People who are not trained in the knowledge of Meditational Development of Insight (Vipassana Bhavana) hold the view that seeing belongs to or is the self, ego or a living entity or person. They believe that “Seeing is I, or I am seeing, or I am knowing”. This kind of view or belief is called the erroneous view that “There is a Self” (sakkaya–ditthi). Sakkaya means the group of matter (rupa) and mind (nama) as they exist distinctively. Ditthi means to hold a wrong view of belief. The compound word of Sakkaya–ditthi means to hold a wrong view or belief on the dual set of Matter and Mind, which are in real existence.
At the moment of seeing, the things that are in actual existence are the eye and the visual object of the material group, including the seeing which belongs to the mental group. These two kinds are in actual existence. Yet people hold the view that this group of elements is the “Self or ego or living entity”. They consider that “Seeing is I, or what is seen is I, or I see my own body”. Thus this mistaken view is taken on the simple act of seeing as “Self” which is Sakkaya–ditthi.
One should practice by constantly noting or observing every act of seeing, hearing, etc., which are the constituent physical and mental processes of the body, till one is freed from Sakkaya–ditthi. For these reasons, advice is always given here to take up the practice of Vipassana Meditation.
In this respect, the exercise is simply to note or observe the existing elements in every act of seeing. It should be noted as “Seeing” on every act of seeing (By the terms of note or observe or contemplate, it means the act of keeping the mind fixed on the object with a view to knowing clearly). Because of this fact of keeping the mind fixedly by noting as “Seeing” at times a visual object is noticed, at times consciousness of seeing is noticed, or at times it is noticed as eye–base or as a place from which it sees. It will serve the purpose if one can notice distinctly any one of the three. If not, based on this act of seeing there will arise the erroneous view of self which will view it in the form of a person or belonging to a person and in the sense of permanence, happiness and selfhood (nicca, sukha and atta), which will arouse attachment and craving. The defilements will in turn prompt deeds, and the deeds will bring forth rebirth of new existence. Thus the process of dependent origination operates and the vicious circle of Samsara revolves incessantly. In order to prevent this from the source of seeing, it is necessary to note as “Seeing” on every occasion of seeing.
Similar is the case of knowing or feeling the sensation of touch in the body. There is a kind of material element known as Nerve Tissue (kaya–pasada) throughout the body, which receives every impression of touch. Every kind of touch, either agreeable or disagreeable, usually comes in contact with the Nerve Tissue and there arises a Touch Consciousness (kaya–vinnana), which feels or knows the touch on each occasion. At every touch, there are two elements of matter, namely, the sense–organ–impression of touch and an element of the mind the knowing of touch. In order to know these things distinctly at every time of touch, the practice of noting as “Touching” has to be carried out. This merely refers to the form of sensation of touch. There are special forms which accompany painful or disagreeable sensations such as, stiffness or tiredness in the body or limbs, hotness, pain, numbness and aches. Since Feeling (vedana) predominates in these cases, it should be noted as “Feeling hot, feeling tired or feeling pain” as the case may be. It may also be mentioned that there occur many sensations of touch in hands, legs and other parts of the body on each occasion of bending, stretching, or moving. Since it is the mind which wishes to move, stretch or bend, the physical activities of moving, stretching, or bending occur in series (It may not be possible to notice these incidents for the present. They can only be noticed after some time and practice). All activity in the form of movement is done by the mind. When the mind wills the body to bend, there arises a series of inward movements of hand or leg, when the mind wills the body to stretch or move, there arises a series of outward movements or movements to and fro respectively. They disappear or are lost soon after they occur and sometimes at the very point of occurrence (One will notice these incidents later on).