Author Topic: When there is only present  (Read 2510 times)

Dharmic Tui

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When there is only present
« on: March 14, 2014, 09:05:45 AM »
I'm at a point in my practice where there is a distinct line between present moment awareness, and subjective thought. I'm sort of wondering where exactly metta or any other form of thought derived emotional influence of my practice fits in. It seems like metta is a pollution of awareness, tainting it with some sort of nostalgic or illusory emotional slant.

Any thoughts?

Quardamon

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Re: When there is only present
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2014, 10:52:31 AM »
OK. You ask for any thoughts. I have some thoughts.

You speak of metta as "thought derived emotional influence".
And you speak of "present moment awareness".

First I will tell of an experience of mine. That will make clear where I come from. Then I will give my thoughts.

I had a lot of dance training in the past, and did massage. From that I can still call upon a body-awareness. (It is a bit different from awareness through body-scanning.) When I embrace my wife, I can extend this awareness to/through her body. In that way I can feel in a very direct way her love for me. (It still surprises me, that she loves me so much. I have no idea how I deserved that.)

I tell you this, to give the picture that emotional influence does not need to be thought derived. I never got an instruction to do this - it never was a thought. It is a way of being present.

The thought - and my hope - is, that for those that have gone through cleansing, and that are clear, the present moment awareness IS the metta. Awareness has some clearing and transforming quality. (I do not know why, but that is my experience.)
The thought is, that after having done and tasted metta exercises, one can allow it to Life do steer the metta without oneself sending it. Just Be.

Re: When there is only present
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2014, 11:27:16 AM »
metta practiced just at the thought level is not metta.

Metta can only be practiced when one is filled with subtle sensations of pleasure. Its very important for the practitioner to be free from suffering at the time of practicing metta. Before you ask, yes it is possible to be momentarily be free from suffering during meditation.

If you want to do the thought influenced habit pattern change then by all means do it, but dont give much importance to it as it is not part of the teaching.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: When there is only present
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2014, 03:36:00 PM »
Thank you both for sharing. I understand what youre both saying, it still seems to me to be subjectively steered. While love doesn't have to be summoned to be felt - I.e. You can feel it automatically depending on the situation, isn't Metta manipulating a situation?

It's quite hard to explain maybe. But it seems like a large part of the intent of practice is having a mind that's not wandering or imagining, it is the end of thought (maybe I have this wrong a little). It seems like Metta requires at least a little thought to have one elicit a positive emotional response to flavour ones meditative experience. I practice Metta and see the benefit, It just seems a little contradictory to me.

Do you sort of see what im getting at?

Re: When there is only present
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2014, 09:00:12 AM »
Quote
It's quite hard to explain maybe. But it seems like a large part of the intent of practice is having a mind that's not wandering or imagining, it is the end of thought (maybe I have this wrong a little). It seems like Metta requires at least a little thought to have one elicit a positive emotional response to flavour ones meditative experience. I practice Metta and see the benefit, It just seems a little contradictory to me.
Samatha and metta are two completely different techniques. Stop comparing both.

 
Quote
isn't Metta manipulating a situation?
Yes, so isnt not wanting to suffer manipulating a situation?
We are manipulating to remove manipulation.


Dharmic Tui

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Re: When there is only present
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2014, 09:49:22 AM »
Samatha and metta are indeed different techniques, I'm struggling to reconcile the latter with the former. Logically they don't seem compatible.

Not wanting to suffer can be an aim, actually letting go I guess can be seen as manipulation, but it's not trying to gravitate towards an emotional spectrum using prompts in the same way.

Matthew

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Re: When there is only present
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2014, 01:11:28 PM »
Metta is aimed at conditioning the mind towards kindness to others, reducing hate and anger and reducing selfishness. Mindfulness practices are aimed at undoing conditioning through calm concentration (Shamatha) and insight into habits of mind (Vipassana).

So yes Metta and Shamatha have an inherent contradiction.

Quote
I'm at a point in my practice where there is a distinct line between present moment awareness, and subjective thought.

I'd suggest deepening/continuing with your practice until you can inhabit deeper present moment awareness.

Metta won't do this.

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Dharmic Tui

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Re: When there is only present
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2014, 06:40:01 PM »
Leading back into the OP, how can you reconcile the two? On one hand you cast aside attachment to thoughts and then on the other youre seemingly jumping back in bed with them. Is Metta merely a religiously derived moral practice?

Matthew

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Re: When there is only present
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2014, 10:26:19 PM »
I would be more inclined to think of Metta as a foundational practice: basic morality, undoing selfish conditioning, etc. ... and something to be put to one side as you go deeper into deconstructing self. Perhaps for lay persons in traditionally Buddhist countries where there is great separation between laity and monastics it is religiously derived moral practice for laity, yes.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Quardamon

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Re: When there is only present
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2014, 11:04:51 PM »
Maybe I do not see what you are getting at. I do not see being without thoughts as the hallmark of meditation. I can be without the text balloons that we see in comic strips for extended periods of time, but then still there is impressions from the inner landscape. My watching that can have a mild tone, or then subtle tenseness of deep investigation, or a striving quality - at times a tone of amusement, etc.
If I would see metta as a pollution of awareness, then I would drop metta and stick to the awareness. In fact, I rearely do formal metta meditation. If I want to attune to someone or some situation, I sit, empty my mind, allow contact with that person or situation, and meditate just as I would do withhout having established a contact or interest. I see a parallel to metta meditation, but is is far more a matter of awareness than it is a formal metta meditation.
There were a few moments in my practice that I felt that I had to make a decision on how to proceed, and that I could not simply follow the book, or the instructions of the teacher. I feel it is more important to be authentic than to be sweet.

By the way - I see meditation as a religious practice, in the sense that one does it to understand the roots of one's life and of reality, and in the sense that one hopes to make to world a better place, and in the sense that one does it with all their heart and all their mind. If I were seen as religious, I would sooner be proud of that than annoyed with it. But that is just a side track about the word "religious".

Dharmic Tui

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Re: When there is only present
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2014, 06:04:54 PM »
Maybe I do not see what you are getting at. I do not see being without thoughts as the hallmark of meditation. I can be without the text balloons that we see in comic strips for extended periods of time, but then still there is impressions from the inner landscape. My watching that can have a mild tone, or then subtle tenseness of deep investigation, or a striving quality - at times a tone of amusement, etc.
Perhaps I have worded myself incorrectly. I see two minds:

- The traditional mind that gravitates towards nostalgia, fear, darting this way and that. It clings to thought to emotionally taint one's experience.
- The present mind which may still have the thoughts arise, but the mind doesn't run with the thoughts and sees them purely as thoughts. Far less emotionally chaotic.

I still slip between the two, and probably always will, the former I actually need to some extent to function in my job and life in general. I see Metta fitting into that former also which is why logically I find it a bit of a challenge, on the one hand, I've developed a mental faculty which holds legitimacy in breaking down the illusory existence created by the mind, and on the other I'm led to believe I should be going right back into it.
 
By the way - I see meditation as a religious practice, in the sense that one does it to understand the roots of one's life and of reality, and in the sense that one hopes to make to world a better place, and in the sense that one does it with all their heart and all their mind. If I were seen as religious, I would sooner be proud of that than annoyed with it. But that is just a side track about the word "religious".
I suppose this could become an argument in semantics, I would view "religious" as something taken as a matter of faith or belief which may not but substantiable. Through Samadhi/Insight meditation I have undertaken a practice partially on faith which over time I believe (and it may only be a belief) I have managed to gain an actual insight into the nature of the mind and the illusory self.

It may be that Metta practice will deliver a similar insight, perhaps I am tricking myself into believing it'd be a highly subjective insight. But maybe that is no less valid than my other insight.

Apologies for any mis-wording here.

Quardamon

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Re: When there is only present
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2014, 09:02:31 PM »
OK. Now I see what you are getting at. I will react at an other time.  :)

Matthew

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Re: When there is only present
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2014, 10:37:36 PM »
I suppose this could become an argument in semantics, I would view "religious" as something taken as a matter of faith or belief which may not but substantiable.

This is an argument in semantics I think. Religious faith is by definition something believed without evidence. It is a different meaning of faith from that you describe here:

Through Samadhi/Insight meditation I have undertaken a practice partially on faith which over time I believe (and it may only be a belief) I have managed to gain an actual insight ...

This faith means confidence, confidence to try and see if you can see the outcome of the experiment/experience for yourself. I have no doubt your practice has proven to you certain aspects of the teachings to be true.

Religious faith = blind belief in things that cannot be known
Buddhist faith = confidence to experiment and verify the teachings for yourself
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~