Thursday, August 7, 2014

Difference between Intellectual Understanding and Insight

Lindsay Funk
July 18 at 8:22am

In your experience, is there anything you can say about the difference between intellectual understanding/assent and insight? Do you see it as a spectrum or as binary?
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    John Tan, Stuffs RedTurtle, Viorica Doina Neacsu and 2 others like this.
    Kyle Dixon Whether the difference between intellectual understanding/assent and insight is a gradated spectrum or a black and white binary type situation really depends on the context.

    But overall the difference between an intellectual understanding and unenumerated insight is equivalent to the difference between an inferential understanding of how an orange tastes and the actual taste itself.
    July 18 at 12:00pm · Like · 3
    Priscilla Francis that analogy makes intellectual understanding seem not only useless but an unnecessary encumberance
    July 18 at 12:52pm · Like · 1
    Lindsay Funk Even in the case of an orange, one may have had bits of orange in a fruit salad and not realized it, and it's not until it's pointed out that one might start to recognize orange. And that's different from eating an orange and not paying attention as opposed to giving the taste your full attention.

    And, in the case of the dharma, we come to understand that we've been eating oranges our whole life. It takes intellect to say "that thing you've always been eating, that's an orange."
    July 18 at 12:59pm · Edited · Like · 1
    Joel Jay Now I'm hungry...
    July 18 at 1:07pm · Like · 1
    Brian Zey My point exactly Priscilla Francis, yet people babble on...
    July 18 at 1:11pm · Like
    Priscilla Francis Brian ... straight to the point as always

    but i also like what Lindsay said ...that it takes intellect to tell us that the thing we been eating is indeed an orange.

    coz most of us are not always fully appreciating our "oranges".
    July 18 at 1:18pm · Like · 2
    Kyle Dixon Intellectual understanding is important as well.
    July 18 at 1:26pm · Like · 3
    Soh Intellectual understanding is important but is quite a different order from direct experiential realization. I had a good grasp of anatta and emptiness for a few years before direct realization. Yet it would have been difficult to gain realization without a good grounding in a teaching that guides contemplation.
    July 18 at 1:53pm · Edited · Like · 2
    Soh For example, recognition and labelling "all things are impermanent" is different from the dharma eye, the eye of directness that perceives impermanence by being impermanence. Noting phenomena as anatta is not the same as the dharma eye of direct wisdom that sees "in the seen just the seen with no you in terms of that" by realizing that and being that wisdom.
    July 18 at 1:57pm · Like · 5
    Soh Even I AM realization gives rise to an eye of directness although not yet discerning its empty nature. In I AM realization you do not stand apart from I AM to recognise it or note it. You realize it by Being it with complete certainty. It is your very sheer doubtless existence and awareness.
    July 18 at 1:58pm · Edited · Like · 1
    Lindsay Funk Right, Soh. I'm sure you'd agree that nothing new was actually attained, so do you see it as the registering of the cessation of a habitual function?
    July 18 at 2:07pm · Like · 1
    Soh The dharma seal was never gained or lost, but previously that was not realized. What ceases after realization is a deluded view.
    July 18 at 2:42pm · Like · 4
    Viorica Doina Neacsu "What ceases after realization is a deluded view."
    Very well said, Soh. I think "spiritual journey" or "enlightenment" can be defined by one word, cessation.
    July 18 at 5:56pm · Like
    John Tan “that analogy makes intellectual understanding seem not only useless but an unnecessary encumberance”

    Hi Priscilla, I do not see intellectual understanding as necessarily an encumbrance. Given the following scenarios:

    A) Non-conceptual experience of orange.

    B) Conceptualization/intellectualization of orange

    C) Non-conceptual experience of orange post conceptualization.

    Many of Awareness teachings see liberation as eliminating B and returning to A.


    Dharma (imo) is realizing that scenario C will never be the same as scenario A. C cannot be said to be A nor other than A and eliminating B is not necessary. The teaching of dharma is to liberate C at spot (as it is) by realizing the dependent origination of C and have experiential insight that whatever dependently originates is empty and non-arising.
    July 18 at 6:25pm · Unlike · 11
    Priscilla Francis i said that the earlier analogy seems to potray intellectual understanding as being not useful..
    was not making assertions either way.

    i understand and resonate very much with your explanation John...

    but i feel there are those in other paths like pure devotional paths who also have attained the same amount of fulfillment and compassion etc without intellectualization.
    July 18 at 6:43pm · Edited · Like · 2
    John Tan ic...I miss-read what u wrote. Yes...From the perspective of spirituality, I see the path of surrendering and faith as important path of practice. Intellectualisation though not an encumbrance, it is not as effective. My point is similar, not making assertions either way.
    July 18 at 6:51pm · Edited · Unlike · 3
    Òskar K. Linares For prajna wisdom I think intellectualisation is the map and realization is walking the path in the map. You can walk the path without a map but it's more difficult. And if you only study maps... you just never get anywhere...
    July 18 at 8:47pm · Like
    Lindsay Funk I guess I asked this question because I'm really exploring the nature of eureka moments. So whether it's dharma insights, or simply getting a joke, I'm interested in how we experience an apparent shift from not understanding to understanding.

    At the moment, it seems to me anything we might call insight, great or small, is accompanied by an energetic shift. As I see it, "the dharma eye of direct wisdom" is an appealing, but vague term. It makes it sound like some people have it and some people don't, but it seems to me that this "dharma eye" is simple awareness or knowing. IME, I'd have to say that the apparent mechanics of insight are that view is accompanied by an energetic shift that confirms and reinforces the relativity of old view.

    Energetically, the best way I can think to describe this is the musical analogy of resolving dissonance into harmony.

    Anyone else have something to say about how you experience conceptual understanding transitioning into truly getting it? It could be as simple as solving a puzzling work problem or something.

    edit: And in the case of anatta....
    I've heard people describe this as the dissolving of an energy "knot" linking body to mind/consciousness (however you like to see it). I think this is a good description. Does it fit for you?
    July 19 at 2:02am · Edited · Like · 2
    Jason Manu Rheaume Intellectual understanding is a mental phenomenon, insight is experiential and representative of an increase in level of consciousness. Since the mind arises out of consciousness, insight is of a greater depth and tends to bring with it a paradigm shift which then flows down into the mental. In other words, your intellectual understand is going to be dependent on your level of insight.
    July 19 at 3:11am · Edited · Like
    Soh Lindsay: It's not 'simple knowing or awareness' but a direct apperception of an experiential fact in direct experience. 'Simple knowing or awareness' can mean different things to different people and that I would say is very vague. For example it may mean an ordinary dualistic sort of perceptual awareness in most commonly deluded people. It may also mean the pure sense of Existence or Aware-clarity that I call 'non-conceptual thought' level. But that is just one of the sense doors and is then reified into 'I AM'. Etc etc.. More specifically, dharma eye is the eye that perceives the impermanence, arising and subsiding of dharmas, the anatta nature of dharma. It is this eye that defines 'stream entry'. It is a direct realization into anatta and impermanence. The energetic shift happens as a result of dissolving the sense of a background Self, so one literally dissolves the energetic bond or contraction into being a perceiver or a centerpoint or vantagepoint, to just self-luminous gapless pure sensory experience. That's just the beginning though.
    July 19 at 3:24am · Edited · Like · 2
    Soh "It could be as simple as solving a puzzling work problem or something."

In a way it is like that, realizing that what we call 'awareness' is truly '...' (ala bahiya sutta) by seeing through the false imputation obscuring suchness.

"edit: And in the case of anatta....
I've heard people describe this as the dissolving of an energy "knot" linking body to mind/consciousness (however you like to see it). I think this is a good description. Does it fit for you?"

I'd say, dissolving the energetic knot linking bodily sensations/vivid consciousness (which was never separate) to a centerpoint by seeing through the subjectifications and imputations of body and consciousness and the delusion of there being a center or agent or knower. That is, there is no consciousness or body besides vivid subject-less manifestation (in seeing just the seen) aware where they are without a center or perceiver.
    July 19 at 3:22am · Edited · Like
    Lindsay Funk Ok, Soh, I think I get where you're coming from. To me, the so-called dharma eye is inherent to all perception, and some of these perceptions end up having a somewhat global effect on the apparent context of perceptions. But I guess you see the dharma eye as only relating to certain types of perceptions. I think I see how you use it.
    July 19 at 3:35am · Like
    James O'Neill Great post
    July 21 at 4:26am · Like · 1

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