meanwhile, keep up the good work and don't rule out the possibility of real progress in daily life practice. Bill Hamilton told me about a guy he knew who got First Path having never done a retreat. As I recall, the guy was meditating four or five hours a day. But even if you are meditating thirty minutes a day with an eye toward taking a retreat at some time in the future, your time is well spent. You probably don't need me to tell you this. Chances are you've had some extraordinary insights while practicing in daily life.

Appamadena sampadetha. (Strive diligently.) (Those were the Buddha's final words as he lay dying.)
Andrew P, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 2:31 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 2:31 PM

RE: Rapidity / Precision of physical sensations.

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
I feel a great deal of gratefulness about being able to participate in this forum. People here seem to really care about motivating progress. I appreciate your words of encouragement. They help me build momentum and push into/through clouds of doubt and confusion. Thank you.

Breadcrumb