Reviewing The Investigation of Mental Phenomena

During this talk, Peter Carlson reviews Dhamma Vicaya Bojjhanga, the Investigation of Mental Phenomena Awakening Factor.  This quality of investigative curiosity, in coordination with the Mindfulness and Energy Awakening Factors, provides a primary support for the development of the other four Awakening Factors.  Peter describes how investigation builds from the simple practice of aiming attention at the sensation of breathing and maintaining this focused attention during the cycles of breathing in an breathing out.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  INVESTIGATING MENTAL PHENOMENA

There is a supplemental “Guided Investigation of Mental Phenomena Meditation” posted in the archives, recorded just prior to this talk.


Understanding The Investigation Awakening Factor June 17, 2020

During this talk Peter discusses the characteristics of the second of the Seven Awakening Factors, Dhamma Vicaya (dah-mah vih-chah-yah), which he interprets as Investigation of Mental Phenomena.  This awakening factor works in close coordination with the Mindfulness and Energy Awakening Factors (the energy factor will be the focus for next week’s talk).  A careful reading of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse reveals that dhamma vicaya is repeatedly mentioned in regards to mindfulness of the body, of feeling, of the mind and of mental factors, so it is an essential aspect of how the process of Awakening is developed.  The cultivation of this factor begins with mindfulness of breathing and involves the suggestion of directing attention to the beginning of the in-breath and sustaining this attention for the duration of the in-breath, then repeating this for the out-breath.  This intentional process uses the sensation of breathing to increase the mind’s agility and insight into how the mind makes meaning from what primary sensations stimulate, and this skill becomes more and more important as it matures into the ability to notice the arising and passing away of self-state organizations, revealing the transient and essentially unstable delusion of an enduring and autonomous self.  This explanation is followed by a general discussion to clarify the ways to cultivate dhamma vicaya.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Mindful Investigation for Awakening

Next week’s talk will focus on the Energy Awakening Factor


Understanding The Mindfulness Awakening Factor June 10, 2020

This is the second of a series of reviews of the Seven Awakening Factors, with the first talk as an overview of the factors on June 3, 2020, posted on June 4.  Sati (sah-tee), translated as mindfulness, is perhaps the most important characteristic of the mind to be cultivated during the process of Awakening.  Mindfulness as an awakening factor has the function of monitoring the presence or absence of the other six factors as well as supporting the most appropriate and effective coordination of these factors.  Peter provides a brief history of the application of sati in Buddhist history and reviewes how it operates in relation to supporting the other factors, based on the practice of mindfulness of breathing meditation.  Passages from the Satipatthana Sutta are read to emphasize the refrain in each of the four foundations that repeatedly urges atapi sati sampajanna (ah-tah-pee sah-tee sahm-pah-jah-nyah), diligent, mindful, clearly knowing what arises in the mind in an ongoing way.  The explanations are followed by a brief question and answer period to clarify how mindfulness can be applied in the context of challenging decision-making, focused on two approaches: one is to be mindful of how the mind can be balanced as the information and solution stages are developed and the other is of monitoring during the process of applying a solution, alert to changes in circumstances that might alter the intended outcome and requiring a different approach.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Working With The Mindfulness Awakening Factor

The topic for next week’s meeting is the cultivation of dhamma vicaya (dah-mah vih-chah-yah), the investigation of mental phenomena, another of the Seven Awakening Factors.


Guided Looking Closer Meditation

There are two initial stages in the practice of mindfulness of breathing meditation: persistently maintaining present-moment awareness of the in- and out-breath, followed by increasing investigation of phenomena that emerge into awareness during the breathing cycle.  During this meditation, training attention to investigate the breath cycle was cultivated by inviting a primary investigation of the physical experience of breathing, then letting the breath awareness become secondary while investigating and “looking closer” at other predominant sensations in the body, or investigating the nature of attention while attending to physical sensations to discover the self-fabricating nature of the mind.  An important goal of vipassana practice is to investigate the interactions between physical sensory experience and how the mind makes meaning of the sensations.  In the progressions of insight during the process of Awakening, this awareness is called namarupa, with nama relating to the mind’s function and rupa to the physical sensations that occur.


The Investigation Of Mental Phenomena May 8 2019

Dhamma Vicaya, the Investigation of Mental Phenomena, is the second of the 7 Factors of Awakening.  Peter described the progressive development of vitakka (aiming attention at the sensations of breathing) and vicara (sustaining focused attention on these sensations), combined with sati (mindfulness) and viriya (energy/persistent effort) into the capacity to maintain diligent awareness of the three characteristics of reality: anicca (impermanence), dukkha (the distress and confusion that is the consequence of craving and clinging) and anatta (the absence of an enduring and autonomous self).  This alert and detached investigative process is vipassana, often translated as insight.  Three meditation practices for cultivating dhamma vicaya were described: mindfulness of breathing, noting and body sweep.  This description was followed by discussion by the attending group regarding the various practices.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Investigation of Mental Phenomena

There will be no posting of dharma talks for the next two weeks, as Peter will be on a self-retreat.  He will report on the retreat experience on May 29.