INTRODUCTION TO LOOKING

August 31, 2014
This issue is now obsolete. For latest references please see: KHTK Mindfulness. The specific reference that updates this issue is What is KHTK? and Mindfulness 1: Observe without Desires.

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This is a set of essays that have come to be known by the acronym KHTK (from the phrase “Knowing How To Know”). This is the first of the KHTK essays. It introduces LOOKING as the key to knowing how to know. The source of this data is the technique of Vipassana meditation, which was taught by Buddha 2600 years ago.

Take a look at the overview of the subject of looking first before you dive into the theory.

COMMENTS ON LOOKING

 THEORY

Looking means to observe and notice things for what they are. To know something, you do not have to label it, or use words to describe it. You simply look and recognize something for what it is.

The key idea is:

LOOK AND SIMPLY OBSERVE WHAT IS THERE WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING, OR ATTEMPTING TO GET AN ANSWER.

Any expectation will add extraneous thoughts to what one is looking at. Attempts to get an answer will also add extraneous interpretation to what is there. Therefore, when looking, do not expect any particular phenomenon, result, answer or cognition.

Often, one is taught to suppress one’s thoughts. For example, in many meditation techniques the primary goal is to make one’s mind blank. In some other meditation techniques one is required to concentrate on a thought at the exclusion of all others. Such actions suppress the ability to LOOK.

It is a common experience to have thoughts, labels, evaluations, opinions conclusions, etc., arise in the mind as one looks. The thing to do is not to suppress anything, but to notice these thoughts, labels, evaluations, opinions, conclusions, etc., explicitly, as they arise in the mind while looking. Any suppression colors and modifies our perception of what is there.

LOOKING DOES NOT REQUIRE SUPPRESSION OF ANY THOUGHTS ARISING IN THE MIND. YOU LOOK AT THOSE THOUGHTS THE WAY YOU LOOK AT ANYTHING ELSE.

When one is not suppressing any thoughts or feelings, and is simply looking without being judgmental, then, in that moment, one is being totally honest with oneself. This is the basis of personal integrity.

These fundamentals of LOOKING apply to all sensory input. The next essay addresses the mental input of emotions, feelings, sensations and efforts.

 

APPLICATION

Probably the best way to get started with KHTK is to find a partner and then do the exercises listed below. You and your partner may alternate as “student” and “guide.”  In the absence of a guide these exercises may be done by oneself.

The guide may help the student as follows.

(A) Go over the theory section with the student.

  1. Answer any questions from the student as best as you can.
  2. Discuss the theory materials until the student is happy and satisfied.
  3. Make sure the student understand the main points highlighted in bold in theory section.

(B) Have the student do the exercises in sequence.

  1. Guide the student per step 1 in each exercise.
  2. Maintain an open and friendly communication about student’s experience on the exercise
  3. Guide the student per step 2 in each exercise.
 

EXERCISES

THESE EXERCISES ARE NOT MEANT TO RESOLVE ANY DIFFICULTIES A PERSON MIGHT BE HAVING. THE PURPOSE OF THESE EXERCISES IS TO INTRODUCE THE CONCEPT OF LOOKING BY LETTING THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE IT. THIS MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED QUITE QUICKLY IN MOST CASES.

Exercise 1

  1. Look around the room and observe different objects. Notice if the mind is labeling these objects as you look at them. For example, the mind may present the thought, “This is a lamp,” when you look at a lamp.

  2. If so, then do not stop the mind from labeling the objects. Simply notice the activity of the mind.  

Exercise 2

  1. Look around the room and observe different objects. Notice if the mind is evaluating as you look at them. For example, the mind may present the thought, “This is an expensive lamp,” as you look at a lamp.

  2. If so, then do not stop the mind from evaluating. Simply notice the activity of the mind.  

Exercise 3

  1. Look around the room and observe different objects. Notice if the mind is offering any conclusions as you look at them. For example, the mind may present the thought, “I will never buy this lamp,” as you look at a lamp.

  2. If so, then do not stop the mind from offering conclusions. Simply notice the activity of the mind.  

Exercise 4

  1. Look around the room and observe different objects. Notice if there are thoughts appearing in the mind.

  2. If so, then do not suppress the thoughts from appearing in the mind. Simply notice these thoughts while continuing to look at the objects. 

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Comments

  • vinaire  On January 22, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    This essay has been revised over time. The main lesson that I have learned, which I have tried to express in this essay, is to be non-judgmental and non-resistive in perceiving what is there. The mind does its own thing, and that is a phenomenon worthy of observation too.

    Regulation of what one says to others is part of being thoughtful. But I see no reason why one must regulate or suppress one’s own thoughts from oneself.

    In fact, in my view, such a suppression of thoughts brings about a lack of clarity in one’s perception and thinking. It would be interesting to know how others view it.

    .

  • vinaire  On January 23, 2011 at 12:43 AM

    The first principles that I wanted to document in this essay are expressed in BOLD in the THEORY section. I believe these to be the most fundamental principles. Other principles are being documented in subsequent essays.

    At the moment my prime concern is about the exercises. Are they adequate for this essay? Are they workable with a large number of people? These exercise may be too simple. But do they get across the experience of principles documented in this essay?

    Nothing written here is cast in stone. I welcome suggestion, and I plan on continuing to improve upon these essays based on the input I get.

    I look forward to receiving comments on this essay.

    .

  • vinaire  On January 25, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    I believe that to be non-judgmental and non-resistive (in all that one perceives, whether in the environment or in the mind) is fundamental to prayer, meditation, and any other form of spiritual practice.

    .

  • Albert  On February 15, 2011 at 12:37 AM

    any PDF version of files ?

  • vinaire  On February 15, 2011 at 5:30 AM

    Thanks for reminding me. I shall provide a PDF version of KHTK essays soon.

    .

  • Otto  On March 29, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    I have been doing this exercises and it make sense to me and it simply works, LOOKING this way is amazing! as one LOOKS too the labels, evaluations, conclusions and thoughts about what ONE is LOOKING.

    Definitely you are onto something…

    /me continue with next essay.

    Thank you very much!

  • vinaire  On March 29, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    Excellent, Otto, for understanding and doing this exercise. You are most welcome.

    .

  • Bunkai  On May 4, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    K. Vinnie. I’m in. I’m gonna try our your stuff. But watch out! I’ve got a reply box mister and I aint afraid to use it!

    • vinaire  On May 4, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      Bunkai, I am looking forward to learning from your experience.

      ~Vinaire

  • Bunkai  On May 8, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    I completed lesson #1. Here are my observations:

    1. No cult dynamics in the instructions.
    2. It was pleasant.
    3. It makes for a nice “resetting” practice.
    4. Produces much of the positive effects of Shikan taza.

    Thus far, the instructions offer no guidance on how to use the material over time. Is this a “one off” or is it helpful with the other practices? What are the many ways I can apply this material?

    In other words: “If this is a lifetime practice, what does it look like?”

    If I chose to really practice your ideas, I have no roadmap on how to do so or any realistic expectations ahead of me of what will happen.

    If you choose to publish this, you may want to go with a “flash card” format. Cards fit easily into a pocket or purse and people can pull it out and practice through the day. You could also make a “flip card format” for iPhone or Android with the coolness of swiping pages or cards.

    RULE: Write each card one time but sort and use in may different lesson formats.

    Card options vary. You could have cards of just the bolded text or cards that include the exercises, or the entire course based on cards.

    With phones and pads, you can have the interface itself be the entire block of material in cards, and be able to sort and order cards in terms of what is being done at the time:

    Doing the course? Option 1 sort (every card). Doing review of exercises? Option 2 sort with just exercises. Using a coach? (option 3 sort and the coach has his/her own cards).

    Okay. On to lesson 2…

    • vinaire  On September 6, 2013 at 7:43 AM

      Bunkai, mindfulness provides the discipline for looking and contemplation. It is not part of any course. It is part of life. I have consolidtaed everything that I have written on this subject here:

      THE 12 ASPECTS OF MINDFULNESS

      .

  • Bunkai  On May 8, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    Oh yeah, I liked it. 🙂

  • vinaire  On May 8, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    Thank you, Bunkai.

    What you just practiced was supposed to be a short training exercise to introduce what LOOKING is.

    Carry on! 🙂

    .

  • vinaire  On May 20, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Bunkai, your feedback has helped me provide some better directions for doing the exercises of KHTK #1. Please see the revision of May 19 above.

    Thanks,
    Vinaire

  • vinaire  On June 18, 2011 at 5:44 AM

    I have revised the above essay to clarify the following under THEORY:

    “In looking:
    1. There is simply recognition.
    2. There is complete absence of judgment.
    3. There is complete absence of resistance.
    4. If there is any judgment or resistance, then simply recognize it.

    “These fundamentals of LOOKING apply to all sensory and mental input.

    “The purpose of this essay is to introduce the concept of Looking. This concept may be developed further in subsequent essays. In my view, Looking is very fundamental to life. Looking leads to understanding. The understanding dissolves what is visible because of its inconsistency. An inconsistency is anything that does not make sense.

    “When all inconsistencies are dissolved, a perfect harmony of understanding reigns.”

    I have also simplified the instructions under EXERCISES as follows:

    “THESE EXERCISES ARE NOT MEANT TO RESOLVE ANY DIFFICULTIES A PERSON MIGHT BE HAVING. THE PURPOSE OF THESE EXERCISES IS TO INTRODUCE THE CONCEPT OF LOOKING BY LETTING THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE IT. THIS MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED QUITE QUICKLY IN MOST CASES.”

    .

  • vinaire  On July 9, 2011 at 7:43 AM

    I have revised the following sentence under THEORY:

    “The understanding dissolves what stands out because of some inconsistency.”

    The summation of 5 votes given to this essay is “poor”. This tells me that I still need to make greater effort to make this essay easier to understand. That effort continues.

    Hopefully, the readers will point out the inconsistency that “stands out” in this essay. I do not rule out inconsistencies in the thinking of the reader. They may contribute to the rating also.

    ~Vinaire

  • vinaire  On July 16, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    Each exercise should not take more than a few minutes. The whole idea is to understand that
    (1) Do not suppress anything arising in the mind.
    (2) Differentiate what is arising in the mind from what is there.
    (3) Recognize what is there for what it is.

    The moment you understand the above with complete reality you are done with these exercises.

    ~Vinaire

  • vinaire  On November 9, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    Here are some comments that I received through email from LYN. I hope it is ok to put them here for easy reference:

    Um…okay – that’s kind of surprising that you’d want me to do that, but there is something that I’m not quite in agreement with as far as part of the theory area goes.

    Most of the other parts of the theory seem to be okay :).

    Here’s the excerpt:

    “Often, one is taught to suppress one’s thoughts. For example, in many meditation techniques the primary goal is to make one’s mind blank. In some other meditation techniques one is required to concentrate on a thought at the exclusion of all others. Such actions suppress the ability to LOOK.”

    The thing is that since different meditations have different purposes, then no “one” meditation is necessarily incorrect. Just depends on what you need it for at the time.

    I can create a blank in an instant. This serves my purposes quite well. But, what does that really mean? Am I suppressing my thoughts or am I simply pushing them aside and actually looking and/or perceiving something or an area? Answer is, I’m not actually suppressing my thoughts because at the time I’m moving considerations somewhere else. I have enough control over them to where they are not pushing at me while I’m looking or perceiving. This ability was easy after going Dianetic Clear, so that might have something to do with it. However, by not having any thoughts at all come up, I can easily be there with someone else and see what is going on without any judgment or reaction. I can pick up on a person’s intentions and sometimes even their pictures, depending on whether they project them or not.

    The meditation where you focus on an object and nothing else, is simply a good “focus” exercise. There isn’t anything wrong with being able to push one’s thoughts somewhere else and focus. If I was studying a particular subject or practicing some sort of physical sport, this could really help in times of confusion when needing to make a decision or some sense out of some randomity.

    So, that’s that part of it. I’ll take a look at the exercises and write in the next post :).

    Lv, Lyn

  • vinaire  On November 9, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    Here is another emailed comment from LYN:

    I think the only thing I might change is “notice the activity”. It doesn’t feel quite like an end of a particular cycle right there.

    The person is looking around the room at different objects and perhaps thinks a quickie thought or it reminds them of something. Each time a person decides on an object to look at and has whatever happen in regards to that, in my opinion, its a cycle of action. I like the idea of “acks” because I was trained that to fully acknowledge (meaning what I received was duplicated) was also to end cycle – or at least it helps to end the cycle.

    Your exercise, with the use of “acks”, could help this area of which many people have difficulty with, which is not duplicating (on all flows) enough to be able to end cycle on whatever is still hanging around.

    So, I think that the acks which Scn had people do were simple and to the point.

    Your exercise would read (as an example from your website):

    Look around the room and observe different objects. Notice if the mind is evaluating as you look at them. For example, the mind may present the thought, “This is an expensive lamp,” as you look at a lamp.

    If so, then do not stop the mind from evaluating. (my change to it – Simply tell the thought “thank you” and move on to the next object. (as a note – or you could put in there “good” or “okay”, etc.

    IMO, the idea is to not only get the person used to being able to look at things with more cause, but also become aware of their thoughts and learn how to acknowledge so they can end off on their thoughts as well. Eventually, it might bring about the awareness of just being able to look at something without any thoughts other than what is, which was your point in the theory section, I take it :).

    So, I dunno Vinay – was it worth asking me – lol!!

    Lv, Lyn

  • vinaire  On November 9, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    Having a blank mind does not necessarily mean that one is suppressing one’s thoughts. One can achieve a blank mind by as-ising the considerations that are swirling in one’s mind on their own accord. That is the approach, which KHTK takes. KHTK does not recommend trying to achieve a “blank mind” by suppressing one’s thoughts. A truly blank mind can never be achieved by suppressing one’s thoughts anyway.

    If the stated goal is: “to make the mind blank,” with no further directions provided, then, more often than not, the student will end up suppressing his/her thoughts. That may bring a temporary relief by causing some sort of amnesia, but no lasting relief will come from it.

    .

    • vinaire  On September 6, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      There is nothing wrong with pushing one’s thoughts aside to focus on something, as long as one is doing it knowingly, and with no intention to suppress those thoughts.

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  • vinaire  On November 9, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    I am going to write frankly from what I understand of the axioms.

    End of a cycle occurs only when something is totally understood, and that would be as-isness. A cycle could be made up of many smaller cycles, each of which containing a part of that understanding.

    Understanding occurs when something is recognized for what it is. You know that you have recognized it. That is an acknowledgement in itself. There is no need to tell yourself that you have recognized it. That would be an additive.

    It makes sense to acknowledge another person by saying “thank you,” “good,” etc., because he is not in intimate contact with your mind. But, to treat yourself in the same way seems to me that some basic understanding about acknowledgement is missing.

    To me, a recognition of something for what it is, is itself an acknowledgement. Saying “thank you,” “good,” etc., to oneself is simply using a via that slows one down.

    .

  • vinaire  On November 10, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    Here is some more input form LYN:

    We might wanna talk about it a bit before you blog it :). You can take anything I say and put it in your blog though :). Also, just to clarify – the below is solely my opinion based on my own experience, even if I look as if I’m talking like its a fact. I don’t feel like saying “IMO” all the time :).

    It seems your exercise is giving a gradient towards PT and possible as-ising. It seems the people you are addressing are learning how to do this sort of thing to begin with. They probably would have no idea of what “as-ising” is to begin with. You’d probably have to explain all that and so rather than doing that, perhaps you might wanna use a different word, like dissipate or vanish or something.

    However, its gonna take some people a loooong time before they get to the point of being able to as-is their thoughts which is why I suggested that the person learn to push thoughts aside by simply acknowledging they are having thoughts but persisting that they create a calm and clean space. I myself create a space with no thoughts in it whenever I need to. Did take me awhile to learn to do that though. It was after several months of sitting alone in my bedroom and suddenly one day I did it. I still have a difficult time describing “how” I did it.

    But since you have it where people are looking around the room or wherever, then they are going to get the idea of having more detachment to their thoughts from simply looking at the thoughts, acknowledging them then moving on to the next object.

    Of course the optimum thing is to be getting some sort of auditing or methods which can run case out and then one finds those exercises to become easier and easier.

    🙂 Lyn

  • vinaire  On November 10, 2011 at 7:04 AM

    Here is my response:

    What I write are my opinions too. My criterion is not the truth or untruth of statements because truth and untruth are relative. I use the criterion of CONSISTENCY. From Data Series viewpoint, this would mean an absence of outpoints.

    KHTK #1 introduces the idea of LOOKING as follows:

    LOOK AND SIMPLY OBSERVE WHAT IS THERE WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING, OR ATTEMPTING TO GET AN ANSWER.

    The parallel idea in Scientology is that of OBNOSIS. Furthermore:

    LOOKING DOES NOT REQUIRE SUPPRESSION OF ANY THOUGHTS ARISING IN THE MIND. YOU LOOK AT THOSE THOUGHTS THE WAY YOU LOOK AT YOUR ENVIRONMENT.

    Any resistance to looking will go against the above two principles. The whole purpose of KHTK #1 is to get those two points across. That is the gradient at this level. At this gradient, the only thing required is a recognition of what is there. The idea of complete as-ising is not there. I am sure the whole document can be improved further, and I am still looking at how to use your input to improve the document.

    As far as pushing thoughts aside is concerned, I have taken up that point later when talking about ATTENTION (see KHTK #7). In my opinion, the attention automatically goes to the area that needs to be looked at, and it moves away from that area when one recognizes what was needed to be looked at. I have covered it also in KHTK #8, UN-STACKING. But based on your input, maybe I need to organize this data better.

    To me the cycle of looking at any stage is completed when attention automatically moves away from that area. As you yourself said that this happened to you suddenly one day, and it is hard for you to describe how you did it. In my opinion, you did it by letting it happen. The key idea here is LETTING THE MIND UN-STACK ITSELF. Any deliberate effort will only slow it down.

    I shall document this exchange on my blog. It may help the revision of KHTK essays.

    .

  • vinaire  On December 22, 2011 at 7:02 AM

    I added the following sentence to the introduction of KHTK #1:

    “The source of this data is the technique of Vipassana, which was taught by Buddha 2600 years ago.”

    .

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