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What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Chris John Macie, modified 6 Years ago.

What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 863 Join Date: 8/17/14 Recent Posts
The term 'phenomenology' is used a lot, especially by psychologists, with seemingly informal meaning.

Is there any discussion here of what it might mean, e.g. how it's used here? Different takes on it and/or formal definitions, traditions?

Having studied a couple of related forms (GFW Hegel's 'Die Phaenomenologie des Geistes', and a couple of key works by Edmund Husserl), I often don't get a firm idea of what others mean when they use the term -- it seems really fuzzy.

The only place in dhamma-studies I've found a note-worthy application of what I recognize as phenomenology is in Alexander Piatigorsky's 'The Philosophy of Buddhist Thought'. -- anyone else delved into that work (it's not easy).

Chris Macie
x x, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 122 Join Date: 8/18/13 Recent Posts
In terms of the practical use of the term to assist with actual meditation practice, phenominology is used to describe the four aspects of mind: sensations, feelings, emotions, and thoughts. This is specific to understanding and performing good noting practice.

Sensations are body sensations (warmth, tingling, aches, pressure, etc.), feeling is the nature of the "pull" of something (attraction, aversion, neutral), emotions have more meaning than feeling (happiness, anticipation, joy, bliss, terror, fear, openness, clarity), and thoughts are the bundles of different kinds of thinking (relationship thoughts, business thoughts, practicing thoughts, judging thoughts, analyzing thoughts, etc.). The point here is to get familiar with all of these aspects of experience in a very direct way. 

If people want to get the most out of mediation advice, practice journals, diagnosis of where they are on the maps, then the only reliable way to get that kind of feedback is to describe their practice in phenominological terms. Most of the time people will present their own analyses, rationales, etc. but to get clear feedback, the person needs to describe what happens to them as they sit (over time if relevant) in terms of what arises as sensations, feeling, emotions, and thoughts.

Hope that helps in a practical way. 
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Jason Snyder, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 186 Join Date: 10/25/13 Recent Posts
I don't have a sophisticated definition - basically just first "person" experience of phenomenon. 
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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I tend to use it to mean the sensations themselves, the colors, the textures, the sounds, as well as things like the energetic aspects, the vibrations, the frequencies of sensations, as well as things like the patterns of those sensations, such as a pulse followed by a mental impression, that sort of thing, as well as things related to the stages of insight and the standard criteria for those and jhanas, as well as things like the set up to things, the entrance and exit experiences that relate to events that are hard to comprehend, and the like. That helpful? It is the raw data that we use to create maps and interpretations of our experiences.
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
I tend to use it to mean the sensations themselves, the colors, the textures, the sounds, as well as things like the energetic aspects, the vibrations, the frequencies of sensations, as well as things like the patterns of those sensations, such as a pulse followed by a mental impression, that sort of thing, as well as things related to the stages of insight and the standard criteria for those and jhanas, as well as things like the set up to things, the entrance and exit experiences that relate to events that are hard to comprehend, and the like. That helpful? It is the raw data that we use to create maps and interpretations of our experiences.
Hi Daniel, how do qualia fit in with that ?
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Qualia, as in individual blips of sensation: that's the stuff.
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Qualia, as in individual blips of sensation: that's the stuff.
When reading your descriptions of the individual blips (in your book) it was qualia that came to mind for me. The "hard" problem of consciousness from the scientific perspective largely comes down to explaining how qualia arise. Potentially leading to "artificial qualia" e.g. qualia experienced by a man made machine (which may not be possible, may not be realized etc).

I'm not expecting to solve that problem in this thread emoticon I'm not expecting to solve it at all. But the "blip" aspect of qualia seems insightful. It indicates that the continuous nature of qualia is an illusion.

I've been thinking of qualia as a type of "abstraction" something that allows the brain to compress the raw sense data into a form that is much less energy hungry. 

In your BATGAP interview you mention how the perception of an object has changed for you. So the qualia seem to be associated with the object rather than as "in here" or your subjective experience. That was the first time I'd heard that presentation.

Intellectually do you think the blips are actually part of the object or do you think the blips are created by your brain ? Do you think reality is made up of these blips or are the blips just subjective experience and the non-dual perception another way of perceiving a dual world (by dual I mean the reality and the blips being two different things) ? 

I'm struggling to put this in writing, sorry. Still fun to think about - it is a distraction so please don't worry about replying if it is not a distraction you enjoy too!  
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Chris John Macie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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1) Verbal description (e.g. 'noting') at the level of phenomena -- as distinct from proliferating with associations, memories, abstractions, etc. -- is less phenomenology, per se, and rather a, perhaps more honest, form of documentation; phenomenalist data gathering, if you will.

2) Phenomenology implies a degree of analysis of structure / meaning (logos). For instance: of the interaction, interdependence, and distinction between the words used to document phenomenal experience (vacca-sankara / verbal fabrications), and the sensation-level experience in vivo. Words have a slippery dual role of a) naming ('nama' and subtype 'sanna') or symbolizing ('nimitta'), and b) fabricating and conceptualizing (subtypes 'sankara', 'vinnana').

3) The Abhidhamma (and it's roots in certain Sutta passages, especially those attributed to Sariputta) can be considered more in the direction of a genuine phenomenological approach. Abhidhamma is given short-shrift in Western Buddhism, even dismissed or disparged, if not totally ignored. It is true, trying to read the primary texts can be immensely boring, even soporific. Check out Nyanaponika's "Abhidhamma Studies: Buddhist Explorations of Consciousness and Time" for a much livelier introduction and some fascinating insights. Don't forget, too, that the root motivation of the Abhidhamma authors, for all their excesses, was to deepen practice of the Dhamma!

4) Consider also the masterful and very readable "Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Mind", by Antonio Damasio. He's a scientific 'arahat', so to speak, in the field of neuro-science, combining the perspectives of introspection (e.g. phenomenology), behavioral experimentation, neurological decoding, and evolutionary history (kamma?) to shape and explore sophisticated 'testable hypotheses' for possible mechanisms of the 'implementation' of consciousness, self, etc. Back in the 1970's, he proposed that feeling (at the 'vedana' level) was in some important way a basis of consciousness, and was ridiculed in scientific circles – until his hypothesis was experimentally and theoretically validated in the 1990s. Reading this book (twice), after reading the Visudhimagga (and other various texts of the PaliCanon), I was floored by the correspondences with Abhidhamma (and parts of the Suttanta), which has been characterized as 'Deconstructing the Conscious Mind'. AND Damasio has no significant knowledge of Buddhism, per se; just a high attainment of (mundane, if you will) insight. (He's in a different class than that crowd of popular writers self-styled as both neuroscientists and dharma-teachers.)

5) Towards the end of his book, Damasio surveys the scientific debate concerning 'qualia', and comes down on the side of considering it a valid model. (I had some hesitation in introducing his book here, until noting the introduction of this concept in this discussion.)

[6) And then there's Alexander Piatigorsky's "The Buddhist Philosophy of Thought," which is the 'real McCoy.' He applies industrial-strength phenomenology to key aspects of the Abhidhamma (e.g. what-the-hell is a 'dhamma,' after-all?), the Bodhisattva ideal, and parts of the Sutta Nipata (real "early Buddhism"). But the book is rare, expensive, and a rather intense read. BTW, Piatigorsky, not unlike Daniel Ingram, along the way manages to effectively 'deconstruct' the authority of virtually the whole range of Western scholarly expertise (up to his writing, ca. 1980) with respect to understanding Buddhist thought and the Abhidhamma, by demonstrating how their theories crucially failed to see through the conceptual frameworks of their own Western translated notions to the fact that the Abhidhamma (etc) is expressly about seeing through any and all such mental fabrication to ultimate realities (rupa, citta, cestasika, Nibbana). ]

Hope this all is halfway intelligble.
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Hi Chris,

That is quite a download emoticon Thanks. I'll comment but I'm not familiar with those works.

Hopefully others will explain more about noting. You are probably right that initially it is like phenomenalist data gathering but it should lead to insights and some of those may be much closer to phenomenology.

Noting as I understand it is more than just naming, there is the idea of being with the object rather than only observing it. But there are probably many approaches and I'm as far from an expert as you can get while still knowing the label.

I just had a couple of people on another forum encouraging me to read the Abhidhamma. It does seem quite an intellectual exercise and I suspect the benefits may be somewhat lost on someone who does not have a very advanced practice. It might be that the Therevada community are more interested, depending on where you are in the west you may not get much exposure to Therevada ?

Antonio Damasio - really amazing bio. I wonder if he has anything to say about the biology of enlightenment ? 

There seem to be some big strides being made in connecting conscious experience to biology (impressed by an interview of the author of Consciousness and the Social Brain).

Would be great to hear your thoughts on qualia. While consciousness itself seems to have slipped into the realm of scientific hypothesis qualia seem to be a solid wall !

I have another question for you too. Maybe it deserves another thread, but I'll try my luck emoticon I don't want to hi-jack your thread but I see a connection with the "unconscious" and that was at the heart of the thoughts that follow. 

http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... .-piya.pdf "When we understand our latent tendencies, we begin to work at radically healing ourselves: we get to the roots of our personality." That seems a fairly strong link of the latent tendencies to personality but I suspect character would be a better choice than personality. The connection from the latent tendencies to nonvirtuous behaviour (or character) seems more direct than personality (which seems to include more superficial behaviours). That document links the reduction of those latent tendencies to insight practises.

I wonder if the idea of character and virtues are too connected to the self to get a lot of air time in Buddhism. But if the character is seen to be the latent tendencies then it could be seen as not self.

The idea of developing the virtues through acting/speaking in the world does not seem to be a major theme in buddhism. I can see that for a monk a lot of these issues are simplified and maybe that is why they don't get so much attention. 

Positive psychology seems to have jumped on the virtue ethics bandwagon. From 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_ ... nd_Virtues The Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) handbook of human strengths and virtues, by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, represents the first attempt on the part of the research community to identify and classify the positive psychological traits of human beings

It leads to 24 traits Creativity, Curiosity, Open-mindedness, Love of learning, Perspective and wisdom, Bravery, Persistence, Integrity, Vitality, Love, Kindness, Social intelligence, Active citizenship, Fairness, Leadership, Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, Self control, Appreciation of beauty, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, Spirituality.

Those traits can be grouped into categories Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, Transcendence.

I wonder whether this is more useful for the layperson. Mind you I've not had a lot of luck finding practises that are aimed at helping adults improve these virtues (which I assume is like reducing the latent tendencies). There is a lot of material on imparting these virtues in children. Social service stands out as an action that can help strengthen a bunch of those traits but that does not seem to be a major axe of development in buddhism (not to say it is something that is ignored by buddhists either).

There seems to be plenty of overlap but a few of the traits that don't seem to be emphasised in the dhamma might be: Creativity, Social intelligence, Active citizenship, Leadership, Appreciation of beauty, Humor. I'm not implying these virtues are not held by buddhists or ignored in the dhamma, just that these don't seem to be valued so highly in the dhamma (maybe for good reason).

I think it could be valuable to use right action, right speech and right livelihood to address the latent tendencies, while of course still meditating and improving insight. I'm somewhat surprised it does not seem to be a big part of the few buddhist communities I've seen (mainly online and western).

With your familiarity in the Abhidhamma I'd be fascinated to hear if this connection between latent tendencies and virtues is making any sense!
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Chris John Macie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Mark:

-- "Hopefully others will explain more about noting. You are probably right that initially it is like phenomenalist data gathering but it should lead to insights and some of those may be much closer to phenomenology."

As it strikes me, a rough cut, "(a) vision and (b) knowledge" (a phrase heavily used in the Visudhimagga) may correspond to a) the unfiltered observation and b) a solid comprehension of how it (process, not content) works.


-- "Noting as I understand it is more than just naming, there is the idea of being with the object rather than only observing it. But there are probably many approaches and I'm as far from an expert as you can get while still knowing the label."

Somewhere – maybe in MCTB, or maybe a dhamma-talk by the Mahasi-lineage monks at the Tathagate Meditation Center (San Jose) – I came across the notion that noting can reach a stage where a kind of mental feeling or impulse is recognized that precedes nailing it with words, and this may be sufficient -- one can drop the extra effort of shaping a verbalization around it. That might have the advantage of avoiding the danger of words as substitute for, having a life of their own, the experience itself. But, similar to your stance, I've not thoroughly explored it. Perhaps someone at the level of Daniel could ellucidate (or debunk) this.


-- Abdhidhamma...:

Nyanaponika helpfully points out that Abhidhamma know-how ("Mastery of the Matrices", as Pa Auk Sayadow puts it) is of great value for teachers, giving them a depth and precision of understanding to be able to explain Dhamma (not Abhidhamma itself) to others, especially lay students / practitioners, and by being able to perceive and shape to the listeners' level of understanding (like G. Buddha was famous for). He states that 20-years or so of Abhidhamma study is prerequisite to authorization as a teacher (Sayadaw) in (some) Burmese tradition(s).

A teacher I've contact with (Ven. U. Jagara, Canadian born, inspired by Kornfield, ordained by Mahasi, long study with Goenke and then Pa Auk) confides that the degree of rigor Nyanaponika indicates is not really applied most of the time. Maybe that's what differentiates a 'Thera' ('elder'), or 'Mahathera' ('great elder') from just a 'Sayadow'.

The lineage – Nyanatiloka --> Nyanaponika (--> Bhikku Bodhi ) – has been called 'Abhidhamma reciters,' i.e. a sort
of speciality. The continuation (Bhikku Bodhi --> Ven. Analalyo) appears to slacken-off that emphasis.


-- "Antonio Damasio - really amazing bio. I wonder if he has anything to say about the biology of enlightenment ?"

Not directly, as I recall. But he does carefully point out that, in his neurological model, the potential capabilities of mental cultivation – into more and more refined levels of reflective analysis and realization – do not appear to have any inherent limitations.


-- "Would be great to hear your thoughts on qualia…."

Damasio's usage was my first contact with this idea. I looked it up (Wikipedia), but not to any depth. Daniel's cryptic comment (above) suggests that it might be worthwhile to try and tease more out of him on this topic.

Here are my notes on the passages dealing with qualia in Damasio's book. The sections are my gloss, usually in
reference to Dhamma/Abhidhamma parallels, though the language my notes use to summarize Damasio's statements might also be tinged in that direction:

"p.253  {he distinguishes two areas of meaning for qualia}
Qualia I: feelings in anysubjective experience – pleasure, pain, or none ;
Qualia II: why shouldconstruction of perceptual maps feel like something?
p.254
all conscious images have emotions and consequent feelings; arise, persist with object in sight, or as long as “my reflections keep them in some sort of reverberation”.
As if music accompanying mental process, which are also within the process; also with music, itself and the music-like feeling track; = qualia I for musical performance; [= the inspiration for polyphonic music?].
p.255
reduced by drugs, or depression; how? Brain has structures that respond to signals from maps, as emotions [for Damasio primitive reactions, 'moving-out' as in the Latin root word parts], out of which come feelings; image-making regions can trigger emotion-triggering regions (amygdala, prefontal ventromedialsector, nuclei in basal forebrain and stem); if fits a pattern ("emotionally competent stimulus") triggers events elsewhere in brain and body = emotion; perceptual readout = feeling; brain responds to same content at different sites in parallel;
p.256
conscious states usually have multiple objects, treated integratedly, but not democratically; different values of objects--> uneven object enhancement --> ordering of images, spontaneous editing; this process relies on the emotions provoked, feelings in background; i.e. qualia are of mind, not consciousness; not a mystery (to Damasio).
Qualia II: feelings describe state of organisms interior; accompany all perceptual maps [= sense + stim + activation , i.e. the 18 'ayatana', not perception/naming'sanna']
Feeling states from brain-stem nuclei, highly interconnected, receive signals from organism’s interior; in life-regulation, nuclei transform signals, looping-back; functional fusion of body states and perceptual states;
neurons are about and extensions of flesh, become one with it, i.e. “feel” of body states; neurons are special forms of other living cells; cells have “feeling” function,  as in 1-cell organisms “sensitive” to intrusions; called “attitudes”, as no consciousness there;
p.258
response to changed internal state; so in neurons response/change in larger circuits yield “protofeeling”, like proto-cognition at some level. Neuron “sensitivity”,“irritability”; summing up of cellular contributions, like muscle cells, also excitable; permeability, opening of membrane violation of protection of interior life of cell, maybe creation of moment of protofeeling; worth pursuing.
p.259
evolution – states ought to feel, to lead towards or away from stimuli; adding nervous system with means of portraying such states in neural-body bond;
smooth life-managing states vs problematic states – each releases different chemical molecules --> body and brain – should feel differently; chemical molecules from body (blood) touch brain parts outside the blood-brain barrier: stem area postrema, and “circumventicular organs”; tranmitters/modulators, hormones,…; neural projections --> NTS, other stem nuclei, hypothalamus, thalamus and cortex.
Sensory portal changes build perspective and perceptual quality; hearing is not just cochlea, also skin, ear bones, even head & neck movements; simile eyeball & muscles in sight;
p.261
and feedback from brain influencessensory portals;
p.262
3 kinds of maps brought together: (1) of particular sense device (2) of sensory portal around the device; (3) of emotional-feeling reaction to (1) + (2) i.e. qualia [aka the 18 ayatana?] brought together in stem or cortex. Qualia are also part of contents in the self-process; provides brain with felt perceptions, pure experience; adding a protagonist, experience claimed by newly minted owner – self. [Damasio distinguishes, decodes neurologically 3 levels of self-process: proto-self, core self, and autobiographical self, the latter being the one used in common parlance]
p.263
underestimations: (1) wealth of detail, organization of body, processes, some yet unknown, may influence conscious experience at many levels; (2) yet so little known about the brain. Mysterious, hard problems likely amenable to biological account, eventually.

<end of quoted notes>

-- "I have another question for you too…"

That area is a big one, relatively new to me – the latent tendencies ('anuseti') and where that fits into practice.
Work in progress, both study and practice…

Actually, one of the most impressive clues I've found to date is Daniel's characterization (in the BATGAP interview: Reader's Digest summary of the 4 paths, at 1hr:55min to about 2:12) of the various 'axes' of experiential development – the one that gets finalized at Stream-Entry, and the rest that go on as long as there is breath to observe. Working with latent tendencies seems to have something to do with the latter group.

Another perspective that holds promise is the traditional notion (albeit perhaps one of those idealized ones) that arahantship brings an end to the forming of new kamma (karma), at least in terms of 'intention', but the on-going lifetime of an arahant is still subject to the workings-out of previous threads of kamma that bear on it.

Another recent clue is an elluciation of the mysterious 'bhavanga' notion -- the rebirthed kammic background of a lifetime that the mind rests in between moments of active engagement with sensations --, as in Rupert Gethin's analysis ("Bhavanga and Rebirth According to the Abhidhamma", 1994).-- "

-- "The idea of developing the virtues through acting/speaking in the world does not seem to be a major theme in buddhism."

Than-Geof (Thanissaro Bhikku) thinks it is, spends a lot of time teaching it. Often uses the instructions to Rahula (G. Buddha's son): evalute kusala (skillfulness) before acting, during, and in the results; and it plays a role in the classic definition of 'right effort': uproot and prevent reoccurence of the akusala (unskillful), hold to and practice (condition) towards recurrence of the kusala.

Notes:

1) Lots of good stuff can be found free on the internet, e.g. the Gethin article just cited, and the Nyanponika book mentioned above. One can 'buy' the books on-line, but often find sites where they can be freely downloaded. Not hard to find, but I can supply these links if needed.

2) Obviously my mind likes to swim in an ocean of traditional maps and a scholarly engagement with them. But is does happen that, having investigated and internalized models from tradition, e.g. elaborate matrices of Abhidhamma analysis, there are moments when direct experience
suddenly lines-up with one of those structures and it 'comes to life,' like turning on the Christmass-tree lights after all the set-up work. Then one can see an orientation, a confirmation, that helps transform the experience into useful and reusable 'knowledge,' and can suggest additional relationships to explore in the immediate experience. Could be a trap, delusion substituting abstraction for observation, but those traditional structures were developmentally abstracted out of experiential investigation. May involve faith, too.

3) Other than a pretty good grasp of the 'rupa' jhanas, I haven't noted much else in terms of substantial attainments, other than a sense of growing
momentum, and the occasional subtle sense of proximity…
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Hi Chris,

Thanks for sharing your notes!

Qualia not being consciousness is something I'm buying into. I suspect consciousness will be deconstructed by science in a similar way the self was deconstructed by buddhism. Whether there is a path to "experiencing" consciousness as an illusion in the same way there is a path to experiencing self as an illusion is another story. That may run into the limmitations of the human brain - similar to how we can't experience what it would be to be like a bat, we may not experience what it would be to "know" consciousness is an illusion.

The idea that qualia are of mind is where things seem to get very tricky. One "trap" (I've fallen into) when discussing qualia and scientific undestanding is to confuse the "what" with the "how". Science does not explain "what" things are it explains how they arise. For example we can explain how waves arise with formulas, simulations etc but none of that captures what a wave is. In a similar way it seems a reasonable hope that neuroscience can make serious progress on how qualia arise. Asking science to explain "what" something is leads to something like a huge russian doll - it just keeps explaining in ever more detail how various aspects of the object arise.

A litmus test for science's understanding of qualia would be creating artificial qualia. At the moment qualia seem to be solidly in the realm of mystery.

I will research on Thanissaro Bhikku. I don't deny there is plenty of "sila" in the teachings but it does not seem to be developed anywhere near to the extent meditation and insight are. A comparison might be Confucius who seems to have a lot more to say on the topic. From the little you wrote I suspect Thanissaro Bhikku is leveraging off the Sabbāsava Sutta or similar. A lot of the strategies seem to be dealing with unskillful states e.g. seeing, guarding, bearing, avoiding, abandoning. The idea of performing some action to strengthen a virtue seems like another way of addressing the latent tendencies before they become states.

I just came across Ken Wilber's Fourth Turning in Buddhism mentioned at http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/5572455 where I've added a brutal summary. He identifies the "structures" as a concept that is largely missing from the buddhist works.
So the first point about a possible Fourth (or Fifth) Turning is that, unknown to humans generally, everybody has up to a dozen types of intelligence that appear to have evolved over the centuries to deal with different fundamental issues and problems
I try not to be a Wilber fan boy emoticon But he often has an interesting angle on things.

There seems to be some interesting work in the revival of virtue ethics: Practical Intelligence and the Virtues by Daniel C. Russell which might help make the connection from anuseti to virtues.

Like yourself I'm scratching the surface of these topics. But there seems to be something there whereby developing the virtues and pulling mindfulness into everyday life can integrate the insights from the cushion more effectively and at the same time the daily activity brings grist to the mill on the cushion. It seems to make serious progress as a layperson it would be wise to leverage the time off the cushion. I suspect the buddhist teachings don't have so much to offer there because the focus was a monastic setting.

An experienced teacher told me that if he could guide someone early in their practise it would be to establish solid concentration and metta before jumping into mindfulness. My practise is largely focused on the concentrative at the moment.

There is a huge focus on personal liberation in buddhism. There are plenty of powerful techniques too. I do get a feeling there is something "wrong" with the bigger picture. The self is certainly there for some good reasons and I can also see lots of good reasons for stepping out of it after it has largely done it's job. I do suspect that the latent tendencies are still a motor for enlightened people (some discussions between enlightened people on the web are really instructive in this regard). I like the idea of "build the character you want because that is the one you will wake up to".

There is a risk that some enlightened laypeople spent enormous amounts of energy pursuing enlightenment to the detriment of building a virtuous character. After enlightenment a lot of the mechanisms society provides for developing virtues are no longer applicable so they could be perceived to be handicapped in some ways. Obviously enlightenment may bring a raft of benefits that largely outweigh that.

One very big alarm bell is the lack of cooperation between enlightened people. They seem to avoid much collaboration and focus more on their differences in opinion/experience than the similarities. Often proposing to transmit a particular path. For example it would be great to see enlightened people going off and pursuing another path and reaching enlightenment in another tradition. 

In enlightened circles there is also a lot of talk about absolute and universal things and truths. To someone familiar with evolution and a little bit of history that all sounds like anthropocentric projections. I don't doubt that more sophisticated brains are possible and the experiences of those brains could encompass our own while discovering many things we can't (I think of a comparisons between monkeys and men today). I'm also not implying that the experience is just the brain (there are the 4 quadrants of wilber's model)

There seems to be a human tendency to want to explain everything. It seems almost comical, as soon as someone gets their hands on a new piece of knowledge we try to stretch it to fit as much as possible (sometimes everything). A good example is how quantum physics is used to explain many things when quantum physicists don't seem to understand it too well yet. I've listened to an enlightened person explaining their ease with quantum mechanics due to their enlightened perspective, I wonder how they will integrate into their universal truth the next scientific theory that invalidates aspects of quantum physics. I'd be more reassured by an enlightened person who told me they don't understand anything and are at peace with that emoticon

Anyway enough ranting. I'm still very interested in getting rid of the self, I'd just like to do it for a reason that does not feel too selfish emoticon
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
I tend to use it to mean the sensations themselves, the colors, the textures, the sounds, as well as things like the energetic aspects, the vibrations, the frequencies of sensations, as well as things like the patterns of those sensations, such as a pulse followed by a mental impression, that sort of thing, as well as things related to the stages of insight and the standard criteria for those and jhanas, as well as things like the set up to things, the entrance and exit experiences that relate to events that are hard to comprehend, and the like. That helpful? It is the raw data that we use to create maps and interpretations of our experiences.
I am not sure if that is a deliberately idiosyncratic explanation of your take on "phenomenology", but it seems like you might want to say:

"the study of the sensations themselves, the colors, the textures etc..."

Given the conventional meaning of phenomenology [wikipedia: from Greek: phainómenon "that which appears" and lógos "study")]

Mark, I personally don't see qualia as being noteworthy or special (or outside them realm of science) - you could just see them as the "stuff" of consciousness - "the sensations themselves, the colors etc..."
Daniel:
Qualia, as in individual blips of sensation: that's the stuff.

Mark:
I'm not expecting to solve that problem in this thread emoticon I'm not expecting to solve it at all. But the "blip" aspect of qualia seems insightful. It indicates that the continuous nature of qualia is an illusion.

It may indicate that the continuous nature of qualia is an illusion for Daniel if you accept the conclusions of his phenomenological investigation (though the term "illusion" seems quite problematic). But I am not sure what it indicates for anyone else. 

So Daniel's belief that experience of sensation is made of blips is a theoretical description and interpretation of his experience given the way he conducts his phenomenology and what he brings to bear to it. But the inherent assumption in the quote from Daniel is that we can use phenomenology to get access to the "raw data" and we use to create interpretations, that somehow the "raw data" stands apart from our investigation of it.

There is a nice discussion of the issues with that view in this interview I posted about on this thread (if you are interested in buddhism and phenomonology you should check it out) 

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5571449
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Hi Sawfoot,
I can understand you would accept the notion of qualia. Science is having a hard time with it, I've not seen any hypothesis as to how qualia are caused. For example can artificial qualia exist or not is still an unknown. It might be comparable to a lot of earlier concepts, it makes intuitive sense and then science (or buddhism in the case of the self) goes and rips the rug out from under our feet.
Daniel gives some instructive guidelines for experiencing the discontinuous nature of phenomenon. If I remember, you can try to perceive two phenomenon at the same time and you may see that while being aware of one the other one "disappears". 
That might not mean the qualia actually disappear, it could be a function of conscious awareness. But I guess phenomenology is concerned about the perception.
I don't think Daniel was inventing any of these techniques as far as I understand it is an expected result in Mahasi style noting.
I agree with you that there seems to be some overly ambitious claims in regards to whether a non-dual perspective has a priveledge on the "truth". We can see with the diverse experiences of enlightenment and the diverse behaviors of enlightened people that there is a huge amount of conditioning (and maybe genetics)  influencing the experience and resulting conclusions. 
By illusion I mean that our experience deceives us - we experience something as true/correct/real because of the way we perceive it. Change perspective and it is no longer true (like an optical illusion). 
I just read over your other thread, it is very relavent. When first being introduced to Vipassana I could not help but have similar concerns. The advice of "trust your own experience" to validate the techniques, while the techniques are specifically intended to influence your perception of experience, raised alarm bells! In the end I decided that the best measure is behavior - if the techniques make me behave more virtuosly then they are "good".
A lot of people turn to religions when they are having existential crises or are suffering immensely - how many of todays leading western buddhist instructors were running away from society when they discovered buddhism in the east... Someone with a well rounded charcater is probably less likely to get into a situation where those sorts of radical desires emerge. One could even argue that a virtuous character may never reach enlightenment and mainly because they don't need or want to escape from their reality.
Another (possibly) interesting point is the way the notion of freewill impacts those with a non-dual perspective. I, like lots of people with a dual perspective, don't believe in a notion of objective freewill but it does not make me believe my subjective experience does not impact the world.  It seems some enlightened people are amazed to discover they have no freewill but instead of getting on with influencing things they "let things unfold". As if the latent tendencies (like short term reward vs long term reward i.e. laziness) don't need to be kept in check. Taking on a guru position and surrounding oneself with approval seems to be the antithesis of what someone who can withstand virtually any hardship could achieve in impacting the system they are a part of. Why not a reaction of - now I can go and learn rather than teach. One enlightened person who could make a major positive impact in the world and have people realize that was due to their enlightenment would do more for the spiritual development of humanity than most teachers combined.
I'm really in a mood to rant it seems, sorry about that!




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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Hi Mark, 

If you can't have a rant on the DhO, where can you! 

"Science is having a hard time with it, I've not seen any hypothesis as to how qualia are caused. "

You talked earlier about the scientific answer to the hard problem of consciousness - I would say the hard problem is a philosophical problem not a scientific problem. And current work in consciosuness studies is making a lot of headway into understand how qualia work - by my taking an identity theory approach - such that any state of qualia is a brain state, and if you can understand those brain states you understand how qualia operate. 

"I can also see lots of good reasons for stepping out of it after it has largely done it's job."
"I'm still very interested in getting rid of the self"

This might be an overly ambitious goal! I think at best you can get a better insight into some of its "modes of operation". Some spiritual perspectives take the position that you can get rid of the self (and perhaps access some "higher self"?) but it seems like a mistake to me. 

"Daniel gives some instructive guidelines for experiencing the discontinuous nature of phenomenon. If I remember, you can try to perceive two phenomenon at the same time and you may see that while being aware of one the other one "disappears". 

That might not mean the qualia actually disappear, it could be a function of conscious awareness. But I guessphenomenology is concerned about the perception.
I don't think Daniel was inventing any of these techniques as far as I understand it is an expected result in Mahasi style noting."

Sure - just the point I am highlighted is exactly that - expected results of a particular technique, i.e. the tools you use to introspect influence the contents of introspection, which is why you probably can't see into the nature of "Ultimate Reality" - thinking you can is more than approach of the mystic than the
phenomenologist.

"In the end I decided that the best measure is behavior - if the techniques make me behave more virtuosly then they are "good"."

This seems pretty wise to me - techiques to bring about goals - and I am sure that particular one is a goal "The Buddha" would approve of. 

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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 3159 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Technique: plenty of people see things pulsing, vibrating, shifting, oscillating back and forth, etc. without any technique at all, as did I the first time I saw them, so it is not technique dependent.

Remember, we take qualia and from them and by pattern recognition create all the rest: the notion of brains, the notion of some permanent reality, all extrapolated, none of it verifiable except by inference and speculation. The qualia are the foundation of it all, the first basis of it all.
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Technique: plenty of people see things pulsing, vibrating, shifting, oscillating back and forth, etc. without any technique at all, as did I the first time I saw them, so it is not technique dependent.

Remember, we take qualia and from them and by pattern recognition create all the rest: the notion of brains, the notion of some permanent reality, all extrapolated, none of it verifiable except by inference and speculation. The qualia are the foundation of it all, the first basis of it all.
Technique: yep, I had quite a bit of that when I dropped acid! And Jen has written about her migraine auras which made her visual experience pulse and vibrate. So you could see these kinds of phenomena are somehow underlying our ordinary states of consciousness as the "raw data", or you could see them as just one of the many possible states of consciousness we can experience. 

Ultimate Reality: I understand the rationale you have that gives you licence to use phrases like "ultimate reality", and I think its an interesting perspective to take.  
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Technique: plenty of people see things pulsing, vibrating, shifting, oscillating back and forth, etc. without any technique at all, as did I the first time I saw them, so it is not technique dependent.

Remember, we take qualia and from them and by pattern recognition create all the rest: the notion of brains, the notion of some permanent reality, all extrapolated, none of it verifiable except by inference and speculation. The qualia are the foundation of it all, the first basis of it all.
Considering vision, I think it is fair to say that we know the qualia are arising after significant processing of raw input to the brain. It does not make sense to me that one could access the raw data of, for example, a single photoreceptor. We also know that qualia can include "side-effects" of that processing, a number of optical illusions rely on this.

If qualia are an abstraction of the raw sense data then we could verifiably prove they are not the foundataion of it all. But they could be seen as the foundation of our consciousness (I like this idea of the "experience" of consciousness being another type of qualia, this allows for the idea of changes in qualia/consciousness along the path in relation to changes in the brain's makeup)

Technology also seems to give us techniques to verify some things from a third person persective, for example we can test that things can be observed using sensors (senses) that we don't have. That is somewhat a proof that we experience a "map" but the map is of a terrain that exists independently of the map.

I suspect I'm over analyzing what you wrote and, my interpretation of what you wrote is a general idea that our experience is of a map and all notions are built on top of that map with inherent distortions. Intellectually we can only offer metaphors.

In regards to Sawfoot's remark, I don't think you claim some universal truth but present your experience, or am I making an assumption ?
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Hi Mark, 

If you can't have a rant on the DhO, where can you! 



I need some sort of "relieved" emoticon !



"Science is having a hard time with it, I've not seen any hypothesis as to how qualia are caused. "

You talked earlier about the scientific answer to the hard problem of consciousness - I would say the hard problem is a philosophical problem not a scientific problem.



Largely I agree but science is starting to take on aspects of the debate, at least some good progress on the notion of awareness, there is also the start of work in artificial qualia. If we are lucky we are/will witness the hand-over from philosophy to science.



And current work in consciosuness studies is making a lot of headway into understand how qualia work - by my taking an identity theory approach - such that any state of qualia is a brain state, and if you can understand those brain states you understand how qualia operate. 



The association of state to qualia is tempting but I think it misses the point that the brain is "processing" information, I suspect there needs to be a notion of temporality in there. Something more akin to the description of a process.

From a process perspective it is perhaps more likely to be a "system" i.e. multiple processes interacting. But the state based analysis should give an answer or enough clues to some of the processes involved.




"I can also see lots of good reasons for stepping out of it after it has largely done it's job."
"I'm still very interested in getting rid of the self"

This might be an overly ambitious goal! I think at best you can get a better insight into some of its "modes of operation". Some spiritual perspectives take the position that you can get rid of the self (and perhaps access some "higher self"?) but it seems like a mistake to me. 



I think "getting rid of self" is a bit over-dramatic, I mean the idea of non-dual experience. In some ways it means the self is gone but there will be plenty left over in terms of behaviours.



"Daniel gives some instructive guidelines for experiencing the discontinuous nature of phenomenon. If I remember, you can try to perceive two phenomenon at the same time and you may see that while being aware of one the other one "disappears". 
That might not mean the qualia actually disappear, it could be a function of conscious awareness. But I guessphenomenology is concerned about the perception.
I don't think Daniel was inventing any of these techniques as far as I understand it is an expected result in Mahasi style noting."

Sure - just the point I am highlighted is exactly that - expected results of a particular technique, i.e. the tools you use to introspect influence the contents of introspection, which is why you probably can't see into the nature of "Ultimate Reality" - thinking you can is more than approach of the mystic than the
phenomenologist.



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!



"In the end I decided that the best measure is behavior - if the techniques make me behave more virtuosly then they are "good"."

This seems pretty wise to me - techiques to bring about goals - and I am sure that particular one is a goal "The Buddha" would approve of. 



It unfortunately opens up a can of worms about what the big goal is, the goal I mentioned was more like a sanity check for the initial Vipassana "investigation". There is the notion of bodhisattva. But I wonder why we don't for example find bodhisattva solving problems like environmentally friendly energy generation (or maybe they are doing this quietly...)
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Mark:
sawfoot _:
Hi Mark, 

If you can't have a rant on the DhO, where can you! 

I need some sort of "relieved" emoticon !

Well, you have my permission, but I have a low hardcore-o-meter rating. 



"Science is having a hard time with it, I've not seen any hypothesis as to how qualia are caused. "

You talked earlier about the scientific answer to the hard problem of consciousness - I would say the hard problem is a philosophical problem not a scientific problem.


Largely I agree but science is starting to take on aspects of the debate, at least some good progress on the notion of awareness, there is also the start of work in artificial qualia. If we are lucky we are/will witness the hand-over from philosophy to science.

You mention the artificial qualia thing a few times -  I don't know much about it myself - my assumption is that its philosophically interesting to think about it, but engineering wise, we are long long way from it





And current work in consciosuness studies is making a lot of headway into understand how qualia work - by my taking an identity theory approach - such that any state of qualia is a brain state, and if you can understand those brain states you understand how qualia operate. 



The association of state to qualia is tempting but I think it misses the point that the brain is "processing" information, I suspect there needs to be a notion of temporality in there. Something more akin to the description of a process.

From a process perspective it is perhaps more likely to be a "system" i.e. multiple processes interacting. But the state based analysis should give an answer or enough clues to some of the processes involved.

Right - I sometimes like to think about it as a traversal through a multi-dimensional state space




"I can also see lots of good reasons for stepping out of it after it has largely done it's job."
"I'm still very interested in getting rid of the self"

This might be an overly ambitious goal! I think at best you can get a better insight into some of its "modes of operation". Some spiritual perspectives take the position that you can get rid of the self (and perhaps access some "higher self"?) but it seems like a mistake to me. 


I think "getting rid of self" is a bit over-dramatic, I mean the idea of non-dual experience. In some ways it means the self is gone but there will be plenty left over in terms of behaviours.

But, of course, there is no self to get rid of in the first place! Taking a process perspective, as you mention above, you can talk about "selving" or "egoing". When I think about non-dual experience, then selving is potentially absent, but that is at a particular point in time, and it can come back again!



"Daniel gives some instructive guidelines for experiencing the discontinuous nature of phenomenon. If I remember, you can try to perceive two phenomenon at the same time and you may see that while being aware of one the other one "disappears". 
That might not mean the qualia actually disappear, it could be a function of conscious awareness. But I guessphenomenology is concerned about the perception.
I don't think Daniel was inventing any of these techniques as far as I understand it is an expected result in Mahasi style noting."

Sure - just the point I am highlighted is exactly that - expected results of a particular technique, i.e. the tools you use to introspect influence the contents of introspection, which is why you probably can't see into the nature of "Ultimate Reality" - thinking you can is more than approach of the mystic than the
phenomenologist.



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.




"In the end I decided that the best measure is behavior - if the techniques make me behave more virtuosly then they are "good"."

This seems pretty wise to me - techiques to bring about goals - and I am sure that particular one is a goal "The Buddha" would approve of. 



It unfortunately opens up a can of worms about what the big goal is, the goal I mentioned was more like a sanity check for the initial Vipassana "investigation". There is the notion of bodhisattva. But I wonder why we don't for example find bodhisattva solving problems like environmentally friendly energy generation (or maybe they are doing this quietly...)

I don't know if there any "truly realised" beings out there, but I imagine if they did exist, they wouldn't want to go around proclaiming how enlightened or compassionate they were - they would just get on with solving problems quietly.


Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Mark:


Largely I agree but science is starting to take on aspects of the debate, at least some good progress on the notion of awareness, there is also the start of work in artificial qualia. If we are lucky we are/will witness the hand-over from philosophy to science


You mention the artificial qualia thing a few times -  I don't know much about it myself - my assumption is that its philosophically interesting to think about it, but engineering wise, we are long long way from it



Mainly because I think it shows engineers are exploring these topics. Some are perhaps overly ambitious but for example there is an annual AGI conference since 2008 http://agi-conference.org


I think "getting rid of self" is a bit over-dramatic, I mean the idea of non-dual experience. In some ways it means the self is gone but there will be plenty left over in terms of behaviours.

But, of course, there is no self to get rid of in the first place! Taking a process perspective, as you mention above, you can talk about "selving" or "egoing". When I think about non-dual experience, then selving is potentially absent, but that is at a particular point in time, and it can come back again!



Something unique enlightened people often claim is a non-reversible non-dual perspective. I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience. The intellectual acceptance of no self does not seem to change the experience of reality as dual (I just know I'm being tricked!). Your also right that I'm more concerned about ditching the ego than the self - I mean I don't mind being associated with this mind/body I'd just like be at peace and the ego seems intent on crashing the party.

If the dual view comes back again then in Daniel's maps the it means the person has not reached "4th path".



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.




Agreed and I hope he answers.


I don't know if there any "truly realised" beings out there, but I imagine if they did exist, they wouldn't want to go around proclaiming how enlightened or compassionate they were - they would just get on with solving problems quietly.



If "truly realised" means perfect then I don't think they do exist. Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see. Obviously there is a lot more to it e.g. many insights into the path of how to get there.

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering. I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Without believing everything Freud proposed, if the ego is minimised the id does not have much influence so if people were working or contributing for reasons that were related to the ego or id then they will probably move toward teaching or basking upon "enlightenment". If the drive to impact society positively was well established and relevant expertise already developed then those people may just accelerate their efforts. For example Daniel still seems to be very committed to the ER, if he had been a researcher I imagine he would have kept that up too. Would be interesting to know if he considers himself a much better doctor for having followed the path.
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Mark:

Something unique enlightened people often claim is a non-reversible non-dual perspective.

Don't you mean "something unique that people that claim to be enlightened often claim..." !
People claiming to be enlightened doesn't make them enlightened!


I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience.

If you accept what they claim is true! People are notoriously erroneous in reporting their subjective experience.

The intellectual acceptance of no self does not seem to change the experience of reality as dual (I just know I'm being tricked!). Your also right that I'm more concerned about ditching the ego than the self - I mean I don't mind being associated with this mind/body I'd just like be at peace and the ego seems intent on crashing the party.

You want to be at peace? Be careful what you wish for! In a genie heard you say that, you might be in trouble...

If the dual view comes back again then in Daniel's maps the it means the person has not reached "4th path".

For me, it is less important what people say about about their experience of the dual view, but how the dual view impacts behaviour. That you can assess a bit better than these introspective reports. And as far as I can observe, those that claim to be operating from a non-dual view often seem to operate with a markedly non-dual view in their interactions with the world.




I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.



Agreed and I hope he answers.

What do you want to find out from his answer? I think his position is pretty clear, though he might have different take on why he has that position.


I don't know if there any "truly realised" beings out there, but I imagine if they did exist, they wouldn't want to go around proclaiming how enlightened or compassionate they were - they would just get on with solving problems quietly.



If "truly realised" means perfect then I don't think they do exist. 

Well,of course! But it is nice to have ideals, and different ideals of enlightenment in different traditions.

Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see.

The characters we see or what the characters we see say about their experience?

Obviously there is a lot more to it e.g. many insights into the path of how to get there.

"the path" or "paths"?

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering. I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Impacting society - for the better? Or to strengthen the means of production, inequality and societal control structures?

Without believing everything Freud proposed, if the ego is minimised the id does not have much influence so if people were working or contributing for reasons that were related to the ego or id then they will probably move toward teaching or basking upon "enlightenment". If the drive to impact society positively was well established and relevant expertise already developed then those people may just accelerate their efforts. For example Daniel still seems to be very committed to the ER, if he had been a researcher I imagine he would have kept that up too. Would be interesting to know if he considers himself a much better doctor for having followed the path.

"Enlightenment" or "Enlightenments"?

Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Mark:

Something unique enlightened people often claim is a non-reversible non-dual perspective.

Don't you mean "something unique that people that claim to be enlightened often claim..." !
People claiming to be enlightened doesn't make them enlightened!

Yes, you are right.

I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience.

If you accept what they claim is true! People are notoriously erroneous in reporting their subjective experience.

I think they are reporting genuine experiences  - maybe you mean the interpretations of those expereinces are often erroneous ?

The intellectual acceptance of no self does not seem to change the experience of reality as dual (I just know I'm being tricked!). Your also right that I'm more concerned about ditching the ego than the self - I mean I don't mind being associated with this mind/body I'd just like be at peace and the ego seems intent on crashing the party.

You want to be at peace? Be careful what you wish for! In a genie heard you say that, you might be in trouble...

Well peace by my definition, not your's or the genie's emoticon It largely comes down to not throwing the second arrow.

If the dual view comes back again then in Daniel's maps the it means the person has not reached "4th path".

For me, it is less important what people say about about their experience of the dual view, but how the dual view impacts behaviour. That you can assess a bit better than these introspective reports. And as far as I can observe, those that claim to be operating from a non-dual view often seem to operate with a markedly non-dual view in their interactions with the world.

Can you expand on this, which interactions did you have in mind ?




I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.



Agreed and I hope he answers.

What do you want to find out from his answer? I think his position is pretty clear, though he might have different take on why he has that position.

I think there is a risk we are running on an assumption. Daniel seems to have a skeptical view on a lot of things (including his own enlightenment) so I'd be suprised if he really means ultimate reality in some absolute way. But maybe I need to be surprised!


I don't know if there any "truly realised" beings out there, but I imagine if they did exist, they wouldn't want to go around proclaiming how enlightened or compassionate they were - they would just get on with solving problems quietly.



If "truly realised" means perfect then I don't think they do exist. 

Well,of course! But it is nice to have ideals, and different ideals of enlightenment in different traditions.

What is a "truly realised" being for you ?
  
Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see.

The characters we see or what the characters we see say about their experience?

The characters we see - their morality.

Obviously there is a lot more to it e.g. many insights into the path of how to get there.

"the path" or "paths"?

"their path"

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering. I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Impacting society - for the better? Or to strengthen the means of production, inequality and societal control structures?

I hope for the better, which means political changes I guess.

I think I understand your concern and it is very real. For example many professionals own their own "stress management" rather than questioning the environment which led to that level of stress. Hopefully that is not the end point.

Without believing everything Freud proposed, if the ego is minimised the id does not have much influence so if people were working or contributing for reasons that were related to the ego or id then they will probably move toward teaching or basking upon "enlightenment". If the drive to impact society positively was well established and relevant expertise already developed then those people may just accelerate their efforts. For example Daniel still seems to be very committed to the ER, if he had been a researcher I imagine he would have kept that up too. Would be interesting to know if he considers himself a much better doctor for having followed the path.

"Enlightenment" or "Enlightenments"?

I don't think there is one path or one enlightenment but there are probably similariites and the experience will be subjective so I imagine it will always be unique. 

I suspect we agree on more than we disagree on but in the interest of differences, would you mind to share your own medium/long term goals/desires (or lack there of). Maybe I'll swap "peace" for one of yours! Cheers.


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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience.

If you accept what they claim is true! People are notoriously erroneous in reporting their subjective experience.

I think they are reporting genuine experiences  - maybe you mean the interpretations of those expereinces are often erroneous ?

Not quite, perhaps my phrasing was clumsy, but its more than just erroneous interpretation that I am getting at - it is that intrinsically reporting experiences is erroneous. This could be at a more micro level - but there is a more macro level - for example, people who have kids say they are happier after having kids, but then if you try to quantify this, it turns out those that have kids appear to be less happy than those that don't  

You want to be at peace? Be careful what you wish for! In a genie heard you say that, you might be in trouble...

Well peace by my definition, not your's or the genie's emoticon It largely comes down to not throwing the second arrow.

Not throwing it all might be a Theravadan way to look at it - but in other methods, such as tantra, you can work with the throwing rather than suppressing or eliminating it. 

For me, it is less important what people say about about their experience of the dual view, but how the dual view impacts behaviour. That you can assess a bit better than these introspective reports. And as far as I can observe, those that claim to be operating from a non-dual view often seem to operate with a markedly non-dual view in their interactions with the world.

Can you expand on this, which interactions did you have in mind ?

Any interactions, really, such as posts on a forum. So you could make the assumption (and I would) that a non-dual view implies a compassionate view, and compassionate, non-self serving behaviour. A further demonstration might be seeing non-duality in conceptual frameworks, and not becomng attached to polarised extremes. 



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.



Agreed and I hope he answers.

What do you want to find out from his answer? I think his position is pretty clear, though he might have different take on why he has that position.

I think there is a risk we are running on an assumption. Daniel seems to have a skeptical view on a lot of things (including his own enlightenment) so I'd be suprised if he really means ultimate reality in some absolute way. But maybe I need to be surprised!

Well, have a read through MCTB - the word "absolute" comes up a lot also!!

You know that word that comes up on the cover of MCTB beginning with A? The one that doesn't have a question mark after it?

It's much easier to be skeptical of things that conflict with threaten your attachments to self identity, and harder to be skeptical of things which are important to your self identity. 

What is a "truly realised" being for you ?


I don't have a great answer to that. I have this romantic notion that such a being would be recognisable, have an aura. Apparently Joshu Sasaki Roshi had that feel, But then he was a sex-pest. A greatly realised sex-pest. 
  
I suppose something like the bodhisattva ideal, but I can't point to anyone. 



Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see.

The characters we see or what the characters we see say about their experience?

The characters we see - their morality.

And how do we see their morality? Through their interactions with the world, how they treat others. 

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering. I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Impacting society - for the better? Or to strengthen the means of production, inequality and societal control structures?

I hope for the better, which means political changes I guess.

I think I understand your concern and it is very real. For example many professionals own their own "stress management" rather than questioning the environment which led to that level of stress. Hopefully that is not the end point.

So based on the idea of conditioned arising, one perspective is to see suffering as a consequence of the conditions we live in. If we want to help alleviate the sufferings of others, we need to change those conditions- questioning the environment, and the working towards changes to the social formation to reduce suffering. But this depends on your goals, of course. Some people just want to relieve their stress.


"Enlightenment" or "Enlightenments"?

I don't think there is one path or one enlightenment but there are probably similariites and the experience will be subjective so I imagine it will always be unique. 

Similarities, yes, but different methods and different goals - and different methods lead to different results. But we all share the same rough kind of human brain and environment, and a lot of the methods do have a lot in common. 

I suspect we agree on more than we disagree on but in the interest of differences, would you mind to share your own medium/long term goals/desires (or lack there of). Maybe I'll swap "peace" for one of yours! Cheers.

"Peace" seems like a more Therevadan style goal - the goal here is withdrawal from the world with its blooming and buzzing confusion, and to be peace - such as retreating to a monastry...In Vajarayana (or at least, my interpretation), the goal is more about living in the world, doing shit, and that is where I am currently working towards - using a spirtual practice to develop a non-dual view and acting in the world in accordance with that. I don't see any final goal, just getting better at it. 
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience.

If you accept what they claim is true! People are notoriously erroneous in reporting their subjective experience.

I think they are reporting genuine experiences  - maybe you mean the interpretations of those expereinces are often erroneous ?

Not quite, perhaps my phrasing was clumsy, but its more than just erroneous interpretation that I am getting at - it is that intrinsically reporting experiences is erroneous. This could be at a more micro level - but there is a more macro level - for example, people who have kids say they are happier after having kids, but then if you try to quantify this, it turns out those that have kids appear to be less happy than those that don't  

I'm not sure I'm getting it yet, sorry. If the person experiences "overall happiness" as greater then I think that is still a truthful/valid expereince even when the sum parts of that happiness (as experienced) don't actually add up to more. I mean if someone believes they are happy then they are - obviously it does not mean they will believe that forever. The experience can be irrational but I don't think the expereince has to correlate to objective facts. The experience is like a map and maps are all wrong at some level - some are way off but that does not mean they are not maps.

Maybe you are assuming that experience can access reality ? So when it does not line up with reality the experience is misinterpreted ? 

You want to be at peace? Be careful what you wish for! In a genie heard you say that, you might be in trouble...

Well peace by my definition, not your's or the genie's emoticon It largely comes down to not throwing the second arrow.

Not throwing it all might be a Theravadan way to look at it - but in other methods, such as tantra, you can work with the throwing rather than suppressing or eliminating it. 

Interesting I've had more exposure to Therevada than the other traditions (initial interest was vipassana). It seems they all can work - but  it would be nice to pick one that is easiest emoticon Right effort certainly seems to include suppression, but I assume that is not the final solution. Techniques like metta might be a better way to stop throwing.

For me, it is less important what people say about about their experience of the dual view, but how the dual view impacts behaviour. That you can assess a bit better than these introspective reports. And as far as I can observe, those that claim to be operating from a non-dual view often seem to operate with a markedly non-dual view in their interactions with the world.

Can you expand on this, which interactions did you have in mind ?

Any interactions, really, such as posts on a forum. So you could make the assumption (and I would) that a non-dual view implies a compassionate view, and compassionate, non-self serving behaviour. A further demonstration might be seeing non-duality in conceptual frameworks, and not becomng attached to polarised extremes. 

We are nearly on the same page here. But I think the "non-self serving" is perhaps questionable. Certainly there are situations where that is not good (at the expense of others) and is a problem. But valuing one self as less then others is also a problem, so some mature level of looking after one's self-interests makes sense to me.



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.



Agreed and I hope he answers.

What do you want to find out from his answer? I think his position is pretty clear, though he might have different take on why he has that position.

I think there is a risk we are running on an assumption. Daniel seems to have a skeptical view on a lot of things (including his own enlightenment) so I'd be suprised if he really means ultimate reality in some absolute way. But maybe I need to be surprised!

Well, have a read through MCTB - the word "absolute" comes up a lot also!!

Yeah I have read most of it. But it is largely from a first person perspective. He presents a huge range of types of enlightenment toward the end of the book and I guess a bunch of those have contradictory absolutes. It would suprise me if he doesn't see the contradiction.

You know that word that comes up on the cover of MCTB beginning with A? The one that doesn't have a question mark after it?

Right, but I don't think he is making arahat out to be something near your "truly realised being". Maybe you are reading your definiton into that word rather than his - it is his book emoticon

It's much easier to be skeptical of things that conflict with threaten your attachments to self identity, and harder to be skeptical of things which are important to your self identity. 

True, still I don't think he takes himself too seriously - his BATGAP interview is worth a watch if you haven't seen it.

What is a "truly realised" being for you ?


I don't have a great answer to that. I have this romantic notion that such a being would be recognisable, have an aura. Apparently Joshu Sasaki Roshi had that feel, But then he was a sex-pest. A greatly realised sex-pest. 
  
I suppose something like the bodhisattva ideal, but I can't point to anyone. 


I can understand the desire for that. But I think we may be better served by something that is attainable. A model that allows for human failure/imperfection. Given the complexity of the brain it seems a tall order to get the whole thing reformatted. I'm not saying that excuses bad behavior - there should be repercussions. It does seem that certain practices create an environment that is more propice to people going off the rails. For example I suspect there is are less sexual assaults by Therevada "gurus" than Zen "gurus". Part of the reason people go off the rails may be due to these unrealistic models - the models open doors that would otherwise not exist.

I remember seeing some quote about an old wise man answering the question of a child and others suggesting he should not waste his time but he replies that perhaps he has something to learn himself. That sort of humbleness would seem to be an essential virtue of a healthy enlightenment.

Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see.

The characters we see or what the characters we see say about their experience?

The characters we see - their morality.

And how do we see their morality? Through their interactions with the world, how they treat others. 

Yes, as you mentioned - how they interact online and write (I have not met one in person) also there are facts like that of Sasaki Roshi. 

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering. I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Impacting society - for the better? Or to strengthen the means of production, inequality and societal control structures?

I hope for the better, which means political changes I guess.

I think I understand your concern and it is very real. For example many professionals own their own "stress management" rather than questioning the environment which led to that level of stress. Hopefully that is not the end point.

So based on the idea of conditioned arising, one perspective is to see suffering as a consequence of the conditions we live in. If we want to help alleviate the sufferings of others, we need to change those conditions- questioning the environment, and the working towards changes to the social formation to reduce suffering. But this depends on your goals, of course. Some people just want to relieve their stress.

That is an insightful analogy, thanks. There is some risk of perceiving difficult conditions as predetermining "failure", that can be disempowering but there is some truth to it too. How to handle that ?

"Enlightenment" or "Enlightenments"?

I don't think there is one path or one enlightenment but there are probably similariites and the experience will be subjective so I imagine it will always be unique. 

Similarities, yes, but different methods and different goals - and different methods lead to different results. But we all share the same rough kind of human brain and environment, and a lot of the methods do have a lot in common.

Agree 

I suspect we agree on more than we disagree on but in the interest of differences, would you mind to share your own medium/long term goals/desires (or lack there of). Maybe I'll swap "peace" for one of yours! Cheers.

"Peace" seems like a more Therevadan style goal - the goal here is withdrawal from the world with its blooming and buzzing confusion, and to be peace - such as retreating to a monastry...

I can understand that interpretation but I see it as being at peace in the midst of the blooming and buzzing confusion. I remember once thinking I wanted to find the "truth" or the "meaning" or the "goal", after a little bit of reading I decided I wanted to find "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal", after some meditating I realized I wanted to be at peace with myself (not the outside world) and those other things were attachments that I thought could bring that peace. Fortunately it does not require abandoning "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal" but those are no longer seen as solutions to my problems - they might be the solution to some other peoples problems if I'm lucky.

In Vajarayana (or at least, my interpretation), the goal is more about living in the world, doing shit, and that is where I am currently working towards - using a spirtual practice to develop a non-dual view and acting in the world in accordance with that. I don't see any final goal, just getting better at it. 

That seems very reasonable. I do see some benefits to thinking about goals (not so sure about a final goal) - our ability to be effective often requires some short term trade-offs and it is hard to see those without some longer term goals. I suspect there are some "enlightened" folk who woke up to realise pretty much all they can contribute is teaching and they need paying students. I'm not saying they are doing something bad just that they missed some points prior to the awakening.
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Mark:
[quote=sawfoot _ New responses in blue
]I doubt many have tried to get back to a dual perspective for fear of loosing the non-dual! But still I think it shows there can be a permanent change in experience.

If you accept what they claim is true! People are notoriously erroneous in reporting their subjective experience.

I think they are reporting genuine experiences  - maybe you mean the interpretations of those expereinces are often erroneous ?

Not quite, perhaps my phrasing was clumsy, but its more than just erroneous interpretation that I am getting at - it is that intrinsically reporting experiences is erroneous. This could be at a more micro level - but there is a more macro level - for example, people who have kids say they are happier after having kids, but then if you try to quantify this, it turns out those that have kids appear to be less happy than those that don't  

I'm not sure I'm getting it yet, sorry. If the person experiences "overall happiness" as greater then I think that is still a truthful/valid expereince even when the sum parts of that happiness (as experienced) don't actually add up to more. I mean if someone believes they are happy then they are - obviously it does not mean they will believe that forever. The experience can be irrational but I don't think the expereince has to correlate to objective facts. The experience is like a map and maps are all wrong at some level - some are way off but that does not mean they are not maps.

Fair enough - I suppose I have a bias to look at it more from the perspective of objective facts

Maybe you are assuming that experience can access reality ? So when it does not line up with reality the experience is misinterpreted ? 

Not sure what you mean here, or at least it might take a long time to grok and explain, sorry!

You want to be at peace? Be careful what you wish for! In a genie heard you say that, you might be in trouble...

Well peace by my definition, not your's or the genie's emoticon It largely comes down to not throwing the second arrow.

Not throwing it all might be a Theravadan way to look at it - but in other methods, such as tantra, you can work with the throwing rather than suppressing or eliminating it. 

Interesting I've had more exposure to Therevada than the other traditions (initial interest was vipassana). It seems they all can work - but  it would be nice to pick one that is easiest emoticon Right effort certainly seems to include suppression, but I assume that is not the final solution. Techniques like metta might be a better way to stop throwing.

Yep - if you only think nice thoughts, it doesn't leave much space for non-nice thoughts. 


For me, it is less important what people say about about their experience of the dual view, but how the dual view impacts behaviour. That you can assess a bit better than these introspective reports. And as far as I can observe, those that claim to be operating from a non-dual view often seem to operate with a markedly non-dual view in their interactions with the world.

Can you expand on this, which interactions did you have in mind ?

Any interactions, really, such as posts on a forum. So you could make the assumption (and I would) that a non-dual view implies a compassionate view, and compassionate, non-self serving behaviour. A further demonstration might be seeing non-duality in conceptual frameworks, and not becomng attached to polarised extremes. 

We are nearly on the same page here. But I think the "non-self serving" is perhaps questionable. Certainly there are situations where that is not good (at the expense of others) and is a problem. But valuing one self as less then others is also a problem, so some mature level of looking after one's self-interests makes sense to me.

The theory might go that it isn't a problem for the "truly realised" being - for the bodhisattva.



I've asked the question of Daniel, there is certainly a tendency for people who have achieved a non-dual perspective to talk as if they know some ultimate truth. But Daniel wrote "notion of some permanent reality" and I think that is already an admission that when he writes about some "reality" it is not an absolute although it may "feel" like an absolute. I may be misunderstanding too!

Well, have a read through MCTB - "Ultimate Reality" ™ comes up a lot...It has a massive allure for the mystic.



Agreed and I hope he answers.

What do you want to find out from his answer? I think his position is pretty clear, though he might have different take on why he has that position.

I think there is a risk we are running on an assumption. Daniel seems to have a skeptical view on a lot of things (including his own enlightenment) so I'd be suprised if he really means ultimate reality in some absolute way. But maybe I need to be surprised!

Well, have a read through MCTB - the word "absolute" comes up a lot also!!

Yeah I have read most of it. But it is largely from a first person perspective. He presents a huge range of types of enlightenment toward the end of the book and I guess a bunch of those have contradictory absolutes. It would suprise me if he doesn't see the contradiction.

If you see his comment above, he is appearing to come from "idealist" perspective - in which experience is primary - and in MCTB he assumes that certain techniques allow you to see or experience "Utlimate Reality", via the "three doors". It is all very Absolute with a capital A. Discussion of different religio-cultural models of enlightenment is a different thing altogether. 

You know that word that comes up on the cover of MCTB beginning with A? The one that doesn't have a question mark after it?

Right, but I don't think he is making arahat out to be something near your "truly realised being". Maybe you are reading your definiton into that word rather than his - it is his book emoticon

Everyone who claims enlightenment has a different meaning of the word enlightenment, but I am not (as far as I am aware!) conflating "arahat" or "pragmatic dharma 4th pather" with "truly enlightened being" - see below.  

It's much easier to be skeptical of things that conflict with threaten your attachments to self identity, and harder to be skeptical of things which are important to your self identity. 

True, still I don't think he takes himself too seriously - his BATGAP interview is worth a watch if you haven't seen it.

What is a "truly realised" being for you ?


I don't have a great answer to that. I have this romantic notion that such a being would be recognisable, have an aura. Apparently Joshu Sasaki Roshi had that feel, But then he was a sex-pest. A greatly realised sex-pest. 
  
I suppose something like the bodhisattva ideal, but I can't point to anyone. 


I can understand the desire for that. But I think we may be better served by something that is attainable. A model that allows for human failure/imperfection. Given the complexity of the brain it seems a tall order to get the whole thing reformatted.

When I was talking about "realised beings" I think I said I think they are impossible - but ideals can serve useful functions, just as more realstic or obtainable goals can - so in many religions these ideals serve important symbolic functions, such as saints and bodhisattvas. Striving towards the absolute, however impossible, is a pretty core spiritual impulse for many. 

I'm not saying that excuses bad behavior - there should be repercussions. It does seem that certain practices create an environment that is more propice to people going off the rails. For example I suspect there is are less sexual assaults by Therevada "gurus" than Zen "gurus". Part of the reason people go off the rails may be due to these unrealistic models - the models open doors that would otherwise not exist.

If that is true (though, for example see this) I suspect many reasons - but mainly there are inherent tendencies of humans (well, men) in positions of power to abuse that power in the service of their egos, 

I remember seeing some quote about an old wise man answering the question of a child and others suggesting he should not waste his time but he replies that perhaps he has something to learn himself. That sort of humbleness would seem to be an essential virtue of a healthy enlightenment.

I agree that humility is (hugely) important to a "healthy enlightenment", and arrogance seems in strong conlict with that notion. 

Enlightened is such a charged word. I focus on "non-dual perspective" as this seems to fit with more of the characters we see.

The characters we see or what the characters we see say about their experience?

The characters we see - their morality.

And how do we see their morality? Through their interactions with the world, how they treat others. 

Yes, as you mentioned - how they interact online and write (I have not met one in person) also there are facts like that of Sasaki Roshi. 

I suspect we will see many more people reaching those sorts of insights who came to spiritualty with a goal of impacting society. The current generations were probably much more motivated by personal suffering.

Because we live in such a narcissistic age!

I just started watching Shinzen Young presenting at Google in 2010, early in he is explaining how beneficial meditation is to creative work and productivity. That type of pitch will attract a whole different crowd and I have some hopes they will be more inspirational in terms of impacting society.

Yes, it should be interesting to see how it pans out. 

Impacting society - for the better? Or to strengthen the means of production, inequality and societal control structures?

I hope for the better, which means political changes I guess.

I think I understand your concern and it is very real. For example many professionals own their own "stress management" rather than questioning the environment which led to that level of stress. Hopefully that is not the end point.

So based on the idea of conditioned arising, one perspective is to see suffering as a consequence of the conditions we live in. If we want to help alleviate the sufferings of others, we need to change those conditions- questioning the environment, and the working towards changes to the social formation to reduce suffering. But this depends on your goals, of course. Some people just want to relieve their stress.

That is an insightful analogy, thanks. There is some risk of perceiving difficult conditions as predetermining "failure", that can be disempowering but there is some truth to it too. How to handle that ?

Not sure really - it seems like the question of why vote in an election when you strongly suspect the party you support are going to lose. 

"Enlightenment" or "Enlightenments"?

I don't think there is one path or one enlightenment but there are probably similariites and the experience will be subjective so I imagine it will always be unique. 

Similarities, yes, but different methods and different goals - and different methods lead to different results. But we all share the same rough kind of human brain and environment, and a lot of the methods do have a lot in common.

Agree 

I suspect we agree on more than we disagree on but in the interest of differences, would you mind to share your own medium/long term goals/desires (or lack there of). Maybe I'll swap "peace" for one of yours! Cheers.

"Peace" seems like a more Therevadan style goal - the goal here is withdrawal from the world with its blooming and buzzing confusion, and to be peace - such as retreating to a monastry...

I can understand that interpretation but I see it as being at peace in the midst of the blooming and buzzing confusion. I remember once thinking I wanted to find the "truth" or the "meaning" or the "goal", after a little bit of reading I decided I wanted to find "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal", after some meditating I realized I wanted to be at peace with myself (not the outside world) and those other things were attachments that I thought could bring that peace. Fortunately it does not require abandoning "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal" but those are no longer seen as solutions to my problems - they might be the solution to some other peoples problems if I'm lucky.

So it sounds like you were looking for absolutes, but even to talk about "my meaning" is somewhat absolute - suggesting that "my meaning" is somehow real, or "out there" - the buddhist perspective would be that these too are "empty". And so, isn't wanting to be at peace "your goal"? Perhaps that too is an attachment (ie. letting go of the attachment to need peace is paradoxically what is needed to achieve peace). 

In Vajarayana (or at least, my interpretation), the goal is more about living in the world, doing shit, and that is where I am currently working towards - using a spirtual practice to develop a non-dual view and acting in the world in accordance with that. I don't see any final goal, just getting better at it. 

That seems very reasonable. I do see some benefits to thinking about goals (not so sure about a final goal) - our ability to be effective often requires some short term trade-offs and it is hard to see those without some longer term goals.

You have come to the right place then! People love goals around here. 

I suspect there are some "enlightened" folk who woke up to realise pretty much all they can contribute is teaching and they need paying students. I'm not saying they are doing something bad just that they missed some points prior to the awakening.
Right, I have to call it quits there as otherwise I feel we could go forever! And we have somewhat derailed the thread (though we did talk about phenomenology a bit!). But nice chatting with you Mark. 
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
sawfoot _ New responses in blue

...

Interesting I've had more exposure to Therevada than the other traditions (initial interest was vipassana). It seems they all can work - but  it would be nice to pick one that is easiest emoticon Right effort certainly seems to include suppression, but I assume that is not the final solution. Techniques like metta might be a better way to stop throwing.

Yep - if you only think nice thoughts, it doesn't leave much space for non-nice thoughts. 

I like the idea that metta practise is rewiring (neurons that fire together wire together) so habits get created (and/or virtues reinforced)

...

If you see his comment above, he is appearing to come from "idealist" perspective - in which experience is primary - and in MCTB he assumes that certain techniques allow you to see or experience "Utlimate Reality", via the "three doors". It is all very Absolute with a capital A. Discussion of different religio-cultural models of enlightenment is a different thing altogether. 

I'm largely buying your argument on this.

...

That is an insightful analogy, thanks. There is some risk of perceiving difficult conditions as predetermining "failure", that can be disempowering but there is some truth to it too. How to handle that ?

Not sure really - it seems like the question of why vote in an election when you strongly suspect the party you support are going to lose. 

Makes me think of the left/right political debate. On the left a welfare state that takes responsibility for the conditions and offers a compassionate solution but can disempower people. On the right a message of personal empowerment that lacks the compassion for those who are in unfavorable conditions. One solution might be providing massive educational advantages to those in unfavorable conditions and a requirement to somehow earn welfare e.g. through voluntary work. Certainly another thread emoticon

...

I can understand that interpretation but I see it as being at peace in the midst of the blooming and buzzing confusion. I remember once thinking I wanted to find the "truth" or the "meaning" or the "goal", after a little bit of reading I decided I wanted to find "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal", after some meditating I realized I wanted to be at peace with myself (not the outside world) and those other things were attachments that I thought could bring that peace. Fortunately it does not require abandoning "my truth" or "my meaning" or "my goal" but those are no longer seen as solutions to my problems - they might be the solution to some other peoples problems if I'm lucky.

So it sounds like you were looking for absolutes, but even to talk about "my meaning" is somewhat absolute - suggesting that "my meaning" is somehow real, or "out there" - the buddhist perspective would be that these too are "empty".

I don't think the buddhist view is nihilist. We all have a unique character and a fairly unique skillset, it is relative to the environment and the individual so not absolute. We can hold a view or perform actions without being attached to them too (well maybe one day...) 

Certainly I was looking for absolutes early on. No doubt still a temptation. 

And so, isn't wanting to be at peace "your goal"? Perhaps that too is an attachment (ie. letting go of the attachment to need peace is paradoxically what is needed to achieve peace). 

It is a goal but not "the goal", it would also be in service of other relative goals. I think you are right that at some point that is an attachment that needs to be dropped but I think it might be a good raft for a while.

...

That seems very reasonable. I do see some benefits to thinking about goals (not so sure about a final goal) - our ability to be effective often requires some short term trade-offs and it is hard to see those without some longer term goals.

You have come to the right place then! People love goals around here. 

True emoticon A great testing ground for Right Speech!

Right, I have to call it quits there as otherwise I feel we could go forever! And we have somewhat derailed the thread (though we did talk about phenomenology a bit!). But nice chatting with you Mark. 

Thanks - enyoyable to meet you. I feel like we are both preaching to the choir emoticon Take care.

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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 3159 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I truly do mean that sensations, sensate reality, is the thing we can be most certain of from a pragmatic meditative point of view, and it is truly the first basis of all models, all science, all extrapolation, all inference about something else, and we forget that at our peril.

If you care about things like peace and happiness in the good sense, not the evil-genie sense, engaging with the sensate world as the sensate world is a really good idea, regardless of whether or not words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" have any appeal or repugnance to you.

Those words are an attempt to point out the truly delusional, truly illusory, truly problematic nature of reality perceive through the dualistic mode. They are an attempt to point out the difference, to highlight the reassuringly complete, right, helpful, obviously better and more true way of perceiving things that comes with the sensate clarity that flips the thing over to the non-dual mode. I assert that it would be nearly impossible for someone to systematically train to perceive sensations clearly enough to debunk the dualistic way of misperceiving sensations and not then come to some strong appreciation for why words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" might have some descriptive value. I also realize that certain people, having been explosed to those words, will find them off-putting for various reasons, so, if they have that effect on you, ignore them. That said, seeking the deeper meaning they were trying to convey is still of true value.
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
I truly do mean that sensations, sensate reality, is the thing we can be most certain of from a pragmatic meditative point of view, and it is truly the first basis of all models, all science, all extrapolation, all inference about something else, and we forget that at our peril.

If you care about things like peace and happiness in the good sense, not the evil-genie sense, engaging with the sensate world as the sensate world is a really good idea, regardless of whether or not words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" have any appeal or repugnance to you.

Those words are an attempt to point out the truly delusional, truly illusory, truly problematic nature of reality perceive through the dualistic mode. They are an attempt to point out the difference, to highlight the reassuringly complete, right, helpful, obviously better and more true way of perceiving things that comes with the sensate clarity that flips the thing over to the non-dual mode. I assert that it would be nearly impossible for someone to systematically train to perceive sensations clearly enough to debunk the dualistic way of misperceiving sensations and not then come to some strong appreciation for why words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" might have some descriptive value. I also realize that certain people, having been explosed to those words, will find them off-putting for various reasons, so, if they have that effect on you, ignore them. That said, seeking the deeper meaning they were trying to convey is still of true value.
Thanks Daniel - that is a remarkable patience to get to the end of that thread emoticon 

I think I had a similar understanding when you used terms like Ultimate and Absolute - it is from a first person perspective. That being the only perspective consciousness gives us, it is an important one emoticon I think there can be confusion when people associate those types of words to something independent of subjective experience. 

What I hear is  "Ultimate Map" but I can see how that could mislead people to thinking - "oh just a map but I don't need a map"

There is perhaps one level below sensate reality you can be sure of - that being the idea it is only a map. Changing the brain can change the qualia/perception and there is always that filtering, it seems we never leave the realms of what the brain can and can't do. The idea that awareness is a type of qualia seems to fit nicely. Or maybe I'm missing your point ?

I think your point also highlights that things/beings with different sensations/phenomena could arrive at a different Ultimate or Absolute.

I buy the point that the non-dual is a preferable mode of experience. It also seems the experience evolves - I was just reading http://integrateddaniel.info/my-experiments-in-actualism so the Ultimate can become more Absolute ?

Where I'm a little concerned is that the non-dual does not seem to be any gaurantee of avoiding truly delusional, truly illusory, truly problematic behavior. I suspect is can even be a justification for that type of behavior in some cases. Which seems to indicate the dual perspective is useful in developing aspects of one's character. It gave me a renewed interest in sila so not a bad thing I guess!
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Chris John Macie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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(This stuff goes back a bit in this thread.)
Mark:
"The idea of performing some action to strengthen a virtue seems like another way of addressing the latent tendencies before they become states."

A tangential thought here from Visudhimagga (Nanamoli) Chaper IV Contentration (Jhana), sections 79-82 and footnote 23:
overcoming the hindrances (which I extend to include the latent tendencies), specifically as "secluded from sense desires", there are 'five seclusions', according to the commentaries, namely by 1) suppression or suspension (by concentration / Jhana), 2) 'substitution of opposites (by insight)' – perhaps indicating that more active sort of mindfulness / vipassana training favored by Than-Geof, where early detection of arising unskillful (akusala) process (state) is countered by activating (substituting) something skillful (kusala). The other 3 seculsions are, curiously: 3) cutting off (by the path); 4) tranquillization (by fruition); and 5) escape (as nibbana).

"It seems to make serious progress as a layperson it would be wise to leverage the time off the cushion. I suspect the buddhist teachingsdon't have so much to offer there because the focus was a monastic setting."

As least until the 20th-century-- reinterpreting vipassana specifically for lay pracitioners, as inthe Mahasi teaching system, and the lineage Sayadaw Ledi – U BaKhin – S. N. Goenke (in this progression only Ledi was ordained).

Mark: Hi Sawfoot

"The advice of "trust your own experience" to validate the techniques, while the techniques are specifically intended to influence your perception of experience, raised alarm bells! In the end I decided that the best measure is behavior - if the techniques make me behave more virtuosly then they are "good"."

A problem, as outlined in Than-Geof's piece on Judgment in Tricycle a while back: When G. Buddha mentions (paraphrasing) 'don't believe me, or anyone else, but test it foryourself…' (This may be recognized as a key argument to StephenBatchelor's 'secular Buddhism.') But (Than-Geof now) how to do that when one is beginning in a state of delusion? That sutta continues with a passage (ignored by SB to the effect one needs the counsel of one wiser on the path. But how to judge that? Long story, but one aspect is (also quoted from G. Buddha somewhere) you have to know, observe someone (specifically their behavior) for a long time to really determine their virtue.

Sawfoot -> Mark
"But, of course, there is no self to get rid of in the first place! Taking a process perspective, as you mention above, you can talk about "selving" or "egoing". When I think about non-dual experience, then selving is potentially absent, but that is at a particular point in time, and it can come back again!"

and Mark->Sawfoot
"Without believing everything Freud proposed, if the ego is minimised the id does not have much influence so if people were working or contributing for reasons that were related to the ego or id then they will probably move toward teaching or basking upon "enlightenment"."

Complex. Than-Geof also has a piece about expedient, skillful uses of 'self', of the need of a healthy level of Freudian 'super-ego' to be functional, for morality. (That was also in Tricycle, or maybe Inquiring Mind)

I find very helpful here Damasio's sifting out of three stages of emergence of 'self' ("Self Comes to Mind" – hypothesizing from evolution and what's known of neural structures & function):

Level 1 "proto-self" as primitive neurological adaptation to the fact that the organism has boundaries, recognizes the organism 'itself' as functionally distinct from stimuli, e.g. food to bring in, threats to ward away, etc. i.e. activities rooted in life-regulation;

Level 2 "core-self" where a recognition of agency, or 'ownership' emerges, but still at a level of expedient functionality;

Level 3 "autobiographical-self" the organism's (here definitely the human kind) building sense of 'I' have such and such a history (even perhaps into 'past lives'), and 'my' elaborate, even neurotic, world of likes, dislikes, ambitions, projected future, etc., all of which I strongly identify with, which appears durable, worth striving to perpetuate, even, for example, to live forever in heaven or some such.

This last level makes sense, to my mind, as where 'anatta' comes into play, where the self's "reality" has become heavily invested in delusions of permanence and happiness. Notably, Levels 1 and 2, Damasio demonstrates, are located in the brain stem and other lower structures, i.e. basic to life-regulation, expedient funcitonality (and basic consciousness), whereas it's Level 3 that heavily engages the higher brain, the cortex, with detailed processing, memory, imagination, etc. – stuff that goes way beyond bare survival, and often neurotically so.
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. IngramI truly do mean that sensations, sensate reality, is the thing we can be most certain of from a pragmatic meditative point of view, and it is truly the first basis of all models, all science, all extrapolation, all inference about something else, and we forget that at our peril.

Above you used the phrase "remember that..." and here you similar phrasing "forget that...". Either we have forgotten "that", or perhaps we didn't realise "that", and have to be reminded? The "that" that you imply, is truly truly true, right? But the key phrasing that helps make sense of what you are saying is "from a pragmatic meditative point of view" - but I think it makes even more sense to be explicit in "from MY pragmatic meditative point of view", the point of view outlined in Mastering the Core Teachings of the Darahat, Daniel Ingram. A kind of Buddhist influenced Romantic Idealist Mysticism, a point of view that "we" don't all share, because it is unique to your models, your extrapolation, and your inferences. 
Daniel M. Ingram
If you care about things like peace and happiness in the good sense, not the evil-genie sense, engaging with the sensate world as the sensate world is a really good idea, regardless of whether or not words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" have any appeal or repugnance to you.

So by "peace and happiness in the good sense" I take that to mean your interpretations of these words. This is the whole point of the evil genie - "peace" and "happiness" are not universally agreed upon concepts that stand alone, though the wording you use implies that your (Daniel M. Ingram, Darahat) interpretations are somehow tapping onto the real meanings of these words, those that we obviously take to be true, And so a "good idea" is in relation of specific means to certain ends. For example to, I might find the modern world stressful, and want to find some peace, and a "good idea" might be to go to a doctor and get prescription of valium as means to becoming "peaceful".  Or hook yourself up to an experience machine .
Daniel M. Ingram 
Those words are an attempt to point out the truly delusional, truly illusory, truly problematic nature of reality perceive through the dualistic mode. They are an attempt to point out the difference, to highlight the reassuringly complete, right, helpful, obviously better and more true way of perceiving things that comes with the sensate clarity that flips the thing over to the non-dual mode. I assert that it would be nearly impossible for someone to systematically train to perceive sensations clearly enough to debunk the dualistic way of misperceiving sensations and not then come to some strong appreciation for why words like "Ultimate" and "Absolute" might have some descriptive value. I also realize that certain people, having been explosed to those words, will find them off-putting for various reasons, so, if they have that effect on you, ignore them. That said, seeking the deeper meaning they were trying to convey is still of true value.
I could imagine that if we were on a Christian forum, that you might find a Christian saying something like "once you have allowed God truly into your heart, and you will have a strong appreciation of why words like Ultimate and Absolute are descriptive of the majesty of the Lord...", and that seeing the world with touched by the light of God would feel so "reassuringly complete, right, helpful, obviously better and more true way of perceiving things". 

Since we on a forum that has some inspiration from Buddhism, I can see why make such an interpretation of the subjective experiences that make you feel that such words capture important aspects of your experiences. But it is probably good to be reminded ("remember".."forget that at your peril" etc...) these are just your interpretations, frameworks you are using for particular ends given certain assumptions and particular methods.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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From an existential, intellectual point of view, which I have spent plenty of time appreciating, I can see why you would believe that the sensations that make up your life, even if really clearly perceived, are not your actual life, are not really what is going on, are not some Absolute or Ultimate truth, not actually the first basis of all further models and extrapolations.

However, this is the intellect gone haywire.

Sensations are the basis upon which the intellect builds all further models of some imagined reality beyond the sensate world. I truly await your attempt to prove otherwise.

Sensations are the thing that you can be sure are the sum total of your experience by definition, including the experience of all models that say otherwise. I truly await your attempt to prove otherwise.

Had you basic sensate clarity such that all thoughts were clearly known as being part of the sensate field as they clearly are to anyone paying attention, you would know directly that even all your models are themselves just part of this sensate world. I truly await your attempt to prove otherwise.

These points stand as obvious truths. Please, have at them beyond just name-calling and posting general principles on themes such as the arbitrary narture of the sign, which, in this context, misses the friggin' obvious meta point that those signs are experiences, and, being experiences, are Ultimate.
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Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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To be ultra ironic, here's a 'psychological' quote by Alexander Lowen that describes the delusion you're pointing to, Daniel.
The schizoid disturbance creates a dissociation of the image from reality. The term "image" refers to symbols and mental creations as opposed to the reality of physical experience. This is not to say that images are unreal, but they have a different order of reality than bodily phenomena. An image derives its reality from its association with feeling or sensation. When this association is disrupted, the image becomes abstract. The discrepancy between image and reality is most clearly seen in delusional schizophrenics. The classic example is the demented person who imagines he is Jesus Christ or Napoleon. On the other hand, "mental health" refers to the condition where image and reality coincide. A healthy person has an image of himself that agrees with the way his body looks and feels.
I often see you post exasperatedly about how difficult it is to get people to investigate their simple, bare, direct experience. Though, I haven't see you attempt an explanation for the difficulty, aside from some cynical rants. Do you have any theories about it? If so, I'm intensely curious to hear them. As I see it, here are some of the most interesting questions "What are the best techniques for attaining insight?", "How do you get people to practice insight techniques?", "Why is it so difficult to get people to investigate direct, bare experience precisely?" If we can answer the last one we can answer the second and then the maximum amount of people can benefit from the answer to the first.

Though I'm far from confident until I reach arhatship and do some more studying, I think I have a good intuition about the third question. The reification fallacy is wrapped up in the structure of our language. The 'is of identity' predisposes us to confuse orders of abstraction. And, 'trances' and 'hypnosis' are everyday phenomena. Most people are under various trances almost all day, and so breaking through their haze of 'meaning' is difficult if not usually impossible. Try looking through the lens of linguistic relativity and commonplace hypnotism and you may find that most delusion is readily explainable. Maybe.
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
My obvious non-meta point is that of "confusing your evaluations for truth, fact or objectivity" = as Droll would put it.

Having a trip back to the Christian forum, my Christian friend says "once you have had the clarity of knowing God in your heart and spirit in all things, you would know the truth of God is an obvious truth".

There are a few rhetorical strategies used here - one is that you have fully explored my/a counter perspective so are in a position to fully realise its flaws. There is the "intellect gone haywire". Implicit is your argument from authority, as one who has realised these truths directly themselves in a way only an Arahat can, and there is the dismissal of the opponent of lacking the authority you have - "had you basic sensate clarity" you would realise the error of your ways.

The point of the "name calling" is to situate your perspective in the history of ideas. So you want to turn this into an argument to that you think you can win to demonstrate your opinion is right, which is another way of illustrating my point - that you (apparently) see your perspective as truth rather than a perspective, i.e. dogmatism. I think we all can be guilty of it one way or another, but I think it's worth pointing it out.

Droll, to be ultra-ultra ironic, did you read that interview that I posted from Evan Thompson? I think he would make a good argument that the idea that you can examine your simple, bare, direct experience is a delusion.
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Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Denying experience is classic schizoid behavior.

Evan Thompson seems to conflate objectification and conceptualization.
For example, we said that Buddhist meditation lets you see that your experience is really discontinuous and momentary, rather than a continuous flow.
Here are Buddhist meditation instructions that don't require saying experience 'is' anything

Noting
1) Notice any object
2) Indicate objectification with mental 'beep' sound
3) Repeat from step 1

One isn't supposed to prefer any object over another so there is no need for a conceptual overlay. In terms of the Structural Differential of Korzybski, one attempts to eventually continuously reside in the 'Object Level'.

The concept of impermanence is practically tautological. You're reading this sentence. Now you're reading this sentence.

Noticing impermanence
1) 'Time' elapses between events
2) Notice the smallest gap of 'time' between any events that you possibly can
3) Repeat from step 2

Noticing Noself
1) Move 'your' hand
2) Notice that if there were a central unit of control within 'your' experience then that central unit of control would have needed to decide at some instant to move 'your' hand
3) Notice that if the central unit of control decided at some instant to move 'your' hand, then that central unit of control would have also needed to decide to decide to move 'your' hand
4) Notice that if the central unit of control decided to decide at some instant to move 'your' hand, then that central unit of control would have also needed to decide to decide to decide to move 'your' hand
...

There you go, sawfoot. The above technique definitions are completely operational. Consider their use similar to the use of an ansatz, and conduct the experiment.
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Droll Dedekind:
Denying experience is classic schizoid behavior.

Evan Thompson seems to conflate objectification and conceptualization.
For example, we said that Buddhist meditation lets you see that your experience is really discontinuous and momentary, rather than a continuous flow.
Here are Buddhist meditation instructions that don't require saying experience 'is' anything

Noting
1) Notice any object
2) Indicate objectification with mental 'beep' sound
3) Repeat from step 1

One isn't supposed to prefer any object over another so there is no need for a conceptual overlay. In terms of the Structural Differential of Korzybski, one attempts to eventually continuously reside in the 'Object Level'.

The concept of impermanence is practically tautological. You're reading this sentence. Now you're reading this sentence.

Noticing impermanence
1) 'Time' elapses between events
2) Notice the smallest gap of 'time' between any events that you possibly can
3) Repeat from step 2

Noticing Noself
1) Move 'your' hand
2) Notice that if there were a central unit of control within 'your' experience then that central unit of control would have needed to decide at some instant to move 'your' hand
3) Notice that if the central unit of control decided at some instant to move 'your' hand, then that central unit of control would have also needed to decide to decide to move 'your' hand
4) Notice that if the central unit of control decided to decide at some instant to move 'your' hand, then that central unit of control would have also needed to decide to decide to decide to move 'your' hand
...

There you go, sawfoot. The above technique definitions are completely operational. Consider their use similar to the use of an ansatz, and conduct the experiment.
hi Droll - As for getting tarred with schizoid brush, do you remember one of my points on the clarity thread? When you talk about "other people..." as if their errors are separate from you?  I would hazard that yourself, and Daniel for that matter, are classic schizoid type. Which is likely one the main reasons we are interested in meditation - as a form of self therapy. 

I am not sure I fully understand your comments though, partly because it seems at a tangent to my point. And you are assuming a level of understanding of the general semantics that likely your audience doesn't have. And I had to google ansatz. A nice word, though, thanks. 

So the examples you use seem to be just illustrating his point. And t
he quote you used was about a position that Evan and his colleagues took in the past which he later realised was an error. He isn't (now) saying experience is one way or another, but that the tools you use and your conceptual frameworks determine your experience - that is, phenomenology,though not without its uses, can't really do what people like Daniel (and perhaps yourself) want it to do.

Oh, just a minor thing when you say "doesn't need a conceptual overlay" a point being made by Thompson in the interview is that you cannot help but bring a conceptual overlay - all those experiences of "bare sensate experience" are still infected by conceptual overlays. It is just unavoidable. You can't escape it - and becoming "enlightened" just brings you altered conceptual overlays.
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Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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In another thread I already said I fit the schizoid structure closest. I'd argue that there are probably many people into pragmatic dharma that fit the schizoid character structure. I wouldn't, however, argue that anyone 'is' a schizoid

The point of my post was to demonstrate that meditation instructions can be put into a procedural form. Theory isn't necessary.
Experience and concepts are interdependent. Whether there are nonconceptual modes of experience is a complicated matter that both Buddhist and Western philosophers have argued about a lot.
The first sentence is vague. We conceptualize our experience, and our concepts certainly determine how we interpret our experience. That's as much interdependence as I see. He contributes no argument with respect to the second sentence.
Similarly, if you go on a Vipassana retreat, you may spend the first day or so watching your breath, but then you’re given a system of concepts for practicing mindfulness—concepts like “moment-to-moment arising,” “pleasant versus unpleasant,” “sensation,” “intention,” “attention,” and maybe some categories from the list of elements, or dhammas, in Theravada Buddhist philosophy. It’s a silent retreat, so this is theonly thing you hear, and everyone else around you is doing the same thing, so this shapes how and what you experience. You get a powerful and socially reinforced conceptual system for making sense of what you experience. That system in that context may help to bring about certain nonconceptual experiences, but the minute you start thinking about them—which there’s no way to avoid doing—you’re back in the land of concepts.
As I demonstrated previously, none of these categories are necessary. In any case, I consider them axiomatic. And, anyone that has made serious meditation progress (sorry, sawfoot) will tell you that most of their breakthroughs come when they're not conceptualizing their experience in any noticeable way.

Finally, even if 'enlightenment' were just elaborate self-hypnosis then I consider this forum an argument in favor of elaborate self-hypnosis. If that's the case, I think I'll hypnotize myself into a loving embrace with ""God"" after arhatship
James Yen, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Funny story, close friend of mine said I was probably schizotypal. Looking back on my life, it sort of makes sense.
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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James Yen:
Funny story, close friend of mine said I was probably schizotypal. Looking back on my life, it sort of makes sense.

Note that the  "schizoid character" used by Droll shouldn't be associated with schizophrenia or schizotypy - the title is a bad one - this author calls it "creator" instead - which has some advantages, particulary the reduced negative connotations, and gives a nice overview of this type:

http://www.reichandlowentherapy.org/Content/Character/Schizoid/schizoid_dreamer.html
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Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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The DSM-IV places both the schizoids and schizotypals in the Cluster A. And, Lowen considered schizophrenics extreme schizoids.

And, James, no one 'is' a schizoid or schizotypal
James Yen, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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If I understand you correctly, you're saying that no one 'is' schizoid or schizotypal, but rather one may approach those ideal forms. Which I would agree with.

Edit: Unless you're saying something else, subleties are often lost on me around here.

*salute*
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Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Yes that's pretty much it, if by 'ideal form' you mean 'human-created model'

The more frequently you think or say "I am schizotypal" or "I have schizotypal personality disorder" the more solidified becomes the pernicious formula James = Schizotypal. For one thing, the formula confuses orders of abstraction; James 'is' a unique person and schizotypal personality disorder 'is' an abstraction. Also don't forget that there is not one Infallible Official Definition for 'schizoid' or 'schizotypal'. Whose definition of schizotypal do you fit? When do you fit the definition? Did you fit it five years ago? Did you fit it ten years ago? Did you fit it when you were an infant? Will you fit it in thirty years?

Consider the similarity between the above and the following situations:
Wife: "I AM NOT A BITCH"
Husband: "I didn't say you are, I said you are acting like one!"

Sibling 1: "Johnny you are a sissy"
Sibling 2: "AM NOT!! MOMMM, TELL JAKE I AM NOT A SISSY!!"
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Sorry I missed this post earlier
Droll Dedekind:
In another thread I already said I fit the schizoid structure closest. I'd argue that there are probably many people into pragmatic dharma that fit the schizoid character structure. I wouldn't, however, argue that anyone 'is' a schizoid

Ok, good, yes I agree. My point though was about your rheteorical strategy - it felt like you were trying to use it defame my argument, but it wasn't relevant - it seems like you bought into Daniel's distraction strategy. 


The point of my post was to demonstrate that meditation instructions can be put into a procedural form. Theory isn't necessary.

Ok, one point, again, is that you are always bringing "theory" to bear - some kind of expectation - but more importantly, what I was pointing to (And I am repeating myself here) is that particular methods bring about particular results - if you gave me a different set of meditation instructions I might get different insights, theory or not. 
Experience and concepts are interdependent. Whether there are nonconceptual modes of experience is a complicated matter that both Buddhist and Western philosophers have argued about a lot.
The first sentence is vague. We conceptualize our experience, and our concepts certainly determine how we interpret our experience. That's as much interdependence as I see. He contributes no argument with respect to the second sentence.

Yeah, ok, but it is just a short informal interview - my point was to just draw attention to the fact that people (like yourself, Daniel, some Buddhists) believe in this idea that you can have non-conceptual experiences whereas some could make arguments against it. 

Similarly, if you go on a Vipassana retreat, you may spend the first day or so watching your breath, but then you’re given a system of concepts for practicing mindfulness—concepts like “moment-to-moment arising,” “pleasant versus unpleasant,” “sensation,” “intention,” “attention,” and maybe some categories from the list of elements, or dhammas, in Theravada Buddhist philosophy. It’s a silent retreat, so this is theonly thing you hear, and everyone else around you is doing the same thing, so this shapes how and what you experience. You get a powerful and socially reinforced conceptual system for making sense of what you experience. That system in that context may help to bring about certain nonconceptual experiences, but the minute you start thinking about them—which there’s no way to avoid doing—you’re back in the land of concepts.
As I demonstrated previously, none of these categories are necessary. In any case, I consider them axiomatic. And, anyone that has made serious meditation progress (sorry, sawfoot) will tell you that most of their breakthroughs come when they're not conceptualizing their experience in any noticeable way.

But the techniques that you use influence your attention to various aspects of your experience, and those technqiues mold those experiences. This seems a pretty basic point that I am making, but you aren't showing much signs of agreeing. You consider certain aspects of your experience axiomatic, but then, a Christian doing contemplatic prayer might have a very different way of thinking about your experience.

I don't think you are sorry, because framing it that way seems like an "argument from authority", and I think it diminishes your point. But yes, certain meditation techniques aim for non-conceptuality, and I think they can "work" - in that you can reduce your conceptualisation and left-brain stuff significantly (whether you can eliminate it entirely is another matter, see above). But see the last sentence in that quote.


Finally, even if 'enlightenment' were just elaborate self-hypnosis then I consider this forum an argument in favor of elaborate self-hypnosis. If that's the case, I think I'll hypnotize myself into a loving embrace with ""God"" after arhatship

Not sure where this is coming from - I have never talked about enlightenment as an elaborate self-hypnosis and not sure why you would frame it that way given what I have said.  But I suppose I could frame it as a systematic form of mental training, in which belief plays an important role, e.g. through training your mind/perception in certain ways you can "see reality clearly and how it really is" and that if you don't see it your way are "perceiving sensations incorrectly"- and those kinds of beliefs have benefits. So partly technique based and partly belief based, and hence you could probably train yourself into a loving embrace with God.
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Chris John Macie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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(Daniel M. Ingram 8/26/14 4:11 AM as a reply to Mark.)
''…true way of perceiving things that comes with the sensate clarity that flips the thing over to the non-dual mode…"

(Daniel M. Ingram 9/3/14 3:15 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.)
"Sensations are the basis upon which the intellect builds all further models of some imagined reality beyond the sensate world...
"Sensations are the thing that you can be sure are the sum total of your experience by definition, including the experience of all models that say otherwise…
"Had you basic sensate clarity such that all thoughts were clearly known as being part of the sensate field as they clearly are to anyone paying attention, you would know directly that even all your models are themselves just part of this sensate world…

Daniel, allow me to interpret these statements (your verbal modeling) using a Theravadan Abhidhamma model,
1) to check whether my understanding is, to some extent, on track with them (the meaning of your words as you intend them); and
2) to find out if some of the analytical fundamentals found in Abhidhamma are in some sense implicit for you, or allowable as elaboration of the basic points you put forward.

First, "sensations" seem roughly equivalent to the 18 'ayatana', or the arising of sensate consciousness when one of the six sensing faculties (eye gate, ear gate,… mind gate) is contacted by a sensate stimulus in one of the six modes (18 being the six gates, six types of stimuli, and six types of awareness that arise when the mind adverts to a gate-stimulus contact – i.e. a phenomenan happens.).

Incidentally, much of what you point to – experiential phenomena beyond simple physical sense intercepts, namely thoughts, the experience of models, etc. – are in fact of the sixth type: mind-gate phenomena?

In Abhidhamma terms, the 'ultimate realities' are categorized as of three conditioned types: rupa, citta, and cestasika, and a single unconditioned type: nibbana. Decoded, that would be
1) rupa (aka 'materiality') –phenomenal quanta related to the 5 sense gates, categorized into 28 types;
2) citta – mind 'states', or perhaps better mental processes experienced as discernable individual momentary units – those that arise, persists a bit (perhaps withsome evolving change), and pass -- categorized into 80-some types; and
3) cetasika – the discernable component qualities, some 52 of them, which, in various combinations and intensities, make up the cittas, giving them Gestalts such that they can be discerned into their 80-some types.
(Both citta and cetasikas are part of 'mentality'. btw MCTB's 'Mind and Body' are similar to 'nama-rupa' mentality/materiality?)

Note: the numbers in these groupings are used for mnemetic and pedogogical purposes, and often consideredas dogma; but it is widely interpreted that these numbers are actually intended as exemplary – one could as well find (phenomenologically label) fewer or more shades of variation in each of the 3 main (conditioned) categories. (The 4th – the Unconditioned – is a different animal.)

So, these citta could correspond to 'sensations' as per MCTB?

In the texts the Abhidamma, the first book (the Dhammasangani) lays out, analyzes the structure of the citta types, as composed of particular cetasikas, if you will, in a vertical spatial dimension.

(It should perhaps be mentioned that sub-groupings of the cittas have important practical implications. For instance, a major slicing of cittas into 'skilful' (kusala, aka 'wholesome', or 'profitable') and 'unskilful' (akusala, 'unwholesome', etc.); and another slicing according to 'resultant' (conditionally tied back and forth in time, e.g. via kamma/karma) vs 'functional' ('kirya' -- phenomena being no more than what they are, this experienced only by arhants). Other pertinant category groups include jhana cittas, and path&fruition cittas.)

The last book (the Patthana) applies some 24 types (again, an exemplary number) of conditionality in a nearly exhaustive synthetic exegesis of how cittas arise and pass, from one to the next, across the temporal dimension; showing how any given citta can result from another, immediately sequentially, or across from a disjunct previous time; and in turn a citta can analogously conditionally relate to later cittas. (One might recognize that the workings of kamma (karma) are involved here.) In particular, and especially in sequentially contiguous cittas, the progression of experienced phenomena can be analyzed in terms of the component (cetasika) structure of one citta being altered in subparts (retaining an overall similarity) to (conditionally) give rise to the next citta (as a "train of thought," for instance, or other kinds of experience having the appearance of, or interpreted as contiguity).

(This analysis – analytic structure of a phenomenon vs temporal conditioned progression of phenomena –is taken from Thera Nyanaponika's "Abhidhamma Studies: Buddist Exporation of Consciousness and Time," 1949.)

So, this matrix of mental spatial structures and temporal conditioning might correspond to the "sensate field"?

So, yes, the 'ultimate' is just non-dualistic arising of 'sensations,' but in some way, the evolution of practice (path) has to do with the gradual uncovering, discernment of, awakening to the reality of how the mind works, it's structured and structuring phenomena, and conditional factors at play as phenomena forms living experience. And that practice-process can arrive at certain game-changing quantum shifts. As tradition puts it, development (bhavana) is 'a gradual training' (gaining vision and honing knowledge), but also runs into sudden and decisive transformations (paths & fruitions).

One further note, to characterization of the nature of Abhidhamma investigation: G. Buddha said to have considered his knowledge to be as vast as all the bejillions of leaves in the forest, but his mission focused on teaching only a strategic 'handful of leaves' that could be used to attain awakening, liberation. Abhidhamma, on the other hand, was developed as a sort of reverse-engineering from that handful of leaves (Abhidhamma texts are rooted in, constantly refer to the Suttas), to form an anlytical toolset adding illumination of more of the leaves in the forest, for the purpose of more detailed enhancement of practice.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Aright, so we have two totally different directions here.

The first, those who don't seem to think that one's experience is a reasonable or particularly relevant basis for reality, and, on the other hand, the beginnings of a possibly very indepth discussion of highly technical dharma.

To those who don't think that their experience of their life has some primacy, some first relevance to their life, I truly hardly know what to say. I myself consider what I experience to be the most relevant thing about my experience of my life. To each their own.

As to the Abhidhamma: I think that, while it is sometimes interesting to take it to that level, and I have really appreciated my time studying the Abhidhamma, it gets hard past a certain point to really make good use of that for most people.

Should we perhaps split this thread into the discussion of the relevance of experience to people's lives and another that goes ultra technical?
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Chris J Macie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Daniel M. Ingram – 9/7/14 6:52 PM a sa reply to Chris J Macie.
"…the beginnings of a possibly very indepth discussion of highly technical dharma." …
"As to the Abhidhamma: I think that, while it is sometimes interesting to take it to that level, and I have really appreciated my time studying the Abhidhamma, it gets hard past a certain point to really make good use of that for most people."
"Should we perhaps split this thread into …and another that goes ultra technical?"

Probably not (an ultra technical thread).

My overall point was simply to examine the usage of the term 'phenomenology', and point to an opportunity that deeper forms of phenomenological enquiry might present in trying to get a handle on phenomena, particularly those that key-off mind-gate stimulus.

Abhidhamma was brought up because it is has been considered (albeit in historical retrospect) bascially a phenomenological undertaking (NOT a psychological one, which is also historical retrospect, as interpreted by the late 19th-Century British translaters and commentators, whose terminology still persists in the West). One could speculate that G. Buddha, and Sariputta could have had rather interesting discussions, over coffee, with GWF Hegel and Edmund Huesserl.

Most recently here, I outlined some Abdhidhamma terminology to help test my understanding of key terms that Daniel uses, which I intuit to be amenable to phenomenological correlation, e.g. 'sensation,' 'sensate clarity,' 'sensate field'…

Probably first I should do a second, closer read of MCTB (and maybe MCTB2 when available); likewise with Alexander Piatigorsky's "The Buddhist Philosophy of Thought" (he's the only real phenomenologist that's had anything to say aboutAbhidhamma, as well as other aspects of dhamma); and get back to study and practice around the Abhidhamma source texts and commentaries (especially the modern ones).

Even then, Abdhidhamma is an unlikely topic for this forum. In Burma (Myanmar), the present day homeland of Abhidhamma cultivation, it's considered essential background for more advanced 'Sayadaws' (teachers), but not for the sake of teaching Abhidhamma, but rather to have the precision and depth of understanding to be able to teach dhamma competently to any level of audience.
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Daniel M. Ingram:
Aright, so we have two totally different directions here.

The first, those who don't seem to think that one's experience is a reasonable or particularly relevant basis for reality, and, on the other hand, the beginnings of a possibly very indepth discussion of highly technical dharma.

To those who don't think that their experience of their life has some primacy, some first relevance to their life, I truly hardly know what to say. I myself consider what I experience to be the most relevant thing about my experience of my life. To each their own.

As to the Abhidhamma: I think that, while it is sometimes interesting to take it to that level, and I have really appreciated my time studying the Abhidhamma, it gets hard past a certain point to really make good use of that for most people.

Should we perhaps split this thread into the discussion of the relevance of experience to people's lives and another that goes ultra technical?

Always playing to the gallery...I am sure there are plenty of people reading their heads, nodding, thinking "Oh wow, Daniel just wants to talk really cool technical meditation stuff, and this other guy, well, he wants to argue that grass isn't green, bears don't shit in the woods, and that peace and happiness are over rated...what an absolute nut job loser". Well, Daniel, you are welcome to them! I don't have a cure for suffering and that is what people seem to think they want. 

Can we create another split-off thread, based around the theme of the more dogmatic one is, the harder it is for them to understand that they are dogmatic and admit to it?
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. Jake ., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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sawfoot _:


Can we create another split-off thread, based around the theme of the more dogmatic one is, the harder it is for them to understand that they are dogmatic and admit to it?

But we'd have to do that for every thread you post on! Won't that get tiresome?
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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. Jake .:
sawfoot _:


Can we create another split-off thread, based around the theme of the more dogmatic one is, the harder it is for them to understand that they are dogmatic and admit to it?

But we'd have to do that for every thread you post on! Won't that get tiresome?

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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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@Sawfoot, who stated I was being dogmatic: It is not dogma to state that all other models of reality are based off of and extrapoloated from sensations, and that those models, being thoughts, are themselves sensations, with sensations thus being the first basis of those models as well as the apparent material those models are made of. Those points are simply true.

Further that it is hard to imagine people honestly judging the most relevant things in their life being something other than the physical experience of their life as well as their thoughts about it except as some very strange exercise in hypothetical philosophies, which themselves are still sensate, obviously.
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Daniel M. Ingram:
@Sawfoot, who stated I was being dogmatic: It is not dogma to state that all other models of reality are based off of and extrapoloated from sensations, and that those models, being thoughts, are themselves sensations, with sensations thus being the first basis of those models as well as the apparent material those models are made of. Those points are simply true.

Further that it is hard to imagine people honestly judging the most relevant things in their life being something other than the physical experience of their life as well as their thoughts about it except as some very strange exercise in hypothetical philosophies, which themselves are still sensate, obviously.
Maybe you are confusing form and content ?  A thought can present information e.g. 1+1=2 so the thought is the form of some information and thought would not be considered the basis. Of course discussing the topic is requiring models but we could accept models as metaphors or maps.

One might argue that the notion of 1, addition etc are themselves thoughts that require a model. But there are animals that use addition and probably don't have models of addition. It might be safer to assume the universe is not some flat evenly distributed network where everything is interconnected on an equal basis but instead has a tendency to clump things together and while those clumps may be related by past events they may no longer be interacting (i.e. not connected). If that were true counting would be useful.

I think the dogma comes in if someone hears "ultimate reality", "absolute" etc. It implies that the person is mistaking their model for reality. That might seem to be nit picking but if other people adopt that person's model as a belief then it starts to have consequences beyond the first individual. 

Another angle, it seems if someone believes in karma then in their experience one of the most relevant things in their life is something other than the physical experience of their life as well as their thoughts about it ?
John Wilde, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Mark:

Maybe you are confusing form and content ?  A thought can present information e.g. 1+1=2 so the thought is the form of some information and thought would not be considered the basis. Of course discussing the topic is requiring models but we could accept models as metaphors or maps.

I find it hard to grasp the notion that meaning is reducible to sensation. The apprehension of meaning happens in the form of thought, and there are sensations associated with thought, but does that mean that thought is a sensation? To me, it makes every bit as much sense to regard apprehension of meaning (rather than sensation) as the essence of thought.

The value of treating thoughts as sensations is clear; but to say they fundamentally are that would be unjustifiably reductionist, in my view. Or at least, any system that reduces meaning to sensation seems incomplete and artificially flattened out somehow.
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Nicky Dee, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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John Wilde:
Mark:

Maybe you are confusing form and content ?  A thought can present information e.g. 1+1=2 so the thought is the form of some information and thought would not be considered the basis. Of course discussing the topic is requiring models but we could accept models as metaphors or maps.

I find it hard to grasp the notion that meaning is reducible to sensation. The apprehension of meaning happens in the form of thought, and there are sensations associated with thought, but does that mean that thought is a sensation? To me, it makes every bit as much sense to regard apprehension of meaning (rather than sensation) as the essence of thought.

The value of treating thoughts as sensations is clear; but to say they fundamentally are that would be unjustifiably reductionist, in my view. Or at least, any system that reduces meaning to sensation seems incomplete and artificially flattened out somehow.
Ignorant thoughts may arise from sensation & some karmic wisdom may develop based in sensation but not all thought has sensation is a causal condition.

Thoughts rooted in wisdom of reality (of impermanence, universal emptiness, etc) do not have sensation as their causal condition, which is why thoughts based on enlightened perception (abhinnya/full comprehension) are unrelated to sensation.

This distinction I am making here again distinguishes between phenomology & reality ('ontology'). The study of how subejctive thought arises in the human mind is phenomology. Where as the reality (such as the nature of life comprosed of the five aggregates, the nature of the aggregates, the nature of impermanance, emptiness, etc) that serves as the object of full comprehension is unrelated to phenomology. emoticon
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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John Wilde:
Mark:

Maybe you are confusing form and content ?  A thought can present information e.g. 1+1=2 so the thought is the form of some information and thought would not be considered the basis. Of course discussing the topic is requiring models but we could accept models as metaphors or maps.

I find it hard to grasp the notion that meaning is reducible to sensation. The apprehension of meaning happens in the form of thought, and there are sensations associated with thought, but does that mean that thought is a sensation? To me, it makes every bit as much sense to regard apprehension of meaning (rather than sensation) as the essence of thought.

The value of treating thoughts as sensations is clear; but to say they fundamentally are that would be unjustifiably reductionist, in my view. Or at least, any system that reduces meaning to sensation seems incomplete and artificially flattened out somehow.

Hi John,

I think part of the explanation is that meaning implies an observer (who gives information meaning). The meaning is relative to the observer. The observer constructs an understanding of the world based on their perception. In this way we could argue that meaning is founded on the perceptions of the observer. 

Maybe I'm splitting hairs but I referred to information not meaning. Because I'm assuming information exists without meaning. For example the meaning of lightning for someone born 10,000 years ago was probably very different thatn the meaning we ascribe it today.

There is a qualia(experince) associated with thought and color. Color represents wavelenghts of light (which we could consider to be information), thoughts represent other types of information.

Another way of viewing this - meaning needs to be grounded. Our experiences of the world provide that grounding and those experiences are tightly coupled to our senses.

I think we are on the same page that someone trying to reduce meaning to sensation is being reductionist and it does not offer much value. But understanding that meaning is built upon perceptions can be useful - because it creates an obstacle to those who would like to tell us that the know everything (or know the most important things).

We can push the concepts a step further too I think - consciousness itself can be considered a qualia - like the color red or thought. It is how we model attention in the same way red is how we model certain wavelengths of light. This is an oversimplification but it does threaten the common view (on this forum) that the human mind is somehow capable of being in touch with the fundamental nature of the universe. 

Their certainly seems to be a far more beautiful view after peeling many layers back, but I suspect few would peel the last layer back if it showed there is nothing there. The moral consequences would be bleak so maybe they just keep it to themselves emoticon
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. Jake ., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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Mark:
We can push the concepts a step further too I think - consciousness itself can be considered a qualia - like the color red or thought. It is how we model attention in the same way red is how we model certain wavelengths of light. This is an oversimplification but it does threaten the common view &#40;on this forum&#41; that the human mind is somehow capable of being in touch with the fundamental nature of the universe

Jake:
So how do you get to the representation of reality that says "human experience is fundamentally different from the rest of Universe"? What evidence do we have for this? Isn't it simpler to assume that human experience is just another natural system? And hence shares with other natural systems a very basic level of operating principles?
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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. Jake .:
Mark:
We can push the concepts a step further too I think - consciousness itself can be considered a qualia - like the color red or thought. It is how we model attention in the same way red is how we model certain wavelengths of light. This is an oversimplification but it does threaten the common view &#40;on this forum&#41; that the human mind is somehow capable of being in touch with the fundamental nature of the universe

Jake:
So how do you get to the representation of reality that says "human experience is fundamentally different from the rest of Universe"? What evidence do we have for this? Isn't it simpler to assume that human experience is just another natural system? And hence shares with other natural systems a very basic level of operating principles?
Hi Jake,

I think you've put words in my mouth emoticon I'm not saying that human experience is fundamentally different from the rest of the universe. I'm proposing that human experience does not need to (and is very unlikely to) give direct knowledge of fundamentals of the universe or "reality".

The human experience is an abstraction and distortion of reality. We know this with simple things like how we are tricked by optical illusions. Our direct experience does not particularly help us understand quantum mechanics or relativity - we evolved in a niche. Most people would agree that other animals have different expereinces to humans (e.g. bats or whales) and they will mostly agree that they can't imagine what the experience of those other animals are like. We have limited senses and limited brains, there are an infinite number of different ways to experience the universe. It would be rather naive to assume our experience provides an absolute knowledge.

To push your analogy (I hope you'll not take it personally!), relative to a rock you are extremely similar to a plant. Therefore we could conclude that a plant knows as much about the universe as you do. My point is that relative to the potential for conscious intelligence, humans are closer to the begining of that story than the end so we should avoid drawing conclusions.

History tells us humans like to re-interpret the world as if we are at the center of it. Most of those interpretatins have met their demise so I think it is safe to assume the current assumptions of "fundamental" knowledge will see a similar demise.

I agree with you that we are similar in many ways with other natural systems but I disagree that this means our experience is something more than an approximation.

There are also some good reasons to think that humans' relatively large number of neurons leads to conscious behavior. So in that regard we are different from a lot of other systems. Which leads to some pretty "unnatural" results it seems!

 
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Chris J Macie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

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taking-off from John Wilde (9/14/148:10 PM as a reply to Mark):

"I find it hard to grasp the notion that meaning is reducible to sensation.The apprehension of meaning happens in the form of thought, and there are sensations associated with thought, but does that mean thatthought is a sensation? To me, it makes every bit as much sense to regardapprehension of meaning (rather than sensation) as the essence of thought."

A view that may help clarify this situation:

Phenomenon as sensation (Theravadan model)

Assuming that what Daniel intends by 'sensation' is analogous to the following Theravadan Abhidhamma scheme (as also supported in many Suttas): all mental events (cittas) arise from the contact of a stimulus and a human sensing faculty, which faculties include the 5 sense-doors -- the eye for sight, the ear for hearing, the nose for smell, the tongue for taste, and the body for touch -- AND a 6th, the 'mind-door'. The mind can be triggered into a conscious event (citta - consciousness of an object) by an impinging physical sensation (light, sound, etc.), OR by something coming out of the mind itself (perhaps associated with some kind of neural event not triggered by sensory input that attracts the focal attention of the mind).

So, in this model, the arising of a thought happens as result of 'sensation' as contact (at an immediate, 'bare' level, aka the 'raw data') between a stimulus and consciousness, where the stimulus comes not from an external physical source, but pops up from the mind itself. A complication: any event from one of the 5 sense-doors also becomes a mind-door contact as well when it becomes consciously known. Namely as distinct from some light, sound, etc. that the mind 'doesn't notice.'

(For a hypothesis of 'meaning' in an Abhidhamma model, see below.)

Substitute the word 'phenomenon' for' sensation' here. A phenomenon arises from contact with one of the 5 sense-doors (also going thru the mind-door), OR something from within the mind itself arouses the mind-door directly (arises in consciousness) without any external stimulus.

To the original question -- Phenomenology -- how it's used here? – Daniel answered (8/18/1412:22 AM as a reply to Chris J Macie.):
"I tend to use it to mean the sensations themselves, the colors, the textures, the sounds, as well as things like the energetic aspects, the vibrations, the frequencies of sensations, as well as things like the patterns of those sensations, such as a pulse followed by a mental impression,…" 

He refers to 'colors,' 'sounds' (and possibly 'vibrations' as touch) -- all sense-door stuff – and further phenomena that may qualify as mind-door alone sensations, though it's not as clear. One could interpretitvely analyze that 'textures,' 'frequencies,' 'patterns' are mind-door events that arise from mental processing of multiple sense-door events. For instance, the mind detects a pattern (texture and frequency can also be seen as pattern) from a series of sense-door events (simply 'raw data') where the mind itself construes 'pattern', i.e. dredges this concept out of its own memory, associations, etc. as somehow fitting the series of 'raw data', and then the mental event 'pattern' arises in the mind, a mind-door event where the mind experiences the 'sensation' (phenomenon) of being stimulated, from within, to consciousness of the concept, the thought of 'pattern'.

Later Daniel stated (8/26/14 4:11 AM as a reply to Mark):
"I truly do mean that sensations, sensate reality, is the thing we can be most certain of from a pragmatic meditative point of view, and it is truly the first basis of all models, all science, all extrapolation, all inference about something else.."

Pragmatic certainty – the bare, 'rawdata' phenomena – as basis of all conceptual knowledge, as the mind, through a lifetime of experience, education, socialization, inculturation, etc. devises a repertory of concepts that 'make sense' of recurring patterns of bare sensations. Subsequently, raw sensory data triggers the arising of consciousness of mental concepts (as 'sensations', as the 'making sense of' experience), and the processing of them into further levels of concept.

1) This is interpretation – Daniel's intent may not be accurately represented by this.

2) On the other hand, these acquired concepts that can then arise at the mind-door as conscious events, may be related to the 'meaning' that Mark questions. For instance, it is sometimes said of science, that raw data are merely quantitifaction of observations – merely numbers or whatever other kind of measurement -- and any statement as to their 'meaning' is in fact interpretation. Scientists frequently argued diverse intrepretations from the same raw data, each according to their own model.

Meaning -- Descriptive phenomenology becoming analytical phenomenology

Put another way, and relating it to my hypothesis of multiple levels of using phenomenology: noting colors, sounds, smells, etc. is descriptive phenomenology of raw sensate data. Noting 'attraction,' 'aversion,' 'anger,' 'joy,' … whatever but at another level than barest physical sensation – these are mind-door mental sensations, phenomena, (though they also may be 'sankaras' – formations or fabrications) and the method is still descriptive phenomenology.

But when / if one also notes 'aha', 'insight' moments of experience, and observe how these mind-door sensations / phenomena arise in the mind, the conditioned linkages that lead to them, notably how there may be an initial physical sense-door event (and it's mind-door consciousness), but then a series of mind-door events set in from there, somehow reactively associated but not necessarily determined or 'caused' by the initial stimulus; there may be discernable some sense of meaning and/or intention that sneaks in and takes over – this is analytical phenomenlogy in action, understanding as well as describing what's happening. This is not just 'seeing' of the arising, this is 'knowing' more about the working, the how of the arising, and seeing the effects. Here a possible sensation, phenomenon can be a realization of how conscious intention is inherent, and can be changed, can change how it all works. And that can lead to experimentation, to trial and error with the plasticity of intention and observed results… and we're off-and-running on the path.

Meaning in the Abhidhamma Model

The Abhidhamma analysis came up with a scheme of discerning each discreetly recognized mental event (state, or similarly identified process) as a series of smaller events, or 'moments', sometimes called a 'cognitive series'. 5-sense-door events consist of 15 or so of these smaller units; pure mind-door events take about 11 units – the difference is explained below.

To get a sense of this in term of time, I've seen mention that minimum neural awareness events happen in something like 10 milleseconds ('ms' – thousandths of a second), or about 100/second. If this is mapped to these smaller events in the 'cognitive series', than a full mental event could be in the neighborhood of 100-150ms, or 8 to 10/second. (This info may be outdated, but gives a referential ballpark here.) (This also may, or not, relate also to those 'vibrations' mentioned in MCTB as appearing at a frequency of 10Hz, more or less.)

A) The cognitive series for 5-sense-door events:

0) background mental activity is rolling along in neutral – no stimulus is engaging it into being consciousness of an object. This is traditionally call a 'bhavanga';
1) something disturbs, 'shakes' the bhavanga;
2) it's disturbed, shaken a bit more, and bhavanga turns off;
3) the mind 'adverts' ("5-door adverting") to the fact that something is out there;
4) the mind takes in the stimulus – the moment of bare seeing, hearing, etc.;
5) the mind 'receives' it, (maps to a neural image, possibly, (c.f. Damasio));
6) the mind 'investigates' it; possibly searches memory for aspects by which to classify;
7) the mind 'determines' it; possibly comes up with a mental correlate, a sign / nimitta, a 'name';
8-14) for up to 7 cycles, the mind processes with that determined object – this is where intention,kamma (action), kusala (wholesome) or akusala (unwholesome) happens; these are called 'javanas';
15) the mind 'registers' some kind of result; maybe a formed and nuanced memory; something that can arise again later as a mind-door event;
(16…) the mind falls back into bhavanga cycles, or starts an other series, e.g. if the sight, sound lures it again.

The critical part is moments 8-14.These are each called 'javana,' often translated as 'impulsion'; here's an explanation from the BPS-Dictionary:
"(fr. javati, to impel): 'impulsion', is the phase of full cognition in the cognitive series, or perceptual process (citta-vīthi; s. viññāna-kicca) occurring at its climax, if the respective object is large or distinct. It is at this phase that karma is produced, i.e. wholesome or unwholesome volition concerning the perception that was the object of the previous stages of the respective process of consciousness."

B
) The cognitive series for mind-door events:

0-2) same as above
3) the mind adverts to the mental stimulus (mind-door adverting), equivalent to cycle 7 above; the mental object that has arises presumably already includes the results of cycles 4-7 above; the whole package from previous 'registrations' gets activated and presented to consciousness here;
4-10) the mind goes through impulsions, as above.
11) the mind 'registers', as above;
(12…) the mind falls back into bhavanga, etc.

Making sense of all of this

To tie this all back into the start of this posting (John Wilde's passage), I venture that 'sensation' is the arising, the presentation of mental objects – sensory or mental – to consciousness, and what happens in the 'impulsions' constructs the 'meaning', which then gets embedded with the object in its 'registration'. This is a way of explaining that meaning is not reduced to sensation, that this processing (impulsions) is constructing meaning, "the essence" of thought. Later, re-presentation at mind-door events brings along previous meaning, and newer series of impulsions elaborate, alter or enrich the meaning.

A footnote to add, that also relates this Abhidhamma scheme to other prominent themes in this discussion forum: The Abhidhammikers (the guys who carried-out and formulated this detailed analysis from their meditative experience) posited that a unique event can take place at the 5th impulsion / javana, called a 'change-of-lineage', which occurs only in the case of the mental events of either entering jhana or attaining a supramundane path/fruition (one of the Theravadan 4 stages of Path).

I can't speak, from experience, to the latter (paths&fruitions), but it does make sense, in my experience, with regard to the former. Namely, the analysis says that at the moment of absorption in jhana, at the change-of-lineage moment, the whole show freezes -- the mind remains in that javana for as long as the absorption lasts -- up to hours or days. Change-of-lineage in this case is said to be a change from the sense-sphere lineage (the original object of concentration) to the fine-material-sphere (rupa-bhumi) lineage; the mind absorbs into the nimitta, or pure mental sign/image that is 'counterpart' of the original object (see Visudhimagga, Chapter IV, 74). In the path/fruition cases, change-of-lineage has to do with the mind taking Nibbana as object, in some sense (I can't really comment; see Visudhimagga concluding Chapters XXII and XXIII, in case you have experience in this area to compare with).
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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
@Sawfoot, who stated I was being dogmatic: It is not dogma to state that all other models of reality are based off of and extrapoloated from sensations, and that those models, being thoughts, are themselves sensations, with sensations thus being the first basis of those models as well as the apparent material those models are made of. Those points are simply true.

Further that it is hard to imagine people honestly judging the most relevant things in their life being something other than the physical experience of their life as well as their thoughts about it except as some very strange exercise in hypothetical philosophies, which themselves are still sensate, obviously.


"Simply true" eh?

You should check out these websites:

http://www.simplythetruth.org/
http://www.simplytruelife.net/

You would fit right in.

I don't understand how the point you are bringing up repeatedly about whether experience is relevant to one's life has much relation to the points I was making.  It seems a bit like a bit of a big fat red herring to me. The point was just the use of certain language implies a certain perspective, which leads to some problems - which was basically the same point Mark is bringing up - talking about the Absolute, Truth, Ultimate Reality, "seeing reality as it truly is" "seeing the true nature of things" "perceiving sensations truly" etc... is a bit iffy (and this is relevant to the prospects of phenomenology and its uses here).

Just for the record, while I appreciate the effort, my "touche" response to Jake had an element of sarcasm, depending on what means by being dogmatic. The point was about admitting to being dogmatic (and understanding your reasons for it) as much as about being dogmatic - and I would admit to being dogmatic about some things, such as the world existing separately from my experience of it, but that is dogmatic in the sense of "expressing personal opinions or belief as if they are certainly correct and cannot be doubted". 
Mattias Tranberg, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 3 Join Date: 8/9/19 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
@Sawfoot, who stated I was being dogmatic: It is not dogma to state that all other models of reality are based off of and extrapoloated from sensations, and that those models, being thoughts, are themselves sensations, with sensations thus being the first basis of those models as well as the apparent material those models are made of. Those points are simply true.

Further that it is hard to imagine people honestly judging the most relevant things in their life being something other than the physical experience of their life as well as their thoughts about it except as some very strange exercise in hypothetical philosophies, which themselves are still sensate, obviously.
Hi, I'm new to this forum and I joined maily in order to bump this old thread. I'm a Ph D student and I use hermeneutic phenomenology as
my epistemological approach to qualitative studies. This approach can also be called "Lifeworld research". Lifeworld = made up by what I
think you mean by sensations, the world we are part of. One assumption of this approach, the way I utilize it, is that we can never reach
objectivity, the things themselves, since we are full of presuppositions and everything we sense is interpreted to some extent. We can
however access the meaning of the things, objects, but in ourselves and the meanings of other subjects (in which case our knowledge is double-hermeneutic since we interpret their interpretation of said object/experience)

The phenomenologists that came after Husserl and developed the theory;  Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Ricoeur meant that we can never escape the lifeworld, but there are some things we can do.
Through eidetic reduction we can reach the essence of phenomena and through  phenomenological reduction we can bracket our
presupositions, these two exercises are called epoché.This would correspond to Buddhist ideals of seing reality as it is, abstaining from
judgement and ultimately getting rid of defilements, if I understand correctly?

For most(?) qualitative researchers this (epoché) is an ideal to strive towards, and is an intellectual excercise. How does my European,
Christian heritage and my education and experience as a psychologist prime my understanding of this phenomena",
and in  some papers
you can see a small section on reflexivity, containing such discussions, mainly with the purpose of declaring awareness of
prejudgements and claiming objectivity.

Husserl, on the other hand, claimed that with transcendental reduction we can attain pure consciousness which precedes the lifeworld (he
called the lifeworld "captivation-in-an-acceptedness", which could be used to describe your  post above). Transcendental reduction
recognizes this acceptedness as an acceptedness and "abstention from belief can only be radical and universal when that which falls under disconnection by the epoché comes to be clearly seen precisely as a belief-construct, as an acceptedness".

Through this we can, according to Husserl and Fink, bracket the lifeworld itself.

My question - have you, Daniel, or other reader of
this text, experienced this pure consciounsess? Is this what is left
when all defilements are gone?

Husserl himself compared buddhism with transcendental phenomenology and his assistant, Eugen Fink at one point said "that the various phases of Buddhistic self-discipline were essentially phases of phenomenological reduction". Any comments?

I'm asking because I am intrigued with the concept of transcendental reduction, but Husserl provided no clear instructions on how to attain this state and I am wondering if vipassana meditation would help me to go in that direction.

I'm not particularly well-read when it comes to Buddhism, and even though I meditate I haven't attained more than glimpes, so I would
appreciate some input.

Best regards,

Mattias
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is phenomenology (as used here)

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Aright, so we have two totally different directions here.

The first, those who don't seem to think that one's experience is a reasonable or particularly relevant basis for reality, and, on the other hand, the beginnings of a possibly very indepth discussion of highly technical dharma.

To those who don't think that their experience of their life has some primacy, some first relevance to their life, I truly hardly know what to say. I myself consider what I experience to be the most relevant thing about my experience of my life. To each their own.

As to the Abhidhamma: I think that, while it is sometimes interesting to take it to that level, and I have really appreciated my time studying the Abhidhamma, it gets hard past a certain point to really make good use of that for most people.

Should we perhaps split this thread into the discussion of the relevance of experience to people's lives and another that goes ultra technical?
Daniel, that your experience has primacy for you (and mine for me) seems a solid sarting point. When people start making cliams about universal truths, absolutes, ultimate intelligences etc then I think that introduces real dangers. If "I" have the "absolute truth" then I've closed the door on being wrong - and I think being wrong is the one thing we can count on emoticon

So I see the deeper technical discussion as having great value if it helps people avoid falling into some type of "enlightened" absolutism.

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