Author Topic: How do sensations produce craving and aversion  (Read 9578 times)


How do sensations produce craving and aversion
« on: January 04, 2010, 09:10:01 AM »
I have been meditating for around 3 years, but just started with the vipassana technique. I have a couple of questions on sensations, and how they can produce craving and aversion:

1) According to vipassana, the unconscious mind is constantly aware of our physical sensations, and can react with craving or aversion. If the technique of vipassana is used, and one scans through the body, being aware of each sensation and not reacting to it, then what happens to all the other sensations throughout the rest of the body at any one moment - will these not still be working on the unconscious mind, and possibly reacting to them?

2) By scanning the body, looking at the physical sensations and not reacting, the meditator is supposed to allow old conditioning to arise - so as to get rid of the stock of past reactions. However, if this past reaction could manifest itself as a physical sensation anyhwere within the body, how is the meditator supposed to locate it and observe it, whilst doing the normal scan of the body? The chances are that this will not be observed, so surely it will again affect the unconscious mind, and again add to the stock of old reactions?

Thanks in advance for any help..


Re: How do sensations produce craving and aversion
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2010, 02:02:34 PM »

Partially I have answered these questions in this post.

Here I provide some more details.

1) Reactions with with craving or aversion are usually the function of Svadhistana (sexual center). It is true that activity of this center and Muladhara are related to what is called "subconscious mind", but for common person (including you) the activity of all other centers remains as invisible and insensible, as this of Svadhisthana and Muladhara.

2) As I told you in the mentioned post, your mechanical mind, using which you perform "body scanning" is too coarse and slow to catch real game of energies which takes place when your craving or aversion arises. These processes take literally small part of the second, and when you come to the place to "scan" it, everything has finished long ago, only long-term "tale" of the state remains. On the other hand, when you think that you have to scan the body, your mental body activates, and it suppresses your emotions (and, hence, activity of Svadhisthana). So, again, when you become able to scan, you will see nothing.

3) Your questions are correct, but any direct answer for them will be useless for you due to the reasons mentioned above.


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Re: How do sensations produce craving and aversion
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2010, 07:55:18 PM »

Can I ask what technique you were using up until now?


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Re: How do sensations produce craving and aversion
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2010, 02:35:21 PM »
Hi philltee,

Goenkaji has sort of simplified many concepts of Vipassana due to his background and for making it understandable to every alphabetic Indian.

The confusion in both of your questions comes from the most dominant simplification of Goenka (and not 'Vipassana' - as it was thought by the Buddha), that by observing pleasant and unpleasant sensations with equanimity - sankharas of craving and aversion would be elaminated till all of them are gone and one would be free from them.

I can give you two hinds for a preciser understanding of this simplification:

1.) If you look at Paticca Samupada – Dependent Origination – you will be surprised that 'craving' itself isn't a cause, but comes much later as an effect after and from Ignorance and Sankhara.
And Goenka does acknowledge this in the long courses when he says, that actually not even Sankhara, but Ignorance is the very first cause which has to be changed to Panna – Wisdom - for no more Sankharas to arise with all other effects along Paticca Samupada.

And he also says that the yardstick to make his vipassana work would be – that one has to remain equanimous with actually felt sensations AND the understanding of their impermanence. Where the later part is where Panna possibly develops and Ignorance - the primal cause for Dependent Origination – gets truly eliminated.

One monk, I once spoke about this, likened the simplified understanding of eradication of sankharas, one by one, to the digging away of a huge mountain with a small spoon, it would take as much time to erraticate sankharas one by one and therefore never leading to any results.

However, with the Wisdom developed in Goenka's Vipassana, Paticca Samupada could indeed come to a full stop, and how it is explained more precisely in the longer courses.

2.) If you look at the roadmap outlined by the Buddha, the stages to full awakening start with Sotapana, who has elaminated doubt concerning the uselessness of rules-rituals and personality believe only. Next comes Sakagadamin, who has weakened craving and aversion. Then only an Anagamin indeed has elaminated every sensual craving and aversion. And finally the Arahat gets free of Craving for Fine-material existence, Craving for Immaterial existence, Conceit, Restlessness, and of the last remains Ignorance.

This roadmap clearly point to the futility, that craving or aversions could already get eliminated if one isn't free of personality and ritualistic believes yet. However, indirectly, the Panna propagated in Goenkas courses could lead to the eradication of personality believe.. and from there of all the remaining fetters.

Hope this helps you to a more preciser understanding as Goenka provides in his ordinary 10-day courses.

Kind regards..


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