Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect, aka the 2nd ñana, aka Knowledge of Cause and Effect, is the second stage of The Progress of Insight. See MCTB 2. Cause and Effect.

It comes after Mind and Body in which one sees that there are Mental Phenomena and Physical Phenomena. Once these are seen, Cause and Effect is the stage in which the analytical practitioner will begin to see how they relate to each other.

In this stage, the analytical practitioner notices that intentions precede actions, that there is a stream of mental pulses that arise to initiate actions as well as thoughts. They notice that physical and mental sensations have a mental pulse after them called the “consciousness” of that sensation, which is like a mental impression that follows quickly behind each of them, and is the part that repeats when we remember that sensation.

One may notice that our awareness of the breath modifies the breath, and those who are doing noting practice will notice that the notes interfere with the breath. This is normal, and is a hallmark of this stage. In this way, if we note quickly, the breath jerks along with it. If we note smoothly, the breath is smooth. If we stop noting the breath stops. Some will find this frustrating, having ideals of how the breath is supposed to be, and this can cause problems at this stage.

This stage tends to have a relatively neutral feeling tone to it (vedena in Pali). It also tends to feel somewhat mechanical. It forms the basis of the next stage, that of the Three Characteristics.


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