My Question ?

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My Question ?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: han2sen
Forum: Dharma Overground Homepage

About my experience. Reading the description of the A & P (Arising and Passing Away), most of which is very familiar ground for me now at this time. However there is a significant difference whcih I am curious about. But first let me fill you in on the background. My path started with yoga asanas, pranayama, and meditation in 1967, I would have been about 15. This was followed by a few experiments with psychotrophic substances, until I got into TM in 1971. That lasted about 7 years until I realized I didn't have enough money to be a true follower. I relapsed into some of my previous behavior, and then embarked on a journey through charismatic or pentecostal christianity, part of which unquestionably dealt with awakening the supernatural. I graduated to mainstream and liberal christianity eventually. I began to meditate in 1999> I was very stressed and hassled at that time and went into 12 step program for the next four years. The meditation I learned through Jon Kabat Zinn method, and in 2000 joined up with Thich Nhat Hanh's Community of Mindful Living, even though all those positive emotions there were hard to deal with. I have moved twice since 2002, and currently have no sangha and my meditation practice is still only anapanasati sutta mindfulness of breathing which has lead to effortless states of complete focus on the breath. Then various phenomena have arisen, most of which is the A & P stuff. Sitting practice is like what a flower is to a bee, it is very rewarding and satisfying. I haven't allowed my self to accept this complacently however, as I have a dharma mission which is rather unstoppable. The question is, there is no experience for me at all like kundalini awakening in the body, and no Dark Night. In sitting the jhana numbers keep getting bigger, my search for info keeps getting greater, and depression and fear keep falling away. So, what is going on here? Did I go through Dark Night long ago before I had clear mindfulness?
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi han2sen,
There are actually a number of interpretations of the anapanasati sutta when it comes to practice. Could you give us some more detail on your practice?

How do you experience "complete focus on the breath"?

"various phenomena have arisen" - some examples?

As to the Dark Night questions, I'll let the Dark Night Experts pick those up.

- Chuck
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: han2sen

CheleK: Interpretations of the anapanasati - good point. The way I practice this is simply to experience, observe, pay attention to, remember, in short be mindful of, the breath. Natural breathing, not pranayama. Here one could digress and discuss all the ramifications of what he breath actually is as viewed from numerous realms but that has absolutely nothing to do with what I mean. I just mean the physical act of breathing in and out & making note of it & focussing on it. It becomes more refined, and the act of observing becomes more refined quite naturally. in the first couple of years of daily practice there were many thoughts, feelings, and mental jetsom and flotsam that really had no concrete structure other than constituting noise and distraction. acutally i began with counting techniques, but they became unnecessary over time. Then there was several years where i just sat with whatever happened and usually there wasn't much. Quiet, in and out breath, but not much else. Then gradually there was a kind of subjective pleasure that arose, a feeling of well-being, like my brain was very free and without stress. This of course, while practicing in and out breathing. Then this became the rule rather than the exception and one had to bring to mind and remember that the breath was the point, not the ecstacy. So from a technique point of view, just being anchored in the breath. This is my core practice.
There are some other things, some other ways i do mindfulness 24/7 also. This is "being anchored in the present".
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: han2sen

Complete focus on the breath - there are several wonderful states i went through both during meditation (why do we still call it that?) and during my daily activities before arriving at a rather complete experience of the senses turning fully inward and only the awareness of the practice remaining. The feeling of absorption was the turning point in these experiences. This was unanticipated, and i am left trying to understand and put together in words what happened. And i am sure I am not using the standard descriptions and terminology which is normally used here so I hope you can get a sense of it anyway. Anyway this absorption, or samadhi was the first step to the complete focus I refer to. Generally speaking.
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: han2sen

Various phenomenon have arisen - vivid dreaming, active waking state samadhi, micro or mini out-of body, divine eye, divine ear, also what the call LOA - law of attaraction - but that is not my explanation for why events happen as you need them, not entirely anyway. You know what I mean, standard yogi stuff.

The most notable phenomena in my estimation is the sustained experience of loss of the normal sense of self and temporary obliteration of the normal subject-object relationship of experience. This was not while meditating, but while reading and computering, and having tea.

Another major case was the entry into advanced state of absorption where there were no thoughts or feelings or discursive mental activity. In fact coming out of it produced an intense reverse amnesia, remembering only in stages what just happened, who I was, where I was, what i was doing, etc.

Anyway, I am serious in that I really have no preconception about this, in fact I am still trying to figure out what vipassana is. I think elements of it i have naturally been doing since 2000, but other elements which are standard Satipattana sutta I have never even heard of.

My theory is that there is no rapid expansion of consciousness, no special technique, just sustained practice over time, only increasing as i have the daily capacity to continue at that level. If anything, that is an almost manic obsession I have, not to fly off into the unknown, but rather to maintain control. I am just now learning to let go a little.

This has nothing to do with what think about enlightenment. Maybe it helps it a little, training the mind. After the mind gets trained, then it has to learn to see. And then it has to actually see what is there, to use a metaphor. Enlightenment is understanding and wisdom, not fancy mental states.
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
From what you have written, it sounds like you have very good concentration. When you speak of “The feeling of absorption was the turning point in these experiences” I suspect you are getting into some 'hard' jhana. There is a strong sense of dropping into or locking onto the state. It becomes very solid in a sense – easy to stay there.

You also seem to have the 'kundalini thing' going pretty good – weird isn't it?

I come from a body practice or energetic practice view point. You may have already worked in these areas but here are a couple of approaches:

-You mentioned “gradually there was a kind of subjective pleasure that arose, a feeling of well-being” - investigate that – look into that sense of pleasure as an energy – as a field – just incline the mind toward that investigation and see where it goes – stay in the body.

-Another approach – This is a whole-body approach – keep the whole body in your field of awareness and imagine that the breath is coming through all the pores – your whole body is breathing 'breath energy' in and out through its entire surface – can kind of fill up like a balloon.

You may also want to look at noting practices. That has not been part of my path but there are others here very good at it. Take a look at Daniels book.

-Chuck
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RE: My Question ?

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hansen: "...I am still trying to figure out what vipassana is. I think elements of it i have naturally been doing since 2000, but other elements which are standard Satipattana sutta I have never even heard of."

Hi hansen,
You sound as though you may be ripe for the book I'm about to recommend.

If you get around much to Buddhist forums and information sites, you may come away with the impression that vipassana is taught as a separate meditation system from samatha. But if you read the Pali discourses in translation, you will learn that the Buddha taught both samatha and vipassana together, as two sides of the same coin. One either uses samatha in order to engage in vipassana, or vipassana in order to strengthen samatha, or these both arise together in tandem. I've experienced all three variations; and perhaps most people do also.

Satipatthana (the four establishments of mindfulness) is nothing more than a vipassana practice which uses the jhanas to calm the mind before switching to insight practice (vipassana). The Theravadin monk Ven. Analayo has a book out (it's available on Amazon.com) entitled "Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization." It is an excellent book in that it describes in great detail how the Buddha taught insight practice through a cultivation of concentration (samadhi/jhana) and mindfulness (sati).

Even though you may not have read or studied many of the discourses, I think with your extensive meditative background, you would be able to make much sense of what Analayo has to say on this subject. As well, it would provide much guidance and clarification on this practice, which I think you would find quite beneficial regarding the stage you are currently at.
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: han2sen

Yes - my past teachers/sanghas did not make mention of vipassana for what ever reason. I am in the geographical region where Bhante Gunaratana is and while in Kansas City pick up his 2 main books; read late into the night last night. I can see a close similarity to the practices . So it seems now that I have gotten this concentration there is something further I can do with it. Good -
The CML/Naht Hanh path has some zen-like elements which aren't really tapped into in the Insight approach. Zen can be antagonistic to Insight teachings, but I am more about putting together a core of practice than allowing mental speculation about religious differences to, to allow any room for that kind of thing. Also there is this nice Hua Yen element which I have never taken perhaps as seriously as I should have. I practice what I call real zen when I work in the kitchen and also when I go to Lowes! It is not about materialism however, just about a strong center of practice. This is done in southern ch'an as well as Thai Forest. Anyway I digress - I'll look into the book,
THANKS
h a n s e n
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: han2sen

That Kundalini thing - well yes and no. I have chatted with people who have advanced kundalini sickness and can testify that I don't have what they have, either in the symptoms or in the far out visionary state they are in. They are quite addicted to the love-drug effect of it, in a very religious manner, often at the peril of losing their ability to socialize and relate to the world around themselves. I'm reminded that I practice for the sake of the world around me, although if a psychic state comes along that feels good, that's okay too. I don't model around an energy however. I model around a settled practice of mindfulness, even though it needs some re-tuning from time to time. Does that make sense?
h a n s e n
going to get a cup of this Lok On/Liu An tea - great stuff, whatever it is
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
“That Kundalini thing ... I have chatted with people who have advanced kundalini sickness and can testify that I don't have what they have”
- glad to hear that. I am not promoting it as a way of life but it (micro or mini out-of body, divine eye, divine ear) is pretty weird stuff. You know you're not in Kansas anymore – right?

“I don't model around an energy... I model around a settled practice of mindfulness. ”

It's just as easy to get stuck in the settled practice of mindfulness as it is in Kundalini phenomena or concentration for that matter- at a certain point 'energy' (or 'vibrations' if you wish) is the name of the game and my sense is that is about where you are at. There are lots of people stuck in basic mindfulness practice because it is often not made clear how to proceed from that point. Read Section 4 'Wisdom, The Third Training', and Section 5 'The Three Characteristics' in Daniels book.

“The assumption that is rarely stated explicitly but often implied is
that we must be willing to stay on a sensate level, at the level of the
actual sensations that make up experiences, if we wish to gain the
insights that are promised by the mystics”

To practice insight is to dig into what seems solid and investigate it. You can take the 2-practice route (separate insight and concentration practices) or you can take the unified (sutta-jhana) approach – doesn't matter which - they both work. The suggestions I gave were along the unified approach.

Check out this talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/060721%20The%20Energy%20in%20the%20Body.mp3
He mentions Ajaan Lee's 'method 2' (very good stuff):
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html#method2

Also Shinzen Youngs site (look in the Dharma Talks section):
http://www.shinzen.org/
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: han2sen

Today I got up, rinsed off my face and went to sit. I set the stop watch (I check my time when I'm done, I can't stand to hear a timer go off...)

First I felt like I was on fire. Then I settled into doing nothing, kind of a soto shikanzaka which i how I normally start out, after a few minutes the jhanas took over. At that point I began the Mindfulness of Breathing. As it became increasingly blissful and rapturous, I followed that and investigated what I was feeling and experiencing at that moment. I had a much clearer experience of rapture and bliss consciousness. The crown chakra was opening like a flower, that much was very clear, this was accompanied by feelings of bliss. After a while I began to notice external things, sounds, the room around me, etc. Which up to that point I had no consciousness of. I also began to have some body pain a shifted position slightly, tapering off into more of the same.... then toward the end of my sitting, I thought, I'll try looking at the thoughts and feeling as they arise instead of ignoring them. Try some of the "Insight" To my surprise everything was vibrational and echoing, like reverb and tremolo, the sounds of thoughts just echoing. The concepts of the thoughts was deconstructed all most as soon as they began to occur. Surprised but not shocked I ended the session at about 35 minutes and posted some mundane songs on facebook as usual. Like Jeff Buckley singing Halleluyah....
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: han2sen

spending labor day doing some meditational ditch digging (literally) and sidewalk paver laying -
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Cool. You've got the thread - just keep pulling on it. Investigate body discomfort, tension, emotions, pain - all of it. Laying the pavers should give you something to work with at the end of the day.

-Chuck
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: han2sen

Exhausted after several hours of digging, now going on 3 mile hike, did 4.5 miles yesterday. A bit fast for walking meditation but still valid since you have to focus correctly on each step, on the trail. I now realize that the past month or two that I have chatted with vipassana people both here and elsewhere is one of the things that has allowed me to look at the quality and content of the experience during practice, instead of just slogging through it, and one of the things that has opened me up to this jhana experience, which I would not have anticipated could possibly happen. Very cool
THNKS for advice and support
h a n s e n
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RE: My Question ?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: han2sen

So while walking around the lake we recapped this discussion and somewhere in the process of this I realized how subconsciously suppressed the jhanic elements have been, even though they come back rather consistently. The reflex from altered state to consentual state goes as unnoticed as the memory of the event. That is an interesting thing to note too.
h a n s e n