how to start the progress of insight?

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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: thittato
Forum: Practical Dharma

Hello,

I've read Daniel Ingrams Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, and now I'm going to practice accordingly, and my goal is to start the progress of insight as soon as possible.

So I'm trying to get a theoretical understanding of exactly how the Mahasi Sayadaw noting practice is going to lead to the first insight knowlegde 'Knowledge of Body and Mind', so as to bridge the gap between applying the technique and actually receiving the results of the technique correctly applied.

By understanding how executing the technique "flows into the stage Mind and Body" I hope that it will make it easier for my to direct my efforts as precisely as possible, as I plan to go on a longer retreat and want to avoid not practicing as efficiently as I possibly can, or starting to doubt about whether I'm doing it correctly or not.

Thank you! :-)
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Hello thittato,

The best way to learn the Mahasi Sayadaw method is to read his book, Practical Insight Meditation, which is available in full at google books.

Go here... http://tinyurl.com/mahasi

This text is the best place to start. Daniel's descriptions of the Progress of Insight in MCTB is a great place to pick up additional information if you get stuck.

Good luck!

Jackson
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Sorry, I forget to add a link to the chapter in MCTB where Daniel expounds on stages 1-4.

Go here... http://tinyurl.com/c7jek4

Jackson
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: josh0

I second the suggestion to read Mahasi Sayadaw's Practical Insight Meditation. It's an excellent and thorough introduction to the technique. I'm actually in the middle of reading it through at this very moment and realizing just how much easier my progress thus far would have been had I read it sooner. It's certainly possible to make progress without it, and in any earnest attempt you may very well discover many or even all of the fine-grain techniques on your own, but reading the book will give you a tremendous advantage over that.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: how to start the progress of insight?

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

Thank you. I've already read everything I can find on the progress of insight, so I was looking for more information on just exactly that gap between doing noting practice and getting the results in terms of actually entering the progress of insight.

I'm not quite sure how to phrase my question, but maybe more precisely I'm asking about:

What kind of speed of noting does it take to reach Mind and Body?
How and why does something as "mechanical" as noting practice lead to Mind and Body?
Maybe someone who has started the progress of insight can illustrate how they sit down, start noting, speeds up, and then the shift that happens when entering Mind and Body?

I'm just concerned about how to actually enter, as I would imagine that when you've entered the progress of insight, you know that what you did worked, and then it's just a matter of continuing.

Thank you! :-)
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Maybe this will help... From MCTB...

So, the meditator sits down (or lies down, stands, etc.) and begins to try to experience each and every sensation clearly as it is. When the meditator gains enough concentration to steady the mind on the object of meditation, something called “access concentration,” they may enter the first jhana, now called the “first vipassana jhana,” which is in some ways the same for both concentration practice and insight practice at the beginning. However, as they have been practicing insight meditation, they are not trying to solidify this state, but are trying to penetrate the three illusions by understanding the Three Characteristics.
They have been trying to sort out with mindfulness what is body and what is mind and when each is and isn’t there. They have been trying to be clear about the actual sensations that make up their world just as they are. They have been trying to directly understand the Three Characteristics moment to moment in whatever sensations arise, be it in a restricted area of space, such as the area of the sensations of breathing, a moving area of space (e.g. body-scanning practices) or in the whole of their world as is done in choiceless awareness practices. Thus, this first stage has a different quality to it from that of concentration practice, and they attain to direct and clear perception of the first knowledge of...

(continued)
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
1. Mind and Body

There is this sudden shift, and mental phenomena shift out away from the illusory sense of “the watcher” and are just out there in the world with the sensations of the other five sense doors. This is an important insight, as it shows us clearly and directly that we are not “our” mind or “our” body. It is also a really nice, clear and unitive-feeling state (it really is still more state-like than stage-like), and people can try to hold on to it just as with the first jhana and get stuck. Reality can seem just a bit more brilliant the first time one chances into Mind and Body. We may feel more alive and connected to the world.
With the sensate experience of both mental and physical phenomena being clearly observable, the relationships and interactions between the two begin to become obvious. What is meant by “the dualistic split” is very obvious during this first stage.
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RE: how to start the progress of insight?

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

There is a story, told by the Buddha, that may be relevant here.

A man is shot by a poisoned arrow.

"But the man refuses to let the doctor do anything before certain questions can be answered. The wounded man demands to know who shot the arrow, what his caste and job is, and why he shot him. He wants to know what kind of bow the man used and how he acquired the ingredients used in preparing the poison. Malunkyaputta, such a man will die before getting the answers to his questions."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nontheism

If you've already read about the basic technique, why hesitate a moment longer? Start practicing today and post your experiences here tomorrow. Many people here will be happy to guide you if you are willing to actually put the theory into practice. Another metaphor: You want to know about surfing. You could study waves forever, but unless you get on a surfboard, your just talkin'. :-)

Catch a wave and get back to us!

Kenneth
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RE: how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
There's no need to be concerned, really. Give the technique some good, serious effort, take notes on what you've experienced, and post the results here at the DhO. There are a lot of very experienced practitioners who are great at giving feedback based on your current level of practice. The very best way to learn this stuff is to just learn the basic instructions and apply them to actual practice. In other words, just do it!

Best of luck :-D
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RE: how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
@thittato

i would take Kenneth's advice very seriously emoticon just start doing the practices, as best as you can, and as best that you understand them. just keep at create a journal of your experiences, compare with others who report their experience and the experiences as described in the text you've read.

that said, i understand your deep intellectual curiosity. i have the same attitude. so here's my suggestion:

read and re-read MCTB. do the practices. if you're more scientifically inclined, listen to Shinzen Young's "the Science of Enlightenment" and his dharma talks. http://bit.ly/shinzen-dharma-talks (his style is Vipassana but he's description is more secular and contemporary, so you might groove with his lingo).
for example here's his instructions on how to note and label
http://www.shinzen.org/Retreat%20Reading/How%20to%20Note%20and%20Label.pdf

but again, the bottom line is: just do it and let us know what happens and there are lots of people here to answer your questions emoticon

~C
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RE: how to start the progress of insight?

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

But I've already started doing the practice three weeks ago!! :-) I just don't get how it is supposed to lead to Mind and Body. Well, maybe I just have to continue, turn up the dose, and see it in practice for my self. Or maybe I've already experienced it, but expect it to be more of a major experience than it actually is.

I'm just concerned about actually entering the progress of insight, as I imagine one could apply A LOT of misdirected effort, even on long term retreat, if one doesn't find the entrance door to the cycles of insight.

Okey, thank you! :-)
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I wouldn't worry too much about "entering the progress of insight." If you are practicing correctly it doesn't take long at all. And knowing whether or not you are making progress isn't actually a requisite for making progress. I would just echo other people's suggestion to jump whole-heattedly into it, practice well and see what happens, and don't obsess too much about correlating your experiences w/ the maps. That will come with time.

Best of luck,

-Vince
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RE: how to start the progress of insight?

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

Okei, thanks for all your helpful replies. I'm reassured.

My next question is: For the past couple of years I've been working with Ajaan Lee's breath meditation technique, which involves working with the, as he calls it, the breath energy in the body (ie. chi/qi/prana). So the deal is to get in touch with the breath energy through concentrating on the breath and making it comfortable, and then spreading that sense of comfort throughout the body.

It seems to me that this is the same energy one is getting in touch with through noting practice as well, especially when you talk about vibrations, flickerings, waves etc, except that on is not trying to direct or manipulate the energy.

So is this the type of energy that allows or is related to the mind speeding up, and note really quickly, because the energy sensations are quite rapid and kind of mildly frenzy? Any comments on this?
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RE: how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I've done a lot of this kind of work also so I would say it can be when there is no intentional manipulation and increasing precision in noting. I would take the vibrations or flickering for a focus and try to penetrate gently further into it, sort of bifurcating the moments into smaller units of perception until there are distinguishable arising moments, passing moments and both. No forcing just more full attention on the changes. It is like a steady tone slowing down until it is a notably pulsed tone. Keep watching for more detail in the same phenomena, continue, pretty simple. Put the time in, in whatever increments and payday comes.

"...knowing whether or not you are making progress isn't actually a requisite for making progress..." - vjhorn
Good point. I would appreciate seeing this more thoroughly explored or spoken to sometime.
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Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: how to start the progress of insight?

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

"It seems to me that this is the same energy one is getting in touch with through noting practice as well, especially when you talk about vibrations, flickerings, waves etc, except that on is not trying to direct or manipulate the energy."

I found a really good article by Shinzen Young about the relationship between the chi/prana energy and the impermanence/change aspect of insight meditation. It is called 'What is flow?' and is found here: http://www.shinzen.org/Retreat%20Reading/Flow.pdf
Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: how to start the progress of insight?

Posts: 14 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
It's a been a long and I am about to hit the sack before going to work tomorrow. I haven't practiced consistently for about a week due to logistical and habitual reasons.

But thanks for this thread. It really focuses me on what I should be working towards. I think I may have been approaching body and mind, and yes the peacefullness of that state does become very alluring and a block to one's practice as one may hanker after the effects of this state.

I haven't even finished reading this thread but I'll read it when I have more time and energy tomorrow.

I want to hit my cushion (like hit the books (knowing the drawbacks of this attitude in practice)) more consistently. Thanks for the motivation.

Mettha.

Aswini.

Mettha.