Message Boards Message Boards

Non-specific/Broad/Generic

How tear down seductive shamatha factors?

Toggle
MCTB2 reads ”If choosing vipassana, tear down the deceptive blissful seductive shamatha factors with the rapid investigative ruthlessness that getting them to unstick requires.”

How would I go about to do that? I find it very difficult to perceive them as not satisfying. Am I a jhana junkey if I enjoy them? Can I just enjoy them while they last and not cling to them, or must I find a way to resist tuning into them at all?

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/15/18 11:18 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hi Linda, the bliss that comes from a solid shamatha practice is not bad instead can be really good! Dont feel guilty for enjoying a good mind state that you generate with your effort, discipline and practice. For me right now samatha practice is very usefull to relax and stress out, its like a mind reset that helps me to go more easy with my life.

What Daniel points is if you are doing vipassana practice dont waste this beatiful mind state just handing out there enjoying this good sensations. Use them to observe the 3 characterstics of it. 

Instead of preciving that this sensations are not satisfying you ( thats a lie, of course they are satisfayting you! )...observe how they are satisfaying you, and in the process of the meditation if this sensations drop how you feel about that? are you clinging to them? you want them to come back? you put again effort to recreate them? Observe all this proces in an impresonal way, like movements, energy pointing in diferent directions wanting or not wanting things, see how attachement of "I" are in this mind process.

You can also observe and note the intensity of the bliss or where the bliss are located in relation of the ilusion of the observer etc, so its not about to shut down the bliss, vipassana is about working on what arrise. If is good I observe this good sensations with equanimity investing them, if they are bad sensations the same. That's equanimity, You dont give a fuck about arise you will pay the same attention to all sensations.

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/15/18 12:11 PM as a reply to Jordi.
Hi and thank you, Jordi! I appreciate your advice. I’ll certainly try. 

When I tune into these sensations, they tend to grow and spread. I don’t think that it’s my doing, as an effort, but rather something that was already there but in an embedded way and therefore not accessable. When I tune into the sensations they are somehow ”unzipped”. Does that make any sense? I’m not sure, though. 

If I stay with these sensations until they end, is that clinging? Should I just note them, stay with them a short while and then move on to anything else that arises? Or can I hang around until I can note them as gone?

I have noticed that often when I feel nausea after a yoga class, if I tune into the sensations and do what I hope is detangling them, they turn into sensations of bliss instead. I don’t know if that relates to the shamatha factors; maybe it’s on a much simpler level. The feeling tends to fade much quicker. It’s kind of like when you work with a muscle knot and it suddenly dissolves, only I get this bubbly feeling of joy arising and passing very quickly. Is that me making efforts to create the feeling, or is it just letting go of the resistence that was holding something trapped? It feels like the latter, but I’m very new to this framework. Until very recently, I have just done things very intuitively. 

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/15/18 12:39 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hmmm... I realize that my activity here is starting to look a bit... frantic. As soon as somebody answers, I continue with even more questions. I’m a bit overwhelmed, so I get back into my head, trying to learn in an intellectual way. Additionally, when my own reading is too slow, I try to cut corners by asking others, even though there are so many resources available. I should probably anchor myself and be mindful of the process and let it unfold in its own pace.

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/15/18 12:47 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It may very well be just the way in which I read it, but if I had one critique of MCTB1 (I haven't read most of the 2nd version yet) it would be that it may cause the reader to be overly cautious of the seductive nature of shamatha factors (fear of becoming a jhana junkie and whathaveyou) This judgment, however, comes solely from the personal experience of starting out doing mostly dry work and then more recently working with shamatha. 

The shamatha side of things can be great fuel for insight practice. There's nothing wrong with bathing in bliss for the first part of your sit before you get to work digging into the 3C's. It can help build a solid foundation of concentration to work from. Also I find that when I hang out in the jhanas a while before diving into insight work, I'm less likely to develop aversion towards the end of longer sits.

The key thing here is that these blissful states are not the end destination but more like beautiful vistas along the way. Just be honest with yourself. Are you using these blissful states as a frequent escape or as tools for awakening?  Sometimes, as Jordi says above, its nice to have those sits where one can just relax and enjoy the euphoria of deep concentration.   

        

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/15/18 1:10 PM as a reply to Nick O.
Really good questions from both of you. Thank you!

I will probably need to investigate my motives further, and continue to do so. For the moment I don’t believe that I’m looking for an escape. I have a history of procrastinating, though, so I need to watch myself there. If I diagnose it correctly, I have encountered jhanas outside of meditation practice (art, just by perceiving it; touch, intimate encounters, yoga), and it is indeed seductive. I have felt cravings for it. I probably will again. But that’s not why I meditate. I meditate because I want to be able to deal with the misery of this world without getting bitter and cynical and resentful, and find the strength to contribute to making it a better place.

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/15/18 2:35 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda,

Shamatha isn't a bad thing for your practice. For IMO a combination of various historical and political reasons it has at times been demphasized or even stigmatized in some traditions, but that is a deep rabbit hole that, in the interests of both abiding the forum rules and continuing to practice rather than becoming a historian, I would advise you against focusing too much effort on for the time being : )

Suffice to say, in the pali suttas you will see the Buddha constantly telling contemplatives to "go do jhana," so there's a good argument there's something of value here, right?

As far as the MCTB/2 approach, if I recall correctly, what Daniel recommends is that when you are first beginning to practice you should first develop at least access concentration, then work on developing practice that is either heavily focused on samatha or heavily focused on vipassana, depending on your inclinations and abilities. Then, as you become more advanced in your practice you should develop whichever side you initially set aside. The ideal is a skillful combined practice of samatha + vipassana.

As far as clinging to those states, I'll just say this: the jhanic states are more refined states (Lacking some of the grosser forms of suffering) than our baseline but they still have the 3Cs. Examine with diligence : )

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/15/18 4:19 PM as a reply to Milo.
Thank you, Milo! It is my attention to focus on insight practice. When I have come across jhanic states in meditation, if that is what I have, I have used it to perceive how transient everything is. What I have perceived is mainly vibrations, waves, oscillations, bubbliness, and body parts shifting into energy flows or vanishing from my awareness. To me, these sensations illustrate that reality is in constant flux. Nothing remains the same. I thought that was pure insight practice, until I came across information on jhanas as something primarily associated with concentration practice. When I recogniced my experiences in these descriptions I was confused. But MCTB2 do mention Vipassana Jhanas as well, and Shinzen Young has integrated focus on flow, as he calls the sensations I described, into his mindfullness program. Therefore I will continue to give room for these sensations in my insight practice, but I’ll bear in mind that I shall keep investigating the three charachteristics and avoid clinging to the sensations or solidifying them.

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/16/18 1:59 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Hmmm... I realize that my activity here is starting to look a bit... frantic. As soon as somebody answers, I continue with even more questions. I’m a bit overwhelmed, so I get back into my head, trying to learn in an intellectual way. Additionally, when my own reading is too slow, I try to cut corners by asking others, even though there are so many resources available. I should probably anchor myself and be mindful of the process and let it unfold in its own pace.

One of the traps I've noticed people falling into early on is cramming themselves with the terminology and conceptual frameworks and then clinging to that--ultimately, insight isn't something that can be gotten intellectually and so this gets in the way. They learn to talk the talk, but don't seem to have the transformative insights. Of course, you do need some theory, but it's probably something like 95% or more practice.

I have tended to work in cycles of consuming large quantities of information and then letting go of it for long periods of time so the important points can marinate on a deeper level while I focus on practice at the sensate level. Thus my ability to talk about my practice in sophisticated, technical terms tends to lag waaaaay behind my ability to practice (which tells you a lot about my priorities). As problems go, I'll take it. Part of it is also due to auditory processing problems and just not tending to use verbal thinking much--when I run into difficulties, by the time I can articulate the right question to ask I've usually figured it out on my own. And that in and of itself is a good skill that has really helped me learn my way around my mind in a deeper way, not to mention allow me to maintain a high degree of independence.

Also, when asking questions here it's important to keep in mind that many or even most questions don't have black or white answers, there are many conflicting opinions, and not everyone's opinion is equally valid. Especially when you're new to the material and community, it can be very difficult to sort out what's what and who is who. 

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/16/18 4:07 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda,

That sounds about right to me. Happy meditating! Also please refer to my response in the other thread where you were asking related questions.

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/16/18 5:50 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Hmmm... I realize that my activity here is starting to look a bit... frantic. As soon as somebody answers, I continue with even more questions. I’m a bit overwhelmed, so I get back into my head, trying to learn in an intellectual way. Additionally, when my own reading is too slow, I try to cut corners by asking others, even though there are so many resources available. I should probably anchor myself and be mindful of the process and let it unfold in its own pace.

One of the traps I've noticed people falling into early on is cramming themselves with the terminology and conceptual frameworks and then clinging to that--ultimately, insight isn't something that can be gotten intellectually and so this gets in the way. They learn to talk the talk, but don't seem to have the transformative insights. Of course, you do need some theory, but it's probably something like 95% or more practice.

I have tended to work in cycles of consuming large quantities of information and then letting go of it for long periods of time so the important points can marinate on a deeper level while I focus on practice at the sensate level. Thus my ability to talk about my practice in sophisticated, technical terms tends to lag waaaaay behind my ability to practice (which tells you a lot about my priorities). As problems go, I'll take it. Part of it is also due to auditory processing problems and just not tending to use verbal thinking much--when I run into difficulties, by the time I can articulate the right question to ask I've usually figured it out on my own. And that in and of itself is a good skill that has really helped me learn my way around my mind in a deeper way, not to mention allow me to maintain a high degree of independence.

Also, when asking questions here it's important to keep in mind that many or even most questions don't have black or white answers, there are many conflicting opinions, and not everyone's opinion is equally valid. Especially when you're new to the material and community, it can be very difficult to sort out what's what and who is who. 


That’s wise. I probably need to do it the same way, because that’s my experience in other areas. With regard to meditation, talking about it at all is very new to me. Earlier I have gone about it without the terminology and just followed my intuition. That is of course very unsystematic and probably has many drawbacks, but it had advantages too.

Yeah, I have noticed that... very true.

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/16/18 5:55 AM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
Linda,

That sounds about right to me. Happy meditating! Also please refer to my response in the other thread where you were asking related questions.

Thanks! You too! Hm, I’m not sure what you want me to do. Can’t I just respond to your other comments directly in that thread? I haven’t yet learned how to link to other threads, but I’m learning the code now thanks to you. That’s very helpful. 

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/16/18 12:04 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Sure can. I just wanted to link the other thread for anyone else following this since it won't be clear we were exploring related topics across two threads.

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/16/18 12:48 PM as a reply to Milo.
Good point.

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/16/18 12:52 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Hmmm... I realize that my activity here is starting to look a bit... frantic. As soon as somebody answers, I continue with even more questions. I’m a bit overwhelmed, so I get back into my head, trying to learn in an intellectual way. Additionally, when my own reading is too slow, I try to cut corners by asking others, even though there are so many resources available. I should probably anchor myself and be mindful of the process and let it unfold in its own pace.
If you're ready to drink from the fire hose, you may wish to video chat. The fastest way to transfer knowledge. Message me if you wanna chat, or find someone who has done the goal you have. 
Some light reading - (search for) - Framework of Awakening
Good luck
~D  

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/17/18 2:45 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Hi Dream Walker! I’m processing things step by step right now, so video chatting might be a bit overwhelming for now, but I appreciate the offer and may be interested later if the offer still stands then. That ”light” reading is something I will need to digest slowly, I think. The part about how perception is distorted and how meditative practice takes away from that distortion is practically what I tried to explain to someone the other day, much less eloquently. I’m fascinated by the fact that being neurodivergent in some respects seems to uncover some of that distortion. Because I’m autistic and have ADHD and Tourette’s, some of the generalizations and the selected awareness that most people seem to have as their default mode are out of function for me. That can be a hindrance in this society, for sure, but it also means that I may be just a bit closer to the source code, so to speak. A person whom I love was born with brain damage, and his brain has probably developed in other ways to compensate. He has never understood how people are able to hold on to this idea of having an integrated and undivided and continuous self. To him, that is absurd. I have been thinking that maybe because of his differently wired brain, that part of the illusion just didn’t kick in. With regard to the faulty outputs, yeah, they come from fear based on the illusion. 

RE: How tear down seductive shamatha factors?
Answer
12/17/18 6:35 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I just realized something. When I did not meditate on a regular basis, I did have cravings for experiences (not necessarily formal meditative practice) leading to jhanas. Now that I meditate daily, I actually don’t crave them that much. I was mildly frustrated this evening when interruptions of the poses in my restorative yoga class had me lose concentration just before I reached second jhana or was able to maintain first jhana in a fairly stable way. This evening I was unable to reach the point of dissolution of my face into waves and subwaves. I only experienced hints of it. Afterwards this made me think that first jhana is indeed not as satisfying as one might think before experiencing higher jhanas. It is very transient and sensitive to distraction, and crude in comparison (a bit like cheap sparkling whine with larger bubbles and less nuances than a decent champagne) and I could actually get bored with it. It’s a teaser, nothing to cling to. So maybe it can be helpful to focus on the limitations of first jhana rather than on the desire to enter a higher state. Maybe it’s a case of sour grapes, because I did aim for a higher state, but I’m also thinking that there are probably limitations to all of the jhanas, even though I’m not ready to perceive that yet. There will be limitations to uncover. No need to worry. I get bored easily (never thought that was a good thing before).