B. Alan Wallace, 06 Sep 2012
Note: This recording is of minor quality since we had to recover it from another device. Thank you for understanding.
Teaching: This practice shines a bright light on feelings by attending to feelings internally (our own), externally (someone else’s), and both internally and externally (in ourself and others in interaction). Alan introduces an alternative translation for a key line in the Sattipathana sutta. Instead of the common translation “One views the body in the body,” Alan proposes the following based on the Tibetan “One views the body as the body. One views feelings as feelings. One views the mind as the mind.”
Mental consciousness is unique because in addition to its own domain, it can also piggyback on each of the 5 sense consciousnesses. We must learn that mental feelings are not enslaved by physical sensations. During the practice, we should know that we know feelings as feelings until the insight shifts our view of reality.
Meditation: mindfulness of feelings. Let the light of awareness permeate the body. Keeping in touch with the breath as baseline, closely apply mindfulness to the feelings associated with tactile sensations. Introspection monitors the flow of mindfulness, posture, and flow of the breath. 1) Observe feelings as feelings. 2) Focus on the origination and dissolution. 3) Observe the 3 marks of existence. Settle back into mindfulness of breathing as needed.
Q1-2. Are there two kinds of direct realization of emptiness: 1) the direct realization of emptiness through the 4 applications of mindfulness and 2) the wisdom teachings on the Middle Way by Nagarjuna?
Q3. According to the Sautantrika view, we can see glasses directly, so they are real. Their ownership is a social convention, so it is unreal. According to social science, items have their own history (e.g., people made the glasses), and things also have a relational aspect. What does the Sautantrika view say about this?
Q4. Is it possible to have non-conceptual loving-kindness without the verse, “May you find happiness and its causes”? I don’t have words for that feeling, and I find that words can get in the way. Do we need the words or even the term itself?
Q5. When meditating on the domain of the mind, how can we be certain that we focusing on the right place, especially when there is no mental object?
Q6. A lucid dream is happening in the substrate just as settling the mind leads us to the substrate. If we change something consciously during the practice, are we lost? How can we maintain clarity?
Meditation starts: 19:05
Notes for readers:
In this cycle of the close applications of mindfulness to feelings arising in the body or more broadly easy feelings arising in conjunction with our experience of the sensory world. In closely monitoring and seeking to probe into this your shamatha as we will see tomorrow in settling the mind in its natural state and closely applying mindfulness to the mind that your shamatha is your base, your home, your seat, you can rest there and then venture out so you can retreat in your seat, you retreat in shamatha and then what is seem more appropriate go to on expedition, venturing out and really attending to feelings arising here and so forth and likewise as we will see tomorrow, feelings arising in the mind and taking an special interest in them, focusing on them.
This is a very rich practice, this overall nature of the four applications of mindfulness, and one of the things that occurs for every one of the four, is that when you attend closely to the factors of origination and factors of dissolution, so this shows quite clearly that this must entail more than just moment to moment bare attention, because when seen, the feelings arising are arising within a fabric, within a network. In modern psychology looking for triggers for emotions is a central theme, what triggers the irritation, anxious, low self-esteem and what have you, okay there is the emotion, fine, but it didn’t come out of the blue. What triggered a certain type of response? Certain people will trigger a certain kind of response in you. In anticipation, before you meet them, you will recognize - oh I am meeting this person, so you are aware of this person and what might be triggered here, so you are well prepared. That is included in the term is called contemplation – the wise attending to, the discerning, reflecting, sometimes cogitating, sometimes thinking about the factors that give rise to certain feelings within the body.
By closely and wisely attending to the feelings arising in the body and in your mind you will see what triggers emotions like irritation, anxious, low self-esteem and so forth, it means you can discern, reflect about the factors that give rise to the feelings, in this case feelings arising in the body.
By closely applying mindfulness in the body you may observe the concatenation, a network of the substantial causes and cooperative conditions that come together and moment to moment are giving rise to whatever feelings arising in the body.
So the factors of origination that correspond to feelings that we are attending closely to, permanent and impermanent, other feelings that the whole framework is sukkha (happiness) and dukkha (suffering) and then of course is there anything intrinsic there as “I or Mine”. So these are few questions as background that inform, illuminate and provide a greater penetrating insight into the close application of mindfulness to the feelings and then of course the factors of dissolution. How do they fade out but also its causal network? What do the feelings themselves arising in the body, what do they trigger? Because all substantial causes are also cooperative conditions for something else.
And so there are feelings that give rise to more feelings but in the meantime feelings can trigger thoughts, they can trigger memories and they can trigger all kind of things acting as cooperative conditions for others types of things so it is really a kind of three dimension whole network, or matrix of causality taking place here. And so seeing the feelings arising embedded in such a framework then really drains us in a way of notions that somehow they are hard, they are intrinsic and they are absolute, they stand in and of themselves, they are real and inherent existent.
By the close attending to of these three factors - impermanence, the nature of dukkha (suffering) and the nature of non-self, we are already softening up the reification of feelings as inherent existent, absolutely real from their own side, by closely attending to the factors of origination and factors of dissolution and seeing why they are present and closely attending to the manner in which they are present.
Alan introduces an alternative translation for a key line in the Sattipathana sutra. Instead of the common translation “One views the body in the body,” Alan proposes the following based on the Tibetan “One views the body as the body. One views feelings as feelings. One views the mind as the mind. One views mental events as mental events.”
There is one more theme that comes up again from all applications of mindfulness and is often translated from Sattipathana sutra to English, I think incorrectly, this is a translators debate, a common translation is -: one attends to the body in the body, one attends to the feelings in the feelings, one attends to the mind in the mind and so forth, so the preposition “in”, they will often say that. Not all of them, but that is the more standard translation by very good translators. In my mind it just doesn’t have much juice to bring to the practice: - okay - now I am going to observe my body in my body. That just sounds like bad grammar to me. How many bodies do you have? Here is the body, now you are in the body, like Russian dolls? I am not ridiculing anything here, it is just I think it more valuable, more practical, if simply one views the body as the body. Views feelings as feelings, views mental events as mental events. Instead of ‘in’ – ‘as’. And I think that is very much in accordance with the teachings that Buddha gave to Bahiya: “in the seen let be just the seen”. In other words you are seeing visual impressions “as” visual impressions. You are just seeing them from what they are and likewise for the sounds, for tactile sensations and mental events, you are seeing them as they are. Exactly like, for example, when you are dreaming you see a dream “as” a dream and not something else that is not, namely waking reality. I think that is what the Buddha’s teachings to Bahiya: being lucid in the waking state and see things “as” they are. See mental events as mental events and do not conflate them with their reference which we very often do, when we are sitting there quietly and then conflating our thoughts with whatever references of the thoughts are and think is the same, and that is what happens in terms of OCDD, obsessive, compulsive and then delusional disorder, because we are actually conflating, thinking whatever I am thinking must be true – that’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth - that is delusional.
Mental consciousness is unique because in addition to its own domain, it can also piggyback on each of the 5 sense consciousness.
So here we are attending the feelings arising in the body, observe them, attend to them simply “as” feelings, with no additions, no ornamentation, no clothing, no cloaking, no superimpositions just see them nakedly, see feelings as feelings. And as you do so, as you are seeing feelings arising in the body then notice that these are feelings which are a way of experiencing tactile sensations. It is a way of experiencing earth, water, fire and air, whatever tactile sensations are presenting themselves to you within the somatic field. So now we are also aware, this happens every single day, as we have feelings arising in the body then we are attending, we are experiencing those feelings not only with tactile consciousness, but also with other kind of consciousness - that is mental consciousness.
So mental consciousness, of course we are thinking all the time, but when I am attending to, when I am focusing on (Alan rubs his knee) I am feeling a tactile sensation, but I am paying attention. My mental awareness is also going to those tactile sensations, so mental awareness, unlike all the others, can piggyback on the other five.
You can’t visually attend to sounds with your auditory awareness, you can’t piggyback on smells, there is no auditory perception on smells because they have their own category, they have their own domain and in the Buddha’s view there is no overlapping, what you see, you see and not hear, what you hear you hear and do not smell and so forth so the five physical senses according with the Buddha’s view, there is no overlapping. But when it comes to mental consciousness is like the monkey that goes to the all six windows [it seems that you have six monkeys within the room]. You can’t visually see into your mind, or hear into your mind. Mental consciousness has its own turf. Mental consciousness can jump into any of the other five senses. So visual gets only visual and auditory gets only auditory but the mental consciousness it can and does score around for all of them including its own domain. .
So when you are closely applying mindfulness to feelings arising in the body, then there is a tactile awareness of the sensations and together with that tactile awareness there will be an affective quality, called pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. When you closely apply mindfulness which means you are really paying attention, what do you piggyback onto that tactile awareness? The mental awareness. Mental consciousness comes with its own feeling. Now very, very often its own feelings is a kind of bleeds over from the tactile over to the mental, where you are seeing something as your visual is perceiving something that is sensory of pleasure and then mental consciousness comes in and you mentally seek to view reality.
Alan explains the concepts of the mental awareness and mental consciousness using the example when you are receiving a massage where mentally you may enjoy it and physically it may be uncomfortable and said that this is a kind of the discomfort he wants because feel so much better after the massage.
(12.39) And it can happen that you injure yourself. Or you have arthritis or some other physical discomfort, and there is physical discomfort arising and on top of that –“ ah gee, why do I experience this? This is such a drain, I hate this, poor me –“. So then the mental awareness is taking on the feeling from the tactile, and you are getting a double whammy, you are getting unpleasant and unpleasant. Unpleasant physically, and unpleasant mentally. They don’t have to go together. That is where the freedom is. If your body is injured, or ill, it should be sending you pain signals or you would have no incentive to face it. You could pluck out your eyes and not feel anything at all, not even mental. Nothing would trigger until you think – oh I can’t see out of that eye anymore. Too late.
Simply let see the feelings as feelings and let your awareness have its own autonomy. If unpleasant feelings arising in the body you attend to them but mentally with the mental consciousness of those feelings, mentally you have a neutral feeling. So what you definitely can achieve here, in this practice is – unpleasant things are arising in the body, there they are, you are attending to them, but mentally, mental consciousness of those feelings, mentally you have a neutral feeling.
We must learn that mental feelings are not enslaved by physical sensations.
If you get an insight: Oh, this is an interesting practice let’s go and investigate physical pain and you may act mentally since you are interested in the practice, mentally you are enjoying the practice, it is interesting, mentally I am actually getting to know the feelings and there is some mental happiness, even while the feelings in the body are painful, maybe somewhat unpleasant. If they are searingly painful – not so likely. But if it is mentally not so uncomfortable, good. So do explore. Often we may feel that our mental feelings are simply enslaved by, no freedom, enslaved by the feelings arising in the body and they are enslaved by the feelings arising in the body even if we do not let them, and you do not have to. Because there is really the possibility of freedom there.
During the practice, we should know that we know feelings as feelings until the insight shifts our view of reality.
(15.23) To enrich your practice of mindfulness let’s see where is that demarcation, where is that border between simply attending, as you do in bare attention as in contrast to vipashyana, - inquiring and concentrating, and the answer is the border is fuzzy, it should be fuzzy. Sometimes insights may come just while you are quietly attending, then something really comes in, but where the insight deepens is where you are knowing something, for example you are just knowing the impermanent nature, constantly in flux, flux nature, fluctuating nature - the momentary nature of feelings, and you are experiencing them, and then it is like knowing you are experiencing them. You know you are doing them correctly. Then you have confidence. It is like when you hammer a nail in, then you counter sink it, so it goes beneath the surface of the wood, then it really goes in there.
(16:57) So practicing correctly is good, but knowing that you are practicing correctly, that is counter sinking the nail, then it really goes in there. So is fine to be aware, to know the impermanent nature of the feelings, to know that phenomena themselves are not intrinsically pleasant or unpleasant, and it is perfectly good to see them simply as events and to know that they are not “I or Mine”. But then to know that you know - that really goes deep. That really goes deep and really penetrates, it is more transformable, you get it experientially, it is really penetrating into your Psyche. When we counter sink a nail it is very hard for that nail to come out, it is so deep it becomes almost part of the wood. We want insights that go so deep that it actually becomes part of your way of viewing reality and not simply something you know, or you believe, but how you actually view reality.
Step by step settle your body, speech, your respiration and your mind in its natural state and for a little while calm the discursive mind, stem the flow of rumination with mindfulness of breathing, relax and release the flow with every out breath.
(24:15) And now as a light filling the room, let the light of your mindfulness fill the space of the body, from the interior as well as on the exterior, let your baseline, the flow of continuity, the ongoing flow of sensations associated with the breath, just keep in touch with that, something constant, as if you are in a boat that gently rises, gently rises and falls as the waves pass through. Let that be more peripheral awareness, while with the secondary awareness, you turn your interest to the arising and passing of the feelings that are arising currently in this endless field of tactile experience. Beginners should not feel aware of this, because if you feel any impulse to move, chances are that it is triggered by a feeling, instead of moving, observe the feeling that triggered the desire to move. Apart from the movement of the breath, be very still.
(26:25) Now make use of the versatility of your mental awareness, it is your choice whether you focus your mental awareness on the tactile sensations themselves, earth, water, fire and air, or whether you focus on the feelings associated with your tactile experience of the sensations. Focus on the feelings and observe the impact on the feelings of your focused attention directed upon them.
The role of introspection is equally important in the practice of shamatha as well as in vipashyana. Now we are focusing on mindfulness of feelings arising within the space of the body. With introspection, monitor the flow of mindfulness. Noting the occurrence of exaltation or laxity as usual but also note, introspection is not only focused on the flow of mindfulness, in Buddha’s meaning of the term of introspection it is also the faculty by which we monitor our own bodies. In this case our own posture. See that you continue to settle the body in its natural state.
Again with your faculty of introspection, monitor also the flow of the breath, the respiration, throughout vipashyana practice, the breath should flow effortlessly and as unimpeded as in the shamatha practice of mindfulness of the breathing.
As you closely apply mindfulness to the feelings in the body, observe them as feelings, just by what they are with no conceptual additions. Contemplate the factors of origination and dissolution and observe the three marks of existence, impermanence, nature of dukkha and non-self. And finally, any time during the session and you would like to retreat for a little while, just settle back into mindfulness of breathing, back to shamatha. Take a break, and you feel refreshed and ready to venture once again into the expedition of vipashyana.
Let’s continue the practice now in silence.
Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Revised by Cheri Langston
Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Posted by Alma Ayon