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Home > eBooks > Unpublished Manuscripts > The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity > Exercise 13: Dissecting Experiences into Parts and Causes

The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity

Alexander Berzin
July 1999
Revised February 2003

Part III: Dispelling Confusion about Appearances

Exercise 13: Dissecting Experiences into Parts and Causes

I. While focusing on a thought of someone from your life

1. While focusing on a mental picture of someone you know very well who recently acted upsettingly toward you

  • Note how the person deceptively appears to exist concretely as an upsetting person
    • To deconstruct this appearance, imagine the seemingly concrete image dissolving into a collection of atoms
    • Alternate picturing his or her body as a whole and picturing it as a collection of atoms
    • Focus on the two perspectives simultaneously, like seeing Venetian blinds and the view of a busy street behind them
  • Dissect the person's upsetting behavior into the causal factors that led to it, considering his or her previous actions and experiences since early childhood, relevant persons with whom he or she has interacted, and social, economic, and historical factors that played a role
    • Imagine the seemingly concrete image of the upsetting person becoming threadbare like an old sock and then dissolving into a collage of these causal factors, by representing these factors with a mental picture of a few of them and with a vague impression of the rest, or with merely a feeling for their existence
    • Alternate and then combine picturing the person acting upsettingly – simply as an accurate representation of what occurred – and picturing the collage of causal factors that led to this, or merely feeling the existence of these factors
  • Follow the same procedure with factors from previous generations that led, over time, to the event
  • When advanced, follow the same procedure with past lives of the person and of everyone who affected him or her in the current and previous generations
  • Repeat several times the sequence of views by focusing on the person while alternating the key phrase " simply what the person did" with each of the phrases
    • " atoms"
    • " past causes"
    • " past generations"
    • " past lives"
  • See the person with an increasingly larger number of views simultaneously, by alternating "simply what the person did" with two, then three, and lastly all four phrases, and by using merely a feeling for each of the four factors or a mental image of one example to represent each

2. Repeat the procedure to deconstruct your identification with your emotion and your resulting feeling of being someone who, by inherent nature, becomes upset when someone acts the way this person did, by working with

  • your feeling of yourself as a person who became upset, as an objective description of what happened
  • mental pictures, vague impressions, or merely a feeling for the existence of the factors that contributed to this happening

II. While focusing on someone in person

1. While sitting in a circle with a group and focusing on each person in turn

  • Repeat the procedure to deconstruct the deceptive appearance of the person as having a seemingly inherent, concrete identity independent of anything, by looking at the person briefly, then looking away and working with your impression of him or her, glancing back only for reference
  • Repeat the procedure to deconstruct the deceptive feeling of being someone who, by inherent nature, experiences a certain emotional response toward this type of person

III. While focusing on yourself

1. While focusing on yourself without a mirror

  • Repeat the procedure to deconstruct the deceptive appearance of your current self-image as your inherent, concrete identity, independent of anything
  • Repeat the procedure to deconstruct the deceptive feeling of being someone who, by inherent nature, feels a certain way about him or herself as you are now

2. While having before you a series of photos of yourself spanning your life

  • Repeat the procedure to deconstruct the deceptive appearance of the self-images you hold about your past as constituting your inherent identity then, by using the photos merely as a point of reference
  • Repeat the procedure to deconstruct the deceptive feeling of being someone who, by inherent nature, feels a certain way about him or herself as you were in the past
[ Corresponding Chapter 13 in Developing Balanced Sensitivity.]