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What does it take to reach the top?

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What does it take to reach the top?
Answer
1/2/19 2:42 AM
I do okay for myself disciplinarily. I fluctuate from maintaining my baselines of 1.5-2hrs a day plus mindfulness practice, to using and creating every opportunity I can for practice. Mostly dependant on what I've read recently or whatever external stimulus I've encountered. I'm starting a very intensive course and expect to get a career out of it, which will compromise my practice significantly.

If I look at The Dharma intellectually I know that I want it more than anything in the world and I would be willing to give up almost anything for it, yet when I sink back into the haze of my unconscious, habit ridden life I lose this value.

I suppose I'm asking two questions; what does it really take to attain full Awakening in less than a decade and how do I intentionally cultivate a consistent attitude and work ethic that brings me towards this dream that is not dependant on transitory motivational factors? Do I really need to jump out of bed every morning with 5 hours sleep and meditate at every possible opportunity, with perfect dilligence and daily mindfulness? Are long retreats here and there absolutely necessary?

I know I should just "do as much as I can" but it's much easier for me to commit to something when I know I NEED to. Also I know that it's almost impossible to say how long it would take for someone to achieve (x) because of a billion factors. Just assume I'm an average westerner working 40hrs a week with some good instruction.

RE: What does it take to reach the top?
Answer
1/2/19 6:08 AM as a reply to Cameron.
I've noticed over the last decade of this forum and others that that "doing as much as I can" doesn't seem to work that well. I can only suspect that the sense of urgency prevents the important aspect of relaxing enough for clear seeing/understanding to occur.

Very active and intense investigation works great for the road to A&P. 

After A&P the critical attitude for progress seems to be 1) relaxing, 2) genuine curiosity, and 3) detecting subtle resistance/ill will. If you don't relax enough you will not see the sublte ways resistance/ill will is showing up in practice. And if you practice with resistance/ill will you never quite "let go" and fall into cessation.

It's interesting, one of the more critical aspects of "seeing" needed to get past EQ and have a path moment involves letting the mind get into a flowing/daydream like state (while knowing this is occuring). Sadly, the people that seem to "work hardest" are also the ones who never drop into and dwell in jhana and never drop into cessarion. They have lots of intellectual/psychological insights, but never quite get the message to RELAX AND LET THINGS HAPPEN. 

Good practice can occur with one or two sits a day and 1 or 2 retreats a year. Some people don't even need the retreats. Sometimes it's good to take noting off the cushion, especially early in practice, but the people who seem to make it through the dark night to SE seem to also allow for periods of _not_practicing_ to allow the body and mind to relax and recharge.

Insights are more similar to "creativity" than "thinking about things" so sometimes doing less is more.

And we have to accept that practice takes as long as it takes. There is no way to force it. If there is ill will/resistance to that idea, then those sensations need to be investigated.

RE: What does it take to reach the top?
Answer
1/2/19 8:43 AM as a reply to Cameron.
I suppose I'm asking two questions; what does it really take to attain full Awakening in less than a decade and how do I intentionally cultivate a consistent attitude and work ethic that brings me towards this dream that is not dependant on transitory motivational factors? Do I really need to jump out of bed every morning with 5 hours sleep and meditate at every possible opportunity, with perfect dilligence and daily mindfulness? Are long retreats here and there absolutely necessary?

My experience has been that consistency is the most important factor. Can you be motivated enough to develop a consistent daily practice regimen? It doesn't have to include hours on the cushion. One hour across two sessions is all I ever did and still do. Maniacal practice isn't usually helpful (see shargrol's comment) as it tends to burn people out. Steady practice over time, guided by someone who can help you with the inevitable bumps along the way is the best path, IMHO.