Meditation remedy sought

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:54 am

rachmiel wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:22 pm
There is no "mind" per se.

There are mental objects/phenomena I notice = thoughts, snippets of internal dialogue, seen or felt images, emotions, perceptions, etc. By habit and misunderstanding I impute "mind" to these objects like I impute "flower" to the objects: petals, stem, leaves, roots, pistil, sepal, etc.

But there is no actual mind or flower that owns or presides over these sets of parts. Mind and flower are just names attributed to a set of perceived objects.
Contemplated this some more and realized what I've probably done here is to say:

Mind is empty.

Mind doesn't exist "from its own side." It is a name that points to a set of objects: thoughts, images, feelings, etc. It has no existence apart from these objects. What is a flower apart from its petals, stem, leaves, roots, pistil, stamen, etc.?
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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:01 am

Allowing awareness to watch mind objects rise and fall, instead of thought ... this seems to be the key to success at watching the mind. If thought can't watch thought (as Wayfarer pointed out), then a different tool of observation is needed: awareness seems to fit the bill.
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Anonymous X
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Anonymous X » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:02 am

rachmiel wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:09 am
Hmm ... I wonder if it's something like this:

If awareness is watching the thoughts that arise in mind, there's plenty of "room" for the watching to take place, because aware-ing is different than thinking, they don't get in each other's way.

If otoh thought is doing the watching, thought watching itself so to speak, the short circuit occurs because the two streams of thought (watcher and watched) get in each other's way.

If this is true(ish) ... then the ability to clearly and calmly watch thoughts arise and decay in mind is a kind of litmus test for whether awareness is doing the watching or thought masquerading as awareness.

Not 100% sure I'm making sense, but since when has that stopped me?
My sense of what you are saying is that you have jumped into this without preparing the foundation of what mindfulness is. If you really want to proceed with what you are doing, you might want to go back to the Mahasatipatthana sutta, a short read detailing what this practice entails. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness begin with the breath, using it as a meditation object which focuses your attention so you can be mindful of body, feelings, mind, and mental objects. Getting a good understanding of what the tools are that will be used in this endeavor is very helpful. It can save a lot of frustration. It is the basic practice of Buddhism and creates a foundation that encompasses it all. Mindfulness is one of the factors of enlightenment. It is very easy to get lost in words like 'awareness' and what it means.

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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Fri Oct 27, 2017 2:41 pm

Anonymous X wrote:My sense of what you are saying is that you have jumped into this without preparing the foundation of what mindfulness is. If you really want to proceed with what you are doing, you might want to go back to the Mahasatipatthana sutta, a short read detailing what this practice entails.
Good idea! Do you have a link for a good translation and commentary?

In terms of my jumping blindly into this, yes and no. I'm clearly (and intentionally) an amateur. But I know just enough to be dangerous. ;-) The specific thread question about a remedy for difficulty watching my mind came from this week's practice meditation in an online course on Dzogchen meditation I'm taking. The musings I've been sharing here about mind/awareness/etc. came from the teachings in that course along with my patchwork knowledge/experience with Advaita, Neo-Advaita, Direct Path, Krishnamurti, and Buddhism.
Anonymous X wrote:It is very easy to get lost in words like 'awareness' and what it means.
Tell me about it! "Awareness" is a very slippery term. It's key in all the Eastern traditions I've dipped into, but has subtly to dramatically different meanings in most (if not all) of them ... or, in the case of Buddhism, different schools/lineages have nontrivially different takes on awareness. Sometimes I feel like postings that mention terms like awareness (self, awakening, the ground, etc.) should come with glossaries so readers interpret what's written in the way the writer intended.
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Anonymous X » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:12 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Fri Oct 27, 2017 2:41 pm
Anonymous X wrote:My sense of what you are saying is that you have jumped into this without preparing the foundation of what mindfulness is. If you really want to proceed with what you are doing, you might want to go back to the Mahasatipatthana sutta, a short read detailing what this practice entails.
Good idea! Do you have a link for a good translation and commentary?
Try this. Ven. Analayo is an excellent translator from Germany. Very well known in the Theravada world.

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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:33 pm

Thanks!
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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:36 pm

Awareness is a natural quality, it isn't something you have to fabricate.
The trick is not taking the myriad dharmas as mind, as self, which I believe your line of inquiry is aiming towards :smile:

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Vasana
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Vasana » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:57 pm

Intellectually knowing the mind is empty and actually experiencing it as such are similar but not equal. Intellectually infering with certainty that mind is empty is for most, an essential step in then experiencing non-inferential / nonconceptual wisdom. The real litmus test for revealing whether our view/wisdom is a valid cognition of minds emptiness or just an inferential cognition of emptiness is observing how thoughts and sensory appearances manifest within our newly-identified empty-mind. If we have concluded entities and mind are empty, then thoughts and concepts directed at so called entities should have no basis for arising unless we are distracted from that insight - and if they do arise, there should be no basis for the sustaining of our attachment to some sensory and mental experiences and aversion towards other sensory and mental experiences. If mind is empty, why do we prefer this and dislike that?

It's good you're taking a Dzogchen course,Rachimelwhich I'm sure will be helpful but in order for it to be Dzogchen proper, a direct introduction/pointing out instuction from a teacher with appropriate qualifications and lineage is nessacary.
"The changing cycle of joy and sorrow, like the changing seasons –
As a time of suffering will surely come around to me,
May I truly practice the sublime teachings."
- Dudjom Rinpoche

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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:13 pm

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:36 pm
The trick is not taking the myriad dharmas as mind, as self, which I believe your line of inquiry is aiming towards :smile:
Not sure I understand. Please explain. :-)
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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:21 pm

Vasana wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:57 pm
Intellectually knowing the mind is empty and actually experiencing it as such are similar but not equal. Intellectually infering with certainty that mind is empty is for most, an essential step in then experiencing non-inferential / nonconceptual wisdom. The real litmus test for revealing whether our view/wisdom is a valid cognition of minds emptiness or just an inferential cognition of emptiness is observing how thoughts and sensory appearances manifest within our newly-identified empty-mind. If we have concluded entities and mind are empty, then thoughts and concepts directed at so called entities should have no basis for arising unless we are distracted from that insight - and if they do arise, there should be no basis for the sustaining of our attachment to some sensory and mental experiences and aversion towards other sensory and mental experiences. If mind is empty, why do we prefer this and dislike that?
Yes this is quite similar to the litmus test of the eight worldly dharmas, which we discussed earlier in the No self (and no non-self) thread.
It's good you're taking a Dzogchen course,Rachimelwhich I'm sure will be helpful but in order for it to be Dzogchen proper, a direct introduction/pointing out instuction from a teacher with appropriate qualifications and lineage is nessacary.
My root teacher is Anam Thubten Rinpoche, but he lives so far away and only gets around here once every couple of years. I took refuge under him during a retreat a few years back. I'd love to get a pointing out instruction from him ... but it's practically very difficult.
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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:30 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:13 pm
Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:36 pm
The trick is not taking the myriad dharmas as mind, as self, which I believe your line of inquiry is aiming towards :smile:
Not sure I understand. Please explain. :-)
Anything you can conceive of, observe rising and falling, is therefore not mind because mind is unbound. Myriad dharmas = fancy talk for any ol' phenomena you might encounter. That includes feelings of being a Witness or what have you, as you noticed earlier in the thread.

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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:49 pm

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:30 pm
Anything you can conceive of, observe rising and falling, is therefore not mind because mind is unbound.
Saying that "mind is unbound" sounds like a reification to me. Per the middle way view, wouldn't this be true:

Mind is neither bound, nor unbound, nor both, nor neither.

?
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Vasana
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Vasana » Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:15 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:49 pm
Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:30 pm
Anything you can conceive of, observe rising and falling, is therefore not mind because mind is unbound.
Saying that "mind is unbound" sounds like a reification to me. Per the middle way view, wouldn't this be true:

Mind is neither bound, nor unbound, nor both, nor neither.

?
Words are conventions but what they attempt to signify may be experiential truths. Bondage and being unbound are conventionally valid expressions since the mind is either bound by reification in regards to the 4 extremes or not. The point of the Tetralemma when it comes to meditation isn't to settle for an inferential conclusion but a direct nonconceptual cognition when all conceptual possibilities have been exhausted via the tetralemma (in analytical paths). For as long as mind ceases to reify phenomena and it's own emptiness or clarity in regards to the 4 extremes, for that long equipoise ensues and that equipoise can be called unbounded since it's not bound by dualistic reification, nor bound by the aflictions.

Technically you could say mind is neither bound nor unbound since it was never truly bound to begin with, just as the middle is also free of the middle if it's free of extremes but in terms of direct experience and training on the path, those are just fancy expressions.
Last edited by Vasana on Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The changing cycle of joy and sorrow, like the changing seasons –
As a time of suffering will surely come around to me,
May I truly practice the sublime teachings."
- Dudjom Rinpoche

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:53 pm

Perfect, Vasana! Thank you for that :cheers:

In a similar way, descriptions of nirvana (unbound, unconditioned, free, blissful) aren't for the purpose of reifying nirvana but to release sticking points.

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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:49 pm

Vasana, the reason I said "Isn't mind neither bound, nor unbound ..." is because it hit me earlier that the reason I couldn't find mind in my meditation is because mind is not really/ultimately there ... i.e. mind, like everything else, is empty. So I jumped to the tetralemma because it's so highly featured in the rhetoric of emptiness.
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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:37 pm

Empty doesn't mean "not really there", does it? :smile:

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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:03 pm

It depends I think on what Buddhist school's/lineage's definition of emptiness you use.

The Gelugpa take afaik is that things exist, but not in the way they are thought (by the layperson) to exist.

Whereas Nagarjuna's take was that things neither exist, nor don't exist (nor both, nor neither).
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muni
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by muni » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:03 am

Where are all these differences?


Thank you. :namaste:
Buddha said all is empty like my brain.
Let’s make a selfie!

Having meditated on love and compassion, I forgot the difference between myself and others. Yogi Milarepa.

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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:13 pm

muni wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:03 am
Where are all these differences?
I'm not sure where they are, but one thing I *am* sure of: They're all empty.
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Anonymous X
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Anonymous X » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:12 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:49 pm
Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:30 pm
Anything you can conceive of, observe rising and falling, is therefore not mind because mind is unbound.
Saying that "mind is unbound" sounds like a reification to me. Per the middle way view, wouldn't this be true:

Mind is neither bound, nor unbound, nor both, nor neither.

?
That would certainly be the Madhyamaka interpretation. Personally, I like the Bodhidharma vignette:

Huike said to Bodhidharma: “My mind is anxious. Please pacify it.”
Bodhidharma replied: “Bring me your mind, and I will pacify it.”
Huike said: “Although I’ve sought it, I cannot find it.”
“There,” Bodhidharma replied, “I have pacified your mind.”


Mind is not some thing that exists apart from the Buddha's teaching of dependent origination. It is impermanent and not self. It is one of the six consciousnesses along with their respective phenomenon. What most people refer to as mind and self is just thinking that the conglomerate of your experience amounts to a some 'thing'. Personally, I think too much time and effort go into thinking about mind. If you follow the Buddha's logic on dependent origination on how conditions set up the appearance of all the facets of experience, you can see immediately how the creation of the deception of ignorance is formed. This is where mindfulness comes into the picture and seeing the way things are.

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