anatta: am I doing it right?

mla7, modified 6 Years ago at 6/19/16 8:17 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 6/19/16 8:17 PM

anatta: am I doing it right?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 10/16/13 Recent Posts
Hello,

I see myself as being on my way to second path and currently grappling with some heavy re-observation type stuff.  

These days, when I sit I tend to spend a lot of time looking at things through the lense of the 3 characteristics.  My favorite characteristic atm is anatta// no self.  

I like it because it seems to be a lot less "painful" than the other 2 and,  because it causes effects in my body which seem very supportive of the qigong stuff I am into.

When I practice no self I experience the following:  

  1.  there is a physical sinking combined with relaxation, very "song"  if you are familiar w/ qigong terminology.
   2.  there is a sensation of physical emptiness in the body with sensations arising and passing in that space.  
   3. it is very dark, not dark in the sense of troubled, but dark in the sense that visual parts of the brain are not very stimulated.  Often, I tend to "see" a lot of colorful internal imagery when I meditate.  But when I do no-self stuff it is as if the energy that would be in my head, lighting up visual centers and causing complicated and detailed perceptions in genral, instead drops to my belly.  

My question is that while I like this state and find it physically nourishing, is it conducive to gaining insight?  Does it sound to you like I am practicing anatta properly?

  thanks,  Mike
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago at 6/19/16 9:40 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 6/19/16 9:40 PM

RE: anatta: am I doing it right?

Posts: 1470 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
mla7:
My favorite characteristic atm is anatta// no self.  
When I practice no self...
But when I do no-self stuff ...
Does it sound to you like I am practicing anatta properly?

You might have to actually explain what your are doing to practice "anatta"
Describe your history and current practice please.

~D
mla7, modified 6 Years ago at 6/20/16 1:04 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 6/20/16 1:04 AM

RE: anatta: am I doing it right?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 10/16/13 Recent Posts
ok,

I crossed the a+p when I was 18, kinda by accident  (I'm 41 now).   I started meditating fairly regularly around then and eventually got into a kind of pop-culture daoism that was going around at the time.  I worked with that until I started to experience some weird health stuff so I switched over to another, more natural Daoist method.  At this time I was meditating around 2-3 hours a day.  

Sometime in 2012 or 2013 I got a copy of MCTB and started to apply it to what I was doing.  By 2013 I became aware that I was cycling between the DN and EQ and also, jhana 1-3 and maybe 4 started showing up.  (jahna lite, not the Pa Auk stuff)

I began to Vipassana-ize my practice, mostly noticing impermanence and in late October 2013 got SE.  My SE experience seemed to have a lot of the standard markers- a absence of "self" that lasted for days, a review phase with quick cycling, massively increased concentration abilities, a significant reduction in emotional turbulence and also a totally unusual (for me) change in the way my head felt, as if the top of my head had been removed or something.  Also, there was a deep release of tension in the core of my body, an effect I don't see mentioned here much.

Since then I meditate a few hours a day.  With a few little self-retreats here and there.  I sit down, notice the 3 c's and go into and out of concentration states.  

That is my history.  Now, regarding my uncertainty about anatta, I think I want to know how people practice it.  To my mind, seeing impermanance and suffering are really straightforward because the sensations in my body are always changing, and they all contain some degree of stress.  Regarding sensations as not-self seems a little more subtle.  In the beginning, I found myself saying when a sensation arose "that's not self" but I really quickly found that sort of repeated mental intervention into the stream of sensations to be somehow not to my taste.  

 To me, practicing anatta is basically watching sensations come and go while simultaneously really tuning into the empty space they are coming and going from.  The empty space feels empty therefore it's not me.  The sensations might seem like me for a moment but when they dissolve in emptiness obviously they aren't.  

Lol, when I write it down it sounds so mental and abstract haha.

Anyways, I hope that gives you more of a sense of where I am coming from.  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 6/20/16 2:06 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 6/20/16 2:06 AM

RE: anatta: am I doing it right?

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
I never fully connected with the idea of focusing on one characteristic at a time.  However, the not-self aspect seemed to be most detectable through the lens of agencylessness: things just arising on their own, including the sensation of 'doing.' 
neko, modified 6 Years ago at 6/20/16 2:39 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 6/20/16 2:39 AM

RE: anatta: am I doing it right?

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
The no-self thing has as many sides to it as the notion of self, which is a bunch of heterogeneous stuff bundled up together by consciousness in one thing.

In addition to what Noah and mla7 say (agency and origin and destination of sensations), another aspect of the "no-self" characteristic that is evident is "where is this sensation being experienced from?". There is a subtle vantage point from which sensations are observed that, upon inspection, turns out to be unstable and mobile; this point of view can be observed until it becomes volatile in its spatial location, intensity, and so on. This is related to the MCTB passage on "one sensation cannot observe another sensation".
power of constancy, modified 5 Years ago at 2/12/17 11:06 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 2/12/17 11:06 AM

RE: anatta: am I doing it right?

Posts: 3 Join Date: 10/23/13 Recent Posts
I spent a long time with U Tejaniya and he essentially revolved his teaching around anatta.  Mostly, he understood it in terms of cause and effect / 'you're not in control' / agencylessness.  Just notice how things are happening all by themselves, and how they're linked.  For example, a sound triggers an intention triggers a thought triggers a feeling which lingers and fades while another thought pops up which triggers a secondary thought which triggers an intention....  It goes on and on, but you're never in control.
J C, modified 5 Years ago at 2/12/17 3:01 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 2/12/17 3:01 PM

RE: anatta: am I doing it right?

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Yes, that sounds like no-self to me. Like you, I found that to be the characteristic that I tended to focus on.

I mostly conceive of it in terms of free will. No-self just means there is no free will, so I zoomed in closely to any sensation that felt like free will or choosing or taking action and dissolved it. Effort and surrender are two sides of the same coin and the exercise that ultimately got me to 4th path involved looking at both effort and surrender and bringing them together.

Daniel said something to the effect of "try to do something that isn't happening and see how ridiculous that idea is and notice the rationalizations that come up" which I found very helpful.
Simon Liu, modified 5 Years ago at 2/12/17 9:08 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 2/12/17 9:08 PM

RE: anatta: am I doing it right?

Posts: 83 Join Date: 8/23/16 Recent Posts
I am not aware of any special  anatta practice. Anatta is seen when you eat, walk, hearing sound during meditation, being aware of awareness of body, and etc.

It is the  repeated seeing of anicca in the body that one releases attachment to the body leading to stream entry.

If you practice satipatthana it will lead to realization of anatta.

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