Why is intellectual understanding insufficient?

Are you saying that I’m meditating right now? Or that I know what I’m thinking?

Well it ought to be ‘you’ because I sure as hell don’t! I’ve got enough on my hands here! :nerd_face:

This may be where the ‘problem’ is? There can be an awareness of thought as it arises. There’s no ‘I’ separate from thought. There can be an awareness of the hand on the leg…saying “I have my hand on my leg” is an interpretation of that action, sensation…in this excercise, awareness follows the
Thoughts there is no ‘I’ involved.

It becomes somewhat obvious that thought would rather be ‘left alone’ to speculate , analyse, conclude, question, theorize,etc than to ‘become aware’ of itself as it moves i.e. it would rather stay ‘asleep’ rather than to awaken to itself. May be wrong. Security issues may be involved.

“Why is intellectual understanding insufficient?”
What is intellect? What is understanding? Is understanding verbal?

I still find all this a bit confusing - so here are a few simple claims that might help (please comment if you don’t agree with the claims) :

  • Recognising my thoughts, knowing what my thoughts are, is not meditation.

  • Awareness is not something I do intentionally.

  • My efforts to cause whatever effects in my own psyche will not set me free.

Of course, I’m not claiming that we are totally on the wrong track, or that I know what people mean, when I don’t know what they mean.

C’mon Douglas, is this true?

Being aware of thoughts and investigating into what they are is a major part of Buddhist meditation (just to mention one well-known form of meditation). And for Krishnamurti meditation was quite a broad activity. Sometimes K would finish a long talk on fear or the nature of thought and say words to the effect that “This has all been a process of meditation, from the very beginning”. So on either count, recognising, being aware of thoughts and investigating into their nature can charitably be called meditation (without of course saying that it is the whole of meditation, which goes beyond thought).

Say I am worrying about the neighbour’s dog (true story) - and the thought “the dog is dangerous” appears in my mind - and I know that I have thought that thought.

How is this meditation? How is it different from what happens all the time for most everyone.

Awareness of the movement of self and following thoughts is not the same thing.
Choiceless awareness and recognition of thought/objects is not the same process at work.

How do we investigate into what thoughts are? To be charitable, asking the question is the beginning of the inquiry.

I don’t know how the subject of meditation came up for you in this thread (I haven’t read the whole thread), but I assume that the discussion follows on from your conversation with Dan about “following” thought, being aware of thought as it happens.

First of all, why do you assume that meditation is different from daily life, from what happens “all the time for most everyone”? Surely meditation - at one level - is just this attention paid to what is happening in an ordinary mind “all the time”?

By bringing attention or awareness to the daily thoughts we have - such as “that dog is dangerous”, etc - we begin to expose the mechanics of what is occurring in our minds, and perhaps begin to see the very mechanical and automatic nature of the thought process. This is all part of meditation, isn’t it?

Choiceless awareness is just non-volitional awareness of whatever is happening- including thoughts, feelings, sensations, trees, clouds, birds.

So meditation begins where we are, where our minds are; with our thoughts, our fears, our restlessness and pettiness. It is not transcendental… until it is!

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It is probably important to state that awareness is the same for all - there is not a special form of awareness for enlightened folk.

Now for someone “on the path” who notices the thought : “the dog is dangerous” - what should they do?

There is no-one special “on the path”, is there? There is just the awareness of the thought (and its reaction as feeling, sensation in the body) “the dog is dangerous”. There is nothing special to do. K calls this learning without accumulation. Self-knowledge is part of meditation, isn’t it?

Nothing to do with ‘meditation’. Nothing to do with any ‘result’ other than following each thought. “Why” do it? Because K (and now me) suggested trying it. I think he felt it was important and I agree. Think of it as following, being aware of the sensation of your left foot say. Lose it and come back to it as an excercise. With thought it’s a bit more difficult because of the thinker/thought duality? Anyway I would like to hear other’s impressions after ‘doing’ this for a while. As K would say, “Just do it sir!” :blush:

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Some bloke, no one special, someone like you, me or DanMcD, who is interested in self & suffering - notices the thought : “the dog is dangerous”. What should they do about it? Nothing? Follow it? What have they learnt? (How is this learning without accumulation?)
And what’s the difference between what we do about it, and what humanity has always done?

If we say “no difference” - why did the Buddha speak?

What do you mean? Sometime later in the day I should make the effort to consider my foot again, or a thought that I had earlier? Surely thats not what you mean.

I am reminded of Plum village where a bell would ring every so often, at which point we were all supposed to take a moment to shut up and be “mindful” (aka wake up?)

ANY moment in the day or night, when you remember the excercise, become aware of the procession of thoughts in your head. Follow it. One thought is not more significant than another

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Imagine yourself as a stenographer and you are taking dictation. What is being dictated are the thoughts. Your job is to accurately hear each of the thoughts so you don’t miss a word. Your responsibility is not to react to the thought but just to hear it. There is no responsibility to assess or to judge the thoughts in any way. Only to follow them as diligently as possible. You can pick it up at any point.

Thanks Dan - So this sounds to me a bit like the Plum village example above.
I would say that its about getting into the habit of realising what we’re up to. Waking up regularly to see what the brain is being preoccupied with.

Now - I am still under the impression that there is some effort, some conscious act that you are proposing should take place from that moment of awareness.

As you know, I am suspicious of this idea that we can be in the midst of a thought process and also observe that thought at the same time.

I propose that what is actually happening, is that a thought arises, is recognised, and we can then review that thought. Unfortunately we don’t seem to agree on this point - but its up to each of us to experience this as best we can.

Also, why are we taking note of the contents of the thoughts? (Like a Stenographer) Why are we (re)viewing each word? Are the words significant or not?

Perhaps the confusion is that of a thinker being seen/felt as separate from the thought process. Maybe if that is seen differently then the conundrum (?) disappears? Then the fact is :thought with awareness and thought without awareness?

Yes - I realise that logically, if there is no thinker entity separate from its thought - the idea of something observing the thought that it produces is problematic.

Also there is an intellectual paradox with the the idea of there being awareness and habit at the same time - especially if we take as true that unconscious habit cannot exist under the light of awareness. (if thought is habit and awareness is awareness)

But, my suspicion is mainly due to experience - ie. what seems to happen when experimenting with this stuff.

Well as I said I’m only doing it because K suggested it and though I might have given it some passing interest in the past, this time it actually ‘stuck’. The different sensation of thinking with and thinking without being aware of the movement is thrown into contrast it seems and any effort there was in the beginning is now gone. It’s very strange to realize that thought is going on but there is no ‘me’ doing it!..It was K’s intimation that you CAN watch your thoughts in the same way that you watch a bird in flight.

The same inquiry can take place with regards to birdwatching