Saturday, August 6, 2011

Four Important Mind Steps

A Twitter exchange with @Meryl333 got me back into reading Ayya Khema's 'Who Is My Self?', specifically the following mind sequence [page 76]:
The first aspect is "sense-consciousness", the five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling.
The second aspect is feeling, which arises from sense-contact. This feeling is either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral [or rather a combination of pleasant and unpleasant in my experience].
The third is perception, which can also be called labeling. For example, when the feeling is unpleasant, the label is "pain".
The fourth is mental formation, or reaction. If the mind has said "pain", the reaction is usually "I don't like it", or "I've got to get away from this."
. . . 
Most people are only aware of the first and the last step, the sense contact and the reaction.
. . . 
We should practice in the following way: having noticed our reaction, we go back to the sense-contact that led to it. We then try to become aware again of the feeling that followed the sense-contact, and then of the mind's explanation, its labeling (dirty, disgusting, delicious, boring). Notice these two missing parts, the feeling and the label. 
. . . 
We can also decide to stop to the sequence at any of the four points, particularly at the perception, the labeling. Then we will notice that we are not compelled to react. 
Very important stuff, worth verifying through thorough investigation of one's immediate experience.

I just wonder why Ayya Khema did away with the sixth sense-consciousness, the intellect-consciousness included in the Buddha's teachings? Today, I could see how through the cognizing of a certain idea, much unpleasantness arose. In my mind's haste, all I could notice  next was the "I don't like" part. The third step eluded me completely. Following Ayya Kehma's instruction, as I go back and try to retrace all of the steps, I can now see the part about perception, and all the "pain" that I attached to the unpleasantness. Pain is a loaded word that can't just be left alone . . . 

I need to spend more time at the edges between pleasantness and pleasure, and unpleasantness and pain. Letting go of the mind's habit to create stories around life cyclical ways.

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