During this talk, Peter explained how feeling and perception function, transitional between raw sense data and higher cognitive processes. When the mind isn’t well trained, feeling become craving and perception becomes clinging. There was a guided meditation to illustrated concretely how to recognize feeling as feeling and perception as perception, that is, phenomena that are not a self, not “I, me or mine”. This was followed by a lively discussion exploring the presentation. Next week, Peter will engage a “domestic retreat”, during which he will function in a normal way at home, enhanced by more frequent meditation practice and integration into daily life routines. This will be the topic for the next Dhamma dialogue.
This dialogue is a continuation of the previous week’s discussion. During the discussion, Peter led a guided meditation on how to use the four elements contemplations to provide a consistent focus for interrupting the elaboration the mind creates in the “selfing story.” This exercise was followed by a sharing from the attending Sangha members regarding their experience during the exercise and discussion of how this practice can benefit the process of awakening. Next week’s exploration will include the contemplation of vedana (feeling) and sanna (perception), with the hope that this information will further the process of understanding the Five Aggregates of Clinging.
Continuing the ongoing exploration of the Four Noble Truths, Peter described the concept of the Five Aggregates affected by clinging, which is referred to in the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness teaching. Using a graphic illustration, he showed how the factors of perception and feeling create a “bridge” between incoming sense data and the further processing that occurs before conscious awareness (the graphic and accompanying notes are posted on the site as well). Without the benefit of mindfulness, concentration and tranquility, perception is biased and distorted by the conditioning factors, with the result that what is transitory and non-self is misperceived as enduring and a self. The practice of vipassana can reveal the misperception and reorient the energy of the mind toward clear awareness and benevolent intention. This is the process of awakening.
during the next dialogue, Peter will describe how a conceptual and experiential understanding of perception and feeling is contained within the doctrine of paticca samuppada, dependent origination. Peter will develop a different translation of this term, as “contingent provisional emergence”
As is our custom, after a significant retreat event, there’s a dialogue about the retreat experience amongst the participants. Since much of what occurs is deeper than conscious awareness, having the opportunity to talk about the experience among other knowledgeable meditation students can consolidate the learning and make it more accessible in daily life routines. The group discussion this evening was among experienced practitioners, so the dialogue was at a more advanced level. Next week’s dialogue will begin to explore the next stanzas of the Satipatthana Sutta, mindfulness of mental objects, involving the Buddhist concept of self-structure, the Five Aggregates of Clinging. This series of explorations will include a core principle of Buddhist psychology, paticca sammupada, usually translated as dependent origination.